iMac died after installing new hard drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Mr.H, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. Mr.H macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    Hi everyone.

    I've been using Apple products since the Apple IIGS while in school. I have plenty of experience installing stuff like ram, hard drives, processors, etc. In other words I don't repair macs for a living but I know enough to do upgrades and installations on most computers. I'm currently typing this post on an old Beige G3 that's has been my frankenstein. This honestly shouldn't be an issue, but it is. I'm hoping to tap into the wisdom of some of the more experienced users here in this forum. If you'll indulge me, I'll start with my story:

    I own a late 2009 iMac with a 21.5 inch screen. (See link for full specs - For the first time in my life, the SMART sensor on a hard drive has actually warned me about a hard drive going bad before dying. The original internal hard drive was a 500GB Seagate SATA that was installed by Apple. While I had the time, I ordered a 3TB Hitachi Deskstar NAS SATA as a replacement. To avoid any issues with the iMac's fans, I ordered from OWC a special kit that includes a special digital thermal sensor that prevents the fans from running like crazy.

    Installation went as well as could be expected. I took my time and followed the installation video that OWC had and referenced an install article posted on The only trouble I had was plugging back in the ribbon cable that connects the LCD screen to the motherboard. On the first try, I crinkled the end and had to smooth it out with my fingers. (That might had been a fatal mistake.) I was finally able to plug the ribbon cable back in with a pair of tweezers.

    My iMac powered on and booted from an external drive like it was set up to do. I was able to successfully reformat the new internal hard drive without any issues. I ran Carbon Copy Cloner to clone everything from the original hard drive to the new one in the iMac. When I got back from the shower, my iMac was stone dead. I tried a few things like forcing a reboot, trying another outlet, and letting it rest for an hour and two then plugging it back in. Nothing. Not even a sound. I haven't cracked it back open because I see no benefit to doing so as of yet. Unless I find something massively obvious.

    I've done some online research and found a this thread >> that had another person with a similar issue. In the end, he had it repaired by the Apple Store and they claimed that the LCD power inverter cable in far enough and that blew out the power source. I'm not sure how plausible that is, but I've never had any major issue after installing a hard drive, ram, etc before. Even though it would make sense to install a new power supply, I honestly don't want to waste my money on a new power supply if that's not really the source of my problem. Or worse yet it doesn't correct the problem and gets blown out. I am seeking estimates from different repair shops in my area. I honestly rather fix it myself. Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Mr.H, Apr 10, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015

    Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    Cleared this because this was originally a redundant post. :p
  3. Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    Here's an update of sorts. Last night I found a copy of the technical manual for my iMac. It suggested to check the diagnostic LEDS that hide behind the bottom vents. So I plugged my iMac back in, and tilted it enough to take a peek. Shockingly, it tried to come to life. I could only hear the fans and the hard drive try to spin, but no chime. Once it was upright it became silent and started to burn what I assumed was silicon.

    Based on what I've read in the tech manual, if there's no lights, then I'll need to replace the power supply. But I'll also need to figure out exactly what the heck was burning.

    I've also read, but not confirmed, that certain hard drives will demand more amps than the iMac can provide. Is there any truth to this? Just wondering. I may also need to purchase a "compatible" hard drive.

  4. silvetti macrumors 6502a


    Nov 24, 2011
    You should have checked and compare hard disk requirements in terms of power. I think your safest bet is to take it in to a Apple Repair Centre.
  5. Mr.H, Apr 12, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015

    Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    Well, here's another update:

    I may have to take my poor iMac to a repair shop. I'm still waiting for one of them to give me an estaminet. But I did figure out exactly where the diagnostic LEDs were on my iMac. When the LCD screen is attached and the power cord connected, I only have LED #1 lit. That means the logic board has detected trickle voltage from the power supply. But when I press the power button, nothing else happens.

    When the LCD screen is detached from the iMac, LED #1 will light up and the fans will spin, but no chime. I've tested this a few time and it's consistently happens without the screen.

    The iMac had a ton of dust, and I sprayed all that out. I suppose that's what was burning the other night. I'm still kind of befuddled by this. But I'll keep on researching and reading in the meantime.
  6. macthefork, Apr 12, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015

    macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    If there was dust still in the iMac after you installed the new HD, could some of that dust have gotten into the connectors? It doesn't take much dust to make an intermittent connection in the SATA connector or the LCD ribbon connector. You could try disconnecting the connectors and using a can of compressed air to blow out any dust.

    Since it initially started up after the upgrade an intermittent connection could be an issue. If the new HD met the SATA spec, it should be adequately powered by the iMac. Plus, many NAS drives use less power than a regular drive partially due to many being 5400 RPM drives.

    How "crinkled" was that ribbon connector? That is probably the most delicate part of the repair. It's very easy to damage the receptor that is on the logic board. Be sure that connector is not damaged or pulled away from the logic board.

    Good luck on that. I've opened many iMacs and, although it's not difficult, they do have delicate areas such as the connectors.
  7. silvetti macrumors 6502a


    Nov 24, 2011
  8. BradHatter macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2014
    It sounds like something is loose to me. The fact that you could lay it on its side and get partial response but put it upright and get none implies that OR there's a loose screw in there somewhere.

    One thing I've learned about Apple stuff is to make sure you put the exact same screws in where they originally came from. If you don't and one is just a little longer it may actually be touching the logic board and shorting it.
  9. Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    Update 4-17-15

    Well, I'm back at square one again. I honestly can't believe that a simple hard drive replacement would lead to this. I'm trying my best to properly digest everything that's happened up till now. I will apologize up front if this post gets too wordy. I'll start from where I left off.

    • I emailed tech support over at OWC and asked if there was any type of life span for the power supply. He responded that parts can fail at any time. Just to clarify whether or not I could use any brand of hard drive with my iMac or had to strictly use Seagate. I just found too much conflicting information online. The same tech responded that as long as I was using the thermal cable that came with their upgrade kit, I could use any hard drive drive.

    • I some how convinced myself that the power supply was at fault. I ordered a new one online and the iMac behaves much the same way. I'll press the power button and the fans will spin, try to give out, and then spin some more and not do much else. Visually I didn't see any damage on the original after taking it out. I speculated that maybe something on the power supply might had shorted. I'm once again wondering what made that burning smell.

    • Just for giggles, here's step 4 from the troubleshooting section of the Apple tech guide:

    "Disconnect AC cable then remove power supply and carefully inspect connectors
    between AC inlet and power supply, then DC connectors and cables between power supply and logic board, for damage or poor connections."

    Maybe I'm being a baby about this, but the AC cable connects to a port that midway on the logic board, on the side that does not face the LCD screen. To inspect that port would require taking out the logic board, which would be in my humble opinion a mess.

    • The next steps in the tech guide involve inspecting the power button, which means once again taking out the logic board. Based on the fact that the power button at least rotates the fans, I might assume that the power button works just fine. After that, try a different DC power cable. Then you have the option of either replacing the power supply or the logic board. If all else fails, take everything out. (hard drive, optical drive, AirPort, Bluetooth, and SD card modules)

    • Tried another DC power cable, and it made no difference.

    macthefork: I cleaned out the area where the hard drive goes before installing the new one. I'm not say a speck of dust might had gotten into the SATA connector or the LCD ribbon connector. But I did blow some canned air into all of those connectors this evening, but with no luck. As far as the LCD ribbon cable is concerned, somehow the connector pushes up the ends of the copper/metal strips, and bunches them up a bit. It's not enough that I can't flatten it out. But you're right it's pretty damn delicate. Maybe the first time around it didn't enter correctly, that's what screwed up my logic board.

    BradHatter: If there's something loose, I can't spot what it could be. But logically, I could understand that assertion. I've made an effort to limit my interaction with the logic board as much as possible. Thankfully none of the screws that I've had to mess with are anywhere near the logic board.

    My next conclusion is that the problem's likely the logic board. I could be wrong, but I really had my heart set on it being the power supply. I guess maybe I should had mentioned this earlier, but I wasn't sure if it'd actually would matter. But I've been having problems with my SuperDrive and it finally gave out last month. Could it be a factor?
  10. applegeek97 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
  11. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    I've done beta testing for SCSC for just over year. They make the drive testing program Scannerz ( FWIW, it won't do you any good to buy it but I'm going to tell you about some things I've learned during the beta program.

    SCSC became aware of a problem with logic boards they call "intermittent generic faults" or IGFs. An intermittent generic fault is basically where a weak solder joint cracks and goes bad, a crack develops in a logic board trace, or a cable starts making intermittent connection because the wire in it has broken but the insulation keeps it from separating 100% and it's making intermittent electrical contact (this is the type of problem you run into when a SATA cable goes bad). If the IGF is serious enough it usually fails completely.

    One of the best ways an IGF can be induced into a logic board is by flexing it. If you look at the service manual you will find comments stating not to flex, bend, or put undue strain on the logic board. The traces can crack, and if it's bad enough you will definitely have problems. That might explain why if you lay it down it "sort of" starts but you put it upright it doesn't. There's just enough contact in one orientation to allow partial electrical contact.

    That might be one explanation. Another might be that some cables or connectors went bad when removed. I'm assuming you have an external bootable drive or install media, so I might suggest the following:

    1. Dissconnect all peripherals connected to the logic board except any speaker connections. This would include the HDD, optical drive, all video connections, wireless, keyboard…I mean everything except the speaker. Leave the power connectors in. You don't need to remove all the devices, just disconnect their cables from the logic board. This assumes the speaker wires aren't shorted.

    2. Power the system on.

    Without any peripheral connected, if the problem was a cable or some type of peripheral, the system will gong and go through the steps normally needed to start up. If the logic board is OK, the system obviously won't start up because your drive is missing, but you should hear a gong and the indicator lights should give you some sort of status. This would tell you the logic board and supply is OK.

    If the logic board properly goes through it's startup iterations, connect the hard drive and see if it will start. If it does, for each peripheral, turn the system off and continue plugging in each peripheral connection one by one and attempt a restart to see if you can find the one that's causing the logic board to see a problem (probably a short circuit in the cable or connector)

    If it doesn't start with the hard drive, disconnect it (Power cables too, by the way) and try adding the other peripherals like I just described.

    The idea of all of this is to see if the problem is logic board or supply related, or being caused by one of the other connections or peripherals.

    The power regulation on most Mac's has a fail safe shutoff and if it sees a short circuit in one of the output lines, instead of turning on and toasting the system, the supply cuts off, and of course the system won't start. The solution is to remove the short circuit. Any short, even if it's caused by something on the logic board making contact with ground, like a shield or a screw, can also cause the problem.

    If the logic board shows no signs of life with everything disconnected then either the logic board or supply are at fault. Look at any and all of the connectors that were removed. Sometimes if a pin connector is installed quicky, if one of the pins isn't properly in it's connector it will bend over causing a short circuity. That can be fixed by carefully bending it upright (with the power off of course) and reinstalling the connector. This problem used to happen a lot of the old IDE drives.

    If the system shows no signs of life even with everything disconnected I would still look at all the connectors carefully, but it would imply the supply or logic board is having problems.

    A Mac doesn't need peripherals connected to it to go through it's initial startup phases, but with no drive connected it obviously won't boot up.

    Another possibility might be an electrostatic zap occurred during work and it fried the logic board. Most circuitry these days is protected against that but it can still happen.

    In any case, good luck.
  12. Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    ZVH: Thank you! Your post has been the best and most informative so far. A peripheral possibly causing a short circuit sound like a big possibility. I have had trouble with my SuperDrive for the longest time. But yeah, I'll go ahead and disconnect everything and test it. I'll also do the RAM as well. I know bad RAM will cause problems as well. Otherwise I'll keep everyone posted.
  13. Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    ZVH: I have a quick question. Should I also disconnect the video card that's attached to the back of the logic board? What about the Audio i/O cable?

    So far no bong...
  14. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    You caught me at my desk right now so I was able to see this quickly.

    Yes, pull the video card too. You may have to additionally elevate any internal cables so they aren't making contact with any grounded surfaces or laying across the logic board. Once and only once did I see an audio cable cause problems. It was on an old PowerBook G4 and one of the sharper solder connections dug into the audio cable causing it to short because they had it routed right on top of the logic board. You may need to disconnect the audio cable from the logic board but you'll hear no gong sound and have to rely solely on the status light.

    I think right now all we want to do is see if the thing will power up at all and show any signs of life and/or intelligence.
  15. Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    Okay, I've just pulled out the logic board and detached the video card's cable from the connector on the logic board. I'm learning all of my old Beige G3's limitations when it comes to the web. Firefox allows me to upload photo to this forum.

    • The first photo is a closeup of the LCD ribbon cable. I was able to flatten it out with my thumb nail, but the metallic strips have a habit of curling up with inserted into its connector.
    • 2nd photo is the back side of the logic board.
    • the 3rd is a closeup on an area of the logic board that looks as if it has some type of stain on it. I wonder if that was where that smell came from...

    I'll pop the logic board back in and post my results.

    Attached Files:

  16. Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    Okay, I've tested the logic board without anything connected except the original power supply, which I suspected was alright to begin with. So far I'm coming to the conclusion that the logic board is fried. I'll try again with the new power supply in a couple minutes.
  17. Mr.H thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2015
    Well, my iMac is officially dead. I just tried testing it with the new power supply, and I can neither hear a gong or see LED #2 light up. I guess I fried the logic board when I first had trouble with the stupid LCD ribbon cable. The "burn" is right next to the video card, so that's the only logical conclusion that I can conger.

    I'll have to admit this was a very educational experience, but I could had done without a dead Mac for around $100. For now I can do 1 of 3 things: buy a new logic board, see if I can get mine repaired (assuming that it's possible), or purchase a used Mac or cheap PC.

    I'd like to thank everyone on this thread that has provided me with useful feed back.
  18. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2012
    I think your logic board blew. The darkened area indicates board damage. Looking closely at the logic board photo it appears that several traces are blown. It's tough to tell with a photo.

    I'm not sure you did anything wrong. I think it's quite possible that when you installed the drive the board decided to head south a few minutes later coincidentally. it may have absolutely nothing to do with the hard drive or the work you did.

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