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Late 2006 C2D iMac: RESURRECTED!

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Late 2006 C2D iMac: RESURRECTED!
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: New York
2013-10-02, 18:56

I recently visited my parents; a pair of complete technophobes. I noticed they had swapped locations of the two computers they've owned for the last four years. Previously, a 2006 iMac (bought as a three-year-old used computer off eBay) was upstairs and got most of the use because of its 17" screen. Downstairs was inhabited by a 2009 MacBook Pro. I had upgraded the HD in the MBP a year ago to an SSD. With the iMac showing its age (1.83 GHz, 1 GB ram, Snow Leopard, and 7200 RPM HD) they were getting frustrated. I have been getting more and more calls about the dreaded beachball.

So when I recently visited I found they had swapped the two machines. They couldn't bear to use the once-trusty 17" iMac. I came downstairs and saw it sleeping, blissfully, on the desk in the downstairs family room. I tapped the mouse and it sprung to life. After looking at Console, I realized they hadn't touched the iMac in over sixty days. I felt bad for the machine. It had served them well only to be relegated to the basement, atop a desk that nobody uses. So I decided to breath some new life into it.

A few days before my current visit, I ordered a few parts to their house. A Samsung SSD, a 2.5" to 3.5" mounting bracket, and 4 GB of Crucial ram. I downloaded the ifixit guide to replacing the HD on the iMac and it seemed like a nightmare.

Last night, I gathered all the parts and tools, put on some Ratatat, and got to work. It was quite difficult. There was one part of the repair, when I had the white frame off the iMac, that I realized I could not reach the Torx screws (four of them) holding the screen in place. They were too deep. The tool I had was too thick, and it seemed I was out of luck since you need to remove the screen to get to the HD. I had the next size smaller Torx which was of appropriate dimensions so I tried it in a futile attempt before giving up. But, it worked! somehow the Torx screws were just the right size that it barely fit into the Torx I had. The only issue was that once it was loosened I had an absurdly difficult time getting the screw out because the magnet was just a tad too weak for the big Torx screw. if it hit anything on the way up it got dislodged and I had to fish around for it. That was the worst part, and took an hour to get all four out.

With the screen removed, I knew I was home free. I disconnected a few cables, pressed the strange clipping mechanism for the HD bay with a disturbing amount of pressure until it wiggled free. And that was it. I placed the SSD in the 3.5" converter frame, plugged in the SATA cable, re-sat the combination, put the screws back into the screen (much easier than removing them) and clipped the white frame back on and put the 4GB of ram inside.

I booted it to a previously made Snow Leopard Install USB drive. It booted without issue, installed Snow Leopard in about a half hour, and then restored from the Time Capsule backup. A few software updates and reboots later, it's like a brand new machine! It's so much nicer to use now. Snow Leopard is a great OS and my parents said that it felt like a completely different computer.

I'm hoping that it will make it to the 2016 mark so I can throw it a 10 year anniversary party.
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Upstate South Carolina
2013-10-02, 20:19

That's awesome. I always enjoy projects like this where you get to do stuff like this. I've also been in the position of not having the right tool for the job. That really is no fun. Glad you were able to make it work though!

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
Mr. Farmiga
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Tennessee
2013-10-02, 20:36

That is awesome! The SSD really makes the difference then, huh? Even on such an older machine?

I'm trying to get my mom and dad to consider going that route for their MacBook and MacBook Pro (2009 and 2010, respectively). We'll see. While I know it would help their overall performance, I'm also wanting to do it for the experience of performing the operation. I've watched all the how-to videos at iFixIt, YouTube and OWC, so I know the steps and what's what. I'd just like to get a couple under my belt, just so I can say I've done it.

I want the thrill of taking that bottom panel off a MacBook Pro and yanking stuff out of it.
Join Date: May 2005
Location: New York
2013-10-03, 09:42

The SSD really does make a huge difference. Everyday tasks like waking from sleep, opening applications, even scrolling complicated pages in Safari seems much much improved. The ram helps too, for sure, probably with the Safari beach balls.

I may end up throwing Lion on it though. I've encountered two nasty bugs in the latest version of Snow Leopard:
  • When the bots around the internet even attempt to connect to the iMac over its VNC port (which I use for remote management) the screen comes on. SL seemingly does not wait for the attempt to actually be authenticated before turning the display on (from sleep or screen saver). Very strange design choice and I don't think Lion is like this.
  • Time Machine backups are unbearably, frustratingly slow. It took 8 hours to back up 1.2 megabytes yesterday. I googled it and it seems to be a known issue on 10.6.7 and 10.6.8 which renders the Time Capsule nearly useless. The solution for these people was to upgrade to Lion.
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