Apple should recall the iMac G5

My iMac G5 is at The Computer Loft waiting for a new logic board. I bought it in October and last week it started having symptoms which I quote from “After starting up or after waking from sleep, the screen’s image would vibrate and shift horizontally and the computer would hang for a couple of seconds. Then all would be back to normal. This would happen a few times in a short period of time, then go away.”  Then it started getting a “distorted display, freezing with geometric patterns on the screen, rows of pixelation, usually it happened when coming out of sleep or from a cold start. Often there would be a kernel panic on reboot, and after 2-3 reboots it would work fine again until the next long shutdown or sleep period.”

Reading makes it apparent that this is a very common overheating problem problem – so widespread that Apple is having trouble maintaining a supply of replacement logic boards. Here’s what happens when the machine overheats.

Bloated iMac G5 Capacitors photo

The bulging capacitors show that the electrolyte boiled inside, and this is caused by *AC RIPPLE CURRENT*. It seems that every new generation of engineers has to relearn this bitter lesson.” (C. Park Seward on

It’s too bad my father wasn’t responsible for the G5 components testing. He made sure things like this didn’t happen on satellites that no one would be able to repair. I often heard him use terms like triple redundancy and he was frequently traveling to test labs to oversee their work. (In 8th grade I did a report for my science class on non-destructive parts analysis by magnetic imagining while the other kids were sprouting seeds under different colored lights.) Obviously there are different standards for consumer electronics than for military satellites but it sure would be nice if they were closer. Then again, NASA doesn’t have a lot to be proud of recently either. 

This is so reminiscent of the ignition coil problem I experienced with my 2002 Volkswagen Passat. And when you think about it, these are two similar products – beautifully designed, attracting a fanatically loyal user base who value form as much as function. After denying the problem for a while and then trying to keep up with the repairs without doing a recall, VW finally had to admit the problem and recall many many cars.

Apple should take a lesson from VW.

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