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White MacBook flickering backlight issue

My a1181 screen’s backlight is going out randomly. I can see a faint image when I shine a light on the screen. Is it worth it to replace the screen?

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  • edited September 28
    Thanks for the post!

    With A1181 backlight issues, you have to look at the complete chain of hardware components that could be involved — screen, inverter cable, and board. Each will show certain symptoms. If you power on and immediately see a flash of light and then a dark screen, that tends to be a bad screen, i.e. the backlight bulbs are trying but failing to power on. Whereas if you flex the screen hinge and the backlight goes on and off, that’s a giveaway that the inverter cable is involved, and probably damaged or being crimped in the hinge. If you see neither of these symptoms and never a backlight, it might be the board.

    When dealing with hardware failure you have to troubleshoot by replacing parts, and when uncertain, it always makes sense to start with the cheapest part. In this case it’s the inverter cable.

    The difficulty with the inverter cable is that there are two variations — 3-wall and 4-wall. All of 2006 and some of 2007 are 4-wall, and anything newer is 3-wall, but it’s best to open the machine to make sure. The 3-wall connector is flat and the socket has only three sides, while the 4-wall connector is thicker and the socket has borders on all four sides. When the machine is open you can also make sure the cable is fully seated (often disconnecting and reconnecting it will fix the issue!) and not being crimped by the hinge — sometimes a simple adjustment of the cable under the hinge cover will correct the issue.

    Let me know what symptoms you have and we can go further. If you want to buy an inverter cable, they are only a few dollars, and you can find them on eBay by searching for “A1181 inverter cable 3-wall”, etc. And you can find guides to opening your machine on iFixit.com.

    Thanks!

    John
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