Installing RAM into rev. A imac and resulting problems

You take an iMac out of the box, turn it on, and you're online in no time. What could be simpler?

Well, installing RAM is practically the same way except for one little detail--Rev A iMacs have a little design flaw concerning the main audio cable.

The Easy Part

Taking the iMac apart was a lot of fun. First, you turn it upside down. The bottom part of the case comes completely off but it's practically impossible to pull it apart with just hands. Having gotten the case apart, you disconnect three or four cables and unscrew the motherboard. Everything is attached to the motherboard. It's referred to as "the can". After you take out "the can", just about all that's left in the case is the monitor, speakers, fan, and some wires.

Installing the ram was a snap. Literally. It folds down into this little cradle and snaps into place. It's exactly the same as the memory upgrade for an eMate, if you happen to own one. And, I would assume, a powerbook, since iMacs use powerbook RAM.

What's Wrong With My iMac?

So I get my RAM in place, put the computer back together, turn it on, and something is missing. I can't quite pin it down until I try to play an mp3. I've got no sound! However, there is sound out of the headphone jacks. After several minutes of frantic web searching, I find this Apple tech info document that says something like "if iMac has no sound afterwards, recheck all cables". Well, rechecking the cables served no purpose at all so after I reassembled the iMac for the second time that evening, I steamed over it for the rest of the night.

The next day I got busy calling Apple and my nearest Apple Authorized Service Centers for answers. Apple said they only consulted people on software problems. The first Apple Authorized Service Center I called was CompUSA in Duluth. Their Apple technician had not arrived yet. This was at 11:00 AM. Then I called some place in Fayetteville who only sold Macs and talked to an Apple tech named Brian. He was very helpful and knew exactly what was wrong.

Audio Cable of Death

First of all, there is a big fat cable that runs over the top of the motherboard and rubs up against the "chassis" when you put "the can" back into place. This is your main audio cable. Turns out, on Rev A iMacs, this cable is extremely fragile and easily damaged. Brian replaced it with the updated version present in Rev B and future iMacs. This one is more durable and can survive removal and replacement of the motherboard. However, when I got home, I had yet another problem.

"Floppy" Drive

My CD drive seemed unusally loose when I got home and looked at my machine. It sort of slid around in its housing and vibrated a lot. This didn't seem to affect the operation, but it was still less than optimal. Once again, I tore the machine down and started hunting for the problem. After a while, I found a loose spring clip between the CD drive and hard drive. It should have been clipped to the back of the CD drive to stablize it in the framework of "the can". The front of the CD drive slips into "fingers" on the framework and tension from the spring keeps it pushed up tight against the fingers. No problem.

Better Than New

Well, after all is said and done, my trusty iMac is running on 96 megs of RAM and I have a brand new audio cable installed under warranty by Apple. Hopefully this little Rev A iMac will provide years of reliable service like its predecessors.

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Last modified: 1999.11.1