Early Intel - Trash or treasure? MacBook Pro 2008

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by AphoticD, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. AphoticD, Jun 10, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018

    AphoticD macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #1
    Trash or treasure?

    In follow up to our Early Intel thread, I just wanted to share a story about this treasure of a Core 2 Duo which I was able to salvage.

    I recently took a gamble on this rough looking Mac...

    s-l1600-1.jpg s-l1600.jpg

    "APPLE MACBOOK PRO SCREEN SMASHED UNTESTED PARTS ONLY"

    I had no idea which model it was or the severity of the smashed screen. But I made an offer and it was accepted with free shipping for AU$27 (this works out to be about the cost of a fish and chips dinner for my British friends).

    When the unit arrived, the display was in shocking condition. It was bulging out, the top panel's inner plastic frame was completely lifted off and snapped in several places. The LCD panel was completely bent out of shape and as you can imagine, it was broken into shards. The display also had no hope of closing, let alone latching. The front bezel was warped and the hinge mounts on the frame were about 30° out of alignment.

    It looked like someone sat a heavy book on top of the keyboard and then decided to sit themselves directly back onto the screen... (essentially folding it over)


    Initial inspection.

    Initially, I couldn't get it to power on, so I put it aside for a few days. Then with the advice of @LightBulbFun, I tried first installing a charged battery, instead of attempting to boot from the 60w MagSafe charger borrowed from my MacBook. The MBP uses the 85w MagSafe adapter which I don't have on hand.

    Pressing the power button resulted in a happy chime and I promptly connected a display to the wonderfully full-sized DVI port on the side which Apple have generously provided us with since the Titanium PowerBook days. I believe this particular MacBook Pro was the last to feature a DVI port.

    So, I wiped the machine down with a damp cloth and tried to man handle the display frame back into shape for a photo opportunity.

    DSC_0064.jpg
    DSC_0066.jpg
    DSC_0068.jpg
    (It doesn't look terrible while it's running, but as soon as I tried closing the lid, the layers of the display assembly splayed right out)

    The MacBook Pro then booted into the previous owner's desktop, along with a DVD movie still in the drive. (their personal files are blurred out for privacy)

    MBP-screenshot-blurred.jpg

    The specs are not bad at all!
    • 2.5Ghz Core 2 Duo
    • 6MB L2 cache
    • 800Mhz system bus
    • 2GB of RAM
    • 512MB Nvidia 8600M GT
    • 250GB HDD.

    Operating Systems

    Needless to say I was impressed with the specs and went about setting up the hard drive with 8 partitions to install a series of different Mac OS X iterations going right back to the beginning of Intel support;
    • Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger (10GB partition)- Cloned from an installation made from a MBP3,1 disc, installed onto a MBP1,1 as I've outlined here)
    • Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (20GB) - Easy installation from my trusty Firewire iPod 3rd gen Leopard install drive. This works seamlessly across both the PowerPCs and the early Intels.
    • Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (22GB) - Couldn't be simpler with the retail DVD - pop it in and install.
    I then followed further advice from LBF to install the non-DVD versions of Mac OS X from my existing VMware Fusion virtual machines, which I have been running for my own software development testing. Using Paragon VMDK Mounter, I was able to mount the .vmdk file for each system, use Firewire TDM on the MacBook Pro connected to my Mac Pro and then use Disk Utility to restore from the disk image across to the actual hard drive partitions.
    • Mac OS X 10.7 Lion (22GB)
    • Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion (22GB)
    • Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks (30GB)
    • Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite (40GB)
    • Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan (65GB)
    This is where native support ends for this machine and given that it only has 2GB of RAM, I won't punish it with @dosdude1's patches for unsupported Sierra or High Sierra until I can feed it more memory.

    It is very cool to have a Mac which can boot into so many different systems. It also becomes very obvious when running Yosemite and El Capitan that an SSD and at least 4GB of RAM is needed. Both systems begin to bog right down very fast.


    Repairing the MacBook Pro

    I was hunting around on eBay for a complete display assembly to just replace the entire top half of the laptop, but prices (in Australia) are still relatively high for this model. I found a supplier of low-cost replacement LCD panels and scored a matching AU Optonics Model B154PW04 V.0 LED backlit LCD Panel. The seller accepted my offer of AU$25 + shipping and promptly sent it to me.

    When the brilliantly clean, unused panel arrived, I went about installing it. Dismantling the display assembly is a piece of cake on these pre-unibody MacBook Pros. It is an identical technique to pulling apart the displays on the Aluminum PowerBooks (and even the white iBook G3 & G4). It really is a shame the more recent models can't be easily serviced like this.

    While I had the display bezel/frame out of the Mac I tried roughly reshaping the hinges by hand, but the thin bezel had already developed a kink and began to tear through with any added motion. I settled on just attempting to use the structural integrity of the LCD panel to re-form the shape of the bezel and unfortunately I put too much pressure on the lower left hand corner of the screen and heard a *crack*.. Ooops. I just cracked my new panel!

    Kicking myself, I went back to the seller and made the same offer again for another panel, which once again he promptly sent out.

    When the 2nd replacement panel arrived, I stripped the MacBook Pro down again. This time, I pulled out every component (drives, logic board, I/O board, etc) as well as fully dismantling the display assembly. I had the whole machine strewn out across my workbench and also on the floor. I decided I would try re-forming the aluminum frame using some tools;
    • Hammer. Check.
    • Multigrips. Check.
    • C clamps. Check.
    • Pliers. Check.
    • Wooden blocks. Check.
    • Foam padding. Check.
    • Epoxy. Check.
    All set to do it properly this time. Anyone who has tried hammering out aluminum would know that it is near impossible to make it look good. So, I did my best with the tools I had and managed to bang, bend, ply and persuade both the display frame, display cover and the bottom case back into shape.

    Using my multi-purpose 2-part epoxy, I then glued in small strips of thin stainless steel reinforcements behind the display bezel at the point where the aluminum had begun to soften. There isn't a lot of room here, the little strips I had came out of another computer at some stage (I can't recall), but they would be about 0.5mm thick and 10mm x 4mm in size.

    While I had the logic board out, I took the opportunity to clean out the dust from the fans and heatsink, as well as clean off the 10 year old thermal paste.

    Here are some macro shot of the CPU, bus controller and GPU;

    DSC_0083.jpg

    DSC_0084.jpg

    DSC_0085.jpg

    These IHS dies were re-pasted with Grizzly Kryonaut 12.5w/mk compound and all was re-assembled.

    And the results? Stay tuned... (uploading more photos).
     
  2. AphoticD, Jun 10, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018

    AphoticD thread starter macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #2
    DSC_0095.jpg

    We have a beautiful early 2008, MacBook Pro 2.5Ghz Core 2 Duo, fully restored, operational and fighting fit!

    If I had even more patience, I would have spent more time trying to tidy up the aluminum bezel, but I'm okay with it like this. More important than looking nice is it's structural integrity, which I am pleased to say is now strong like any other typical MacBook Pro (or Aluminum PowerBook). It was very close to shearing right off and there were screws in the hinge which had snapped in half, so they needed to be extracted and replaced.

    DSC_0096.jpg DSC_0098.jpg DSC_0099.jpg DSC_0100.jpg DSC_0101.jpg DSC_0084 (1).jpg

    This saved, salvaged, recycled and re-purposed Mac will now live another day. I plan on keeping this one. Whenever I find myself getting this heavily involved with an older Mac, I end up putting them into regular use instead of just keeping it as a 'collectable' looking shiny and untouched or simply selling it off again.

    -AphoticD :apple: :apple: :apple:
     
  3. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #3
    If you add an SSD and it runs the most modern OSX it can, it is quite useable. The main reasons I upgraded my late-2006 MBP to a '16 Macbook, was the size, OSX (It ran 10.7 max) and the dead battery. Quite useable otherwise if you just need something for writing. It is a really nice machine for kids who just need something stationary for their room for a little bit of work and surfing.
     
  4. AphoticD, Jun 10, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018

    AphoticD thread starter macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #4
    You got it. I hope people start to shift their mindless sheep-like consumerism and recognize just how much usable tech we already have in circulation. Sometimes all it needs is a little attention; There really is no need to dig up more natural resources for the sake of personal computing.

    In regards to my [newer] cracked LCD panel and not creating more waste; I've found a way of repurposing it. The crack is only small and cuts off about 1cm of the left side of the display, plus there are some horizontal lines along the bottom. So I imagine I can adjust the resolution scale / overscan to completely bypass the damage to reuse it. There are cheap LCD controller boards available out of China which can be ordered for a specific model panel which turn the LCD panel into a standalone display...

    e.g. I searched on eBay for "B154PW04 controller" to find this;
    s-l1600.jpg
    The controller boards have HDMI, DVI and VGA inputs and connect directly into the LVDS on the back of the panel (and into the inverter for CCFL type displays). The board is powered using a 12v (3amp) transformer. The panel can then be transformed into a portable display for use with any other device. Some Raspberry Pi owners have also turned this idea into a Smart Mirror... I've put my order in for the controller, so I might even build something like this myself!
     
  5. weckart macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #5
    Get MacFanControl on each installation you have and be much more conservative with temps than Apple. That GPU doesn't take kindly to heat.
     
  6. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #6
    So I've been told. That's a good idea. The general running temps are pretty cool, but I haven't pushed it at all with gaming or anything intensive yet.

    I take it you've had an 8600M GT fail on you?
     
  7. AL1630 macrumors regular

    AL1630

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2016
    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    #7
    Definitely not trash, and that's some great repair work! Honestly, since it can even run High Sierra with DosDude1's patch, I'd rather have this than a brand new MacBook Pro. At least this one has ports and a reliable keyboard! I do agree with @weckart about the cooling though, even the GeForce 9400M in my '09 Macbook gets pretty toasty.
     
  8. weckart macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #8
    Yes. After 10+ years of babying it. An errant process started cooking the MBP when my back was turned and killed the GT8600M. I have a new rev3 chip to solder in (supposedly a permanent fix for the ticking timebomb) but am leaving that until I improve my solder skills.
     
  9. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #9
    That's a shame and definitely something to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing.

    Yeah, BGA soldering is something I would need to work up to also. You guys are always inspiring me to try out new repairs, so I'll get there one day too :)
     
  10. dosdude1 macrumors 65816

    dosdude1

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    #10
    Uh-oh, I spy a G84-602-A2 GPU on that board... That is the original, defective version of the GeForce 8600M GT GPU, which WILL FAIL sometime in the very near future if you use the system. I've delt with these many times, and replaced the defective chip with the new, revised G84-603-A2 variant (see pics here that I took during the replacement process of one machine... You can clearly see how different the 603 is from the original 602). I also have a video on my YouTube channel describing the differences. If you'd like the chip replaced, and are located in the US, I can do so for you (I also have extra LCDs for these too).
     
  11. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #11
    Thanks @dosdude1. I'm on the other side of the world in Australia, so services like yours are not easy to come by.

    I'll run with it as it is - it has effectively survived (in different states of health) for 10 years like this so far. If/when it fails, I should have set myself up with the right tools and refined my skills to replace the GPU myself, with the guidance of your insightful videos. :)
     
  12. dosdude1 macrumors 65816

    dosdude1

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    #12
    Alright. I will be making a video about replacing the GPU on one of these sometime in the next couple weeks, so that should help you get an idea of the process.
     
  13. AphoticD thread starter macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #13
    Great! I'm looking forward to it :)
     
  14. RhianB macrumors 6502a

    RhianB

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2016
    Location:
    505 USA
    #14
    Nice repair! I love those Early intel MBPs.
     
  15. pl1984 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2017
    #15
    The issue, as I see it in the Macintosh space, is the lack of software support. Software developers, understandably, quickly move on from operating systems no longer supported by Apple. Perfectly usable hardware is tossed due to lack of software support. One of the largest offenders are website developers. I am still amazed at how perfectly capable systems, in their time, are no longer (or slow) usable on today's websites.
     
  16. AL1630 macrumors regular

    AL1630

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2016
    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    #16
    Yeah, according to Apple's compatibility list, the oldest MBP (Or mac in general) that can run High Sierra was released in 2010. 8 years is a decent amount of support, but even older machines like the '08 MBP in this thread are capable of running High Sierra, but ONLY with 'hacks' like the MacOS High Sierra Patcher. This is still a perfectly usable machine, but most people won't touch it, since it's marked as obsolete. If you need a computer for mostly basic work, you can get a computer from around 2009 for 1/10th of the price of a new MacBook, but since it's 'unsupported' by Apple, most people won't, because they don't know about or don't want to deal with the workarounds that people like dosdude1 have made.
     
  17. bobesch macrumors 6502a

    bobesch

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Location:
    Kiel, Germany
    #17
    Hi, great work - congrats! - I wish I had your skills and patience.
    Definitely a "treasure" but only after being saved by your hands!
    Have a lot of fun with that nice machine...

    The early 2008 15" MacBookPro has become my main driver for more than a year now and it gets nearly all my tasks done. I wouldn't call it a machine only for basic work, though it badly fails on 4k-video (which is BTW not my favorite resolution, but my son took some 4k GoPro videos I couldn't enjoy on that machine)
    Mine is the 2.4GHz model. I've upgraded the hardware to 6GB RAM, a 1TB SSD and a USB3.0 (via PC-ExpressCard).
    Out of the box El Capitan runs smooth. An SSD is kind of mandatory, if ElCap should be real fun on those machines.
    I like the non-glossy and bright screen - I do prefer it over our TV for watching TV/video.
    And it's my main music-player - enhanced with a 12south BassJump2 Subwoofer - great to listen Stereo sitting in front of it.
    It gets pretty hot on heavy load. An iLapStand from Rain Design does a good job to keep it cool - and on some rare occasions a cooling brick out of our fridge needs to be extra-support.
    The heaviest tasks are browsing/streaming video plus virtual Windows 2k/XP/7pro with VMware Fusion, which lifts temp up to 79°C (to hot to place the book onto your lap without protection).
    Prices for a decent machine are pretty low (currently about 100-120€), so I prepared a few machines for friends and family (all with 120/250GB SSD (35-60€) /iLapStand (15-25€) / BassJump 20-25€) and turned the spare-spinning drive /w USB-case into a backup-drive.
    Last week I had my first disappointment: a 2.5GHz Model with signs of poor maintainance/repair-access/missing screws. The LogicBoard got smoked up and fell dead, after I've installed ElCap via FW-cloning. Maybe the failure was caused by the poor maintainance, but maybe because of the above mentioned faulty GPU.
     
  18. AphoticD, Jun 11, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018

    AphoticD thread starter macrumors 65816

    AphoticD

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2017
    Location:
    Australia
    #18
    Thanks @bobesch you know this model very well!!

    I agree with El Capitan being smooth. It’s actually not terrible even with the spinning HDD after I gave it some time to finish all of it’s updates and under the hood self-maintenance.

    El Capitan performs so much smoother / happier than Yosemite and Mavericks (Possibly better than Mountain Lion too) even with only 2GB of RAM. I will want to max it out to 6GB when I get a chance. The 4GB DDR2-667 sticks are still relatively expensive, but the 2GB sticks are cheap as chips, so I might just settle for 4GB total.

    I have seen this unit reach 65C Core CPU temps under load since applying the new thermal paste. I’ve also followed @weckart ‘s advice and used MacsFanControl to increase the fan speed (smcFanControl in the earlier OSes).

    I am very impressed with the internal design of this model. It’s quite easy to get the logic board out (compared to some portable Macs we know) and the screw count is fairly low.

    That being said.. I have just bought two more cheap units to work on. No smashed screens this time, but untested, so who knows if they will boot or not.

    I might need to crack the whip and setup a BGA rework station sooner rather than later!!
     
  19. VanneDC macrumors 6502a

    VanneDC

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2010
    Location:
    Dubai, UAE
    #19
    Great work mate, nice skill set you have for old macs.
    :)
     
  20. old mac Suspended

    Joined:
    May 16, 2011
    #20
    Nice story. It reminded me of the G3 iBook that I found and scrapped back together. I even used a wi fi antenna from an emac. Didn't that MBP ship with 10.5? If so, Tiger will not boot.
     
  21. dosdude1 macrumors 65816

    dosdude1

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    #21
    It did ship with 10.5, but it can boot Tiger as its hardware was essentially unchanged from the 2007 A1226/A1229 MacBookPro3,1 models. I've done it on my MacBookPro4,1, it runs great.
     
  22. old mac Suspended

    Joined:
    May 16, 2011
    #22
    Ok then. Were the MBs from 2007 and 2008 different?
     
  23. dosdude1 macrumors 65816

    dosdude1

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    #23
    Yes, the 2007 MacBook2,1 used the old i945 chipset with Intel GMA 950 Graphics, the Late-2007 and Early-2008 MacBook3,1/4,1 used the i965 chipset with Intel GMAX3100 graphics. Tiger will run on GMAX3100 systems, but will not have full graphics acceleration like with the 8600M GT in the MacBook Pro 3,1 and 4,1.
     
  24. Hater macrumors 6502a

    Hater

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2017
    Location:
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    #24
    Nice one.

    I need to find one like this for myself, ever since High Sierra stopped supporting FCP7. I've been meaning to buy an old Pro just for this purpose, but I don't want to spend the $300+ people want for the pleasure!

    I think I want a BlackBook.
     
  25. weckart macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    #25
    You don't. There is precious little pleasure in a GMA950 unless you love the sound of fans racing. It really was an absolute turd of a GPU. You would probably enjoy the MBP more even with the risk of its GPU dying on you.

    The only thing I can say for the rev1 plastic MacBook is that it is as robust electronically as its casing wasn't.
     

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