When I was first getting started with my collection, I primarily bought bundled Macintoshes from eBay or Craigslist. These bundled deals allowed me to not only build up my collection very quickly, but they also allowed me to stock pile various parts for future repairs. While it is great to get used accessories in bundle deals, it is incredibly important to do a visual inspection of them before ever using them. As evident by my incredibly dumb mistake that almost cost me two graphics cards.
For years my holy grail of Classic Macintoshes was the Power Mac G4 Cube. After saving a few paychecks, I finally decided to purchase one on eBay. I found one that was reasonably priced, with little to no cosmetic issues. It came in a bundle with a Pro Keyboard/Mouse and to my happy surprise, an Apple Studio Display. While I was excited to add two new devices to my collection at once, I was very skeptical if the display worked due to how cheap the bundle was.
Been waiting a while for this
After I unpacked all the parts when the packaged arrived, I did my usual check of the Macintosh to look for any broken ports or missing components. Forgetting my initial concern if the monitor was working, I quickly plugged it into the DVI port and tried to turn it on. The Cube sounded its startup chime, but then instantly turned off.
Too excited to finally have a Mac G4 Cube, I unplugged the Apple Display and attached a VGA monitor. The Cube turned on and worked perfectly. After a few quick Google searches, it seemed like the problem could be the Cube’s power supply, something I didn’t want to deal with at the time. I set aside the monitor in the hopes to deal with it when I had more time.
Recently I found the monitor and tried to plug it into one of my Power Mac G4 Towers. To my surprise, it also did not boot up. Figuring the monitor never worked and I should just toss it, I did the one thing I should have done from the start. Check the pins on the DVI connector. To my surprise, two pins on the DVI connector were bent and touching each other. I carefully bent the pin back, and then moved on to check the Power Mac Cube’s port.
The almost ruined connector
Unlike a VGA connection, which has fewer pins and a more stable port, a DVI port consists of a honeycomb of openings. Unfortunately, these honeycomb walls are incredibly brittle and can bend or break if your connector is slightly bent. Since the Display’s DVI connector was damaged, it forced the honeycomb walls of the Cube’s DVI port to collapse onto each other.
Even though the DVI port looked incredibly brittle as it was, I wanted to see if the display even worked with the fixed connection. With a small eyeglass screwdriver in hand, I gently pushed the wall of the port back into its original spot. Thankfully nothing snapped off, and I carefully plugged the connector into the Cube to test if it worked. To my surprise, the Macintosh booted up, and the display turned on for the first time.
Repaired connector, next to the far more stable VGA connector
While the fix isn’t perfect and I’m still cautious when I plug in a DVI connector; it has been working for a few months. The monitor works perfectly, although there is a small burn-in spot on the top right screen. I plan on using this monitor in my final Macintosh Classic build since it is still a great first party monitor.
Thankfully, I was fortunate, and the damage wasn’t so severe that I had to replace the graphics card. It is important though to always do a thorough inspection of all your Macintoshes and equipment when you first purchase them, or when you pull them out of storage. Some of the parts on these Macintoshes are already becoming harder to find, and even incredibly expensive as time goes on. Hopefully, you can be smarter than me, and avoid something as dumb as almost breaking your DVI ports.