MacBook doesn’t boot, but turns on and is somewhat responsive

Jul 10, 2021
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I received an old MacBook from a neighbor that was about to throw it out because it didn’t work. It’s an a1181 and it kind of boots. Keyword: kinda. You see, at first, all it did was when you plugged it in, after a few seconds, the screen would flash grey for half a second, and at the same time the fan would go full blast. I took it apart to see what was going on in there, cleaned it, but it still did the same thing as before. I contacted apple, they did everything they could (and it kinda did something different). At one time I was able to get it stuck on a grey screen, but haven’t been able to since. After resetting NVRAM and other stuff, it changed from a grey screen to a white screen. The next day it was back to square 1. Sometimes it will do the startup sound, and the grey screen will last as long as the sound is playing, but then disappears. The battery is puffed and doesn’t work. I don’t have the battery connected to it right now l. I also realized that the ram had some kind of white stains on it near the slots it plugs into. It was on the ram and on the slots. If I removed 1 ram stick (there are 2 sticks, 512 mb each) then I could get it to bong, but then it was back to square 1 after a day. I can get it to bong only if I remove the ram and put it into a different slot and pretty much just mess with it a bunch. I just realized that if I let it be for a few minutes (like 10 maybe) the fan will shut off. Any suggestions? Resetting the System Managenent only gives me a high pitch beep, but it does only sometimes. Resetting PRAM rarely gets any reaction, and the caps lock key worked only once (when apple was helping me). Num Lock did not work, however. Currently speaking, Num Lock and Caps Lock don’t work. The screen works, the speakers work, the fan works, the power supply works, the hard drive works (at least I think), CD Drive ejects, screen works (but doesn’t turn on really, only shows a single color at a time, usually nothing, but can be white or grey). What do you think?


Cory Cooper

May 19, 2004
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Hello and welcome.

The A1181model encompasses several revisons of the MacBook:
MacBook (13-inch)
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2006)
MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2007)
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2007)
MacBook (13-inch, Early 2008)
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2008)

You can get the exact model by entering the serial number here: Check Your Service and Support Coverage

The issue sounds to me like a failed logic board, due to the different things you are experiencing with your troubleshooting.

The RAM sticks for those early MacBook models sometimes had a white thermal grease on them, so that sounds normal.

Without having hands-on and known good RAM/HD/etc., it would be difficult to diagnose completely.


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