Imac Intel 2ghz Superdrive Needs Replacing

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Hello All

I'm a newbie to the site & want to find out if possible how to repair my superdrive in a imac intel model A1208 2ghz, 5,1 Ser no W86411ZVWAR

The drive in at the minute is a Matshita UJ-85J

Its basically not powering up at all now when you switch on the machine & before that it just used to spit out the disc!

I've tried various places to get either a refurbed one or an alternative replacement, but no one seems to know the correct replacement or alternative.

I don't want to buy the wrong one.

If anyone knows which one is the best for this machine, then please let me know.

Thanks

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Eudimorphodon's picture
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Joined: Dec 21 2003
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So...

Here's a link that may be useful before you start if you haven't already looked up instructions on how to replace the drive:

Intel iMac repair guides at iFixIt

It's a *really* nasty job to get in there. But if you're undeterred...

The drive seems to be the same one that comes in similar vintage Macbooks. It's not entirely clear to me just looking at the pictures in the fixit guide whether it's a 12.5mm "normal" laptop drive or the newer superslim 9.5mm size. You could probably replace it with any similar slot-load drive (PATA, not SATA, and of the proper dimensions), but unless you want to pull the drive out and leave your computer gutted while you schlep it over to your local equivalent of Fry's hoping they stock something as obscure as bare laptop drives you're probably best off calling a Mac specialist (Google a few) and asking them for advice.

If you replace the drive with a brand/model that Apple doesn't use it's *possible* that OS X or the accompanying iApps will refuse to burn to it. (That used to be an issue, I don't know if Apple is still playing those games.) It does appear that the exact drive you have is long discontinued, so... again, I'd say call someone.

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A few points from experience

I worked in a third-party Mac-centric sales/repair shop for a little over 2 years, and have been doing PC and Mac repairs independently for about 4 years before that, and 2 years since.

The G5 and Intel-based iMacs use standard 12.5mm IDE slot-loading laptop drives. They *can* be swapped out with just about any brand (never run into one that didn't work, but I suppose there's always a chance).

Since about Mac OS 10.4.6 (roughly the time the first Intel Macs were introduced), Apple opened up burn support to include virtually all CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, and DVD+-RW drives. Third-party patches like PatchBurn are only necessary on OSes older than 10.4.6 (Intel Macs shipped with 10.4.6 or later).

Try online retailers like OtherWorld Computing, NewEgg, and Tiger Direct. You should be able to find what you need there. Please note, particularly with Tiger Direct, that you don't particularly need an "Apple certified" drive (Tiger is a PC-centric site after all), nor do you need to pay extra for one that says it will work with Macs, over one that doesn't specify.

Opening the white Intel Macs is not a job I look forward to, but it's much easier than, say, getting into an iBook. Take your time and don't get impatient: you'll do fine.

The aluminum iMacs are much easier to get into, but care must be taken not to get dust, debris or fingerprints between the LCD and the glass cover when putting things back together.

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dankephoto's picture
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eBay

There's a bunch of UJ-85J drives on eBay, cost shipped USA from $40 on up to over $200. I just bought a pair of new units from a HK seller for a total $100 (replacing old G4 PB drives.)

dan k

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Imac Intel 2ghz Superdrive Needs Replacing

I tried OWC to get a definite answer about a replacement drive & they couldn't give me one!

They don't have Intel Imacs listed on their optical drive replacement section, they told me this one would work:

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/MG5SL8XDLK/

Then another member of OWC customer sales staff said its not gauranteed to work as its caused problems with many imacs in the past.

I would prefer to find a superdrive in the UK if possible, as if I get one from the US & its no good, its a long way to send it back etc.

I have come across a UJ-85J-C, is this the same as a UJ-85J?

As long as I know for definite an exact replacement or alternative will fit I will buy it.

I've also tried the bookyard,powerbook medics & various other outlets & they either don't stock what I'm looking for or they haven't a clue what superdrive I can use.

Hard to believe but its true!

The search continues......

cwsmith's picture
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Sales people don't know tech

Sales people really should stick to sales, and not try to be technicians.

The drive you linked will do just fine in any Intel iMac.

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Eudimorphodon's picture
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So...

My honest guess, particularly after the input of cwsmith, is the machine will "work" with any drive that physically fits, although there can be some obscure issues with whether the drive needs to be set master or slave. (This is an ugly and stupid aspect of laptop drives... most of them *can* be set to either, but it's by flipping a bit in the firmware.)

For example, this would probably "work", at least for reading CD/DVDs and mundane burning tasks. It says it's set to MASTER, which according to their FAQ is what Macs expect. It's only $35.

$35 isn't much to lose, honestly. I'd buy that and take my chances. CD/DVD burners speak a fairly standard protocol so unless a piece of software is specifically tailored to work with some feature oddity in some specific manufacturer's drive, well, a drive is pretty much a drive.

(Apple used to be jerks and check the model/serial numbers of drives capable of burning DVDs against a database of drives Apple themselves had sold built-in to computers and refuse to let unrecognized drives work with software like iDVD, but I guess they don't do that anymore. It was a completely artificial limitation.)

I think your other best choice, if you just want a drive to install software with and whatever and are not picky about the exact burning capabilities, is to see if you can find someone to sell you a pull from a dead Powerbook G4 or Macbook. I'd sell you a slot-load combo drive *REAL CHEAP* from a late aluminum G4. ;^b Most of the pre-Macbook Pro Core Duo2 burners only handle single layer disks, but hey, you pays your money and takes your choice. The Apple logo pasted on top will almost definitely steer you clear of software gotchyas.

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Imac Intel 2ghz Superdrive Needs Replacing

So what is the connection type on the rear of the actual superdrive & what connects it to the logic board, is it IDE/SATA connection?

Are all superdrive connected the same way?

How can you tell if a superdrive has 'dual layer' capability?

Also I have seen both 'UJ-85J' & 'UJ-85J-C' - What does the 'C' stand for or mean?

So basically from the replies I'm receiving I presume that all mac super drives (mainly because they are the same shape) are interchangeable to some extent & will work in the majority of mac machines, dependent upon the connector on the rear of the drive?

I noticed there is a Panasonic UJ-85J as well as a Matshita UJ-85J.

My machine has the Matshita UJ-85J, now is it possible to install the Panasonic UJ-85J - I'm sure I read on a parts site you cannot?

Is there a database like this one to check superdrive compatibility:

http://forums.xlr8yourmac.com/drivedb/search.drivedb.lasso

I've tried this & I get the same answer. 'there's nothing in the database' for my machine.

Is there any way of testing a superdrive before putting into a machine, IE like put into an external caddy or similar?

Could my superdrive be fixed at some point, what actually causes them to stop working, the Imac I have is ok, 4 years old with minimum usage?

But there's some windows based pc's/laptops that are older & there dvd drives are still working ok.

As for buying an item that may lose money, if it doesn't work or fit is pointless, I'd prefer to keep my money & make sure I get something that works!

Thanks for all the replies so far.

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Re: Imac Intel 2ghz Superdrive Needs Replacing

tsam19 wrote:

So what is the connection type on the rear of the actual superdrive & what connects it to the logic board, is it IDE/SATA connection?

Are all superdrive connected the same way?

Your machine uses a PATA drive. (It doesn't look like a normal desktop IDE connector, it's a tiny little ribbon cable, but electrically it's the same as the 40 pin parallel desktop connector.) Almost all new drives are SATA, which is why it's a little hard to find a replacement.

This page has a picture of the two different connector types. If you're *really* concerned you're going to get the wrong thing and don't trust the pictures in the take-apart guide you can take your computer apart and see what the connector on your machine looks like.

Quote:

How can you tell if a superdrive has 'dual layer' capability?

In advertising a dual layer drive will usually have the letters "DL" somewhere in the alphabet soup, or they'll just say so. The $35 drive I pointed out to you appears to *not* be dual-layer.

Quote:

Also I have seen both 'UJ-85J' & 'UJ-85J-C' - What does the 'C' stand for or mean?

You'll have to ask the manufacturer. Seriously. No one unless they've seen the two drives side by side outside the company knows. There is *no* standard for computer part numbers.

Quote:

So basically from the replies I'm receiving I presume that all mac super drives (mainly because they are the same shape) are interchangeable to some extent & will work in the majority of mac machines, dependent upon the connector on the rear of the drive?

If it's a PATA drive it will substitute for a PATA drive. Seriously. To be honest I think you're sort of overthinking this.

Quote:

I noticed there is a Panasonic UJ-85J as well as a Matshita UJ-85J.

Panasonic and Matshita are the same company. Panasonic is the consumer products division of Matshita. General rule is if it's sold in a box it says "Panasonic" on it, if it's sold bare to an OEM it's called Matshita.

Quote:

My machine has the Matshita UJ-85J, now is it possible to install the Panasonic UJ-85J - I'm sure I read on a parts site you cannot?

I seriously doubt that.

Quote:

Is there a database like this one to check superdrive compatibility:

http://forums.xlr8yourmac.com/drivedb/search.drivedb.lasso

I've tried this & I get the same answer. 'there's nothing in the database' for my machine.

I have no idea. Again, I do think you're overthinking it.

Quote:

Is there any way of testing a superdrive before putting into a machine, IE like put into an external caddy or similar?

Not definitively, no. You can hook a USB->IDE bridge to a laptop drive with a small adapter and run it externally, and that will certainly tell you if the drive works. But if you're really this concerned that there's going to be some phantom incompatibility with the IDE interface inside the computer, no, it won't rule that out.

Quote:

Could my superdrive be fixed at some point, what actually causes them to stop working, the Imac I have is ok, 4 years old with minimum usage?

But there's some windows based pc's/laptops that are older & there dvd drives are still working ok.

Some computers come with gremlins inside. If you see a little yellow guy with a red hat and an airplane tail scurry for cover when you open the machine you'd better shake him out.

To be serious, well, it broke. Laptop parts are fragile, and if you ask the manufacturer they'll probably admit they're not designed to last more than about three years or so. It's bad luck.

Quote:

As for buying an item that may lose money, if it doesn't work or fit is pointless, I'd prefer to keep my money & make sure I get something that works!

You could just take the machine to the Apple store and pay them whatever they want to fix it. It'll be dear, but they'll be happy to do it. Strictly speaking the machine is not designed to be user-serviceable, so unless you have a fair amount of experience taking complex and picky machines like laptops apart there's a non-zero chance you'll kill the whole machine attempting to replace it even if you buy the "right" Superdrive.

Quote:

Thanks for all the replies so far.

Not to be rude or anything, and I may be way off base saying this, but the fact that you're fretting about part numbers so much sort of implies to me that replacing this drive might be a more complex task than you want to handle. A USB burner is a perfectly reasonable way of sidestepping the issue and it will probably be cheaper than finding the "right" internal drive. (External drives are a high-volume consumer item, so stores can sell them cheaper than internal drives. Ironically if you bought a slimline one there's a good chance that it could be pulled apart and the drive used in a newer laptop, but it will *probably* be SATA instead of PATA.

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Imac Intel 2ghz Superdrive Needs Replacing

Re: Eudimorphodon

Thanks for dissecting my last post & answering accordingly!

As for the over thinking things, I am merely interested in covering all angles, as I've approached quite a few experts on part replacements for this imac & I wasn't or haven't been given a confident straight answer.

I want to be sure that when I open the imac casing, the correct drive is going in there & I don't have to keep opening the casing to change drives all the time just because someone thinks this or that drive will work.

Which has encouraged me to research & find out maybe more than I need to, and at the minute I believe I have the answers I need to go & buy the correct replacement item.

As for apple doing the replacement, I don't see why when I am more than capable of doing the exchange at a third of the cost.

Again as you know apple will not sell you any part for any of their machines unless you a certified apple technician.

Hence the reason for my secondary approach to buying a refurbed or alternative part & doing it myself.

As for the external dvd drive,I already have one.

My motto is if something is broken then fix it!