Finding the Fix for a Dimmed 27″ iMac Screen

machack27

Like many with a 27″ iMac, [Gerry's] been experiencing some screen brightness issues. According to him, Apple’s been largely ignoring the problem and the community’s outcry, which led to [Kaos2k] poking around inside to hack together a fix. It’s a solution clearly born from trial and error; [Kaos2k's] initial post on the issue simply recommending “applying pressure” to the panel itself, which would sometimes cause the dim screen to spring back to life.

It turns out that heat (or stress, or something) from the screen causes the solder joints to weaken on the board where a 6-pin connector hooks up, dimming the screen to eye-strain levels. Some Mac users are suing over it, because the problem tends to show up just outside of the warranty window and affects a large number of people. [Kaos2k], however, provided the much needed solution for those looking to get the fix over with: just solder the cable directly to the board. Our tipster, [Gerry], has documented his experiences over at his blog, and was kind enough to make a step-by-step video of the repair, which you can see after the break.

Comments

  1. Kaos2K says:

    Oh! Thanks to your website and to Gerry for covering the issue. The more people will know about the problem, the better.

    Regards.

  2. Did it about a year ago on a friend’s iMac. You need steady hands and a good iron though, the pads are really small and the position inside the connector’s hole makes it a lot worse.

  3. fartface says:

    Cue the apple haters, and their frothing at the mouth over something they know nothing at all about….

    I have had a similar problem with one of the Dell all-in-one units, The problem is the garbage “lead free” solder we are forced to use in manufacturing.

    • mh says:

      I am just surprised that some hipster mac user can figure out how to open up a piece of electronics. /joke – but since you pre-emptively brought it up, i think its deserved :-)

      No, actually I wonder if it wouldnt be possible to get a replacement due to it being a manufacturing error. this probably depends on where in the world you are, but if it is truely a common fault to a product-line it may be they can be required to replace regardles of the warranty period. (ofcourse the warranty period is also different depending on where you are. I believe it is 6 months in the USA (but do correct me if im wrong) while it is at minimum 2 years in EU (see http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/ )

    • Megol says:

      Eh… Is one a hater if one points out that Apple fanboys like to claim Apple hardware is superior in build and quality? Something that isn’t backed up by evidence BTW.

      Lead free solder shouldn’t be a problem in a properly designed and manufactured device. This problem (any your I’ll presume) wasn’t caused by tin whiskers so not using lead wasn’t the problem…

      • pcf11 says:

        If lead free solder isn’t a problem then why are defense and aerospace contractors exempt from having to use it?

        • Tom says:

          Those are regulations left over from the dark ages when they didn’t have lead-free solder figured out yet. When properly processed, lead-free now outperforms lead solder in many ways.

          • AKA the A says:

            Ways like?

          • v665f6atu3 says:

            For example, SAC has better resistance against long-term failure caused by cyclic loads (e.g. thermal stresses) when compared to other types of solder, it is also generally better suited for any applications that involve mechanical stress. In other aspects, it is usually comparable to leaded solder.
            There are countless research papers that compare different solder types against each other, as well as application notes by contract manufacturers – use Google if this topic interests you.

        • Megol says:

          Simple: they want to keep using designs that are already trusted. Changing any bit how insignificant in a system critical _verified_ system requires significant effort (and time) to verify.
          The people regurgitating tales about all evils of lead free solder is mostly incorrect and not based on facts. There are problems going to lead free solder, sure, but the major ones are higher probability of tin whisker growth and the effects of a higher melting point. The first can be compensated for in different ways (e.g. capping) and the second can be partially compensated by improved component packages and solder practices.

          [Personally I'd like doped bismuth-tin solder to be used more as it has many advantages however as it is much more expensive than tin-silver-copper solder that's not likely. But bismuth isn't a silver bullet, nor is lead-tin solder.]

        • tekkieneet says:

          I don’t feel any better getting hit by a RoHS bullet. :P
          Critical infrastructures are also on the exempted list.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restriction_of_Hazardous_Substances_Directive
          >The servers, switches, routers, cell sites and other telecommunication equipment that constitute the global Internet and phone systems are exempt from lead content restrictions. (Category 7b)

          On the other hand, that exemption doesn’t help the manufacturers as they are using commercial parts like everyone else. So they ended up going using all RoHS at some point than mixing process.

    • Me says:

      Why would the Apple haters come out? I don’t see anything in the article about how Apple disallows side-loading on their mobile devices while barring whole classes of usefull software from their marketplace. I don’t see anything about their development environment which cannot even be bought, it has to be subscribed to just so that developers can add value to their platform. I don’t see anything about how long it took to get decent navigation in iOS. I don’t see anything about their tendancy towards awkward over-simplified controls or the ugly (in my opinion) look of their desktop UI.

      All I see is an article about a common manufacturing problem that any company could have and their efforts to not pay up and support their customers just like almost every other company out there. And I see a possible Apple fanboy posting a troll comment.

      i just don’t see anything here to interest an Apple hater. Oh.. wait.. nevermind, Megol seems to have explained it quite well.

    • As an Apple user let me say. I am really tired of Apple pushing form over function.
      I love OS/X and yes Apple hardware is very well made but come on Apple get with the green revolution and make computers that are easy to upgrade and repair as well as recycle. A desktop computer’s functionality is not increased by it being thinner.
      BTW not a Hipster here. I have used Windows since Windows 1, wrote a virus checker for the Amiga, and was active on Commodore 64 BBSs. I have used just about everything and I can say that today I like OS/X the best.

    • kudoz says:

      @fartface, did you have the XPS 2710 or 2720? Was the screen dimming or flickering? Curious because have had some flickering issues on my 2720 (even after the BIOS upgrade which resolved the screen on/off issue…

  4. cr0sh says:

    I’m really wondering what ultimately happened on this? The first post in the thread dates from June 2012; the soldering fix only two days later. So, one-and-half years later…did a class action occur? Did Apple ever do anything about it? Is this hack a repost here on HAD?

    • Josh Marsh says:

      I think the legal action(s) are still pending. Gerry sent us the tip a few days ago and only recently made the video, but I checked pretty thoroughly to make sure we hadn’t featured it before.

    • Apple are still denying the problem exists, or at least are not accepting responsibility for it. The Panel is actually made by LG and thats what is actually at fault, so the manufacturing issue is NOT an issue with Apple’s own manufacturing so I can understand why they might not want to take responsibility for it, but the ultimate quality of their product is compromised and their customers have to live with it so IMHO they should fight the corner. In the end, this is not an example of crappy Apple Hardware, like @lwatcdr I have used pretty much every type of PC and I much prefer OSX over Windows, it has its good and bad points and I suppose thats personal preference.

      Gerry

  5. Krusty says:

    Some days I’d like to see Reddit’s up/down vote system implemented here :-)

    • Josh Marsh says:

      It’s coming…

      • mh says:

        I hope not… crowd-voting is fine if you want only the stories/articles/hacks/comments that the majority groupthink allows, but it is the expense of small non-popular stuff (aka the stuff great conversations are made of, and new ideas spring from).

        HAD of all places should not be about catering (only) to the masses like that. (then again, i should not decide what HAD should or should not be about i suppose :)

        But if you think the “this is not a hack” posts, or mac-hating(/loving – depends on the crowd) is annoying, you wont be happy if we get that kind of voting – thats the extreme of anonymous unpopular-opinion and alternative discusson killing.

        IMHO

        • Josh Marsh says:

          It’s coming for the comments system, not the articles themselves, mostly to combat the comments you refer to: “not a hack” etc.

          • mh says:

            just be very carefull then. There is a real danger that a group of people (intentionally or not) can/will start censoring anything the “disagree with”.

            Personally I prefer the overlords/admins doing that – one central ‘bad guy’ :). It is their site, they set the tone of the site in the first place, they decide the direction they want it to go, etc – and if we dont like it we are really “free to leave” – probably better people leave because they are angry with HAD over something the official HAD crew actually did than because a group of (disruptive) users continually downvoting every comment (or commentor) they dont like or agree with (and upvoting those they favor). It can get out of hand very very fast.

            I hope my concerns turn out to be misplaced though.

          • Josh Marsh says:

            It’s definitely somewhat of an experiment, and the last thing we want to do is drive away any member of the community, so I’m sure we’d do our best to adjust things to keep it that way.

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