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Freezing iMacs may be victims of hardware, not software

post #1 of 129
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Evidence is mounting that the frequent video lockups experienced by some owners of Apple's all-aluminum iMacs may be the result of a faulty graphics video component or overheating, rather than a software bug.

One owner speaking to AppleInsider noted that the freezes plaguing his new 20-inch iMac have seemingly vanished ever since Apple replaced the Radeon HD video chipset in the system, suggesting that Apple's recent iMac driver updates are not the ultimate solutions to the issue.

"So far that [repair] has fixed it completely," he says, observing that the iMac has been stable for two weeks since its return. "We'll see if the same issue starts back up again."

This and other reports provide increasing support for beliefs that the lockups and related symptoms are caused by a hardware issue, or excessive heat inside the all-in-one chassis. Users often report graphical corruption in the operating system as a precursor to the freezes -- a sign some PC users recognize of a video card pushed beyond its safe operating temperature. In some instances, the visual artifacts become increasingly likely as time goes on.

"My lockups were normal looking at first, but eventually started to spew out graphical artifacts, the same type of [problem] I used to see when overclocking graphics cards," the iMac owner said.

AppleInsider itself can attest to the symptoms, which first manifested in a review unit weeks after the August release. A sure sign that the system is near a freeze are very brief white streaks that dart across the screen -- a behavior witnessed with high-end video cards running past their limits. Visual corruption in certain programs, especially those that require a full-screen mode, also hint at an impending lockup.

The issue further appears to be disconnected from the operating system, as it also manifests in Windows while using Boot Camp (which, incidentally, incorrectly lists the video card as a Mobility Radeon HD 2600) and also appears regardless of the version of Mac OS X installed. iMac users in Apple's support forums complain that upgrading from Tiger to Leopard often exacerbates the problem, freezing when a game, screensaver, or a similarly more intensive task than the standard Leopard desktop is activated.

While the problems have not always been consistent and are sometimes resolved by downgrading to Tiger (which offloads less work to the graphics processor), the freezes are prompting an increasingly hostile reaction from buyers, many of whom are also angry at Apple for failing to either inform customers or technicians about the existence of the flaw, or else to offer a truly permanent fix.

"I've gone from frustrated, to upset, angry, furious to disappointed with my iMac," reports one user from Apple's forums. "It basically sits in my office collecting dust. I don't want to drag it all the way down to the Apple store, because I know they will only exchange it with the another defective unit."
post #2 of 129
I have been having this issue. So how can I get Apple to replace just my graphics card, instead of the whole computer? I shouldn't have to buy a 500GB hard drive and back up all my things just to get a working computer.
post #3 of 129
They also released a patch/firmware for the white iMacs and MacPros using the high capacity Seagate hard drives. It's working like a dream for me.
post #4 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by psychodoughboy View Post

I have been having this issue. So how can I get Apple to replace just my graphics card, instead of the whole computer? I shouldn't have to buy a 500GB hard drive and back up all my things just to get a working computer.

I'm confused. I didn't think the iMac had a graphics card and the GPUs were built onto the motherboard. Would some one more knowledgable correct me if I'm wrong, as I often am.
just waiting to be included in one of Apple's target markets.
Don't get me wrong, I like the flat panel iMac, actually own an iMac, and I like the Mac mini, but...........
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just waiting to be included in one of Apple's target markets.
Don't get me wrong, I like the flat panel iMac, actually own an iMac, and I like the Mac mini, but...........
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post #5 of 129
APPLE: An old snippet my father left me. "Your first or earliest loss, is more often than not, your cheapest"

Be proactive Apple, tell & show your customers you fix it and swallow the expense.

I have been persuading my brother to switch from his ever problematic XP desktop to a new Al 24" iMac, I'll have to tell him to hold off for now until I know its fixed.
Funny actually, as I was going to upgrade to it when it first came out, but the glossy only screen was a deal breaker for me. So, I'm waiting for something else that suits me. Lucky me

Pete
post #6 of 129
This is what happens when you have a design team, and CEO, obsessed with making it "even thinner." As it is, I run my Alu iMac with the fans cranked up to 1500 rpms or so permanently, and when playing WoW, I turn off all the shader effects and limit the frame rate to 20 fps so I don't have to worry about wiping my raid because I locked up while tanking a boss fight. I've given up on trying to run games like Bioshock in Windows through Bootcamp.

It's a shame that aesthetics come before quality design with this company. This is my 3rd Mac and I wish that I had bought a Windows machine instead.
post #7 of 129
I'm having this problem too. They should just recall those machines that exhibit the freezing before mainstream media picks this up.
post #8 of 129
that Apple isn't becoming one of those companies whose motto is "We're not happy, till you're not happy"
post #9 of 129
This is going to be expensive for Apple. The GPU is on the logic board, so it's not as simple as just swapping out a graphics card. They'll have to replace the entire logic board. But, if it turns out that it's a heat issue, I don't see that there's any other resolution. Graphics drivers won't resolve it.

The right thing to do, obviously, is to replace the logic board for all affected customers.
post #10 of 129
I seem to recall folks discovering that the original MacBook Pro's video card was underclocked by the software. Obviously it would be a PR nightmare to do this to already-shipped machines, but they should probably start immediately underclocking yet-to-ship machines until they resolve this.
post #11 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Evidence is mounting that the frequent video lockups experienced by some owners of Apple's all-aluminum iMacs may be the result of an ATI video chipset pushed to its breaking point rather than a software bug.

Is this the same problem as the one where people are reporting their iMacs shut down abruptly like someone pulled the plug? Aren't people with previous generation (white) imacs experiencing the same problem? Begs the question how widespread this actually is?
post #12 of 129
I don't think it's heat - the only time I hit the problem was opening up Google Earth (which is 3D intensive, obviously) but it didn't really have a chance to get going in any meaningful sense.

As for thin/aesthetics - hardware wise, it's not substantially different from the far thinner Macbook Pro. Again, I'm really doubting heat-loss problem by design (Apple have years of experience in 'fanless' circulation) as it seems to freeze even without the tell-tail 'heat' problems (streaking, etc).

Either way, if it's hardware, it will be expensive. If it's the fault of the GPU, it won't be Apple who pay the expense.
post #13 of 129
I just got a 20" iMac 2 weeks ago and has not lock up or frozen not even one time, but my brother got the 24" about 2 months ago when they first came out and it locks up every 10 minutes or so, maybe its because I got the cheapest $1199 model which has a different video card from all of them, also his machine is also having a condensation problem behind the glass, he phone tech support and all they said was to put it in a different room lol, and boy tech support had pick up some nasty attitude, thank god i did not go for the extra support
post #14 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidm77 View Post

This is what happens when you have a design team, and CEO, obsessed with making it "even thinner." As it is, I run my Alu iMac with the fans cranked up to 1500 rpms or so permanently, and when playing WoW, I turn off all the shader effects and limit the frame rate to 20 fps so I don't have to worry about wiping my raid because I locked up while tanking a boss fight. I've given up on trying to run games like Bioshock in Windows through Bootcamp.

It's a shame that aesthetics come before quality design with this company. This is my 3rd Mac and I wish that I had bought a Windows machine instead.

WHAT A LEMON. There was no reason for this "new" PCish iMac. No power increase over the white one and no design change except thinner. Aesthetically the white iMac rules. The mouse doesn't even match the machine! They should recall and start from scratch on this one.
post #15 of 129
I think that Apple should be addressing this issue aggressively but as always it won't tell us until they get it fixed, I just hope that for the next revision they just change the GPU altogether or make ATI deliver something better. In any case I have to complain about the graphics chosen for the new iMacs, I think they should have use a better one, I've been waiting to replace my not so old iMac G5 (pre-isight) then Leopard came out and I wanted to wait for it to come pre-installed, now this issue comes out and well, I'll wait for Rev.1 , they should be coming out very soon.
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post #16 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by JulesLt View Post

I don't think it's heat

Indeed. The MBP has graphics at least as powerful as the iMac's in much less volume, and we have yet to hear about similar problems with the graphics chip. If it is hardware, it should be something more complicated than heat.
post #17 of 129
The new Imacs aren't really thinner - it's just an aspect of the design.

I noticed that my 24" mac used to lock up quite often - but I thought this was a consequence of using Parallels all the time.

Now I've moved to Leopard and started using Time Machine it's been a hell of a lot worse.

Agree with a lot of people here who say that Apple should take this very seriously... I've spent £1500 ($3200?!!) on something that fails 1-3 times a week. Rubbish.
post #18 of 129
Don't the MBP's use nVidia graphics instead of the iMac's ATI? That could explain the difference.

I hope Apple becomes more proactive about making this problem go away, and I hope they hold ATI accountable in turn.
post #19 of 129
I have a new 24" iMac and mine has not frozen one time.
post #20 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by psychodoughboy View Post

I have been having this issue. So how can I get Apple to replace just my graphics card, instead of the whole computer? I shouldn't have to buy a 500GB hard drive and back up all my things just to get a working computer.

That's a bogus complaint. What if it was your hard drive that crashed?

Everyone should have a backup drive.

Besides, Apple won't replace the computer, they'll replace the logic board. Chances are your data will remain intact.
post #21 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by PB View Post

. If it is hardware, it should be something more complicated than heat.

I don't know about that. Heat seems to kill x box 360s. Not a great comparison but excessive heat is know to cause HW failure.
post #22 of 129
The user quoted in the article is just grandstanding. Lots of people don't have this problem, and others have not had the problem since theirs was fixed. He should just take it in and have it fixed.
post #23 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by JulesLt View Post

If it's the fault of the GPU, it won't be Apple who pay the expense.

Isn't it ironic that the one weakness of the entire Apple lineup is poor graphics performance and here we have a video card being overtaxed for the thermal environment Apple has placed it in. Indeed, do Apple's noise and chassis-size restrictions prevent them from going offering higher end GPUs?

Therefore, I wonder if ATI really should be assigned any blame here. Take this hypothesis as an example: If I buy an 8800GTS, take off the fan (due to noise), put it in my HTPC case, and run CoD4 with all the bells and whistles enabled, can I blame nVidia if it overheats?
post #24 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

That's a bogus complaint. What if it was your hard drive that crashed?

Everyone should have a backup drive.

Besides, Apple won't replace the computer, they'll replace the logic board. Chances are your data will remain intact.

Exactly. And you should always back up your machine before sending if off for repair. In fact, you should always back up your machine period.
post #25 of 129
maybe apple should use the cooling system that their G5 processors used last time to fix this probs, haha, but they will lose a lot of money at the same time installing it to current iMac owners. I wonder what happen if they switch to Nvidia graphic cards?
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post #26 of 129
I'm sure this is frustrating for iMac owners, but I thought I'd share my experience.

I got the new 24" iMac the day it came out. It started freezing right away - usually in iPhoto (when opening an image for editing). I use iPhoto a lot so maybe that's why I noticed that the most.

It was freezing several times a day. My "fix" was to use iPhoto as little as possible.

After about two weeks - and one or two iMac software updates, I forget how many - it stopped doing it. I haven't had it freeze under Leopard a single time.

So while it's possible that it's a hardware problem, I was definitely having the problem in a serious way several weeks ago, and I'm definitely not having it now, without taking the computer to Apple or changing the way I use it.
post #27 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

Lots of people don't have this problem.

Let me get this straight you are claiming omniscience?

As you have the hard facts, what does "lots" consist of? 4, 5, 10, 20, 100 users? Or are you claiming 30%, 40%, 99.999%?

Based on what? You have hacked Apple's repairs database?

You seem to have come to the remarkable conclusion that somehow the remainder, who do have the problem, are at fault, not Apple.

In my experience 2 Apple retailers have had the problem before the iMacs even left the store, but your denials are clearly helping those who have got stuck with lemons.
post #28 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicnac View Post

Isn't it ironic that the one weakness of the entire Apple lineup is poor graphics performance and here we have a video card being overtaxed for the thermal environment Apple has placed it in. Indeed, do Apple's noise and chassis-size restrictions prevent them from going offering higher end GPUs?

Therefore, I wonder if ATI really should be assigned any blame here. Take this hypothesis as an example: If I buy an 8800GTS, take off the fan (due to noise), put it in my HTPC case, and run CoD4 with all the bells and whistles enabled, can I blame nVidia if it overheats?

No, but you're not an OEM with a contract with nVidia. It obviously will depend on the contract as to who takes the blame in this case.
post #29 of 129
When people say freezing, do they mean a stutter or the machine locks up and has to be powered off and back on?

I have the following:

24" White iMac
24" Al iMac (Three of these at work)
20" Al iMac
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Hard-Core.
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post #30 of 129
This will result in an Apple Repair Extension being offered, if they narrow it down to hardware for certain, they will replace the video board (just as they did for all those first generation iMac G5s that had power issues.) It will only be expensive if it turns out to have a lot of computers affected. I've seen 1 come back of nearly 1,000 we sold at the store I work at, Likely, they will extend the warranty on this issue to 3 years, if it turns out to be hardware. They won't be hurt by it too much, they do stuff like this often, and if it turns out to be an issue with some chipsets then ATI might get hit with some of the cost.

And amazingly, they do this all without the need for people to b&%$* and moan about it.
post #31 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by chump View Post

The new Imacs aren't really thinner - it's just an aspect of the design.

It's lower in spacial volume than previous designs. I think at it's thickest, it is still thinner than the previous model. It's a lot thinner at the edges though.
post #32 of 129
I post possible temporal fix here:

http://forums.appleinsider.com/showt...20#post1170020

work on problematic 24" imac.
post #33 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickag View Post

I'm confused. I didn't think the iMac had a graphics card and the GPUs were built onto the motherboard. Would some one more knowledgable correct me if I'm wrong, as I often am.

24" iMac's have cards.
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post #34 of 129
I just have to say that I've been scared away from ever buying another iMac. I actually have not been affected by this issue, but since the dawn of post-G4 iMacs I have encountered the first product from Apple to consistently lack in quality. Any other Apple products (except the mini which also has issues though not as bad as the iMac) have lasted for years and years until they were simply outdated, but would still work if I pulled them out of the closet. We have had FOUR different iMacs (2 G5s, 1 G5 i-sight, and 1 white Intel), however, whose logic boards have crapped out within months of being out of warranty. What sucks about this is that I really don't want to pay for a Mac Pro just for salesman to run FileMaker. I guess the mini will have to do for them. What we really need is that missing piece of the Apple lineup: A mid-range, headless desktop.
post #35 of 129
I had severe freezing issues with my iMac after upgrading to Leopard (several per hour), bad enough to consider trying to get my iMac replaced. It seemed like they came mostly when playing movies on iTunes, switching spaces, transitioning to the screen saver, or using TIme Machine. Occasionally it was a dead mouse (stopped moving), other times it was random black and white rectangular streaks, but always it required a hard reboot. I have not had 1 freeze since Apple's most recent leoprad update.

It seems that if it is a hardware design issue, it is amenable to a software fix.
-----------------------------------
iMac - 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo - 24"
MacBook Pro - 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo - 17"
G5 Dualie - 2.0 GHz
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iMac - 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo - 24"
MacBook Pro - 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo - 17"
G5 Dualie - 2.0 GHz
Leopard
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post #36 of 129
i wonder if apple put $10 more on better graphics card, then this issue would not be there at all...

it seems ATI quality much lower than nVidia, Apple should have chosen nVidia hmmm...

Nov '09 | iMac 21.5" C2D 3.06 Ghz | Intel 330 240GB SSD | ATI

Sep '12| Toshiba 14" 1366 x 768! | i5 3rd Gen 6GB| Intel x25-m 120GB SSD | Win 7|  Viewsonic VX2255wmb 22" LCD
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Nov '09 | iMac 21.5" C2D 3.06 Ghz | Intel 330 240GB SSD | ATI

Sep '12| Toshiba 14" 1366 x 768! | i5 3rd Gen 6GB| Intel x25-m 120GB SSD | Win 7|  Viewsonic VX2255wmb 22" LCD
iPhone 4S| iPad 2 wifi

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post #37 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"I've gone from frustrated, to upset, angry, furious to disappointed with my iMac," reports one user from Apple's forums. "It basically sits in my office collecting dust. I don't want to drag it all the way down to the Apple store, because I know they will only exchange it with the another defective unit."

Clearly he has too much money.

Did anyone else read that as "I can't be bothered to help myself, someone else should do it for me"? Maybe he's Michael Eisner? har har.

--

I'm sorry to hear about all this trouble, but I'm very glad I decided to wait for a revision. These freezes would put me round the bend.
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post #38 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyKrz View Post

I just have to say that I've been scared away from ever buying another iMac. I actually have not been affected by this issue, but since the dawn of post-G4 iMacs I have encountered the first product from Apple to consistently lack in quality. Any other Apple products (except the mini which also has issues though not as bad as the iMac) have lasted for years and years until they were simply outdated, but would still work if I pulled them out of the closet. We have had FOUR different iMacs (2 G5s, 1 G5 i-sight, and 1 white Intel), however, whose logic boards have crapped out within months of being out of warranty. What sucks about this is that I really don't want to pay for a Mac Pro just for salesman to run FileMaker. I guess the mini will have to do for them. What we really need is that missing piece of the Apple lineup: A mid-range, headless desktop.

This will be remedied as it has been in the past, I just hope they have a better supply of replacement parts than they did for the first iMac G5s
post #39 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

Yeah...go buy an HP, or Dell, their quality is sooooo much better

O.... K.... I'll bite.

What the hell would I do with an HP or Dell? I agree they probably aren't much better in quality... What does that have to do with anything I said about the iMac? I run an all mac office, so HP or Dell wouldn't do me any good.
post #40 of 129
Quote:
Originally Posted by aplnub View Post

When people say freezing, do they mean a stutter or the machine locks up and has to be powered off and back on?

I have the following:

24" White iMac
24" Al iMac (Three of these at work)
20" Al iMac

In this case the videocard stops working, the screen goes black.

The cpu is still working, just you can't see what's happening.

And yes you have to reboot to get your screen back again.
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