Res­ur­rect­ing a ten-year-old Mac

Mac Format - - APPLE TALK -

Q I have a Pow­erMac G4 that won’t start up. I press the but­ton on the front of the case, and it lights up for about two sec­onds, then dims down again. The hard drive was wiped for a clean in­stall of OS X Leop­ard (it ran Jaguar be­fore that, so it wouldn’t just up­date with­out wip­ing ev­ery­thing). It was in the at­tic for a while when I built my own Hack­in­tosh, but then re­alised I wanted to use some of my old soft­ware (such as Vir­tual PC, Cre­ative Suite CS2, Mac OS 9 and so on), which I couldn’t do on a Hack­in­tosh run­ning Snow Leop­ard. I plugged in a mon­i­tor, key­board, mouse and power ca­ble, and tried to power it on. The power but­ton glowed then im­me­di­ately shut off again. No startup tone, no sign of life on the mon­i­tor, the fan doesn’t spin and the com­puter doesn’t make more noise than a lion get­ting fed a gi­ant piece of meat. How do I get it to a state where I can do a clean in­stall of Jaguar? Jake A That’s quite some necro­mancy! When you press the power but­ton, it sig­nals the power sup­ply to fire up the moth­er­board, but the CPU is held in re­set mode un­til the moth­er­board re­ceives the okay from the power sup­ply that the volt­ages have sta­bilised. If that sig­nal never ar­rives, the Pow­erMac won’t start. This could be be­cause the power sup­ply never man­ages to deliver sta­ble enough volt­ages, or it could be that the board doesn’t recog­nise the Power Good sig­nal when it ar­rives.

On an an­cient ma­chine like this, I’d start by check­ing all the con­nec­tors from the power sup­ply to the moth­er­board. If they seem okay you could try re­plac­ing the PSU, and if that fails, the moth­er­board. But re­ally, is it worth it? You can buy a work­ing G4 Pow­erMac on eBay for un­der £20, or you can up­grade to some­thing sub­stan­tially bet­ter for not much more. There are G5 iMacs on eBay for un­der £100, for ex­am­ple.

Un­less this is some kind of in­dus­trial arche­ol­ogy, clas­sic Mac restora­tion project (and I’m all in favour of those), I’d sug­gest this Mac is be­yond the point at which it makes any eco­nomic sense to try re­pair­ing.

All Macs are de­sign clas­sics, but for a ma­chine that you’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to use, there are much bet­ter op­tions avail­able.

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