What to do with a broken iMac G5?
December 6, 2009 9:36 AM   Subscribe

My mom has an iMac G5, 1.8 Ghz w/ superdrive and 2GB of RAM (I think). It's been a problem since they first got it with a logic board replacement and multiple power supply replacements (all free thankfully). Recently it started giving kernel panics on start up with the fans sounding like jet engines. It's a little over 4 years old and even though it's given us hardware problems, it has been a good computer and my mom likes it. What should we do with it now?

I've tried all the troubelshooting suggestions (rest PRAM, remove peripherals, startup off of disk, etc...) and nothing is working. She's ready to throw in the towel with this one and get a new one. I'm thinking a mac mini, all we'll need to buy is a monitor.

My question is, what do we do with this iMac. I've tried rebooting off of the install disk and it's still panicking so it seems to be pretty broken. Should we try to sell it on ebay? Does anybody know any organizations in the Chicagoland area that would be interested in it? My other question is, what should we do about the hard drive. Since I can't even start up off of a disk I can't even format the HD. I don't think there is anything really sensitive on it but still I think it's probably a good idea to erase it before giving it away.

Any and all suggestions are appreciated.
posted by crios to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This model is notorious for capacitor leakage and failure. Loosen the captive screws on the underside, pop the hood and look for swollen caps on the mobo. Some people have had good luck resoldering failed caps - there's a wealth of information here.

You can also pull the hard drive and drop it into a USB/FireWire external SATA enclosure to nuke it, if you are going down the donation road. Good luck!

I used to support about 70 of these Macs at the local college - between failed logic boards and kaput power supplies, this model is a bit of a dud.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:57 AM on December 6, 2009

Sounds like it'll be more costly to repair than to replace, including for anyone you might donate it to. Sell it for parts on ebay? Removing the hard drive is probably going to be somewhat involved and take specialized tools.
posted by lostburner at 10:13 AM on December 6, 2009

Replace it. I had practically the same computer, and although I had little trouble with it, and really liked it, it's time to upgrade.

If you cannot even boot that computer into target-disk mode (which would be the easiest thing to do to extract her data and blank the disk, if it works), it's actually not that hard to pull the back off and remove the hard drive: there are three small captive screws along the bottom edge that you loosen, and the back just lifts off. Then you can stick the hard drive in a cheapie external enclosure (about $20) and do whatever you want with it. Local charitable organizations might take it, but it only has salvage value for parts. Maybe $50.
posted by adamrice at 10:16 AM on December 6, 2009

Take it to the genius bar. I had the same problem and they fixed it for free even though it was four years old. Can't hurt to try.
posted by spilon at 10:43 AM on December 6, 2009

i had the same computer, and i convinced the genius bar to "fix" it 4 different times for free. i finally gave up this year when it broke for the fifth time. the problem is a lot of the replacement parts will come with the bad capacitors anyway. at any rate, you're still trying to use a PPC Mac, which is pretty much a dead end. it's time to upgrade.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:51 AM on December 6, 2009

It's dead. I would pull the hard drive and get an external enclosure for it. When you get a a new mac, use the Migration Assistant to transfer the everything from the old drive to the new machine and you'll be back in business. You can then use that external hard drive as a Time Machine backup drive.

The machine itself has no value, except maybe as parts. Get it recycled.
posted by chairface at 11:06 AM on December 6, 2009

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