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Old Nov 18, 2011, 09:53 AM   #1
Zeke D
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Angry PowerMac G5 boot problems.

Here’s the dealio: I have a powerMac G5 tower (7.3) with PCI-X, AGP, Dual 2.0Ghz & 4x 512MB ram cards occupying 4 of the 8 ram slots (they are occupying the ram slots in pairs.) I am dual-booting OSX 10.4.11 and 10.5.8 on a 160GB sata hard drive. I also have an IDE drive with OSX 10.4.11 that I have been using to troubleshoot, but is not currently installed.

Here is my problem:
(short version) The machine boots when it wants to, often requiring several hard power downs to boot.
(long detailed version) here are the steps to boot:
1. press pwr button, hear the click from the PSU.
2. Front fans briefly run full speed then immediately slow down to normal.
3. Next rear fans run full speed and immediately slow down to normal.
4. At this point in a successful boot, I would hear the apple startup sound, followed by audible hard disk activity (disk spinning, head movement), and finally the caps lock key will go through a series of turning on and off.
5. For an unsuccessful boot, the fans in the front will periodically speed up momentarily, then slow down – there is no discernable pattern. No apple boot sound, and no hard disk activity.
6. Occasionally, when the unit is rebooting from a software update, and I am not present, I will come back and all fans are running constantly at full speed.
7. If the unit hangs, I press and hold the pwr button until I hear the click from the PSU and the unit powers down, back to step 1.

When it boots, everything appears to work fine, and no indication of any issues whatsoever.

Here are additional troubleshooting steps I have performed:
• Removed optical drive, replace with IDE hard disk with tiger installed, disconnected sata hard disk.
• Removed all drives, and disconnected USB keyboard and mouse.
• Booted from optical drive only with tiger retail dvd.
All these attempts have resulted in the same symptoms.

Finally, here are tools at my disposal to do further troubleshooting:
• Powermac G5 7.3 tech manual.
• Powermac G4 tower.
• C2D macbook
• External ide hard drive enclosure with several ide hard drives.
• 4 & 8 GB flash drives (the flash and external hdds wont boot)
I don’t have any external firewire drives, or spare sata drives for testing; and I don’t have a firewire cable to boot any of my other machines into target disk mode.

The unit is new to me, so I don’t know its history. The previous owner is not helping, so there is a possibility it was problematic for him, and that is why he decided to sell it on craigslist. I plan on disassembling the entire unit this weekend and look for any distended capacitors or anything else out of the ordinary. I have never disassembled a Powermac G5, so I am apprehensive. I have disassembled G4s and g3s as well as limited disassembly of iBooks and g3 imacs.

Sorry for the very long post, but I wanted as much information out there so you all can help me troubleshoot this thing.
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Old Nov 18, 2011, 06:02 PM   #2
Hrududu
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Honestly, its not sounding like anything thats a quick fix. Most likely either a CPU or logicboard. If you want to send me the serial number, I can tell you if its had any repairs done at an Apple Authorized Service Provider and what they were. It really needs to have some actual diagnostics run on it though as these are pretty complex systems.
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Old Nov 18, 2011, 09:27 PM   #3
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It sounds like you are right, unfortunately I can't afford any diags right now.
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Old Nov 18, 2011, 10:36 PM   #4
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here is the latest:
After additional inspection, it looks as if one of the "nubs" the heat sink cover connects to is missing. I suspect it is still in the case somewhere. I don't have the proper hex screwdriver or a long bladed phillips to remove the CPUs, so it looks like this G5 is gonna occupy my shelf for the foreseeable future.
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Old Nov 18, 2011, 10:56 PM   #5
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Well it was checked in for the same problem you're describing back on April 14th this year. Unfortunately, no notes were made about what was determined to be the problem or if it was even attempted to be fixed. I would really try and get your $$ back from the guy since I would be he was the same owner who took it in back in April. Looks to me like he knowingly sold you a bad computer.
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Old Nov 18, 2011, 11:20 PM   #6
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You are probably right. I don't expect him to respond to emails. The good news is I didn't pay cash for the unit, I traded a used DNS-323 NAS for it. New they are only $200, so I figure it was worth $150 or so. I only paid like $35 for it because it was non functioning, and "fixed" it. I guess the agp card might go into one of my G4 towers, and the optical drive is an upgrade to another machine; and the keyboard and mouse is in better condition than my set hooked up to my G4... Gotta find some kind of silver lining, right?
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Old Nov 19, 2011, 08:37 AM   #7
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Used computers don't come with a warrantee.. you take the risk on yourself when you buy. This kind of system behavior is par for the course with G5's.

This is why the informed do research on things before they buy.
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Old Nov 19, 2011, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zen.state View Post
This is why the informed do research on things before they buy.
I sure hope this wasn't intended as a slight.


Anyway, here is the latest:
So I had written this thing off, as another victim of CL. I noticed the ram installed in this machine is high-density. It had sat over night with no power, so I pulled the ram, and found some low-density PC2100 sticks. of course the light on the front blinked twice to indicate no ram. I found some low-density pc3200, but was unsure of the voltage. put them in, and the unit immediately booted and gave me the apple start sound. I got the "restart your mac screen" so I did, once again it booted with apple sound. I wondered if the ram might have been the issue. I stuck in one set of the ram that came with the unit, and the previous symptoms occurred. swapped for the other set, same thing. put the other pc3200 ram in (that booted twice) and the symptoms persist. I suspect the ram may be causing some sort of issue. I am waiting until the power dissipates with the unit unplugged, to see if I can duplicate the results. Anyone know how long it will take? I don't want to wait over night again
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Old Nov 19, 2011, 11:14 AM   #9
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It's simply my stance from direct experience with 100+ G5 towers that they are not at all a wise choice to achieve longevity or reliability from a computer purchase. Anyone who did a bit of research would see how sketchy that generation of hardware is.

I am a big PowerPC fanatic but not with the G5. If I couldn't get what I needed from one or many G4's then I would bite the bullet and buy an Intel Mac.
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Old Nov 19, 2011, 03:20 PM   #10
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The adventure continues while booting leopard or tiger install dvds:
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Old Nov 19, 2011, 05:34 PM   #11
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that screen shot is showing that your upper cpu (CPU_0) is spent, I had the same problem w/ my dual 2.0 i bought in winter 2004. Really simple the problem is do to overheating from dust/carpet fiber/whatever. The easiest way to test is to take it apart, remove the top cpu and replace it with the bottom one, if it boots and runs off the single bottom cpu the top one has overheated, if the bottom one fails then either both cpu's are cooked or the top cpu card clip is either burnt from underneath or the pins on top are damaged resulting in needing a new logic board.

New Logicboard and cpus will fix the problem but you could probably buy a whole new used g5 for the $200 they'll cost you, I don't know if your lucky you may find both for $50 each only costing you $100. The G5's not unreliable its the carelessness of the owner, if you never learn to take it apart you can never clean it properly ridding it of dust and the excess heat that brings with it. Also you'll need to google for ASD 2.5.8 to run the diagnostics everyone else charges $50 to do, you'd need it if you replaced everthing as well.
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Old Nov 19, 2011, 07:36 PM   #12
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I swapped the CPUs and I get the same error.
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Old Dec 23, 2011, 03:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drorpheus View Post

The G5's not unreliable its the carelessness of the owner, if you never learn to take it apart you can never clean it properly ridding it of dust and the excess heat that brings with it. Also you'll need to google for ASD 2.5.8 to run the diagnostics everyone else charges $50 to do, you'd need it if you replaced everthing as well.
The dust buildup issue is a design flaw. Apple never indicated disassembly as suggested maintenance, and G5s do have horrible dust buildup. Even then not everyone feels comfortable disassembling one. I still have an old one around as a secondary computer. I have never disassembled it to check for dust, as I couldn't find a repair manual to indicate a safe method for doing so. Also I'm not sure the quad G5s are as prone to dust issues as the older ones.
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