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Pre-Unibody MacBook Pro, 15-inch (Late 2006) "Dolores"

Obtained June 22nd, 2023

Another impulse purchase, as my last... five laptops have been. First, the ThinkPad, then the G3 iBook, then the G4 iBook, then the PowerBook, and now this. I'm actually typing this entry on the list from it, so that's a good sign as far as projects go, but the truth is, I don't even have to do anything to upgrade it. It came from the original owner who already maxed out everything that could be done to it as far as upgrades go. It came with a HyperX 120GB SSD and 3GB of RAM, which is the effective maximum due to the way the system handles addressing, as it was orginally designed to be a 32-bit machine. But, it wasn't as easy as that. Repairs were required...

I saw it on eBay for about $53 and sent an offer not expecting to get it, but about an hour before the offer was going to expire. I got it for $43. It's got a 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo and a Mobility Radeon X1600, and is INCREDIBLY clean as I found out when it arrived yesterday, with almost no blemishes on the chassis. It came with an 85 watt MagSafe 1 charger, a Snow Leopard DVD, a set of Tiger DVDs specifically for this laptop, and a copy of both iWork and iLife 2009. I took it apart to repaste the CPU, GPU, and Northbridge, and put it back together to find that it didn't boot. The seller tells me they wiped the drive before sending it out, so that's fine. So, I throw in the Snow Leopard DVD, and it starts to boot, but hangs on a gray screen once the Apple logo disappears. I put in the Tiger 10.4.8 install DVDs, and while it would install fine, it wouldn't boot once the computer restarted. And it was in these environments that I notice artifacts, diagonal stripes made from blue squares and a shaded rectangle that followed the mouse cursor. I didn't notice them in the pictures, because they're very subtle, unless the GPU has made the computer crash.

Complaining in a discord server for queer nerds such as myself, another user tells me that since it's one of the ones with a Radeon GPU, and not an Nvidia one, a reflow might help with this problem. Macs are weird like that, and the marginal GPU is likely causing the boot issues. I admit defeat, take the laptop apart a second time, clean the thermal paste I had put on the GPU just hours earlier, and break out my rework station. I bathed the GPU in 350 degree air (celsius) for six-ish minutes and let the board rest for 20 after that to cool off before reapplying thermal paste, reassembling the laptop and, after a brief scare where I forgot to put the RAM back in, it posted and booted into the Snow Leopard install DVD. From there, I put a pretty aggressive temperature target in Macs Fan Control, used it to put Sorbet Leopard on my PowerBook, and upgraded the Snow Leopard install to Lion so I can use modern web browsers like Chromium Legacy. I did partition the SSD in half, so I have ~60GB of free space for other operating systems, like if I wanted to use Bootcamp or install Linux. I've also ordered a new battery, something I've found out is a lot easier for old Intel MacBooks than finding iBook and PowerBook batteries, so it should only be about a week before this thing is fully operatonal, at least for now.

I know reflows largely are not permanent solutions. She's most likely a dead computer walking, a Zombie. So I named her after the late great Dolores O'Riordan, rest in peace.


Price to me: $74