Freakin' pinwheel of death on new alumibook w/4GB Ram. WHY?!?!

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by mac-a-delic, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. mac-a-delic macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2008
    Please, please, please, can someone enlighten me?

    I just got a new aluminum macbook (the less expensive one) from work about a month ago. They also bought me a 4GB ram set, which the notebook is recognizing as 4GB, per the "about this mac" section.

    However, I get a freaking pinwheel about every hour or so, and I can't figure out why.

    I am a heavy system user with Firefox 3, Entourage, Word and often iTunes running at the same time. Now I know firefox is a memory beast, but with 4GB of ram?

    Plus, the pinwheel usually occurs while using Firefox, but it will also happen when I'm using other programs, even Word. It's like it just gets constipated over the smallest thing, like clicking on one thing and then another too soon.

    The reason I'm so frustrated is that this thing is the cutting-edge laptop with maxed out ram and it is performing worse than my old white macbook 13".

    I've seen some of the other complaints about the new alumibooks, but mine is built well (no creeking, noise, loose battery covers, etc.). It's just this stupid pinwheel. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

    Thanks in advance.
  2. vincebio macrumors 6502a


    Jun 27, 2005
    i know this happens when you dont allow spotlight to index correctly when you start using it..

    i would suggest leaving your computer on all night to allow the cron scripts to run and your spotlight to index at the same time...
    make sure it doesnt go to sleep

    hope this helps....other than that, you may have 4gb of ram being recognised but it might be dodgy
  3. California macrumors 68040


    Aug 21, 2004
    What brand of hard drive is in your mac book? Toshiba, hitachi, fujistu?
  4. bigjnyc macrumors 603


    Apr 10, 2008
    I hate firefox, the only time i ever seen a pinwheel on any of my Macs is when using firefox. I just stick to safari its a zillion times better for me. I dont need any plugins or whatever else makes firefox appealing to people.
  5. msprouls macrumors member


    Feb 5, 2007
    I had a similar problem and fixed it by reinstalling the flash player and then repairing permissions. Not sure if that will help you but it did me
  6. mac-a-delic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2008
    Thanks all!

    California, my HD is a Toshiba. I had a friend suggest that I set my preferences to prevent it from going to sleep whenever possible, which I did. Pinwheel continues.

    bigjnyc, I've tried switching to Safari, but Safari uploads pretty slowly too. The pinwheel was less frequent, but I've gotten it and with just normal non-Internet related programs.

    msprouls, I did an HD permissions repair, but have not reinstalled the flash player.

    I appreciate all of your help. I'll try these things, but I have a feeling I just need to call AppleCare.

    Thanks, again.

  7. aethelbert macrumors 601

    Jun 1, 2007
    Chicago, IL, USA
    I really doubt that this has anything to do with RAM. Even if you have fifty-seven petaflops of memory, you can still beachball with bad software. Try checking permissions, reinstalling, et al. If you're not convinced, check your ram usage in Activity Monitor. I don't get the feeling that calling AppleCare will be any help as this doesn't seem to be a hardware issue.
  8. wheezy macrumors 65816


    Apr 7, 2005
    Alpine, UT
    Pinwheel happens, I have 6GB on my MacPro and I still get it. RAM gets full, info gets shuffled to the hard drive. Browsers do use a lot of memory. Check your Page in/Page out count; you can do that via Terminal or download the iStat widget as that displays it.

    I also think that browsers just automatically send data from the RAM to your OS Scratch if you haven't checked that page for awhile whether there is RAM available or not. Sometimes I'll have a page open in a tab for a day or two before going back to reference it or whatever and I'll get a beachball for a second.

    So, take some activity monitor screenshots right after you beachball, let us know your page count and let's see if we can't fix this for you :)
  9. The Samurai macrumors 68000

    The Samurai

    Dec 29, 2007
    For whats its worth - OP, I think I may be in a similar position.

    I only get the 'pinwheel of death' when I am using the internet at a wireless network. Its absolutely fine when I am using it via ethernet.

    The 'pinwheel' annoys the hell out of me, and yes it happens on Firefox. Safari - although i don't get the pinwheel of death, it takes time to load a website.

    I've got the alu macbook 2.0 and my hard drive is the Fujitsu and i've got 2 gigs of RAM (personally, I dont think its anything to do with RAM).
  10. imac9556 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2004
    Hey guys,
    go to:

    hit the maintenance tab, make sure all the options are checked and click execute. It "optimizes" the computer and fixes my problems on my MacbookPro and iMac when it had this issue.
    The utility is free and very good
  11. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Yet another person falls into the trap (which has been perpetuated in part by some users of this forum) of thinking that 4GB RAM will solve every problem. It's just unfortunate that folks don't realise that 1GB is more than enough to meet most people's everyday needs.
  12. amrk47 macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2007
    this usually always happens in firefox

    i suggest fully quiting firefox frequently and restarting
  13. dwsolberg macrumors 6502a

    Dec 17, 2003
    Go to add-ons and disable Flash. If the pinwheel stops, you have your cause.
  14. deputy_doofy macrumors 65816


    Sep 11, 2002
    Don't know if RAM is your issue or not, but bad RAM will cause numerous issues and NONE of them will seem like RAM issues. Just an FYI.
  15. RS1999ent macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2008
    Just wanted to chime in here and say that I see a very similar problem with my early-2008 macbook pro. I get the pinwheel of death when using the wireless connection for an extended period of time. I don't run firefox however; usually, I only have Safari, and several ssh connections open when the problem occurs. Unfortunately, I was never able to find a fix, so I've resorted to turning off airport and using a wired connection whenever I know I'm going to use the laptop for a while.

    I did get as far as tracing my problem to the Yukon wireless driver. It seems like this driver, for whatever reason, eventually craps out, thus causing the system to crash. Check out my previous post here:

    The system.log entry tells me that the problem might be due to a memory leak in the wireless driver, but I don't see any symptoms that would lead me to suspect this as the root cause. That is, the pinwheel of death is not preceded by a period of unresponsiveness or excessive paging.

    Do any of you see something similar?
  16. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    not really, at least for me. I had 1GB stock, and running more than a few apps at the same time will beach ball. To OP: if possible, maybe a fresh install of Leopard? Or just check activity monitor and see which process is taking your cpu cycles, since the more cpu cycles an app uses, the more chance of beach balls.
  17. California macrumors 68040


    Aug 21, 2004
    Apple told me about my aluminum macbook beachballing that the OS that comes on the oem hard drive sometimes is corrupted because it is not loaded by a disc but by some computerized method.

    Told me to re install Leopard. This shouldn't be happening tho, maybe it is an internet issue?
  18. StuBeck macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2008
    I get pinwheels a lot, not just with Firefox but with things like textedit and when I try and change wireless AP's. I have no idea whats causing it, Textedit should never be thinking about "how do I input a '5' into this document?" for 30 seconds at a time.
  19. VSMacOne macrumors 601


    Oct 18, 2008
    Great post. First SOLID explanation so far... Let us know if you do a re-install and it fixes it.
  20. MBHockey macrumors 68040


    Oct 4, 2003
    New York
    It may be just the bottleneck of the (relatively) slow hard drives of laptops nowadays. what's in the macbook, a 5400 rpm drive?

    Reinstalling is probably your best bet if it's not that though.
  21. sangosimo Guest


    Sep 11, 2008
    it shouldn't even be going to the harddrive. we need a new wireless driver that doesn't leak memory
  22. mlemonds macrumors 6502a


    Apr 9, 2008
    Lexington, KY
  23. RS1999ent macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2008
    In all honesty, this just seems like a means-justifies-the-end answer. Re-installing the OS might help, but I somehow doubt it's because of corruption caused by the install process used at the factory. I'm sure that the factory install process is automated and does *exactly* the same thing for each type of machine (they probably just copy a master image onto each laptop). So, if there were such a problem, I'd expect every machine made by apple to be privy to it.

    Has anyone checked their memory usage and number of page-ins/page-outs? Really, if your laptop has 2gigs of memory, you should almost never be paging to disk unless you're running a VM or something.

    To the person who complained about beach balls in Textedit. This just shouldn't happen. I'd suggest downloading the apple developer tools (Xcode) and using the included "Spin Control" app. This app will tell you exactly which process is causing the beach ball and for how long it's locking the CPU. This way, you can tell if it's really textedit that's causing the problem, or some background process.
  24. The Samurai macrumors 68000

    The Samurai

    Dec 29, 2007

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