Apple Cinema Display 20" Inverter Problems -
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Old Dec 26th, 2008, 03:03 PM   #1
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Apple Cinema Display 20" Inverter Problems

Hello All --

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays, and won't mind offering a little advice for me.

I've just purchased a Mac Mini to which I've connected an older (circa 2003) 20" cinema display through a DVI to ADC adapter. Upon getting everything up and running, I noticed that the top of the screen was dim and that the power light on the display was sending out a backlight error message (two short flashes followed by a long one).

After doing some research and troubleshooting, I think the problem is the inverter board in the display. The reason why I think it is the board and not the backlights, is that when the computer has been on for a while, it is possible to bring the display back to full brightness (and cancel the error message) by unplugging and re-plugging the display cable. This is a trick that I found by searching for backlight problems associated with this display. The problem is, of course, that this trick is temporary, and the dimness and error message always return. Yet, because of this, I sincerely doubt a backlight is burned out. After all, I can sometimes get the screen back to full brightness, and I don't know of too many burned out bulbs that miraculously come back to life...

I've found a few places in the States to purchase replacement inverter boards (none in Canada yet), and plan on ordering one. But, I've also noticed that these places also sell inverter cables.

Does my diagnosis sound correct? Will I need an inverter cable as well as the board? Any insight would be appreciated.


Last edited by dflack; Dec 26th, 2008 at 03:06 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 02:40 PM   #2
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Yes your diagnosis seems good. The backlight bulb is a tiny neon and yours is working full brightness sometimes so it should be good also you have the warning code for bad inverter. Depending of the inverter cable price you may order the two items but it's rarely the cable that's faulty. I saw the inverter board selling for $85 USD for the aluminium 20", should be less for your model or try eBay. The inverter board seems easy to swap on the acrylic cinema display model.

Good luck !!
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Old Dec 30th, 2008, 09:24 AM   #3
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I have the same issue with the 17" cinema display so I took mine apart in preparation for it's repair, which is the replacement of the inverter board which I am going to get from a sacrificial monitor I bought from eBay.

you can get the repair instructions here - it's for the 17" monitor but the operation is the same for the 20" (trust me I have both monitors)

Mac Guild - Apple 17" Studio Display Backlight Problem
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Old Jul 7th, 2010, 05:19 PM   #4
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new old problem

Sorry to resurrect old thread, but after lengthy searching, the above matches my problem. I followed dflac's advice and got the monitor back, with error warnings gone. However, (alas) there is a high pitched buzz coming from the my 20" display. The volume of the buzz alters slightly, up or down, with the brightness control. The display is 'new' to me, replacing the 17" I still have. Could this be a backlight or inverter? If the former, does anyone have any idea how expensive it would be to switch(17") or relace with a new backlight. Thanks
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