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Ask Max: Troubleshooting Display Problems on an eMac

Asked on 06/21/2006:

My eMac G4 recently decided to stop working. I don't know a ton about computers, but it appears that either the display or the video card has gone out (nothing is coming up on the screen except for a thin, red line down the center that sometimes appears to have something moving within it). I know that the hard drive is alright -- I was able to transfer my files to my friend's external hard drive via slaving.

My question is this: is there any possible way to fix this eMac or is it a lost cause? My warranty is expired, so I'll have to pay for this myself. I thought maybe I could somehow purchase a new video card, but from what I understand, the video card is actually part of the logic board and not replaceable. Is it possible to replace the entire logic board?

If that's not an option, is there a place I can sell the eMac for parts for money to put toward buying a new machine? I'm fairly broke, so it isn't easy for me to just up and buy a new computer.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


This sometimes happens to computers and it is never easy to fix when it is an all-in-one system like the eMac. What you heard about the video card being part of the logic board is accurate. Just like iBooks and PowerBooks, an eMac has most of it components, including the video card, on the main logic board. You can have the logic board replaced but that can be very expensive. Also I do not believe that your graphics card, and by association your logic board, needs to be replaced. My guess is that the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) is the weak point that failed in your eMac. The best way to test and potentially bypass your problem is to use an external monitor on your eMac. Often this is what laptop owners do when the LCD in their computers burns out. You will have to buy a $19.00 cable to connect a VGA display to your eMac. The "Apple VGA Display Adapter" (PN M8639G/A) will plug into the Mini VGA port on the side of your eMac. Then you can attach any VGA display to the cable and start up your eMac. If all goes well you should see your old desktop on the external monitor. Ask around to some of your friends and see if they have an old CRT monitor in the basement. You would be surprised how many people are looking to get rid of old CRT displays.

See if that helps and start saving for a new system, If this works, your eMac should last you a few more years.

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