Grey screen of death with a twist

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by gslrider, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. gslrider, Nov 6, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015

    gslrider macrumors 6502

    gslrider

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    #1
    I was browsing on my Mac Pro, then suddenly my cursor turned from an arrow to a hand. I can move it around with the mouse, but I couldn't select anything. ie. other windows. My Mac froze, but the mouse was still working. After a couple of minutes clicking the mouse button to select something, the cursor turned from the hand back to the arrow. But I still couldn't select anything. So I decided to do a hard reboot.

    This is when I got the grey screen of death. The computer started, chime sounded, grey screen with Apple logo and process wheel came on. The wheel stopped and disappeared at the mark when it normally does. But the screen stayed on the grey with Apple logo. And it just stuck there. So I did another hard reboot. Same thing. But this time I left it alone. After a few minutes, the Apple logo disappeared and it was just the grey screen. Waited a few more minutes, then the arrow cursor appeared, and I was able to move it around. But still the grey screen. Then about a minute later, my scanner started to boot (as it normally does when I startup my computer), but still a grey screen.

    I've dealt with the grey screen of death before, but it never did this. It seems like my Mac is just responding extremely slow. That gives me the notion that if I left it alone for a couple of hours or so, my desktop and drives will eventually come up. That's just speculation though. And I just powered down my Mac to deal with it later. Does anyone know of this happening? I've never heard of people getting the grey screen, but their mouse works and peripherals startup on a delay. I'll try the troubleshooting for the grey screen when I get home from work. I was just curious about the other things during the startup, as I've never seen or heard of that happening before.


    Thanks.


    Update 11-7-15: So I did all the troubleshooting out there, except using Terminal. I can't be quite certain, but it seems to point in this direction. So as I mentioned, it's like my Mac is booting properly, but for some reason it was stuck on the grey screen and logo. I mention this because a couple of times of rebooting, my desktop showed up. But it was ghosted in the backround, and you can still see the a transparent grey screen with the logo. And the mouse was working. I've never come across this before.

    I booted in recovery mode. Checked drive and permissions. All ok. So I rebooted. And bam! Booted ok. A little sluggish, but it booted. Then I got an error message about TotalSpaces. It wouldn't launch. Yet, it's been working fine for the year that I've been using it. I decided to trash it, and all of it's components. After doing this, my system seems to be ok now. I can reboot with no issues.

    However, there is another thing that I'm thinking might be a culprit, but not sure (if anyone can confirm, I would greatly appreciated). That's my GPU starting to go. I've never had any issues prior, but apparently my model has a history of it's Radeon 2600XT 256 GPU going south. Can a bad or going bad GPU affect startup?

    I've also noticed, though can't confirm either, if manually putting my system to sleep (from the Apple Menu) can affect the issue. I put it to sleep this morning and it triggered the issue again when I woke it. Mouse working, but nothing else. So when I rebooted to another drive, that's when I deleted all remnants of TotalSpace from my primary startup drive. I haven't tested the Sleep mode again, as I have work to do. I'll test at a later date to see if it triggers it.
     
  2. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    #2
    Hard drive.

    I have a disassembled iMac sitting in my apartment waiting for me to put a drive in. It had all the same issues you had I pulled the drive and wouldn't spin up in my icy. I just don't know what I'm going to do with the Mac when I get it fixed.
     
  3. gslrider thread starter macrumors 6502

    gslrider

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    #3
    If you drive isn't spinning up, the only solution is to get a new one and reinstall the OS. I'm hoping mine isn't that case, and that it's just a software issue. In which case, I should be able to do one of the standard troubleshooting. I'm just curious about the other symptoms I mentioned. As I've never seen that before, even with a failing drive. I've had failed startup drives before. It either didn't start at all (mine kinda does), or it would boot to desktop (normally), but then shutdown (you get that message that system needs to power down, and the desktop gets ghosted in the background).
     
  4. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    #4
    The only way to Der if I'm correct is to boot from something else
     
  5. gslrider thread starter macrumors 6502

    gslrider

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    #5
    Correction...turns out it's a sleep mode issue. I can duplicate this issue without fail if I manually put my system to sleep. It's as if my Mac is trying to "wake up", and the process is extremely slow. Like high speed super slow mo slow. When I restart with this issue, if I leave it at the grey screen and logo for a while (I timed around 25 min), my desktop will finally come on. Then a while longer for the contents of my desktop, including the drives, show up.

    I'm guessing something got messed up on my OS, because when I boot to my other two start up drives (one with an older OS, the other with a fresh 10.8.5), the wake from sleep is not an issue. Everything is running fine right now, as long as I don't put my system to sleep. But to fix, I will have to wipe my primary drive and reinstall the OS. Pain in the ass. lol

    Note: On top of the other troubelshooting, I also tried deleting the Powermanagement pref, and resetting the PRAM, but they didn't work.
     
  6. gslrider thread starter macrumors 6502

    gslrider

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    #6
    So after a couple of weeks trying to figure this out, here is the latest update of what I've come across.

    I'm leaning more now towards my Radeon 2600XT is starting to fail (overheating), or one or more of my RAM has/is going bad.

    On a few occasions, when I boot normally, it always boots very slow, but it boots. And for a while (a few hours to a day) my system seems to be running ok. But then it will act up again. Everything just stops responding, but I can still move my mouse cursor around. Forcing me to do a hard reboot. Which ends up "freezing" during reboot. Putting my system manually to sleep when it boots normally, will cause an immediate "freeze" as well. It will wake, but I can only move the mouse around, nothing else.

    It's also come to a point now, that when my system "freezes" and I try to reboot to another drive with a fresh install of OS X, it still "freezes" on boot up. The "holding down C key while booting", doesn't allow me to boot from a bootable USB stick (which I've been able to boot from prior to this issue).

    However, when I boot in safe mode, it still takes a while to boot up, but it does boot. I can put my system to sleep, and wake without issue. The unfortunate thing though, it's not great trying to get things done in Safe Mode. Everything lags, and some features don't work. ie. no audio on videos, can't open video files. I've also noticed, the longer I keep my system running on Safe Mode, the slower it gets. As if the RAM is being used up, and not purging fast enough. So I have to reboot every couple of days or so.

    Because it does boot up, and run relatively ok in Safe Mode, I'm wondering if it IS my GPU or RAM modules. If it's something within the OS on my primary startup drive, why won't it allow me to boot in to the other startup drives, including a bootable USB stick? I've even tried removing all drives, and only using one bootable drive at a time (I have 3 bootable drives), and each time same result, "freezing" on boot. There was ONE time when I got to boot from the USB stick, and I tried to do a clean install of Mavericks. It went through the whole process, then it rebooted. But it rebooted normally to my old 10.8.5 (which lasted for a day before it froze again). So not sure what happened there. And it hasn't been able to boot from the USB stick again.

    I checked Console both booting in Safe Mode, and booting regularly, and both times (when it boots very slow), I saw a bunch of kernel messages during boot, followed by a GPU test message, then a whole bunch more of kernel lines, until it finally finishes starting up. There were also a lot of memory dumps. The times it has booted ok on normal startup, Console didn't show the kernel lines, the GPU test message, or memory dumps. Hence why I'm guessing it's the GPU or RAM module(s). But I've done a RAM test, and they all come back OK.

    I managed to get a GeForce 8800GT, but unfortunately, the guy I got it from couldn't find the PCI-E power cable for it. You'd think this cable was something you can easily pick up at any local computer store. Turns out it's Apple proprietary. So I had to order it online. It'll be about a couple of weeks or so before I can test out the used/new GPU.

    Perhaps with this new info, someone can shed a little more light on what could be the problem? Thanks!
     
  7. MacVidCards Suspended

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #7
    Run an OpenGl benchmark. A card on its last legs won't be able to complete.

    Don't bother trying Uningine Valley, needs 1 GB of RAM
     
  8. MAYBL8R macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2007
    #8
    I have been dealing with the grey screen on a 2009 13" MacBook Pro, and have narrowed it down to the sata hard drive cable. It would exhibit the same symptoms coming out of sleep as you have described. Take the hard drive out and try to boot form an external enclosure to test if it is that cable.
     
  9. gslrider thread starter macrumors 6502

    gslrider

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    #9
    Thanks. I'll give that a go. I have 10GB of RAM, I still shouldn't try Unigine Valley? Any other OpenGL benchmark apps you recommend?
     
  10. gslrider thread starter macrumors 6502

    gslrider

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    #10
    I've already tried booting from a bootable USB stick. Doesn't want to. What I haven't tried, is removing all drives and seeing if it boots from the USB stick. I'll try that tonight. Thanks.
     
  11. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    North Country (way upstate NY)
    #11
    He's talking vram not system ram
     
  12. gslrider thread starter macrumors 6502

    gslrider

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    #12
    So it looks like the issue was the stock Radeon 2600XT GPU. It was going south. I was able to acquire a GeForce 8800XT (PC) for dirt cheap on Kijiji, had to wait for the PCI-E GPU power cable, as the card did not come with it. Turns out that specific 6 pin to 6 pin mini PCI-E power cable is proprietary to Apple systems. I had to order it from eBay, because none of the computer stores in my city had it, including Apple and Apple authorized repair and sellers. They all said look on eBay.

    Once the cable arrived, it was straight up plug and play. I don't get the logo on boot, but my system boots normally again. After a minute of booting (black screen), the screens come up, no issues. I can manually put my system to sleep again, and wake with no freezing. And my system is quiet again. The fan on the old GPU got pretty loud in the last couple of years. I probably should have taken that as a warning sign then.

    A couple of learned things from this experience, keep tabs on your system and any recalls or upgrade options. Apple was giving people free GPU upgrades for the Mac 3,1 back in 2010, because the stock Radeon was going on many people. I didn't find out till much later, after the upgrade offer was long over. And specific PC GPU's CAN work straight out of the box on older Mac Pros (Mac 3,1, 4,1, and 5,1), without needing to flash it. Unless you're really adamant about having the logo come up on startup.

    Thanks again for everyone's input.
     

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