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Mac Pro Crashing and Problems

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
These problems has been ongoing for a long time now, but it seems to be getting worse.

During normal operation, my Mac Pro displays horizontal lines of random color noise across the screen like this:



And sometimes the entire computer locks up. It's been happening at least once a day -- today 5 times and counting. Most of the time, the computer locks up so that I can't click or force quit anything, but I can still move my mouse. Sometimes, the screen will go entirely black, except the backlight. Sometimes (this is what just happened a few minutes ago), the screen goes entirely gray. One time the computed locked up and went all jumbled, but I was still, for some strange reason, able to take a screenshot using the keyboard shortcut, and when I retorted the screenshot was saved (pictured below). In any case, in order to get out of the freeze, I have to force shut down my computer by holding the power button for 8 seconds or so.



I tried thoroughly cleaning out my computer and GPU with compressed air, but that didn't seem to help at all. I tried a archive and install a few months ago, and that didn't seem to help. Is is possible I'd need to do a clean install to fix the problems rather than an archive and install? Also, I've been thinking for a long time it's a GPU defect, and my computers covered under AppleCare, but Apple hasn't been very helpful diagnosing the problem-- they want me to send it in, but that's kinda hard to do.

ARRRRRG

Help please!
post #2 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

These problems has been ongoing for a long time now, but it seems to be getting worse.

During normal operation, my Mac Pro displays horizontal lines of random color noise across the screen like this:



And sometimes the entire computer locks up. It's been happening at least once a day -- today 5 times and counting. Most of the time, the computer locks up so that I can't click or force quit anything, but I can still move my mouse. Sometimes, the screen will go entirely black, except the backlight. Sometimes (this is what just happened a few minutes ago), the screen goes entirely gray. One time the computed locked up and went all jumbled, but I was still, for some strange reason, able to take a screenshot using the keyboard shortcut, and when I retorted the screenshot was saved (pictured below). In any case, in order to get out of the freeze, I have to force shut down my computer by holding the power button for 8 seconds or so.



I tried thoroughly cleaning out my computer and GPU with compressed air, but that didn't seem to help at all. I tried a archive and install a few months ago, and that didn't seem to help. Is is possible I'd need to do a clean install to fix the problems rather than an archive and install? Also, I've been thinking for a long time it's a GPU defect, and my computers covered under AppleCare, but Apple hasn't been very helpful diagnosing the problem-- they want me to send it in, but that's kinda hard to do.

ARRRRRG

Help please!

Try installing Windows in a small boot camp partition and see if it still happens. Then you'll know for sure if it's software related or hardware
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbwi View Post

Try installing Windows in a small boot camp partition and see if it still happens. Then you'll know for sure if it's software related or hardware

That would require buying Windows. I only have Windows as a pre-install CD that came with a PC, and it's not even SP2. And update: it just crashed AGAIN.

And also: to make matters worse, my Back-up hard drive is having problems, so I had to send THAT in to get fixed. So right now, I'm sans back-up.
post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

That would require buying Windows. I only have Windows as a pre-install CD that came with a PC, and it's not even SP2. And update: it just crashed AGAIN.

And also: to make matters worse, my Back-up hard drive is having problems, so I had to send THAT in to get fixed. So right now, I'm sans back-up.

Microsoft offers free trials of their server software (WIndows 2008). Google "windows 2008 trial", download, burn, install
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbwi View Post

Microsoft offers free trials of their server software (WIndows 2008). Google "windows 2008 trial", download, burn, install

Thanks for the help, but alas, another road bump. My ISP sucks so I have a 500MB bandwidth limit per 24 hour period and then it crawls to a deathly slow rate for the next 24 hours. I tried to boot off of my sister's MacBook Pro in target disk mode, but wasn't able to test it fully because the entire system was running sluggish because I was running from a firewire 400 connection.
post #6 of 15
Looks like a graphics card problem.

If you follow the guide here (p 47 or thereabouts):

http://manuals.info.apple.com/en/Mac_Pro_User_Guide.pdf (right-click download)

remove the GPU card from your PCI slot and try booting up your machine. If it's ok, the GPU was the issue and you need to either reseat it or get it replaced.

Some GPUs with the Mac Pros were faulty I think. I can't remember if it was the low end Radeon ones. Which GPU did you get with your machine?
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Looks like a graphics card problem.

If you follow the guide here (p 47 or thereabouts):

http://manuals.info.apple.com/en/Mac_Pro_User_Guide.pdf (right-click download)

remove the GPU card from your PCI slot and try booting up your machine. If it's ok, the GPU was the issue and you need to either reseat it or get it replaced.

Some GPUs with the Mac Pros were faulty I think. I can't remember if it was the low end Radeon ones. Which GPU did you get with your machine?

At the time it was one of the higher-end ones: ATI Radeon X1900 XT

Also, how would I know if it's ok by removing the graphics card??? If I remove the graphics card, the monitor doesn't plug in and I can't evaluate the computer.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

At the time it was one of the higher-end ones: ATI Radeon X1900 XT

That card was known to cause some problems. I think it was due to overheating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Also, how would I know if it's ok by removing the graphics card??? If I remove the graphics card, the monitor doesn't plug in and I can't evaluate the computer.

You could do this remotely if you set up a VNC connection and access the machine over ethernet from another computer.

This is a known problem with the X1900 cards though so I'd try cleaning the card as well as you can. Check the image here to see if you've got similar dust problems:

http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?showtopic=29913

http://meanderingpassage.com/2007/04...ing-x1900-xts/

The SMC fan control software that increases the speed on your system fans seemed to help for some people if I remember right. It might be worth a try too.

Some cards were defective though so it might be an idea to contact Apple about it:

http://macenstein.com/default/archives/1301
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

That card was known to cause some problems. I think it was due to overheating.



You could do this remotely if you set up a VNC connection and access the machine over ethernet from another computer.

This is a known problem with the X1900 cards though so I'd try cleaning the card as well as you can. Check the image here to see if you've got similar dust problems:

http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?showtopic=29913

http://meanderingpassage.com/2007/04...ing-x1900-xts/

The SMC fan control software that increases the speed on your system fans seemed to help for some people if I remember right. It might be worth a try too.

Some cards were defective though so it might be an idea to contact Apple about it:

http://macenstein.com/default/archives/1301

At one point when I opened up my Mac Pro the filter of the graphics card did have a layer of dust on it like in the picture. I removed that dust and later used compressed air to spray as much dust out of the GPU as possible. Even despite the cleaning, I'm still having problems.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

At one point when I opened up my Mac Pro the filter of the graphics card did have a layer of dust on it like in the picture. I removed that dust and later used compressed air to spray as much dust out of the GPU as possible. Even despite the cleaning, I'm still having problems.

Other things to try would be:

- boot into safe mode holding shift key at startup and check if the glitches are there
- If you can, try booting from a clean installation, maybe an external drive (not a clone of your internal machine - if possible, try to get a 10.4 installation because it might be Leopard's drivers)
- reset the Mac Pro PRAM and SMC:

Just hold option-command-p-r to reset the PRAM at boot and wait until it reboots
SMC reset - http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1806?viewlocale=en_US

- Install SMC updates if there are any:

http://www.apple.com/support/downloa...eupdate11.html

- if you haven't, take out the GPU and either just reseat it or try it in another PCI slot.
- install SMC fan control:

http://homepage.mac.com/holtmann/eid...ol2/index.html

and just increase your fan speeds.

If after all that you still get glitches, you may have a bad card and you should get it seen to. Apple were apparently replacing defective X1900 cards outside of warranty.

If you can't get a replacement card, the 8800 upgrade kit would be a better option than another X1900:

http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPL.../A&mco=OTkzNDY

It's $279 but it's a less troublesome card and faster.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Other things to try would be:

- boot into safe mode holding shift key at startup and check if the glitches are there
- If you can, try booting from a clean installation, maybe an external drive (not a clone of your internal machine - if possible, try to get a 10.4 installation because it might be Leopard's drivers)
- reset the Mac Pro PRAM and SMC:

Just hold option-command-p-r to reset the PRAM at boot and wait until it reboots
SMC reset - http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1806?viewlocale=en_US

- Install SMC updates if there are any:

http://www.apple.com/support/downloa...eupdate11.html

- if you haven't, take out the GPU and either just reseat it or try it in another PCI slot.
- install SMC fan control:

http://homepage.mac.com/holtmann/eid...ol2/index.html

and just increase your fan speeds.

If after all that you still get glitches, you may have a bad card and you should get it seen to. Apple were apparently replacing defective X1900 cards outside of warranty.

If you can't get a replacement card, the 8800 upgrade kit would be a better option than another X1900:

http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPL.../A&mco=OTkzNDY

It's $279 but it's a less troublesome card and faster.

Thanks Marvin for all of the tips and advice.

I did already reset the PRAM and the SMC a while back and that didn't help. I haven't had the chance to boot to an external hard drive with a 10.4 or a clean version of 10.5 yet, but I'll try that if I can.

I DO have Apple Care and it's about 1.5 years into the warrantee so it's covered. Do you think Apple would replace my X1900 with the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT?
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Do you think Apple would replace my X1900 with the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT?

They were replacing defective X1900s with revised models so I reckon that's what they'd replace it with. They probably have a stock-pile of them since you can't get them with the new machines.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

They were replacing defective X1900s with revised models so I reckon that's what they'd replace it with. They probably have a stock-pile of them since you can't get them with the new machines.

I just called for the second time (I called a few months ago and gave me the suggestion of cleaning dust out) and they basically told me to take it to a local authorized service provider to get it checked out, so I guess that's what I'll do. I'm almost positive it's the graphics card though. The only other possible thing it could be would be a Mac OS X problem, but I did a archive and install and that didn't help. If it is the graphics card, I'm going to argue to have them replace my graphics card with the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT.
post #14 of 15
I had this exact problem... until yesterday.

I called Apple on Monday (1-800-SOS-APPL) and told them about my Mac Pro's troubles, exactly as described in this thread.

The solution? On Tuesday they sent me out a new X1900 XT and a box to return the old one in. Free DHL shipping both ways, although I had to provide a credit card number. I installed it, and no problems since. They KNOW all about this issue. It IS related to heat. My old card's vent intake was clogged with dust, and dust is visible around the card's fan. I don't know if clearing the dust would fix it, or if the card is damaged by previous overheating. In any case, it is a poor design (the fins on the card's intake are too close together and there is no way for dust to simply move through). I will periodically vacuum this new card to avoid this issue.

All is now well. PS: I have AppleCare and Pro Care. I think that probably mattered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

I just called for the second time (I called a few months ago and gave me the suggestion of cleaning dust out) and they basically told me to take it to a local authorized service provider to get it checked out, so I guess that's what I'll do. I'm almost positive it's the graphics card though. The only other possible thing it could be would be a Mac OS X problem, but I did a archive and install and that didn't help. If it is the graphics card, I'm going to argue to have them replace my graphics card with the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lbartram View Post

I had this exact problem... until yesterday.

I called Apple on Monday (1-800-SOS-APPL) and told them about my Mac Pro's troubles, exactly as described in this thread.

The solution? On Tuesday they sent me out a new X1900 XT and a box to return the old one in. Free DHL shipping both ways, although I had to provide a credit card number. I installed it, and no problems since. They KNOW all about this issue. It IS related to heat. My old card's vent intake was clogged with dust, and dust is visible around the card's fan. I don't know if clearing the dust would fix it, or if the card is damaged by previous overheating. In any case, it is a poor design (the fins on the card's intake are too close together and there is no way for dust to simply move through). I will periodically vacuum this new card to avoid this issue.

All is now well. PS: I have AppleCare and Pro Care. I think that probably mattered.

That makes me angry because I called AppleCare twice and both times they told me to send it in or take it into an Apple Authorized Service Provider. If it's a known problem, they should have told me. But I finally did bring it in to a local ASP and they've apparently fixed it -- I haven't been able to check yet.
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