Resolved Early 2008 Mac Pro won't boot. Probably not the HDD.

Tempesttossed

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2012
5
0
I have an early 2008 Mac pro, with a 2.8 ghz quad core, 2 gb ram and a GeForce 8800 (basically factory spec)

The computer has three hard drives. HDD A has Lion installed, HDD B has two partitions, Snow Leopard and Vista (don't laugh). HDD C is a time machine backup. I have been running with this configuration since Lion was released.

Yesterday my computer froze, no spinning ball, but everything was non responsive. Strangely, I'm pretty sure that I could move the mouse. However I couldn't click on anything.

Now when I try to boot up I get to the gray screen with the apple logo then the gear stops turning and the computer reboots. This is true for all of the partitions as well as the Lion recovery mode and booting from install disks (both the original disk and the Snow Leopard disk) and Mac safe mode.

The only exception is that I have been able to successfully boot into Vista safe mode, but that isn't very useful to me.

I have tried resetting the SMC and PRAM. Apple Hardware Test doesn't see any problems.

I hadn't noticed any other problems leading up to this other than the fact that my RAM was never fully utilized, always about half a gig was sitting unused, even when I was editing massive files in photoshop.

I don't think that this is a problem with the hard drives as I don't think that they would have both gone on the fritz at once and I am able to boot up Vista into safe mode.

So... Is this the video card? The memory? Something else?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 
Last edited:

squeakr

macrumors 68000
Apr 22, 2010
1,603
1
Have you ran Disk Utility to see what it says?

I don't understand the 3 hard drives statement/ reference either, as getting 3 hard drives in the system is physically impossible, not to mention that it doesn't support that many channels on the hard drive controller.

How many "physical" hard drives do you have in the machine? If you actually have 3 "physical" hard drives then how are they being used (i.e. 1 in HDD bay, 1 in ODD bay, and one running through Firewire, USB, etc)? If you only have 1 hard drive but it is partitioned to be three separate drives, then you still only have 1 physical hard drive, and if the boot sector goes bad on it, that could easily take out the other partitions of the drive.
 

Velin

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2008
1,596
1,063
Hearst Castle
When RAM goes bad, the Mac Pro power light will pulse on and off. This is the little LED above the power button on the front of the machine. Look for that, I've twice had after-market memory go bad on me.

Could also be a video card issue. I've had those blow as well, though when my Nvidia cards went bad (twice) the machine failed to boot. I also have a 2008 Mac Pro. Only way to know definitively is to replace either the card, or the RAM.

RAM is cheaper, but no matter what, if you have some spare parts, it will really help you troubleshoot the problem.

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I don't understand the 3 hard drives statement/ reference either, as getting 3 hard drives in the system is physically impossible, not to mention that it doesn't support that many channels on the hard drive controller.

How many "physical" hard drives do you have in the machine? If you actually have 3 "physical" hard drives then how are they being used (i.e. 1 in HDD bay, 1 in ODD bay, and one running through Firewire, USB, etc)?
Um, OP has a Mac Pro. The desktop machine. Mac Pro supports up to four physical harddrives inside the tower, they are slide-out drive bays but not hot-swappable. I have four physical hard drives in my machine, along with 16 Gig of RAM. All the hard drives are available when using a Mac Pro.

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Also, I'd consider posting this in the Mac Pro forum. Lots of experts hang out in that forum, hopefully some will be on to see your post the next couple of days.

I find that most of the Pro users don't visit the newbie forums too much, so that's why I'd post there. I just sometimes pop in here to see if I can lend a quick hand to some peeps.
 

squeakr

macrumors 68000
Apr 22, 2010
1,603
1
Um, OP has a Mac Pro. The desktop machine. Mac Pro supports up to four physical harddrives inside the tower, they are slide-out drive bays but not hot-swappable. I have four physical hard drives in my machine, along with 16 Gig of RAM. All the hard drives are available when using a Mac Pro.
:eek::mad: Disregard my comments as they are moot at this point. I really did read this as Mac Book Pro. Now I have egg on my face!!
 

Tempesttossed

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2012
5
0
When RAM goes bad, the Mac Pro power light will pulse on and off. This is the little LED above the power button on the front of the machine. Look for that, I've twice had after-market memory go bad on me.

RAM is cheaper, but no matter what, if you have some spare parts, it will really help you troubleshoot the problem.

----------



Um, OP has a Mac Pro. The desktop machine. Mac Pro supports up to four physical harddrives inside the tower, they are slide-out drive bays but not hot-swappable. I have four physical hard drives in my machine, along with 16 Gig of RAM. All the hard drives are available when using a Mac Pro.

----------

Also, I'd consider posting this in the Mac Pro forum. Lots of experts hang out in that forum, hopefully some will be on to see your post the next couple of days.

I find that most of the Pro users don't visit the newbie forums too much, so that's why I'd post there. I just sometimes pop in here to see if I can lend a quick hand to some peeps.
No pulsing LED.

Could also be a video card issue. I've had those blow as well, though when my Nvidia cards went bad (twice) the machine failed to boot. I also have a 2008 Mac Pro. Only way to know definitively is to replace either the card, or the RAM.

This is sort of what I thought it might be, but I don't have a spare video card lying around and wanted to check before going out and buying one. Any recommendations? I don't need top of the line performance, just a solid graphics card.

Thanks for the quick reply, I'll try posting in the Mac pro forum too. I wasn't sure where the best place to post this was.
 

snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
5,503
87
An Island in the Salish Sea
There are also diagnostic LED lights inside, on the logic board. I don't know the codes, but I'm sure they're easy to find via Google. I have the 2008 MP as well, and it had issues. They used (and showed me) the LEDs to diagnose the problem. Luckily for me my issue happened within the AppleCare period.

It doesn't sound like a HDD problem at all. This means you can take one of bootable HDDs out and pop it into external drive case. If you have a 2nd system (like a laptop) you should be able to boot off the external and keep working at least while the MP goes in for servicing. I used a cloned backup of my system drive hooked up to my MBP while my MP was in for servicing.

If you have a good authorized Apple repair shop nearby, they may be able to help. Apple Stores have less flexibility repairing Apple systems. An Authorized Repair shop can access non-Apple solutions and parts. If they are good.

Good Luck.
 

derbothaus

macrumors 601
Jul 17, 2010
4,091
30
Most likely that 8800 if it isn't memory and Win boots to safe mode not regular mode.
 

Tempesttossed

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2012
5
0
I'm headed out to pick up a replacement video card. Let's see if that fixes the issue.

If not, I'll be back for more advice!
 

Wardenski

macrumors 6502
Jan 22, 2012
464
4
Bit late but I would say its the 8800GT as well. I could boot into Windows 7 with a half-dead 8800GT but I got an error code 43 when I went into the system info bit and it ran with limited graphics.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,835
2,465
In case it is the video card, be careful on your replacement. Issues have been reported with the 2008 and some of the default go to graphics cards. If I recall correctly the 5770 works, but only under Lion or something of that sort. I know there are threads on it. I'm merely suggesting you do a bit of research before replacement if this turns out to be the problem component. It does seem to be a common complaint. Why is it that mac pros always seem to end up with dead graphics cards?

:eek::mad: Disregard my comments as they are moot at this point. I really did read this as Mac Book Pro. Now I have egg on my face!!
You wouldn't be the first one to make this mistake on here.

Nah. It's early. Plus we Mac Pro owners are dying out, apparently.
I think it's refresh cycle and really what you spend for what you get. I mean that I used to see quite a lot of people buy whatever was offered at the $2500-3k range. That price point has inched upward and the refresh cycles have become much longer. It's getting a little ridiculous. At this point consumer Haswell is due before Ivy Bridge E.
 

Tempesttossed

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2012
5
0
Video card was the culprit

Swapped out the 8800 with an ATI 5770 and that did the trick.

Thanks for the advice!
 

kevink2

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2008
1,558
195
Second post today I saw mentioning 8800 problems.

Which of course is what is in my MP, since it was the mid range card when I bought the computer. A 2600(?) was available on the low end, and some very expensive card at the top end.
 

Tempesttossed

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2012
5
0
I have also noticed that my computer no longer sounds like a jet engine taking off when I turn it on... You'd think that would be a good clue, but I had just gotten used to it. :rolleyes:
 

vohdoun

macrumors 65816
Jan 23, 2006
1,035
0
Far away from Earth.
I have also noticed that my computer no longer sounds like a jet engine taking off when I turn it on... You'd think that would be a good clue, but I had just gotten used to it. :rolleyes:
It's because the fan is so small and hasn't POSTed yet. A lot of cards with the blower fans are quite similar. You hear that loud vrooom swoosh as you push the button.
 

adt100

macrumors newbie
May 10, 2010
10
5
I wonder how many 2008 Mac Pros still have their original 8800 card. I went through 2 of these cards before switching to a 5770.
 

canyonlight

macrumors member
Sep 3, 2011
52
4
Arizona
Thanks for the Info

Thanks to all in this thread. I just installed an ATI 5770 in my early 2008 Mac Pro. It's now running like new with no restart problems.

You (GermanyChris) saved me trips to the Apple Store - and the nearest one is 260 miles!

Thanks again,

Stan
 

GermanyChris

macrumors 601
Jul 3, 2011
4,185
2
Here
Thanks to all in this thread. I just installed an ATI 5770 in my early 2008 Mac Pro. It's now running like new with no restart problems.

You (GermanyChris) saved me trips to the Apple Store - and the nearest one is 260 miles!

Thanks again,

Stan
Your welcome!
 

G4DP

macrumors 65816
Mar 28, 2007
1,451
3
I wonder how many 2008 Mac Pros still have their original 8800 card. I went through 2 of these cards before switching to a 5770.
I bought mine a year after the machine in Jan 09. It decided to split it's pants 13 months later, and wasn't covered by Apple care as purchased at a later date. On the 5th 2600, going to start looking around at a 5770 to keep it going for a few more years.
 

1ArtDude

macrumors newbie
Mar 9, 2016
1
0
When RAM goes bad, the Mac Pro power light will pulse on and off. This is the little LED above the power button on the front of the machine. Look for that, I've twice had after-market memory go bad on me.

Could also be a video card issue. I've had those blow as well, though when my Nvidia cards went bad (twice) the machine failed to boot. I also have a 2008 Mac Pro. Only way to know definitively is to replace either the card, or the RAM.

RAM is cheaper, but no matter what, if you have some spare parts, it will really help you troubleshoot the problem.

----------



Um, OP has a Mac Pro. The desktop machine. Mac Pro supports up to four physical harddrives inside the tower, they are slide-out drive bays but not hot-swappable. I have four physical hard drives in my machine, along with 16 Gig of RAM. All the hard drives are available when using a Mac Pro.

----------

Also, I'd consider posting this in the Mac Pro forum. Lots of experts hang out in that forum, hopefully some will be on to see your post the next couple of days.

I find that most of the Pro users don't visit the newbie forums too much, so that's why I'd post there. I just sometimes pop in here to see if I can lend a quick hand to some peeps.
[doublepost=1457548895][/doublepost]Until I read your thread, I thought my boot up drive was going bad. I had purchased both more RAM and an SSD Hybrid. Now it looks like I only need to replace the RAM, though I'll probably install the SSD Hybrid drive as well for my boot drive. Thanks for the tip.
 
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