Mid 2006 / model number A1181 / black or white case / 1.83 or 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo processor.

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intermittent dim screen - inverter already checked

The Apple store has already tried swapping the inverter to no avail, so I'm probably in the market for a new LCD, BUT it's an intermittent problem - increasingly often I'll get no backlight on the LCD, though I can still see the desktop. When I run it through an external monitor, the LCD also comes back to life, so it's obviously not a complete failure. Is it most likely the LCD panel?

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It could be the LCD panel, but it's also likely the inverter cable. They often behave that way when they have become weak or crimped. Contrary to popular belief, inverters themselves rarely go bad. In fact, in over a hundred cases of the "dead backlight" issue I've seen in the last year or so, I have NEVER run across of a case of the backlight being restored when an inverter was replaced -- it's always in my experience the screen, or the inverter cable. It's possible there's an exception somewhere out there, but I sure haven't seen it yet.

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Hmm, thanks guys. I don't see an inverter cable sold separately - would I still have to take the whole thing apart to replace the cable?

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Yup, you'll have to take the whole thing apart, including the screen hinge, which isn't fun. If you search eBay for "MacBook inverter cable", you'll find one. They are often sold with the inverter itself. Make sure to get one for the standard A1181 MacBook and not one for the Pro. If you wanted to make the job easier and avoid hinge disassembly, you could always buy the whole screen/hinge/casing/cabling assembly and replace it all as once piece, but of course that's going to cost you more. It may be worth it though, because getting the cables correctly positioned inside a MacBook hinge is pretty tricky if it's not something you're used to doing.

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Thanks again - so we'd be looking at this display assembly then - that's approaching the same price the Apple store quoted for replacing the LCD, but I'll check ebay. Frustrating as it's been working just fine for the last few days, and I already have a new MBP on order :-/

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Paul, before the screen issue did you spill liquid on the MB ?

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Nope. Happy to report the screen went dim again last night :-)

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I agree with rdklincorporated. Most of the times the inverter cable is the culprit. Blowing the electronic inverter board is hard since the power comes from a protected circuit on the logic board. It's also hard to blow the backlight fluorescent bulb if the portable is not dropped or gets a big hit. The inverter cable is the fragile part of the display lightning system mostly because the cable has a very small gage and it must travel thru the display hinge where he's often damaged by friction caused by the display movement going up and down or by a broken hinge.

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Paul Pival will be eternally grateful.
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