Model A1181: 1.83, 2, 2.1, 2.13, 2.16, 2.2, or 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor

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MacBook will not boot at all

I received a Macbook 2.1GHz, model A1181, from a friend who couldn't get it to work, and I hoped I'd be able to do something with it.

Well, it won't power on at all. The battery was bulging out to the point that it no longer fit into the computer. When I put a known working Magsafe charger into it, it won't even light up. I've taken it apart and don't see any apparent damage. I also borrowed a working, charged battery from the friendly neighborhood Apple Store geniuses and it won't boot from that either. I tried the suggestion of removing the battery, holding down the power button for 10 seconds, then plugging in the magsafe adapter, then holding another 10 seconds, then trying to power on, and nothing.

So, does this rule out it just being a magsafe DC-in board away from being fixed? I know logic boards for this are probably going to cost a couple hundred bucks, which I'd like to avoid. Any other ideas on what to try to get it working again? I'd be willing to try a new magsafe part since they're cheap, but if the experts here believe that's a waste of my time, I'll believe them!

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I will try to get some history on the machine from the previous owner. As for lights or sounds, there are none at all.

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Outside of the bad battery, which may have given keyboard and trackpad issues, see if you can get a history on the machine. Do you get any lights or sounds when trying to start up? Do you even get a sound from the DVD drive?

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You should at least be getting a sound from the optical drive check, but it sounds like no power to the board at all. First use a multimeter to check the output of the AC adapter. Next check the external MagSafe port for any blockage or corrosion. Next would be to replace the MagSafe board.

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With the corrosion you've found, I'd replace the Magsafe board, see if you get anything, then the battery connector. Find out if the liquid damage came in from the bottom or the top. Bottom is good, top probably means a shorted logic board, at minimum a shorted keyboard.

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It's odd that you have no light at all. Try turning off the lights (the lighting in the room you are in), or cupping your hand around the AC plug and looking closely at it so that you are viewing it in relative darkness -- do you see a very faint green or amber glow? Sometimes it's very dim, but it's still there. If that's the case, and you do see a very faint glow, it's probably the board. DC-ins are very rarely bad on A1181s, unless there has been a liquid spill directly on them. I would try another DC-in before giving up, but in 90% of "faint glow" situations, it ends up being the board and not the DC-in.

As for other ideas, I would try cleaning the power socket in the computer with a q-tip and 91% alcohol in case it's dirty. I would flip the AC plug upside-down and rightside-up a couple times, since I've seen some that only get a light one way. I would apply a little pressure and try to press it into the machine, in case it's not quite connecting. I would remove the topcase, disconnect the DC-in from the board, and re-connect it, to make sure it's properly seated (and also check the board for corrosion while you're at it). I would also test your RAM slots by trying to power on with one slot empty, seeing if that makes a difference, and then trying to power on with the other slot empty. I have seen RAM situations cause no light or a dim light on the AC plug, although it's not so common.

Also, do not put that battery in the computer! A bulging battery is dangerous and can only cause problems.

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You are right about the glow! It has a very faint green glow to it when I turn off all the lights. So, I guess it might be the logic board as you suggested. The person I got it from didn't give me an exact history, but did say "It's good for parts only, otherwise I would have sold it. The motherboard and battery are probably bad."

I already left the battery at the Apple Store to be recycled - I figured it was no use to me since it wouldn't fit in there anymore.

If I can get a DC-in board for $10, maybe I'll try that before sinking $200 or more into a new logic board. Is it possible that it would still be dead even after replacing the logic board?

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Before buying anything I would try everything I recommended above, especially the RAM slot testing. You might just fix it without having to make a purchase. Also, I didn't put much emphasis on liquid damage, but you should really take the topcase off and examine the board for signs of liquid damage (corrosion) that you can clean with 91% rubbing alcohol. In a lot of cases liquid damage is the issue, and cleaning away corrosion causes the board to work. So again, first try the RAM slot testing and everything else I mentioned above, then see if the board has corrosion and clean it off, and if that doesn't work, then I would buy a $10 DC-in as a last ditch effort before replacing the board.

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I will try all these things tomorrow. I already tried the RAM slot testing, but that didn't seem to help. I'll pore over the inside of the machine tomorrow for any kind of corrosion, the AC plug, etc. I'll let you know if I get lucky. Thanks!

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I took the Macbook apart a bit further and saw what looked like some corrosion underneath the magsafe connector - it was white and could be easily scraped off by a spudger. I then disconnected the battery connector and saw white corrosion stains on the rear of the housings where the audio in and out plug in. I also noticed that some of the pins on the battery connector are stained dark brown or black, not the nice shiny copper color they should be. I cannot find any other corrosion on the logic board. Maybe underneath? But I'm loathe to take the logic board out to look underneath, since I'd need thermal paste to re-affix the heat sink to the processor.

Do you think it's worth cleaning up with rubbing alcohol near the magsafe connector and putting a new magsafe connector in there as a next step?

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Before spending money, I would definitely clean up the DC-in with alcohol and see if that improves the situation. If that doesn't, I would remove the board as a next step...because you mention liquid damage in two places, there is very likely corrosion on the underneath, and you may be wasting your time buying a new DC-in if there is corrosion that you haven't cleaned up. Cleaning up corrosion on the underside could very well solve the problem or at least make the board more responsive. It's worth doing that first, and being comprehensive about the situation before proceeding. Put it this way: Your machine is 100% non-functional now. If you clean up corrosion underneath and the board recovers, it will be worth a $10 investment in thermal paste to have found the solution and not just be spinning your wheels. The paste that is on there now is good enough for testing and will give you at least a few minutes before the machine experiences heat issues, so it's not critical you get replacement paste now.

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