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My old, black (irony), pre-unibody (2009?) MacBook won't properly turn on. The screen just stays black. I can't hear the startup sound and the keyboard caps lock light won't shine, either. The power light, hard drive, and fans both start and work.

I tried connecting it to TV (via mini-DVI to HDMI adapter) and I can't see anything, although TV thinks that there is some signal coming.

It didn't happen suddenly - previously it sometimes started, sometimes not. Once working it would work for weeks until switched off manually. Then one day it wouldn't start at all.

I think that the motherboard could be near death, but the fact that some components work gives me hope.

Any suggestions are welcome. I have a new Mac now and all data has been backed up so I can try pretty much anything.

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I once serviced a MacBook with a similar problem. In the end I found out that its F1 key was stuck and it was constantly darkening the screen. – Max Ried Oct 20 '12 at 11:56

Try resetting the PRAM and SMC.

How to reset PRAM: restart or power up your Mac and immediately hold down the Command ⌘+Option ⌥+P+R keys all at the same time. Keep holding them down until the Mac resets. Also, on these old models you used to have to do it a few times: i.e., just keep holding down and let it reset a few times, before it would be completely clean.

Resetting the SMC is a bit more model-specific and I can't remember off the top of my head what you needed to do with your model, but you'll find instructions here, or you can Google your model number with "reset SMC".

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You can also try swapping RAM modules, you do this by turning off the Macbook, and removing one of the mac modules (Asumming you have two, if just need to "borrow"/buy another module and try that one) and then turn it on. If the same issue happens, try the other module and turn it on, see what happens.

If any of that won't help, motherboard might be damaged.

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