Dead/flickering screen on MacBook

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by popeax, Aug 16, 2015.

  1. popeax macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2015
    I have a MacBook 5,2 that I use on a daily basis to do work, read email etc. A few weeks ago the screen started flickering and turning off at high brightness levels. I could get the screen to turn back on by holding down the reduce-brightness key then holding down the increase-brightness key. However, if I set the brightness too high it would flicker and turn off again.

    The problem has gotten worse over time: the screen will only stay on for about 10 seconds at the lowest brightness setting. I have the MacBook hooked up to an external monitor now, with a USB mouse and keyboard, which is what I'm using to type this post.

    When it started happening I searched and found out about the inverter replacement repair. I ordered a replacement inverter and performed the repair. It took about 3 hours using this guide. However, the problem persists.

    What should I try next? Replace the inverter cable? Replace the screen? Are there services out there that can diagnose my problem for cheap/free?

    Edit: It's definitely a problem with the backlight, or the power supply to the backlight, because if I shine a flashlight at the screen I can see that the image is still there.
  2. popeax, Aug 16, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2015

    popeax thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2015
    Given the appearance of the flickering that I see, the fact that I've already replaced the inverter, and after a bit more research, I'm nearly 100% convinced that the actual fluorescent bulb inside my LCD panel has died as seen in this YouTube video.

    If I search "macbook ccfl" on ebay, there's a seller selling just the bulbs for about $9 each. I've heard that this is a very difficult repair, and that it's common to break the bulb. So I'd probably order at least two. Otherwise, I could order a replacement LCD assembly with a bulb already inside for about $70.

    So I'm looking at either a $20 repair with probably 5 hours of my time or a $70 repair with 2 hours of my time. The new screen assembly seems to be the way to go. If I decide to repair it I'll try to remember to update this thread. If you're interested, PM me to remind me.
  3. logana macrumors 65816


    Feb 4, 2006
    It should not take anything like 5 hours to replace the backlight bulb - more like an hour.
    Most of the MacBook 5,2's came with a Samsung lcd panel and the backlights fail within 2 or 3 years.
    I have changed maybe 3 backlights and never broken the bulb. Yes they are fragile but just take your time.....
  4. popeax thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2015
    Thanks for the advice, I've purchased a single bulb and looking forward to the repair.

    I'm amazed that a CCFL backlight is really a thin fluorescent tube with a diffuser panel. I always thought that the florescent element was the entire size of the display. The uniformity that they get with the diffuser is pretty impressive.
  5. popeax thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2015
    I completed the repair today. It took about 4 hours, and was very frustrating at times. Once you get the panel out, there are a variety of adhesives and layered metal frames to take apart and keep track of.

    Behind the display there are three layers of diffusing material. Make sure that you don't allow any dust between these layers, as I can see a few specks on my screen now. Also, try not to touch them at all. I have a few bright spots on my screen now from where I may have put pressure on them. It's not easy to avoid this because they are held in place with plastic posts and metal clips that are a pain to get back on.

    Well, my MacBook is repaired and I'm able to enjoy it again, but that was simply painful. If you value your time at all, just buy a panel.

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