Replacing the Power Macintosh G4 Cube HD
A photo-illustrated guide
recently, the standard hard disk in my Power Mac G4 Cube failed - it refused to boot, though I could mount it if I booted from another drive. (during investigation of the problem, I found out it was a Western Digital, and suddenly the world made sense.) I replaced it with the Maxtor from my G3 (non-stock). this is the procedure I used.
some things to know before beginning:
- the point of reference is the power switch on the top of the computer.
- deprecated 2003-09-03 (I found out the procedure; see below): I don't know how to reset the CUDA on a Cube. you could try resetting the PRAM (cmd-opt-p-r). if you figure out how, you could try removing the battery for 5-10 seconds. I used Open Firmware (cmd-opt-o-f)'s reset-pram and reset-nvram commands. I think it worked, but sometimes I'm not sure. UPDATE: there are CUDA reset instructions in the Apple KBase. I didn't find them at first because I'd searched for 'Cube CUDA', and the word 'CUDA' isn't on that document. but when I searched for 'Cube reset', that document came up.
- this procedure worked for me - so far - but I cannot guarantee it will work for you. if you perform it, you do so at your own risk.
- you will need T-8 and T-10 screwdrivers. you may also need a tool with which to remove the power connector from the existing hard disk. I used my long tweezers as a lever.
- added 2003-09-03: the original hard drive has a plastic bumper on one side. you may think this bumper is useless - I did, initially - but it is of great value to the computer. the bumper reduces noise and does something to improve cooling. without it, the new HD showed sign of overheating (namely, panic stops at random intervals) after a few minutes of usage, with the CPU-core thermometer reading about 90 degrees F. with it, the core thermometer went down to 60-70, and the drive is barely audible. (we shall see how easily it overheats now.) so be sure to transfer it from the old HD to the new one. (if everything goes well, I'll add this as an actual step in the process.)
- added 2003-09-03: Apple has a KBase article on replacing the Cube's HD. it's good, but it has no photos, is not very detailed, and gets at least one thing wrong (there are no Philips screws in a Cube - they're T-10). it also doesn't mention the motherboard reset.
- added 2004-11-18: here's a neat way to hold onto your screws while you work:
- back up everything you can't replace.
- shut down the computer. wait an hour or so for the computer to cool down.
- upend the computer. (if it is not shut down yet, it will perform a panic stop and turn off immediately. you do not want this.)
- unplug everything except power; you want a ground connection, but nothing else tying you down. (in the photos below, you see EVERYTHING unplugged. do not make this mistake.)
- remove the core. you do this by pushing in the handle (where the lock port is) and letting it pop out, then lifting the core out by the same handle.
- set the core down with the power switch on the top. Apple recommends you set it on a clean, soft, dry cloth. I used a blanket (though this may have been a bad idea for reasons of static).
at this point I should lay out some conventions. the top is the side with the power switch; the bottom is the side with the ports (opposite the top). the back is the side closest to the power switch and ports, between the top and bottom. the front is directly opposite the back. you can guess at this point which sides are left and right.
- remove the corner screws (four) from the top plate. these are T-10.
- remove the side screws (four) from the same plate, on the left and right sides. the middle screws should be about an inch long. all four are T-10.
- remove the top plate.
- remove the front plate by lifting it up and out. (this isn't necessary, but it can be a pain in the neck if you leave it in.) you should see the optical drive behind it.
- remove the AirPort slot on the right side. there is one T-10 screw at each end of the hinge plate. take these out, then push back the ratchet clip holding the slot itself in place, then just lift the slot out. you can leave the slot dangling by its cable - just be sure to mind its location at all times, since you don't want to set the core down on it.
the full-size version of the first picture has highlighting on it. it doesn't show up in the thumbnail, though, so I didn't include it in the thumbnail at all.
note the antenna cable held to the slot by trefoil tape - this stays in the computer, mostly because it isn't sufficiently annoying to warrant the work of removing it. just take it out from under the tape. (obviously, if you have a card in the slot, you should be able to leave the antenna connected to the card.)
- past where the AirPort slot used to be, you can see the power and data connectors for the old drive (in the picture above, you can see that the ATA data cable has a 'FOXCONN' label on it, and the power cable is immediately to your left of it). unplug them.
- remove the forward half of the heat-sink. there are three T-8 screws holding it in place; you don't need to remove them all the way (besides, I think they're captive). after the screws are out of the hard disk, lift out the heat-sink.
- remove the old HD.
- insert the new drive and connect it up.
- put back the heatsink half and rescrew its screws. be sure it's aligned correctly; if it isn't, the top plate will not fit into place.
- put back the AirPort slot and rescrew its screws. be sure to snap it back into its clip, as well.
- reset the CUDA. you can find instructions on this Apple KBase article that mentions the CUDA-reset procedure.
- put back the top plate. this is more difficult than it sounds; in order for all eight screws to align properly, you need the clips on the left and right sides to fit through the matching hole. (the computer will probably still work if they don't, but it's always good to do things right.) the clip holes (they aren't really clips, but I can't think of a better word) are on each side of the top plate, just outside of the two holes. on the side shots of the top plate above, you can see the clip between the middle screw and the two holes.
incidentally, I used the old hard drive to weigh down the top plate as I put back its screws.
- put the core back into the case. make sure the power button is aligned to the window at the top of the case.
- plug everything back in.
- dnepu the computer. (you upended it, remember? so now you dnepu it. think about it.)
- boot the computer and perform any needed installations.