Shot inverter in the MacBook Pro


Icon from the Tango Desktop project

Yesterday I talked about how my MacBook Pro's screen backlight seemed to have died. It's as if the brightness has been set to 0 and no amount of keyboard button pressing or changing the brightness slider in the Display prefpane made any difference. If I shine a torch at the screen I can just barely make out a picture though, which led me to believe it wasn't the display itself that was dead.

I contacted an Apple support representative this morning and described the symptoms and initially he wanted to know if I'd installed Snow Leopard. Turns out some people's MacBooks and MacBook Pros from 2006 have been having problems with black screens, but that a restart fixed it. Unfortunately I had already rebooted several times and reset the PRAM and PMU with no effect but because I could still make out images on the display he told me it was probably an issue with the inverter board and not the display.

This seems to echo what iFixIt says:

My screen looks black, but I can see very faint graphics on it.

Symptoms of this are a dark screen, but everything else seems to be running. If you get in close with a flashlight, you can usually see the image faintly.

If your backlight isn’t working, the inverter may be bad. Other parts that may be bad are the display or the logic board. If your backlight fails intermittently while moving the display, the problem is with the inverter cables.

I try to see the positive side to everything (even if most of the time I fail miserably) so I'm just glad it's not a problem with the display itself or the graphics chip which would have cost well over a thousand dollars to fix. A replacement inverter is less than $50, but apparently they're very complicated to install, so I'm going to drop it off at the Apple repair centre in the city on Monday and (for want of a better phrase) count my blessings. I could try to fix it myself, but I don't want to end up with more problems!

The timing could not have been worse, but there you go.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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