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jonathand071302

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2020
5
3
Hillsborough, New Jersey
Hello all,

I thought I'd outline my isolation project incase anyone wanted to tackle the same thing I had done. The title says it all, it is a 2.13GHz MacBook 5,2 in a Black Case, running Mojave. Let me tell you the backstory before I get to the build outline.

For a long time, I have always loved the A1181 MacBooks in Black, and I had always wanted one even if I couldn't use it much. After we got the shelter in place in my state, I decided to spend $50 on an almost mint Black 2008 MacBook 4,1. It came in the mail the following week and it looked perfect (except for a bad OEM battery). I immediately changed out the spinning drive for a 256GB SSD, and dropped 4GB of DDR2 memory into it, as well as loading a fresh copy of Mac OS X Lion. The computer worked great and was pretty fast, but the drawbacks were that it was very loud under light load and had software compatibility issues with todays software. I did a little digging and found that is indeed possible to swap out a 5,2 Logic Board into the 4,1, which is supported all the way up to El Capitan. I went on eBay and found a pristine 5,2 for $60, and bought a new black battery for the 4,1.

The 5,2 comes in the mail and I test it, runs perfect besides the spinning drive. I dig right into the 5,2 and successfully remove the logic board and super drive. I then repeat the same procedure on the 4,1 (but much more carefully to try not to damage the case, in which I failed by chipping the keyboard palm rest since the machine was never opened before, very tight). The amount of dust in the 4,1 was unbelievable, which explains the loud fan noise under no to light load.

I cleaned out the dust from the 4,1, and dropped in the 5,2 logic board, applying new thermal paste as well. Testing the unit showed that it started right up, which was expected since both models have most of the same connections since they're both A1181 models. Although it went smoothly for me, there are a couple of things to consider when doing this build.

  • The superdrive must stay with corresponding logic boards since the connections are different between 4,1 and 5,2
  • Your ports will be white since the 5,2 only came in white. No big deal, just make sure to keep the black magsafe connection with the black case, works fine and looks good.
  • Heatsink standoffs are not the same from 4,1 to 5,2, I believe only one of the holes actually screw in. I added a copper spacer to hold the heatsink down when the computer was shut to make sure it cools to spec.
  • No CMOS battery Req'd after swap, so don't go crazy looking for a CMOS battery connection on the 5,2 logic board, you'll be there forever.
All done and over with, I wouldn't change a thing except for upgrading to 6GB of Ram. Otherwise, it runs great as a secondary hobby computer. It is currently running Mojave using DosDude1's Mojave Patcher with mostly no issue (No camera or mic, no big deal).

I didn't take any photos during the transplant as I was trying not to loose screws from the machine, but I did take a picture of the 5,2 before I fully disassembled for reference (attached) and I have a pic of the "About my Mac" on the Black MacBook after the mod running Mojave (also attracted).

Hopefully you guys found this useful, as it was a fun project for me and a pleasure to bring the information to you.

Cheers,
Jonathan
 

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im_to_hyper

macrumors 65816
Aug 25, 2004
1,370
378
Pasadena, California, USA
Holy buckets this is wonderful!! Would you ever consider a custom build of this for sale? Honestly, I've been wanting a BlackBook with a newer motherboard dropped in, but just don't have the time / skills.

MacBook Collection Essentials 101: This.
 

jonathand071302

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2020
5
3
Hillsborough, New Jersey
I was thinking about finding them, building them and selling them. The only issue would be demand, the cost of shipping them around the united states, and finding a cheap good example of a Black A1181 and a fully functional 5,2. I enjoyed doing it but if there is no demand for them I am not going to go and buy a bunch of them, build them and have them sit. Are you interested in one though? I can price it out and see what it would run me to get all the parts.
 

CooperBox

macrumors 68000
Holy buckets this is wonderful!! Would you ever consider a custom build of this for sale? Honestly, I've been wanting a BlackBook with a newer motherboard dropped in, but just don't have the time / skills.

MacBook Collection Essentials 101: This.

This is a modification I've been contemplating for some time, as I have 2 non-functional 'blackbooks' in very good cosmetic condition but have yet to find a suitable white Macbook5,2 as a doner unit, but it would have to be cheap otherwise hardly worth the bother. Could be an interesting project though, especially loaded with OS Mojave, which I look forward to doing. If and when I complete this I'll offer it up here in the 'MarketPlace'.
 

im_to_hyper

macrumors 65816
Aug 25, 2004
1,370
378
Pasadena, California, USA
This is a modification I've been contemplating for some time, as I have 2 non-functional 'blackbooks' in very good cosmetic condition but have yet to find a suitable white Macbook5,2 as a doner unit, but it would have to be cheap otherwise hardly worth the bother. Could be an interesting project though, especially loaded with OS Mojave, which I look forward to doing. If and when I complete this I'll offer it up here in the 'MarketPlace'.

Cool sounds good! Can you tag me in the post!? I deffo would want one haha. I've been keeping my eye out on Mercari for a laptop like this haha.
 

chemistocrat

macrumors newbie
Mar 13, 2014
5
1
Can you explain in a bit more detail the copper spacer situation that you used on the heatsink? I'm about to replicate esentially exactly what you did.

Also I have read that the display backlight inverter cables were different between the two models, but perhaps this is only true with 1,1 through 3,1 MacBooks?
 

rampancy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
685
917
AFAIK, the LVDS inverter cables are the same for all variants of the A1181 MacBook, at least when it comes to the motherboard connector.

  • The superdrive must stay with corresponding logic boards since the connections are different between 4,1 and 5,2

Yup, because the 5,2 uses newer SATA optical disk drives, as opposed to PATA in everything from the 1,1 to the 4,2. It's another reason why I love the 5,2 so much -- optical drive bay hard drive caddies with SATA connections are a lot more common and easier to find vs. optical drive bay caddies with PATA connectors, which makes it easy to take out the SuperDrive and put in a big SSD.
 

rampancy

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2002
685
917
This thread would seem to disagree with that. I'm just unsure at what point in the A1181's life the connector changes took place.

Ah right -- the 3-wall vs. 4-wall connectors. I'd actually forgotten about that. An honest mistake - I was actually thinking about the LCD display cable, not the backlight cable.

Here's a great YouTube video that breaks down the differences between different A1181 motherboards (including screw placement differences and the use of 3-wall vs. 4-wall connectors):
 
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