LCD on 2009 Macbook has gone, worth repairing or give up on it?
July 25, 2013 4:32 AM   Subscribe

Had my Macbook since mid 2009, it's one of the white ones.

I've had numerous thing go wrong with over the years however I had Applecare for three years so I had a few things fixed/replaced (new battery/charger/keyboard and surrounding area/trackpad).
Last month my hard drive failed and I bought a 750gb one which is working great and also at some point I upgraded the RAM to 4gb as well. Oh and i'm running Mountain Lion without any issues. The long and short of it is this laptop works incredible well (never lags/freezes/shuts off or anything) and is a decent spec for the year it is. Cosmetically it's in good condition too. The only 'problem' is the CD/DVD drive doesn't work, Apple offered to fix it when it was in warranty but I couldn't be without the laptop at the time for ten days (as they'd have to send it off) as I had lots of University work to do. I bought an external CD/DVD drive for £10 on eBay which works great.

However around the same time my hard drive failed and I installed the new one, my laptop screen decided to just go black and not work on anything above brightness level one. I read up about this online and it apparently could be the inverter cable, so I bought a new one and decided to drop it in somewhere rather than try and fit it myself as it's a big job. I heard back from the repair place and they said it's not the inverter cable as they just replaced it and the issue is still occurring, meaning that it is the LCD screen. The repair place wanted £450 for a new LCD panel which is obviously not worth it.

So my question is this, should I look elsewhere and see if somewhere else can replace the LCD panel for cheaper? Should I look at buying a whole new screen on eBay of the same model so I can literally just take mine off and put the new one on? Should I look at getting a used LCD panel? Is it even worth fixing this laptop? I have put a fair bit of money into it and it seems crazy to give up on it over this issue, however maybe at some point I need to stop putting money into it and just accept it and move on (although I am very broke and can't afford a new laptop).

The laptop is actually working at the moment and as people say online, as long as the laptop is hot you can use the brightness 4/5 or so. If you have a fan on and it's directed towards the laptop, the screen will black out.

TL;DR: 2009 Macbook with good spec has broken LCD. Repair place want £450. Worth fixing/replace screen elsewhere or give up on it?
posted by rinsemedown to Technology (6 answers total)
It may not be worth fixing, but if it's just the screen you should still be able to hook it up to your tv. This Hail Mary has worked for me in the past and you can find a cable for under $10.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:09 AM on July 25, 2013

Can you tell if its just the backlight that's out? When it should be displaying something shine a flashlight on it to see if the image is there but not lit up. Not familiar with macbooks but on PCs that usually means just the backlight inverter is shot and needs replacement at far cheaper than a panel.
Also, i wouldn't sink 450 into a 4 year old macbook with a history of issues. Down payment on something current would seem wiser.
posted by TheAdamist at 5:32 AM on July 25, 2013

If you need mobility or portability then clearly this one will need to repaired or replaced. If not then see if it will it work with an external display. A mac mini is also a cost effective replacement if you do not need mobility, you can get a refurbished one from Apple for less than £450.
posted by epo at 6:25 AM on July 25, 2013

Replacing the whole screen assembly (including the case and bezel) is much easier than replacing components in the screen assembly. So, I'd suggest seeing if you can find a used or refurbished screen assembly (perhaps from a 2009 Macbook that died for other reasons) for a price that seems reasonable and spending the 1-2 hours that it would take to replace it yourself. There are step by step guides you can follow.
posted by Good Brain at 12:19 PM on July 25, 2013

Ignore the sunk cost (money you have already spent), particularly with laptops. They don't hold value.

Short term fix if you can't afford a new laptop: get an external screen. Ask around if someone is getting rid of one for free.
posted by Ashlyth at 4:30 PM on July 25, 2013

No idea about your location, but the screen went out on my early 2008 MBP and I took it to the Apple store. They charged me a flat-fee $300 where basically they opened it up and fixed whatever was wrong. So, for $300 I ended up with a new screen, new logic board and new optical drive. They offered the flat fee repair without any kind of negotiating, which made it seem like a service that's actually offered. Good luck.
posted by homesickness at 6:42 PM on July 29, 2013

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