Apple iSight G5: iMac From Hell

I haven't given macs much thought since they switched to Intel and my computer repair days are long behind me but one of my clients is a doll of an ol' gal who eats, sleeps and breathes mailing lists and when her old mac started crapping out I could not bear to let her go without.

It did not take long to figure out the Maxtor (so much for the "choice components" argument, huh Apple?) drive which shipped with the mac years ago had fried.

Opening up this thing is an immense pain in the ass. The iMac models above and below the iSight G5 seem to all open by lifting out the back panel by the stand, exposing all the replaceable parts. That makes perfect sense and I can see working on one of them to be a dream. The people who designed this chassis, on the other hand, were clearly drunk.

Not only does the front bezel (which includes the outer sides) have to be removed from the back, the LCD display must be unscrewed and disconnected - all the while one must put up with copious amounts of easily torn tape. Tape which I eventually decided served its purpose better in the rubbish bin.

The worst part about taking this thing apart is the two strange latches at the top of the bezel. I'm still not sure how to correctly operate them, I just dug in with a butterknife and shimmied around a bit until the damn things unhinged.

Once the display has been lifted and some of the plugs disconnected you can remove the hard drive. You will probably need a "proper" Torx driver set to do this; the screws mounting the screen are sunk into wells which were not large enough for the shaft of my ratchet driver to fit down. If I did not happen to have a precision slot driver that "fit" these screws handy this mac would have ended up benched for weeks (exactly how long it takes for a Torx set to ship here from Hong Kong)

The drive has a mounting bracket and little headless screw-pegs that slide into the rubber grommets on the inward side of the enclosure.

Here's a photo of those grommets:

The drive has a heat sensor mounted on its side. I'm not sure if it was by intention or if this mac was unique but the PCB was mounted with a corner covering half of the middle bolt hole on the drive. This let me pry it off easily and I took the hint to do the same thing when mounting it on the new drive.

It's held on by a little goo-pad. If you pry gently it should stay mostly intact.

Her mac is now as healthy as a horse. Despite this, I told her next time she has a problem with it to toss it in the bin.

Payment? One homemade blueberry-blackberry-raspberry cheesecake and a 26er of rye.

Bring on the NWO, I've got my bartering skills in line.



This post in particular:

Remove all 5 screws on the bottom. The two for the ram slot are captive. The other 3 are not. One is longer than the others, note which slot it came from.

There are catch levers on the top corners that need to be released by sliding something in there. That post recommended a credit card or thin plastic. I used two thin table knives with non-serrated edges.

Once the top is off you can flip it up and lay it down or undo all the tape and unplug the iSight. I left mine intact.

Then the fun part (NOT!). Using my table knife I very carefully peeled up the thick black foil tape stuff along the two edges. It's so sticky and tears easily. You need infinte patience. Once peeled up it reveals 4 torx screws holding the LCD in down on the bottom. You need a long Torx screwdriver and make sure it is magnetic—the screws are not captive and what a pain! Especially when you don't have a magnetic driver!

The you can lift up the LCD. Again I left mine connected and just propped it up by sticking a can of compressed air I had sitting nearby in as a prop (obviously away from the boards). I did have to disconnect the video though (two white connectors on the left that are easy to disconnect).


• Gavin

Great article and I'm glad you got it going for your friend!! :) What an amazing cheesecake!!

Here's some useful links for anyone wanting to upgrade their hdd on the G5 isight:

The secret guide apple uses for the 17inch & 20 inch g5 isights are on this page: macinzeboxZZblogspotZcom/2008/07/apple-service-source-manualsZZhtml (Replace captial ZZ with dot .)

The guides available at ifixit are excellent:
wwwZZifixitZZcom/Guide/iMac-G5-17-Inch-Model-A1144-Hard-Drive-Replacement/948/1 (replace ZZ with dot .)

Yay!! :)