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El Matadurr

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 25, 2020
9
0
Hello all. I've had a 2014 iMac 27 inch with all the graphical/processor upgrades (4GHz i7 quad-core, AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB) since release. It's been a great computer for a long time, but since the display is sealed with glue, I cannot clean it out regularly like the previous model could have been (magnets). I am getting terrible thermal throttling from basic computing (hitting 100C on CPU very easily), and trying to edit videos in FCPX is causing the backlight to shutdown as well as soft-shutdowns that take about 30 seconds to resume. I am attempting an Apple store service appt. to clean it out to see if it helps.

However, this may not be enough, so I'm looking at my options. I really wanted to wait for the ARM iMacs sometime next year, but I may have to get something in the interim. Looking for thoughts as I use the computer for 4K video editing in FCPX as well as photoshop/lightroom work. Here's what I know at the moment:

-The new iMacs look great, but don't have any better thermal management, so I'm looking at the same throttling issue.
-The iMac pro is a bit pricey, and hasn't been updated in forever. Don't know about going in on this one.
-The Mac mini is interesting, though its performance also hasn't been updated in a couple years. Looks easier to take apart to clean.
-Laptops are out for price/screen size reasons.
-Don't know if Mac Pro is even worth considering.
 

brianmowrey

macrumors 6502
Oct 5, 2020
419
133
If you’re running hot on “basic computing” it sounds like CPU or GPU are faulty. If you expect to get an ARM Mac later, this is a case where shelling out for a new logic board for your current machine, which you trust to complement your productivity, would make sense over switching models
 

El Matadurr

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 25, 2020
9
0
If you’re running hot on “basic computing” it sounds like CPU or GPU are faulty. If you expect to get an ARM Mac later, this is a case where shelling out for a new logic board for your current machine, which you trust to complement your productivity, would make sense over switching models
Got it, hope to have Apple take a look at it tomorrow and will learn more then.
Contact the Rossman Group in Manhattan. They specialize in Mac repair at the logic board component level.
Yeah! I follow his videos and news all the time. Neat place. Don't think I could wait long enough to ship my computer all the way over there for service, though. If I was in the state it'd definitely be a possibility.
 

El Matadurr

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 25, 2020
9
0
Ok, so I got the iMac back from Apple a few weeks ago. They were able to clean it out, and nothing popped up on their diagnostics. Did a full reset and everything. After I restored my files back home, the soft shutdowns still occur, albeit slightly less frequently.

I believe I've nailed the culprit though,the graphics card. When running Fanny and Macs Fan Control at the same time, I can see all internal temperatures from the components. The internal fan does a decent job keeping the CPU at or below 100C when under load, but the graphics card spirals out of control and never, ever cools down. Even as I type this with nothing really going on in the background, the card is hovering between 98-100C (CPU only at 83-85C). When under load (FCP rendering/exporting/editing), the card very quickly reaches 110C. Soon after, soft shutdown. Manually running the fans at max speed doesn't cool it at all.

Is it worth taking this system to Apple (or another repair shop capable of taking the thing apart properly) to see if the GPU can be re-seated? I don't know if it is secured to a heat sink or something with thermal paste like CPUs are, but if it is, my suspicion is that the paste has lost its effectiveness. I really, really want to give the M1 Mac Mini a shot, but the 16GB of non-upgradeable RAM is a turn off for the long term.
 

ght56

macrumors 6502a
Aug 31, 2020
839
810
If I was in your place, I would probably get one of the M1 Mac Minis with a base hard drive (paired with external SSDs) and 16 GB of RAM for $850 and try it out to see how well it works (I think the mid-2014 iMacs can be used as external displays?) The repair bill on the system you have might spiral pretty fast, and these M1s seem to be editing monsters even with the 16 GB limit. If it doesn't work well then you can send it back for a refund (you get two months to decide IIRC) and then you can pursue repair options on your current system. Ultimately you would be spending under $1,000 to get something that could hold you over until the next generation iMac comes while simultaneously outperforming what you currently have.
 
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El Matadurr

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 25, 2020
9
0
If I was in your place, I would probably get one of the M1 Mac Minis with a base hard drive (paired with external SSDs) and 16 GB of RAM for $850 and try it out to see how well it works (I think the mid-2014 iMacs can be used as external displays?) The repair bill on the system you have might spiral pretty fast, and these M1s seem to be editing monsters even with the 16 GB limit. If it doesn't work well then you can send it back for a refund (you get two months to decide IIRC) and then you can pursue repair options on your current system. Ultimately you would be spending under $1,000 to get something that could hold you over until the next generation iMac comes while simultaneously outperforming what you currently have.
I hate to say I agree with you, because I’ve never been a proponent of “Just buy a new one”. But, in this case it may just be the best option for the time being.
Maybe I can use the mini for an auxiliary purpose after a decent M1/M2 iMac comes out. I just wish that a) iMac’s had proper cooling/a higher power fan and that b) The system could sense when components are getting too hot beyond tolerances and adjust processing power accordingly. The fact that it soft shutdowns every time (where I can then immediately turn the display back on after 15 seconds), is crazy. Like clockwork, once it reaches 109-110C, shuts off in seconds.
 

El Matadurr

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 25, 2020
9
0
Ok so just an update for posterity if anyone searches for this in the future. I can thank the lack of repairability on Apple's constant push for sleeker and thinner devices that took hold in the early 2010s...I took the computer to Abt, as on the phone they thought it would be the thermal paste as well. Turns out it's $80 to run the same diagnostic Apple does, and another $250 just to open the computer up due to the glued-together screen.

Cherry on top, and at least the tech was honest, "Even if we determine that the thermal paste has gone bad, there's no economical way to re-apply it and re-seat the components. Not only is everything soldered to the motherboard, but since the computer is listed as vintage by Apple, we can't order parts."

Bravo. This kind of stuff is what gives me pause about "just buy another one". I had a 2010 MacBook Pro that was probably the last of its kind for repairability, and I could see the writing on the wall when I needed a larger computer with the iMac. What's going on with my computer is a very simple fix. This just isn't right.

I'll give the Rossman group a ring, but I can't imagine how much it will all be to fix after factoring in shipping.
 

adib

macrumors 6502a
Jun 11, 2010
575
440
Singapore
A 2014 iMac's display can be removed with a spudger. You might want to try doing that, clean the fan, or maybe replace the fan if it's not rotating well (use apps like iStats to confirm).

That said, an M1 Mac Mini with 16GB RAM would be a great replacement for FPCX and Final Cut pro. Look at GeekBench results and compare its performance with the hardware that you have right now.

Furthermore you might still be able to use your iMac in Target Display mode, until it fails to turn on any longer.
 

El Matadurr

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 25, 2020
9
0
A 2014 iMac's display can be removed with a spudger. You might want to try doing that, clean the fan, or maybe replace the fan if it's not rotating well (use apps like iStats to confirm).

That said, an M1 Mac Mini with 16GB RAM would be a great replacement for FPCX and Final Cut pro. Look at GeekBench results and compare its performance with the hardware that you have right now.

Furthermore you might still be able to use your iMac in Target Display mode, until it fails to turn on any longer.
I’ve seen that guide before, it’s something I’ll keep in mind. The fan revs up properly when I manually set it to max.

I’m sure the M1 Mini is great, I’ve followed a lot of the performance stuff, it just sucks if I go that route because I’ll have to get a new monitor and adapters for all my peripherals to hook up properly. Target display mod isn’t available in my version of Mac OS, sadly. I think Apple took it out a couple major versions ago. Mojave, I think?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
24,638
9,899
The OP's predicament is a reason why I would not buy "a fully loaded" Mac, ever.

The only exception would be if it was used "at work" as a productivity tool, and the expense could be depreciated away for business tax purposes...
 

profcutter

macrumors 65816
Mar 28, 2019
1,087
738
If it’s a retina 27 inch, you can’t use it as a monitor for an external device. It sounds like the GPU is toast. If the CPU is maintaining reasonable temps, but the GPU is not, looking at the teardown, the GPU is right after the fan, so the CPU would be roasting too if it was a fan problem. Could be paste, could be a defect. It’s a crap shoot. I think getting the mini as an interim solution isn’t a bad idea - it should run all your FCP work fine, though the base RAM seems to make it stutter on longer, more complicated timelines, based on what I’ve seen in reviews. You’d need to budget a monitor too, but you can get IPS 4K monitors for around 300 dollars. Still cheaper that a maxed-out iMac.
 

El Matadurr

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 25, 2020
9
0
The OP's predicament is a reason why I would not buy "a fully loaded" Mac, ever.

The only exception would be if it was used "at work" as a productivity tool, and the expense could be depreciated away for business tax purposes...
It was a different time and a different "me" 6 years ago, haha. Won't be making that mistake again. However, I don't really regret it, as like I said, it's been a great machine the entire time up to this point. Chewed out anything I threw at it from thousands and thousands of photograph edits to multi-track 4K FCP projects.
If it’s a retina 27 inch, you can’t use it as a monitor for an external device. It sounds like the GPU is toast. If the CPU is maintaining reasonable temps, but the GPU is not, looking at the teardown, the GPU is right after the fan, so the CPU would be roasting too if it was a fan problem. Could be paste, could be a defect. It’s a crap shoot. I think getting the mini as an interim solution isn’t a bad idea - it should run all your FCP work fine, though the base RAM seems to make it stutter on longer, more complicated timelines, based on what I’ve seen in reviews. You’d need to budget a monitor too, but you can get IPS 4K monitors for around 300 dollars. Still cheaper that a maxed-out iMac.
Yep, the apple support document on target display mode confirms this. Also, maybe I'm not up to snuff on things, but maintaining 100C on the CPU hardly seems normal. Especially odd because it never spins the fan up to maximum on its own, I have to do it manually.

The bit on multi-track work, that's the thing. My video projects usually have multiple layers on many parts...though I imagine the mini 16gb could work fine.

In the interim, I'm still holding out hope the M1 iMac comes out sometime in 2021, I feel like I can stretch this poor 2014 out for a bit longer. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and the next iMac will have at least the iMac pro's better cooling, or something.
 

profcutter

macrumors 65816
Mar 28, 2019
1,087
738
Yeah, at idle, 100C is completely excessive for the CPU. Sounded like it got a little better after the cleaning. I have a hard time imagining if Apple opened the case, they wouldn’t have noticed a fan that wasn’t spinning but was reporting that it was. Apple tends to run the CPU pretty hot, but that’s ridiculous. Maybe there’s some other schmutz they missed at the apple facility, blocking the air path. You haven’t opened it up, right? Maybe if you did, you could visually inspect for clogs, dried out thermal paste, and just replace the fan for good measure.

I support keeping what you have as long as you can. Just be sure everything is backed up, all that heat can’t be good for the SSD. I think you could be OK with a 16GB M1, but I know I’m waiting for what comes next. Now that I’ve been using an IPad for all my simple work, I’ve gotten used to no fan, the touchscreen as an option (I have the keyboard and the pencil on my 12.9 Pro) and a very speedy experience overall. Seems like only word stutters, no surprises there. I have a work-purchased 2017 iMac for the bigger stuff, and my personal machine is a 2015 MBP that sounds like a 747 when you turn it on. I do Final Cut too, but I’m just waiting to see what the new machines will look like.
 
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El Matadurr

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 25, 2020
9
0
Yeah, at idle, 100C is completely excessive for the CPU. Sounded like it got a little better after the cleaning. I have a hard time imagining if Apple opened the case, they wouldn’t have noticed a fan that wasn’t spinning but was reporting that it was. Apple tends to run the CPU pretty hot, but that’s ridiculous. Maybe there’s some other schmutz they missed at the apple facility, blocking the air path. You haven’t opened it up, right? Maybe if you did, you could visually inspect for clogs, dried out thermal paste, and just replace the fan for good measure.

I support keeping what you have as long as you can. Just be sure everything is backed up, all that heat can’t be good for the SSD. I think you could be OK with a 16GB M1, but I know I’m waiting for what comes next. Now that I’ve been using an IPad for all my simple work, I’ve gotten used to no fan, the touchscreen as an option (I have the keyboard and the pencil on my 12.9 Pro) and a very speedy experience overall. Seems like only word stutters, no surprises there. I have a work-purchased 2017 iMac for the bigger stuff, and my personal machine is a 2015 MBP that sounds like a 747 when you turn it on. I do Final Cut too, but I’m just waiting to see what the new machines will look like.
It did get a tad better, but I think apple just used their exterior vacuum on it, I don't believe they actually opened up the case.

If it gets to the point that it overheats even with running fan at max, before the next iMac comes out, I do plan on trying to open it up to see if I can at least clean it better. May have a go a de-soldering to get access to the heatsink.

I offload as much as I can from the computer, all my main storage is on a synology RAID, and my FCP library is on an external SSD too. We'll see what the next few months brings.

Thanks everyone else as well for the helpful advice and comments.
 

DaveSanDiego

macrumors member
May 12, 2020
75
105
I had a similar issue... my iMac would randomly shutdown sometimes during the bootup process.. sometimes an hour or two later.... I took it to Apple literally a dozen times. They never could get it to fail, but did replace the powersupply, the main logic board, the HDD ... but it still failed... but ONLY at home. I replaced it with a new iMac, and have had no such trouble. But I think in the future, it will be macMini all the way. but not until they put more ports on that thing :)
 
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