Fixing iMac 2008 Display Issue

September 2, 2011, By Christian Cawley

The trouble with iMacs is that they’re difficult to repair. Much like an all-in-on photocopier/fax/printer, the iMac features two of the key elements of a computer – the motherboard/CPU and the display – in one single case. It looks amazing and takes up much less space than a tower, but unfortunately when one thing goes then the whole device has to go in for repairs, and often doesn’t come back.

After all, you wouldn’t expect a three year old Mac to start developing any faults, would you? Unfortunately this does happen, with some Macs from 2008 developing thin, colored vertical lines on the display, with the number of lines often increasing as time goes on.

This hardware fault can have devastating consequences, but before we go into that, a few thoughts on Macs and display issues.

Fixing iMac 2008 Display Issue

What Is it with iMacs and Display Problems?

If you bought the 2008 iMac and have experienced this problem then you would be pretty ticked off – but imagine if you had upgraded from a 2006 iMac that had displayed a similar issue?

Back in 2006 the display problems on the old PowerPC iMacs (odd square artifacts littering the desktop) were caused by capacitors on the motherboard bursting and leaking, often within months of the computers being purchased.

The issue with the 2008 iMacs is different, although the manner in which it appears is similar.  This time around, the fault is in the column address transistors, which means the entire LCS panel must be replaced in order to return the Mac to full working order again.

So why do Apple have these issues with their computer displays? After all, these are expensive pieces of kit, a couple of hundred dollars more than a similarly configured PC; it seems odd that Apple should be shipping hardware at this inflated price when it is so prone to these problems.

How Do I Fix the Problem?

Known as the “vertical lines of doom”, this issue doesn’t have an easy fix. When the problem was first identified (attributed to a faulty batch) Apple were offering screens for free a few months out of warranty. However the issue was reported back in 2008 shortly after the computers were released so three years on it seems unlikely that Apple would offer a similar free replacement.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try, of course, especially when the new display will cost $500, and that is without the service charge of installing it.

Ultimately, however, you will probably need to upgrade your Mac quite soon. In an ideal world you might have the time to do this every couple of years, enabling you to recoup most of the initial outlay and upgrade without much additional expenditure, and this is certainly something that you should think about doing in future.

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