Salvaging an old iMac

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
I have a late 2009 iMac27 that won't boot normally anymore but still works in safe mode. I've done a lot of digging around, troubleshooting, reinstalled the OS, deleted a whole bunch of junk and the best assumption I can come up with is the GPU has simply had enough.

This thread isn't about fixing this iMac, its old and it's about time I upgrade anyway.

What I'm now trying to figure out is...

- Given that it can only boot in safe mode, would I still be able to use it as a second monitor if I buy a new iMac?
- I've noticed in safe mode that it now won't read any peripheral drives - no USB flash sticks, portable HDD, SD memory cards. If that's the case, how would one extract the old files on this aside from opening it up and mounting the HDD? Would a thunderbolt connection to a new iMac work?

Thanks in advance.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,200
5,543
Have you ever tried connecting an external drive (with a bootable copy of the OS on it, of course) -- and tried booting it that way?
 

chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
8,373
4,362
Pumpkindale
If that model has a Firewire port, which I think it does, then hold down the key-combo for "Firewire Target Disk mode".
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1661

Thunderbolt has a similar target disk mode:
http://support.apple.com/kb/ph3838

I don't know if your model has a TBolt port.


If the iMac comes up and displays a big firewire symbol on the screen, then get a Firewire cable and connect it to another Mac. You can test whether FW target disk mode works without connecting a FW cable. Simply hold down the key combo and start it up.

If it doesn't come up, then removing the HD is the only way to get data.

Google search terms:
thunderbolt target disk mode
firewire target disk mode


- Given that it can only boot in safe mode, would I still be able to use it as a second monitor if I buy a new iMac?
No.
 

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
Have you ever tried connecting an external drive (with a bootable copy of the OS on it, of course) -- and tried booting it that way?
Ive already reinstalled the OS isnt that a similar step?

Ill try making a bootable USB when I get to work on Tuesday, cause right now I cant access any USB aside from my mouse, keyboard and iphone.

If that model has a Firewire port, which I think it does, then hold down the key-combo for "Firewire Target Disk mode".
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1661
Thanks for the help, glad I can still get my old files out of this.

I was really hoping to at least retain some use out of the old iMac instead of just throwing it out. The price for a replacement 2010 GPU is $500!
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Ive already reinstalled the OS isnt that a similar step?

Ill try making a bootable USB when I get to work on Tuesday, cause right now I cant access any USB aside from my mouse, keyboard and iphone.



Thanks for the help, glad I can still get my old files out of this.

I was really hoping to at least retain some use out of the old iMac instead of just throwing it out. The price for a replacement 2010 GPU is $500!
Do not throw this out. There are many repairers out there especially on this forum that would love to own something like this. If you reach 6502 rank you will be granted access to the Marketplace.

What happens when trying to start regularly? You could of course use Target Disk Mode to copy your data, or restore from a Time Machine backup. What makes you say it is the GPU?
 

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
Apple logo loads up, then splits up into bits and then nothing happens. The mouse cursor loads but has this square of lines following it around.

I've googled and searched these forums as well and people who had similar symptoms all wound up having GPU issues. A replacement 2010 GPU will set me back a little less than $500, which isn't money I'm willing to pay for an old system.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Apple logo loads up, then splits up into bits and then nothing happens. The mouse cursor loads but has this square of lines following it around.

I've googled and searched these forums as well and people who had similar symptoms all wound up having GPU issues. A replacement 2010 GPU will set me back a little less than $500, which isn't money I'm willing to pay for an old system.
You maybe able to "bake" the GPU. Since you don't seem concerned about screwing it up, I think it is a good shot.

http://support.apple.com/kb/TS5167

That may apply too. Even if you get a new one, are you going to sell the old?
 

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
Wow I thought bake was some sort of fancy term for overclocking or something. Nope it literally meant to bake it haha.

I guess I'll give it a try once I get a new computer.

As for the replacement GPU, I have the Radeon 4670 so it won't be covered ...

I'm on the fence to sell this old thing or not or just keep it. In any case, just so potential buyers don't get their hopes up I'm based in Japan and I'm pretty sure the shipping alone is worth more than the iMac itself.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Wow I thought bake was some sort of fancy term for overclocking or something. Nope it literally meant to bake it haha.

I guess I'll give it a try once I get a new computer.

As for the replacement GPU, I have the Radeon 4670 so it won't be covered ...

I'm on the fence to sell this old thing or not or just keep it. In any case, just so potential buyers don't get their hopes up I'm based in Japan and I'm pretty sure the shipping alone is worth more than the iMac itself.
I just hate to see a good piece of hardware with some ability to be repaired to go to waste. 2010 iMacs still have good power.

It could be used as a target display in Target Display Mode. Information on this is available here.

Essentially, people remove the Logic Board and bake 350 till golden brown on a cookie sheet. Generally it is done for 10 mins and the solder joints reconnect appropriately and it works. I personally have repaired a Dell the same way. Just make sure you don't burn it otherwise you will have some iSmoke in your home.
 

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
I just hate to see a good piece of hardware with some ability to be repaired to go to waste. 2010 iMacs still have good power.

It could be used as a target display in Target Display Mode. Information on this is available here.

Essentially, people remove the Logic Board and bake 350 till golden brown on a cookie sheet. Generally it is done for 10 mins and the solder joints reconnect appropriately and it works. I personally have repaired a Dell the same way. Just make sure you don't burn it otherwise you will have some iSmoke in your home.
Yeah I know what you mean. I had zero complaints with it for 4 years. Video/photo editing was superb. Bring friends over to watch movies on it and the quality of the resolution still impressed them.

I have a WiiU connected to the iMac and TDM won't activate while running on safe mode. So I'm guessing using it as a second monitor for a new system won't either.
 

Idefix

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2012
523
72
if it still boots in safe mode, then there's nothing wrong with the HD, nothing wrong with the GPU.

You need to completely erase the HD and reinstall a clean system. Do not import from a backup, because that's where the problem will be.

Reinstall the software you need, copy your documents.

Figure out what you can use it for.
 

Intell

macrumors P6
Jan 24, 2010
18,872
368
Inside
if it still boots in safe mode, then there's nothing wrong with the HD, nothing wrong with the GPU.
The GPU could be faulty. In Safe Boot the GPU kexts don't load and the system runs on a basic framebuffer. With the GPU kexts loaded the GPU initializes itself to its fullest extent. In doing so it can crash the system or cause video artifacts.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Yeah I know what you mean. I had zero complaints with it for 4 years. Video/photo editing was superb. Bring friends over to watch movies on it and the quality of the resolution still impressed them.

I have a WiiU connected to the iMac and TDM won't activate while running on safe mode. So I'm guessing using it as a second monitor for a new system won't either.
Target Disk Mode has nothing to do with Safe Mode in OS X. In fact TDM is a EFI based function.

Have you tried holding D at boot to load Hardware Test. First run a test if you can but also move the mouse cursor really fast and see if it artifacts. Not exactly the best test but a good place to start.
 

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
Target Disk Mode has nothing to do with Safe Mode in OS X. In fact TDM is a EFI based function.

Have you tried holding D at boot to load Hardware Test. First run a test if you can but also move the mouse cursor really fast and see if it artifacts. Not exactly the best test but a good place to start.
Hmm weird, I just tried several times and the hardware test wont even run. Same problems as a regular bootup, just hangs.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Hmm weird, I just tried several times and the hardware test wont even run. Same problems as a regular bootup, just hangs.
Try holding OPT at boot and see if it artifacts all over. Or even hold CMD R and boot the recovery partition. See how it does without being booted into OS X.
 

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
So when booted from the Recovery Partition, you do not experience graphical errors?
When I selected the recovery partition, it just brings me to the recovery options - reinstall, backup, get help etc etc.
 

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
No visible graphic errors.

Even the square of lines following my mouse cursor wasn't around.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
No visible graphic errors.

Even the square of lines following my mouse cursor wasn't around.
That is indicative to me that you should make a USB key somehow and completely nuke that drive and start over. Don't even bother with the Recovery Partition version. Unless the Recovery Partition only uses the Framebuffer kext, the error should appear.

What happens if you hold D down right after hitting the power button? It may ask to join a network but should allow a hardware test.
 

Fizzunk

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 12, 2014
22
0
Whoops disregard that post.

I just double checked and yeah even when booting the recovery partition I still got the lines following my mouse cursor.

Sorry for the confusion.
 

Altemose

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2013
9,089
444
Elkton, Maryland
Whoops disregard that post.



I just double checked and yeah even when booting the recovery partition I still got the lines following my mouse cursor.



Sorry for the confusion.

Then it definitely is the graphics card... I would look at cloning the drive via Target Disk Mode. I am not sure if using Target Display Mode requires a working GPU. I am going to do some research on whether baking the board will work.