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Old June 7th, 2005, 08:16 AM   #1
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15" PowerBook owners: please read

I'm currently going through a second logic board swap on my 15" Aluminum Powerbook, and would like to share what I've learned with others in the hope it may save you some trouble down the road.

My problem is that the lower DIMM slot on my machine is no longer recognized. Since I don't check my RAM amount on any regular basis, it's hard to say when this happened but I'd guess it was about a year after getting the Powerbook. At first I thought it was bad RAM, but testing by swapping 3 different DIMMS between both slots yielded consistent results: they all worked in the upper slot but failed in the lower slot. There were also transients where it would work briefly after swapping, then stop working, or freeze the computer, or cause a boot failure.

In doing some research at Apple's own support forums I learned that a lot of people with 15" Powerbooks are having the same problem. At first I thought it was because I had one of the first generation (1ghz) Aluminum models, but now I see people with the new 1.67ghz machines describing the exact same symptoms.

Visit the following thread at Apple's site to read all the details:

http://discussions.info.apple.com/we...Dl.0@.68ab7b77

I'm not sure if this link will always work; if it doesn't then go to http://discussions.info.apple.com and navigate to Powerbook > 15" G4 Aluminum > Bluetooth-USB-Firewire-RAM > Lower Memory Slot Failure? CONTACT APPLE HERE. This is a big thread with over 130 postings.

You'll also find a link there to express your concern over this matter to Apple, which I suggest you do. At the present time they haven't acknowledged the problem. When I took my machine in for Applecare service they swapped the motherboard with a remanufactured one and I had it back in 3 days. Two days later the same problem showed up (and the RAM it fails to recognize is Apple's own factory installed DIMM). It's in the shop now getting another logic board, although they've kept it a little longer this time to do some testing at the Apple Store first.

I'm lucky that I got Applecare; if you read that thread on Apple's site several people are out of warranty and not very happy. The problem doesn't seem to show up for awhile on most machines, and how often do you check to see if all your RAM's there anyway?

So just a word to the wise: if you have a 15" AlBook, check your RAM! And if you have a machine currently under the standard Apple warranty, you might want to seriously consider buying Applecare while you still can...
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Old June 7th, 2005, 10:33 AM   #2
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Thanks Boyd. I have a 15" PB as well and one of my RAM slots (not sure if it's the lower one) has never worked. I'm still under warranty for another couple months, but the problem (as is usually the case it seems) is that I'm not sure I can allocate who knows how long to get it fixed. That said, was your quick turn around because you have Applecare? I'd love to get it fixed as it only recognizes 1/2 of my ram (only 512MB), but definitely can't wait 4-6 weeks or any extended period of time to do so.

Maybe I should take it up to the Apple store a few blocks from my place and see what they say.

mg
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Old June 7th, 2005, 10:42 AM   #3
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Read that thread I linked to. People are typically getting ~3 days turnaround time. I guarantee you that it's the lower slot, have never heard of an upper slot failure. Don't put this off if your warranty is near expiration, also consider getting Applecare while you still can. Applecare service should be no different than regualr warranty service, and Apple gets the highest marks of any computer company for their service (according to Consumer Reports).

When I took my mac in the second time they wanted to do some tests at the Apple Store to confirm the problem before sending to the depot. This delayed things by 3 days, but I'm sure the actual repair will only take a day, plus shipping time. You can track your repair on their website. It certainly won't take 4 weeks!

If there's one nearby, definitely take it to an Apple Store. They were very nice there and didn't question anything I told them. They handle all the shipping, etc. Actually, they can fix it right in the store if they have a logic board in stock. Otherwise they say it's quicker to send it to a depot.

Let us know how it works out, and use the link I posted to express your concerns to Apple. Maybe they will offer an extended logic board warranty if enough people call this to their attention.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 11:42 AM   #4
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I just went into System Profiler and it says that my upper slot is empty, even though I know I have a 512 MB stick in there. I don't know if it's a related issue then, although it has always been this way, so it seems it may be related. Anyway, I'm going to take your advice and take my PB down to the Apple Store tonight or tomorrow evening.

mg
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Old June 7th, 2005, 11:47 AM   #5
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That's odd, may be a different problem. What happens if you swap DIMM's? If the same one fails in the other slot it could be a compatibility issue, and if it isn't Apple RAM then you're probably out of luck. But I would definitely try the switch to observe what happens before taking it in.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 12:00 PM   #6
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I can echo Boyd's comments about Applecare. Unfortunately, my power supply started giving a burning smell last Friday afternoon. I pulled the supply and could see visible signs of smoke residue on the outside of the supply and part of my machine. Called Applecare and they said although it was too late on Friday to get the part sent out, that it would go out DHL next day. Today is Tuesday and I just put the new supply in about an hour ago. It took longer because it was over the weekend.

Good service, quick delivery. And most importantly, I wasn't treated like an idiot making me go through some silly script that many support phone techs want to do.

=gb=
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Old June 7th, 2005, 12:10 PM   #7
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Thanks for posting this; I'm lucky enough to say that my 1st gen. AluBook seems to be dodging this problem as both slots are showing up in the system profiler, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 01:03 PM   #8
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Glad you're not seeing this problem Charles. I was really surprised when a second logic board had the same issue fresh from the factory! Those odds are pretty discouraging...

For an interesting report on Apple's tech support and repair service, see the following:

http://www.macworld.com/news/2004/12...umer/index.php
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Old June 8th, 2005, 10:21 AM   #9
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I have done the swapping DIMMs trick and it's always the upper that isn't recognized. It's frustrating, and up until installing Tiger I hadn't really run into the issue of only having 512 MB. Now that I'm doing more AE and FCP stuff, that extra ram would really help, so it's now become a frustration.

Regardless, I'll let you guys know what happens with Apple and if they think it may be related.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 12:38 PM   #10
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As a quick followup, Apple shipped my Powerbook to the repair depot on Monday. According to their online tracking, it is now back at the Apple Store and ready for pickup, on Wednesday afternoon. Pretty fast turnaround. I'll let you know whether logic board #3 works the way it should...
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Old July 4th, 2005, 08:42 PM   #11
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another 15" powerbook owner here. same problem, one of the DIMMS no longer recognized, now stuck with 512Mb RAM, which really hits performance. what are the cheapest options given that the machine is out of warranty? just buy a 1Gb DIMM or get it repared? Since it's out of warranty is it something I could fix myself (highly risky I know)?
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Old July 13th, 2005, 06:07 AM   #12
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Highly unlikely you can fix this yourself.... Apple can't even fix it! Don't waste your money getting it repaired, because the repair (swap of a refurbed logic board) doesn't seem to help. I'm currently on logic board number 3 and still the same problem.

Update on my situation: I was hopeful when the 3rd logic board worked fine for over a week. But of course, as soon as I got to Argentina where I really needed the machine for heavy editing the lower RAM slot failed again.

I'm really getting frustrated by this. Glad that I have Applecare, but I now have no faith that Apple will ever get both slots to work reliably. I'm taking the machine to the local apple store when they open today to discuss the situation. If needed, I'll just keep bringing it back every couple weeks as each new board fails. Eventually I suspect they will offer me a replacement, although I would be perfectly happy for them to actually fix my old machine.

As for your situation Joe, if you don't need more than 1GB RAM then I'd suggest you just buy one stick of it. I run fine with a 1GB stick in the upper slot (and an unavailable 512MB in the lower). But I really do want to use all the memory I own, so I'm not giving up on this. Maybe Apple will eventually acknowledge what is obviously a design flaw.

Visit the link I posted below:

http://discussions.info.apple.com/we...Dl.0@.68ab7b77

There are now 250 posts in that thread. But I was only able to find it now by using a link, it seems to have become buried on Apple's site. Conspiracy theories anyone? ;-)
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Old July 14th, 2005, 04:43 PM   #13
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Hi there,

I have had my 15" G4 powerbook now for almost 4 1/2 months. It's the new version currently for sale (1.5Ghz etc etc.).
My memory slot also died after only month of use. As I am very dependant on this machine, I only had it fixed 2 weeks ago, in the meantime living with only 512mb of memory in the upper slot. Now that it's fixed, I can use both slots again. The fix was a complete logic board replacement, provided under warranty.

Which brings me to my next problem. Since the new logic board was fitted, I have had massive problems with my audio for some reason. The sound is perfect, until it either starts creaking, or dies alltogether. I can restart the application providing the sound, such as iTunes, and it will still be broken. The wierd thing however is that the notification sound for new mail does come thru very clearly. Midi files also fail completely after 1 second of play time.
Also whenever I remote login to my powerbook via SSH, I sometimes now get disconnected by my powerbook, with a message stating "Corrupted MAC on input".

I never had these problems before the logic board "fix". Anyone else had these kind of audio problems?

The bad part is that as I stated I'm pretty dependant on this machine. I went back to the apple store over here, and explained the audio problems. They claim they have never heard of this before. They said I would lose my PB for at least 3 weeks while they investigate what the problem is and if it actually is the result of the logic board replacement. On a side note, they also claimed my powerbook was the first one they ever saw with a dead memory slot.

Via some strange coincidence, a collegue of mine, who got his 15" PB 3 weeks later, also had his memery slot die on him. Then again, this was only recently.

Besides all the problems I'm having with this machine I really like my powerbook tho, don't get me wrong :)
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Old July 14th, 2005, 07:39 PM   #14
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That is very odd. 3 weeks is pretty unacceptable; where are you located? My powerbook at on its way to the repair depot to get a FOURTH logic board. Each time this has only taken a few days however and I never saw any odd side effects. I wonder if it might be as simple as a loose connector inside? Pain though it may be, you probably need to send it back to them. You can try working your way up the chain of supervisors by calling their tech support if you are not satisfied with the service. I've done this before and gotten results.

The techs at my Apple store say the same thing about the dead memory slots. I brought in a printout of some of the posts from the thread at Apple's site and they immediately dismissed them as isolated and unusual failures, I left the printout on the desk and as I left he crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. The tech did agree that 3 failures in a row was more than coincidence. He said they had to follow procedures and try to fix it 3 times before they could even discuss a replacement.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 08:53 PM   #15
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Wow that sucks, I haven't heard of that problem until now, maybe it's a location thing, but I doubt it. I just finished paying off my laptop so I'm hoping that I don't experience the same problem, I agree with you on the warranty though I think it will prove to be invaluable should something like this happen. Hmm I wonder if it is some sort of location thing, does the changing power between countries maybe inversely effect the logic board and or ram? Could funky ram be causing the memory slot failure? I don't know, but sure does stink. Maybe if it fails again and they're ready to exchange it you should wait until one of the new intel models come out, or maybe not that would be a whole nother set of problems.
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