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I have an old iMac G4 that's well beyond being supported in any capacity by Apple. Two years ago, when taking it apart to upgrade the hard drive and CD drive, I accidentally severed the connector on the logic board for the display. At the time, I looked around to see if I could find somewhere I could purchase a replacement logic board, but pretty much the only place I found were some people selling them on eBay from unknown origins for wildly varying prices. I ended up dropping the matter, as I didn't have a need for the machine anymore, but it got me thinking:

Where can I purchase repair parts for Apple products? Presumably the Apple Certified Repair shops have a supplier - do their parts come directly from Apple? Can a "regular person" like me obtain parts directly from Apple as well? If not, are there any certified repair places that are willing to resell the parts they have access to? Or is eBay, with parts from who-knows-where, the only option?

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The Times They Are a-Changin'

Apple now publishes detailed repair manuals for iOS devices and soon Apple Silicon Macs will have these documents widely available. Apple will sell parts and rent tools as well for DIY repairs.

You can still use authorized repair partners, first party AppleCare repair staff or choose anyone else you trust to do the work.

Some will revel in the right to repair, learn and perhaps start a career. Others will discover the right to despair, when they get in over their head or break some part that even trained technicians will break (but the good ones learn fast and make up for extra part costs early in their career by doing many profitable repairs over their span of being a professional fix it person).

Apple resellers are allowed to both perform repairs where the broken part goes back to Apple and just sell you a part. It’s not clear yet how the DIY parts pricing will encourage or discourage others from reselling parts. I believe their costs are way higher for the costs of an "one way part" so in practice, this does not happen much on major components that are not commodity parts.

In your particular instance, I would look to see when that specific model goes vintage. Presumably, Apple would then sell their stock of parts to the repair centers and for a limited time, there might be a nice supply (prices low) and no risk to the people carrying the part that their costs to carry inventory will raise the price of that part.

Even from reputable sellers, many parts that exist on the open market are scavenged from machines that are damaged (sometimes by liquid) and disassembled for parts and carry only a short warranty if any from the seller.

This is a good thing in almost all cases - reusing perfectly fine parts when they are properly tested is inexpensive and proper. The flip side, is what machines get damaged and don't get fixed? The worst kind of damage.

An iMac is very much not at risk from liquid but other things like power surge, can affect parts in an invisible way. Again, the question is of self-selecting. Which macs don't get cheap parts to fix the issues they have? The ones with major problems to either the display or the logic board.

For these reasons, I prefer to buy parts from a company I trust to know why a used mac isn't getting fixed so I can get good parts from them. Similarly, I'll gladly buy the damaged mac from the person that wants to sell it for parts so I can evaluate the damage myself. They are usually forthcoming why and how it got damaged ( and also pricing my offer knowing it may be a total waste.)

As always, finding a good mechanic - someone who knows the business and has experience with hundreds of repairs on your specific model and thousands of repairs under the belt is more important to knowing when parts can be used.

For the last two decades, specialized and highly reliable parts outside of Apple's supply chain are too expensive to be widely available. It used to be hard for consumers to know if a good price is a lucky break or the seller has more information of the part's heritage and passing on hidden risk to the buyer. Hopefully these new DIY options help everyone make good choices and repair their gear for as long as it can be serviceable.

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  • And a very special case in your situation is that many G4/G5 boards are highly specialized where you need matched power supplies, wireless cards to go with the logic boards - without detailed engineering part information, you may not get the exact board you need just by matching sales model numbers rather than matching parts by [EEE codes]( reviews.ebay.com/…).
    – bmike
    Mar 31, 2012 at 19:12
  • Thanks for this answer - this is precisely why I was hesitant to just buy a board off eBay. The thing about "one way parts" rings a bell - I had the HD in my MB replaced several years ago by a certified tech, and they would only cover it under warranty if my old drive was sent back. Wish I'd paid the cost and kept it though - there was a lot of stuff on that drive I'd pay to recover now. Mar 31, 2012 at 19:26
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iFixit has manuals online as well as the parts needed. I've bought and replaced a number of parts from them and their instructions are top notch.

eBay sometimes, but, as you know, that's your own risk.

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  • I'd known about iFixit, but it looks like their collection of parts has grown dramatically. Any idea where they get them from? Mar 31, 2012 at 18:30
  • They disclose on a part by part basis if the part is an Apple Service part or if it is new, used, tested and/or scavenged from a machine.
    – bmike
    Mar 31, 2012 at 19:36
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Rang several Apple stores to buy a screen for iPhone 4. None would sell parts, but all offered repair services. One quote was $179. Eventually I found a private repairer who did the job for $80.

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