iBook Freezes

Hi. Have an iBook that originally had Panther on a 30 GB drive. I upgraded to a 160 and Tiger, and for a while, it ran just fine. Then it started to freeze after running for 8-10 minutes, no response from the mouse, no movement on the screen. I hold the power key down to shut it off; if I start it right back up, it will get past the gray (apple) screen, you hear the disk start to read, then it hangs at the blue screen. If I wait a half hour or so, it boots up normally, then 8-10 minutes later, it starts the whole thing again.

I have read about the "shim" fixes, and loose chips, it does not appear to be the same thing. There's no apparent graphics problem, i.e., lines or blanking out. Applying pressure to the components has no effect.

BTW, I reinstalled the original 30 GB drive, have the same problem.

Does anyone know about the transfer pads on the heat sink? Do they go bad? This does look like an overheating situation, and the graphics chip is a strong candidate. It doesn't feel excessively hot on the outside, though.

Any ideas OTHER THAN the logic board? I'd like to try everything else first.

Thanks for any advice.

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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Hope that's not a 1MHz iBook. They were slow, but not THAT slow. :-) Edited to correct to GHz.

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I think we all concur that you're having an overheating problem. Now, let's decide what's causing it. Do you hear the fan running at high speed at any point before freeze-up? Obviously, no fan, no cooling when it's needed most, and this seems to be a problem with iBooks that have had the case cracked (opened) by experimenters... something gets unplugged, something gets moved slightly, or the fans simply burn out from being on so much, typically in situations where a person lays the laptop on a blanket, clothing or other area where it cannot vent itself.

If you have high speed fan function, then we can assume your logicboard is sending the signal to cool things off and you'll need to look at applying heat sink paste... after years of heat it does dry out.

Lastly... the advice on a cooling pad under the laptop is always a great idea, but if it will not run properly "without" it then you have to fix that problem first... laptops were designed to run without a cooling pad so if yours will not, the cooling pad will not fix the initial problem. I'd advise that you quit allowing it to overheat to test for timing, etc. and never leave it on for a half hour after it freezes up (it's not going to start back up on its own) - everytime your iBook overheats you're taking a few more months of life out of it. :(

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when you boot up hold +S and when the code stops enter: fsck -fy.

This will tell you if your hard drive is broken

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Is that supposed to be an apple key? It doesn't seem to render properly in Linux.

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@nat If you're using FF, change the text encoding, but it might be built in to the MAC OS version of unicode and western

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I'm pretty sure it's something embeded into the Mac OS version of unicode, but whatever. I never knew you could boot into a shell in OSX, thanks for this.

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try this, leave the computer on for as long as it takes to freeze, then let it sit there for about a half-hour, does the computer heat up signifigantly? if it does, then there might be an issue with overheating, try to tighten the heatsinks, and re-apply thermal paste on the CPU and GPU.

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I agree with Chris Green -- it sounds like a shutdown caused by overheating. You can try running the free Temperature Monitor to verify that. I don't know how many temperature sensors that model of iBook has -- probably not too many -- so you might not get a fix on just which component is overheating, but you should at least be able to see a main temperature and see it keep rising up to the shutdown point.

If you do confirm that it's overheating, you might open the iBook back up again a) to see if anything got dislodged or disconnected when you replaced the hard drive, b) to check for dust buildup or a malfunctioning fan, and c) (if you feel up to it) to reapply the thermal grease and reset the heatsinks as Chris suggested.

You can also check to see if you have the same problem running on the battery as you do running on AC. If it doesn't heat up when running on the battery but does on AC, then the charging system may be malfunctioning and heating things up.

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Go out to your local computer store and buy a cooling fan, that looks like a laptop and place it under the laptop and plug it into the USB port. This will cool your laptopas the excessive heating is causing your processor to shut down, if you don't do this you will have junk on your hands.

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I have the same problem with my iBook G4 and what I found was that the main board was dropping the power for the hard drive. Try using an self powered external USB hard drive to boot from. This will have to have the OS installed.

If it boots up and does not have any problems it is probably the power to the hard drive otherwise you have a temperature problem.

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Simply open Disk Utility and verify the disk, very simple and it will tell you if you need repair and if it its reparable or not.

Does it make any noises (eg clicks) when operating?

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just wondering why anyone voted this down?

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Not sure, although people usually down vote answers that ask for clarification instead of providing an answer. I didn't do the down vote, but that would be my guess, even though you did provide a valid answer...

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Hey cool - thanks for all your responses! Where to start? Yes, it's always the same or pretty close - 8-10 minutes to freezeup. I agree with the guy who said don't do this too much, and I don't leave it on after it freezes.

I have pretty much eliminated disk problems, since it exhibits the same behavior with the 160GB drive, the original 30GB drive, and when I boot up the install cd/dvds, both Panther and Tiger. The problem will show up on time, even if the machine is idle - doesn't seem to be tied to disk access.

I got a utility called iStat Nano, runs on the dashboard and tracks temps in several places - CPU, HDD, GPU, a couple others - I haven't seen anything over 34 degrees before the freeze. When the computer was working, it would get much warmer than it gets now. I have also run the iBook with the covers off, and felt around the logic board and there are no hot spots apparent. Of course, the heat sink gets warm. I think I hear the fan briefly run during POST, haven't heard it otherwise. And no system or error log entries about bad hardware. I've sent off to Apple for $23 worth of AHT disk, don't know that it will point to anything, but I'll try it.

Back to the heat sink - I lifted it, and found these sticky pads between the chips and the sink. Are evidently some kind of thermal transfer material, packaged so you don't get your fingers dirty (Macs! I've never seen these in any other technology.) I removed the pads and applied paste to the chips, but I found that without the thicker pads in place, the GPU and the big chip in the middle don't quite touch the heat sink. So I reapplied the pads to those, and left the paste on the CPU. Do those pads ever need to be replaced?

In the olden days, we had something called thermal runaway - a resistor or capacitor would fail, allow excessive current to flow into a component, heat it up, leading to more current flow, and so on until the major component failed. It sounds very much like what's going on here, but then, we weren't dealing with components the size of subatomic particles. You could usually see the bad piece blistering the varnish on the PCB. How do you find it now?

What else? I have run this with and without the AC plugged in, no difference. I suspected that something might be pulling a voltage down somewhere, but if it isn't the DC-in board, it's big trouble.

So thanks again for your help. I'd really like to fix this iBook, it's for my daughter. I'm hoping to keep it going until she goes off to college and gets a brand new MB. By the way, I'm writing this on my 13" MacBook, my other daughter has a 15" MBP, and among the family we have an iPhone, two Touches and an iPod Classic. So our Apple dues are paid up!

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I should have seen the clue right away. When I had tried to apply thermal paste to the video chips, I'd noticed that the heat sink didn't quite make contact with the top of the chip. I figured it was because of those pads that were in between, but it bothered me all the same.

Then it started to dawn on me - when I bought this iBook (used) the frame was broken, among other signs of abuse, so I ordered a new one from ifixit.com and transferred all of my innards onto it. First, though, I made a reasonably thorough inspection of the new frame to make sure it was the right one. It looked right, and for a while, anyway, there didn't seem to be any problems.

With a connection beginning to form in my head, I opened up the book again, and made a closer inspection in the area of the heat sink. Lo and behold, I discovered that the machined surface where the heat sink was attached (at the point where the HDD rail screws on) was about 1.5mm higher on the new frame! This was JUST enough to prevent the heat sink from getting a good seat on the video chip. I had only stumbled across it by noticing that the thermal paste didn't get quite squished enough between the surfaces!

So I denuded the frame once again, got out my Moto-tool and milled off the extra metal. I put the iBook back together and booted it up, and twenty minutes later, FREEZE! S**T!! But hey - that's twice as long as it was running before. What else is goin' on?

Once again, I disassembled the machine, and this time, I found that the little stud on the logic board that the heat sink attaches to had been pulled loose, evidently by the upward pressure of the heat sink. I replaced the stud with a screw through from the other side, reassembled my iBook, and folks - it's been running ever since.

So without a positive contact with the heat sink, the top of that chip was overheating and shutting down the video system, and consequently the whole computer. Fortunately, so far there doesn't seem to have been any permanent damage - whew! But why didn't this problem start as soon as I replaced the frame? My guess is that the stud didn't pull away right off, but over time the logic board was allowed to move farther from the heat sink.

A couple of lessons learned:

Be careful where you get your parts! Something like this can happen even with a reliable vendor, so you have to verify everything up front. ifixit, you need to maybe step up the QC, or if there is supposed to be a difference between these frames, we need better information on which one to order.

And, If you lift the heat sink for any reason, when you put it back together, you must make a thorough examination to be sure that there is sufficient contact between the heat sink and all of the chips underneath.

So thanks for all of the responses, hopefully this stuff can help someone else soon.

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Get your self an freezer bag from your fridge and place a towel around it. Then try booting your computer. If it is a cooling problem, the computer will continue to run. If the thermal connectivity has failed in the chip, the computer will freeze up after 8 to 10 minutes. Now you will be able to see if you have a heat problem or a motherboard problem. iBooks are known to have chip failure. The thermal conductivity between the layers comes unglued and renders the computer junk. Unless you can preform heat sink surgery. using heat sink extreme heating. Go to youtube and search for iBook repairing of chip on an iBook.

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