World's saddest Mac story... or... how I royally screwed things up...

Discussion in 'iMac' started by macguyincali, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. macguyincali macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2004
    So.. here's my sad sob story. I, a supposedly technologically savvy human, have never taken a computer in to get fixed. I fix things myself. In this case it was a hard drive on an iMac 5k late 2014 model I bought my wife one Christmas (upgraded 4.0GHz with a 295x GPU and 1TB and tons of memory). I dutifully ordered a new hard drive including the special screen adhesive strips you need to replace the screen with. Very carefully, I disassembled the iMac and replaced the hard drive. Replaced the screen using the special adhesive strips. Eureka! It works. Cost me less than $100 and I was back up and running again. Feeling very proud of my work, I sent my wife's workstation up again and she was back in the game.

    HOWEVER... about a week later, with friends visiting the house, I heard a crash and my son comes into the room declaring: "The computer's screen just fell off!!!" The slight downward tilt on the wall mounted iMac apparently caused it to "unstick" and fall off the computer to the desk. To my horror the screen was shattered. Undeterred, I went to eBay to order a new screen. $300. Delivered within 72 hours. I plugged the screen in and... nothing! The eBay store guy offered to send me a new cable in case it was the cable. No luck. It appears that, upon falling out of the enclosure, the screen pulled very hard on the socket and it was damaged somehow. Close inspection shows that the socket seems to have some minor damage. ARRGG!! I go to my local Apple authorized retailer and he tells me, probably need to order a new motherboard. I look on eBay. Only one I could find for my model was $950. Too high for my taste, having already spent about $400 on this computer. Could have bought a new one!

    Now, 10 months later, my main computer, a MacPro 2,1 which I have nursed for at least 13 years (including hacking it regularly to run the latest OS thanks to Pikify on this forum) finally dies. I now have two broken Macs. One newer than the other. I HAVE to get the iMac back up and running. I absolutely must. But I am at a loss. Please help me oh Mac gurus.

    In summary:
    1. The iMac works if I plug it into an external monitor, though it seems to shut down after a while.
    2. it seems to work headless via Wifi and screen sharing (no shutting down).
    3. I have a brand new screen in a box but it won't light up when plugged in.
    4. The old screen that is shattered won't light up either.
    5. I've tried different ribbon cables, with no result.
    6. The model is iMac 5K, late 2014, BTO option, 4.0Ghz with the M295x GPU
    7. but with the 295x GPU
    I've waited probably about a year now to find a motherboard that is cheaper. So far, I can't find much, but I've seen similar iMac models that have damaged screens on eBay, but otherwise ok. Some are not exactly the same year, some are not the same CPU /GPU combo. There are also motherboards without CPUs for a lot cheaper, but I'm worried about ordering something that might not work. So... the questions:
    • Do I have to install exactly the same motherboard as the original model? Or can I install a newer motherboard?
    • Will my current CPU / GPU be compatible with other motherboards?
    • I found this motherboard on eBay. Will it work for my situation? It has no CPU or heatsink etc.
    • I found this screen damaged iMac 5k, same BTO model on eBay. Would I be able to swap out my new screen on this one and have the same functioning model? Or I could swap the motherboard with my iMac. etc.
    • I found this iMac which is being sold for parts, similar to mine, only lower GPU speed (3.5GhZ). Could I pilfer it for parts and make my iMac whole again? Would I be able to use my faster CPU and faster GPU on the motherboard?
    • Does anyone have some recommendation for me to resolve my dilemma without being out another $900?
    • Point me in the right direction and I will forever be indebted to you and will pass along the Mac karma by helping some other unfortunate soul one day. Also, if you live in San Diego, I will buy you a beer.

    I THANK YOU GUYS (AND GALS) PROFUSELY, if you can help me solve this dilemma. It is heartbreaking to go through something like this and have what seems to be a perfectly good computer sitting in the corner.
  2. ravinder08 macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2010
    Why not go on Ebay and buy a used working iMac for around $500 if you really need one rather than throwing money at this old broken one? **** happens it's not the end of the world.
  3. macguyincali thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2004
    Well, because I'm a stubborn *******! But also, importantly, I am the kind of guy who gets years of use out of his Macs and that's just good common sense. But yes, good point. It may come to that. The question is, can I get the same power / processing power for the price by buying a used mac or by repairing the one I have.
  4. hpucker99 macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2009
    It appears to mr that you are throwing good after bad. Just walkaway from your broken iMac and get something from the Apple refurbished store.
  5. mikzn macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2013
  6. retta283 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 8, 2018
    Kingman, AZ
    I was worried when they went to the full-glass panel that they would fall off... I would just buy a new iMac or a used one from 2015/2017
  7. Easttime macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2015
    Sympathy, but no real help. Except to second the suggestion to move on. For years I had done my own work on DOS and Windows gear. When I had a desperate situation like that in 2016 after trying to proactively replace the hard drive in my 2011 iMac 5, combined with the simultaneous death of my 2010 MacBook, I ordered a refurb 2014 Mac mini from the Apple store and was up and running in 3 days. I am now on a 2018 Mac mini with new MacBook backup. Hopefully will get lotsa years out of these two. I will no longer attempt DIY repairs on Apple gear.
  8. Pressure, Apr 25, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019

    Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    This is known as the sunk-cost fallacy. Read up on the parable of the broken window.

    Where in the world are you located? A used Mac Pro 2,1 will set you back like $100 at most.

    Regarding the iMac, you can look for changes from model to model on ifixit. If you get a motherboard from the same year model there will be no problems. Another year model? Connectors might have changed as well as placement of connectors.

    Another option is to sell your 2014 model and recoup some of the cost and let some other person spend hours on trying and fixing things.

    Also, don't you have home / household insurance that cover these accidents?
  9. Fried Chicken macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

    Jun 11, 2011
    Just fix the motherboard connector! It just requires some soldering. Send it to Louis Rossmann.....

    It’s probably like a $1> part.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    hpucker has it right.

    Give up on the old one.
    Past a certain point, they're not worth repairing any more.
    Get something new or Apple-refurbished.

    I WOULD NOT attempt any more "wall-mounting".
    The iMac comes with a good stand.
    Use it, and be happy that way.
  11. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Can it be fixed with a screwdriver.or without tools? I fix it.
    Can it not be fixed with a screwdriver or without tools? I let someone else fix it.

    There are always good deals on eBay if you look hard enough.
  12. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    Are you any good with soldering? I had the display connector on a 2009 iMac motherboard break. The connector head came off and some of the pins pulled out of the motherboard. I took out the soldering iron and magnifying glass. Resoldered the two pins which pulled out, cleaned off excess solder, carefully aligned the pins, put the head back on, then epoxied it in place. The screen has been working great again since December 2017.

    You'll need a good soldering iron with separate base and iron with temperature control. I'd hate to try it with a cheap gun model.

    If it is shutting down with an external screen. Perhaps check the internal connectors carefully. Just to make sure none of the pins are crossing for any of the displays connectors. It would be worth going over them carefully with a strong magnifying glass to identify damage.

    As used motherboards for Macs tend to be overly expensive. Oftentimes nearly the cost of the same model in working condition. Plus factoring in the absurdly high resale value busted Macs often command. It'll likely be cheaper overall to buy a working model of the same spec and selling yours as parts only on eBay. It might even be cheaper to go one model up or higher spec on the same model than the cost of repair.

    Same goes with the Mac Pro. Although I'd part it out if you know what is wrong with it. Some of those parts get ridiculous prices. An empty case in excellent physical condition is quite valuable. But the handles must be very well protected for shipping. Once you factor in the value of the parts. You may be able to get a base 4,1/5,1 for little extra.
  13. macguyincali thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2004
    How do I do that? And how do I know what part number to order?
    --- Post Merged, Apr 26, 2019 ---
    Thanks, will look into this further.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 26, 2019 ---
    So it seems to work with the 4K Samsung display via DisplayPort. Though, generally it seems a little off. Can't quite put my finger on it. (aside from the display disconnecting possibly because I was screen sharing?). In Activity Monitor, the dock icon shows only one bar not multiple like it does on my MacBook (for the various cores). Am I missing something?
  14. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    You can write directly to them on their website. They know what parts are needed but first they need to see what is really damaged (have the unit in hand).

    You can check out their work on YouTube. They know what they are doing.
  15. Fried Chicken macrumors 6502

    Fried Chicken

    Jun 11, 2011
    I can't say what part number to order, and unless you have experience with board repair (you don't) you'll want to send it in.

    As Pressure mentioned, just reach out to them. My guess you'll be paying around $100.
  16. macguyincali thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2004
    Thanks FC and Pressure. Will take a look.
    --- Post Merged, May 2, 2019 ---
    I found this motherboard on eBay and it is for the same year (late 2014) except it has the i5 CPU and the M290X GPU. Would I be able to use this motherboard in my iMac and possibly swap out the CPU and GPUs so I have effectively the same machine as before?
  17. Freida macrumors 68000

    Oct 22, 2010
    Thank you for that. Looked up the sunk-cost fallacy and love the article I've found.
    Also, the OP is so guilty of it its unbelievable.
    Advice to OP - ask Apple store to fix it or buy another. You've failed, learn the lesson and move on.
  18. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    Oh yea.

    When you look at the issue — how do I fix this? It can be absurdly expensive. When you look at the real problem — how do I get a reliable, working Mac (or two)? The real solution can be a lot less expensive.

    That monster thread on trying to get Metal Graphics functionality into 2010–2011 iMacs cracks me up. 2012s are pretty cheap these days. Just sayin'...
  19. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    Can you take a photo of the connectors on the board.

    We may be able to see what's damaged before you splash $400 on a board.
  20. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    Especially if you sell your 2010-2011 to offset the price.
  21. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    If you are really stubborn you could try repairing it.

    The screen doesn't "light up"? Test that in a dark room to verify the black light isn't coming on.

    That would indicate the backlight isn't getting power. The cable is integrated into the LCD (its the cable the runs around the perimeter). Since you tried a new LCD its likely the socket on the logic board. I believe thats a 12 pin socket.

    If you are willing to invest/borrow 150 dollars in tools and material (soldering station, multimeter, solder, flux) I could help you diagnose and repair it. While I'm a hobbyist (no professional SMB solder training) I was able to do that exact repair before. Although it was because it got yanked really hard and a single solder connection broke. Your case is more extreme.

    You can ohm right from the pin to its associated capacitor following the trace to check it. Then all I did was tin the solder tip, flux the broken solder connection and reheat it. Might not be the preferred method but worked all the same.

    If its the data connector then just get a new logic board or iMac. That would likely need to be reflowed with a hot air gun, although if you have access to a soldering hot air gun I would still attempt it.

    PM me if you want a tool/material list and instructions. I'll get an email that way and post back.

    While I would suggest to forgo the effort keep in mind its already broken, worse case is its still broken when you are done and you have some cool tools to use in the future fixing other stuff (that your wife own and you break lol jk).

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