iMac Pro semi-DOA

jtara

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
432
Received an iMac Pro 8-core, 64GB, today from B&H semi-DOA.

Talked with two Apple advisors, the first one was the only unhelpful and rude Apple employee I've ever encountered. He had little product knowledge and refused to transfer me to somebody more knowledgable. He told me to call back in if I wanted to reach somebody else...

Anyway, the second advisor was very helpful and gave me direct contact information and took over the case.

We went through some diagnostic steps, and I might be able to do more once I get a cable to hook up an external monitor, but probably will have to go back to B&H DOA.

Symptoms:

- initially I thought just dead, dead, dead. No indication of life. But after moving from my desk to kitchen table....

- No indication of life on the screen

- I happened to be behind it when I hit power button. One faint beep on short tap, two faint beeps on a longer tap. But apparently, when this happens, it actually is already powered-up. I was only able to hear the beeps because I was standing behind it when I pushed the power button.

- Eventually noticed that, yes, we have air flow! (First guy couldn't tell me where the speakers or fan are...)

- keyboard caps lock does light up (apparently this indicates iMac Pro is in at least some state of power-up...)

- (extremely frustrating that they got rid of the "chime". Second guy explained they got rid of the chime on iMac Pro...)

- had me do some finger-gymnastics = Option-Command-P-R all at once and hit power. Took a while to figure out how to do that! (open-command with one finger of left hand. R with another finger of left hand. P with one finger of right hand. Keyboard behind iMac Pro, pinky of right hand for power. Does Apple train employees on this?!)

- Eventually it (faintly) asks me to hit return to select English

- At that point, I might be able to do setup if I had another one next to it to follow the prompts. But, being sighted, was pretty lost at "you are in a table with n rows"...

----
Gonna get cables that I need anyway and see if it will run an external display. Figure there is some small chance there is something I can do in setup or at least run diagnostics to know what is wrong.

----
Question for iMac Pro owners: there is what appears to be an LED or sensor on the back, above the Apple logo. Should it light up? Neither one of the reps knew.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
432
Well, I got SOMEWHERE.

Apparently, it got shipped with volume turned all the way down. (Is that normal?!)

After entering voice assist mode, I was able to increase volume to a usable level. (It was VERY low, I didn't even know it was beeping or talking when I first turned it on.)

So, I can turn it up to "blast level" but something below that is comfortable...

So, I figure, OK, let's try screen brightness.

But when I hit the brightness up button on the keyboard, it says "screen brightness zero percent" and then with each additional tap it says "zero percent".
 

mreg376

macrumors 65816
Mar 23, 2008
1,120
309
Brooklyn, NY
I hope your issues work out. But that is exactly why, even though I love B&H, I will NOT buy a computer there despite their discounts and stock of BTO configurations. Having to deal with failure diagnoses and warranty repair the day I get a new multi-thousand-dollar computer is not worth it.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
432
I hope your issues work out. But that is exactly why, even though I love B&H, I will NOT buy a computer there despite their discounts and stock of BTO configurations. Having to deal with failure diagnoses and warranty repair the day I get a new multi-thousand-dollar computer is not worth it.
Yea, I reluctantly agree.

For something at this cost point, I think the best approach is to get it from your local Apple Store, or order online from Apple for pickup at the Apple Store, and make a Genius Bar appointment for "setup". "Setup" for me consists of making sure the thing lights up, put it back in the box, and take it home...

This is the first time I've ever had a DOA on anything substantial.

NOT MY DAY, went to Fry's to get cables and canned air (for my dying Mini) and I Kid You Not the "system was down" and there were people standing around outside and a store employee with the doors cracked 1.0" explaining that they were going to give up and close the store if it didn't come up in a couple of minutes...

So then I went to the Apple store and got a cable. We'll see what happens. (I got one USB-C to DisplayPort, after looking at the prices. Wanted to get two, and a USB-C to HDMI, but they didn't have any of those, and the price of the 3rd-party USB-C to Display port was high, and even the sales guy suggested I get one "on Ebay" and return the in-store cable...

I got a reply from the Apple Support guy, he suggested that perhaps screen brightness up/down doesn't work during setup.

It's clear it boots into MacOS setup, not just recovery/diagnostic. So, suggests CPU, memory, and flash are working.

I noticed that it was listed at B&H as coming with High Sierra. I'd anticipated perhaps having to update, but seemed worth it since they could ship immediately and Apple could not. I noticed that the outer (brown) box looked like it had been opened, but the inner (white) box *seemed* sealed. I am guessing, though, that perhaps B&H updated to Mojave and left some settings in "an inconvenient state". (I dunno, why would they do this on an external monitor? - my guess). Apple probably gives them the extra seals. I also guess that when Apple has too many laying around, they know who to call to unload some at some discount, and B&H and Adorama bet they can sell them before the equation goes negative.

I think it is some sort of misconfiguration rather than shipping damage. This is the most elegant Apple packaging yet. They must have talked to the Eggland's Best packaging person. Earth-friendly and crumple zones like crazy. Had a good laugh with the Fedex guy over the shape of the box. I said this has to drive you nuts. Not sure if the shape is a good thing or a bad thing. I dunno, I think maybe 10,00 cycles of rocking back and forth on a plane might be a bad thing. :( Maybe it's meant as a stress test. Boring, rectangular box might be more reliable, just sayin'.
 

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jtara

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
432
I got a USB-Display Port cable at the Apple Store. It comes up on the external display, and I was able to go through setup. So seems CPU, memory, and flash are OK.

It seems unaware of the internal screen. Display Preferences shows only my external display. The display adapter is shown in System Report. (duh it's what the external display is plugged into...)

It's running High Sierra, which is after all what the B&H website said it came with. But since no upgraded, blows my theory that somebody botched it when upgrading to Mojave.
 

joema2

macrumors 68000
Sep 3, 2013
1,579
787
...that is exactly why, even though I love B&H, I will NOT buy a computer there despite their discounts and stock of BTO configurations. Having to deal with failure diagnoses and warranty repair the day I get a new multi-thousand-dollar computer is not worth it...
Ditto. My documentary film team has purchased large amounts of cameras and lenses from B&H, and in the rare event we needed to return one, they were helpful and there was no restocking fee.

B&H handles computers differently. Even with high-end professional computers like an 18-core $13,000 iMacPro, they do not officially accept returns. If really pushed they might accept it but charge a 15% restocking fee, plus you have to pay insured shipping -- even if you had the machine 1 day.

The situation is exacerbated by Apple's policy of not stocking any Build To Order machines, esp. iMac Pros. They are not available for either support of a DOA or failed machine nor for serious professional evaluation and testing. Neither Apple's Joint Venture nor Business Teams can help. Your only option is buy the iMac Pro, test it and if it doesn't meet your needs return it. This is not possible with B&H.

A worse problem for professional customers is Apple has no BTO machines for support. If your $13k iMac Pro fails, you have to wait a month to have a new one built in China and shipped to you.

Next year's Mac Pro will probably have a top config over $20k, and may use multiple Xeon CPUs. If the support situation isn't resolved, this will adversely impact its marketplace success.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
432
B&H is cross-shipping a replacement for Monday delivery.

A worse problem for professional customers is Apple has no BTO machines for support. If your $13k iMac Pro fails, you have to wait a month to have a new one built in China and shipped to you.
Rock and a hard place, then. Six of one, half a dozen of another. (Can anyone squeeze in another tired folksy metaphor?)

Next year's Mac Pro will probably have a top config over $20k, and may use multiple Xeon CPUs.
I'll one-up you on that. I'll bet the top configuration pushes $100,000. IMO they are targeting exactly your industry (video production) with the new Pro. Maybe that will also bring some interest the CAD/CAM segment which currently is focused on Windows. It was Apple's industry to lose... and they did.

I was not aware of the DOA-replacement issue with BTO. So, I guess if you are serious about video production, you have spares laying around. Must be a huge problem for smaller producers.

How is Apple on repairs on high-end BTOs like iMac Pro, Mac Pro? If there is a failure later, what's the typical turnaround time? We have AppleCare+.

Ha, I'll get that canned air for the Mini yet, so I still have a backup! (That's why I went to Fry's).

Years ago, (early 2000s) I was involved in early high-frequency trading, and we had a server installed on Wall Street. (OK, in fact, Broad Street...) We put in an IBM server, and got a service contract on it, with 4-hour service window. We had one failure. An IBM technician showed up and replaced the server the same day. Apple needs something like that!
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,600
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The Sillie Con Valley
- had me do some finger-gymnastics = Option-Command-P-R all at once and hit power. Took a while to figure out how to do that! (open-command with one finger of left hand. R with another finger of left hand. P with one finger of right hand. Keyboard behind iMac Pro, pinky of right hand for power. Does Apple train employees on this?!)
Try it one-handed (yes, really). There's an easier way to reset the NV RAM:

You can hit the Power switch first. Now depress the 4 keys — you have a few seconds as long as you do so before the first chime, it works. It is possible to depress the Option and Command keys with the thumb on its side while depressing the p and r keys.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
432
You can hit the Power switch first. Now depress the 4 keys — you have a few seconds as long as you do so before the first chime, it works. It is possible to depress the Option and Command keys with the thumb on its side while depressing the p and r keys.
Thanks, that is good to know!

BTW, would you happen to be the one-time Detroit DJ/disco-record-destroying Mike Halloran? (If not, I'm sure you've been asked before...)
 

xgman

macrumors 601
Aug 6, 2007
4,777
606
There is no way I would have kept your unit. Back and switch out period.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
432
Period? Very helpful. Not if you buy it from a place that doesn't take returns.
They issued an RMA, the DOA is on it's way back, the replacement arrived Monday and works fine. It was done by refund/repurchase. Maybe it helps that I'd opened a ticket with Apple and spent considerable time diagnosing until it was clear there was no remedy to be had remotely. At least we eliminated some potential causes which will save some time figuring out what is wrong and that was documented by Apple.

I see no reason why B&H wouldn't be able to have the unit replaced by Apple, and they are out some shipping and handling costs. (And perhaps even that is refunded by Apple. Not sure how this all works, MANY years ago I was a NorthStar dealer - they had an advertising allowance, and covered DOA costs, etc. probably standard in resale agreements.)

The strangest thing is that the DOA didn't seem to show an internal display present in System Report. Under Displays, it showed only the external DisplayPort display that I'd connected.

I notice (on replacement) an item under Displays: iMac: that says Online: Yes. It suggests there's some way of making it "offline". But, I would think then it would still show up.

I speculate something was left misconfigured from testing/checkout. It shipped with volume turned all the way down, as well, I'm like "how would anybody ever hear this?"

As others have mentioned, it is a six of one/half a dozen of the other ordering BTO products. Had we gotten an DOA from Apple, it seems we would have had an extended wait for a replacement, or else have to have a brand new computer repaired.

I can't even guess how they get into these things to fix them. Heck, I can't even guess how one gets it detached from the monitor stand - there is a VESA option. (For which I have no need, though it's intriguing that System Report says Rotation: Supported. Might be attractive for software development. Or give you a stiff neck! ;)
 
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IdentityCrisis

Suspended
Sep 9, 2018
685
339
Yea, I reluctantly agree.

For something at this cost point, I think the best approach is to get it from your local Apple Store, or order online from Apple for pickup at the Apple Store, and make a Genius Bar appointment for "setup". "Setup" for me consists of making sure the thing lights up, put it back in the box, and take it home...

This is the first time I've ever had a DOA on anything substantial.

NOT MY DAY, went to Fry's to get cables and canned air (for my dying Mini) and I Kid You Not the "system was down" and there were people standing around outside and a store employee with the doors cracked 1.0" explaining that they were going to give up and close the store if it didn't come up in a couple of minutes...

So then I went to the Apple store and got a cable. We'll see what happens. (I got one USB-C to DisplayPort, after looking at the prices. Wanted to get two, and a USB-C to HDMI, but they didn't have any of those, and the price of the 3rd-party USB-C to Display port was high, and even the sales guy suggested I get one "on Ebay" and return the in-store cable...

I got a reply from the Apple Support guy, he suggested that perhaps screen brightness up/down doesn't work during setup.

It's clear it boots into MacOS setup, not just recovery/diagnostic. So, suggests CPU, memory, and flash are working.

I noticed that it was listed at B&H as coming with High Sierra. I'd anticipated perhaps having to update, but seemed worth it since they could ship immediately and Apple could not. I noticed that the outer (brown) box looked like it had been opened, but the inner (white) box *seemed* sealed. I am guessing, though, that perhaps B&H updated to Mojave and left some settings in "an inconvenient state". (I dunno, why would they do this on an external monitor? - my guess). Apple probably gives them the extra seals. I also guess that when Apple has too many laying around, they know who to call to unload some at some discount, and B&H and Adorama bet they can sell them before the equation goes negative.

I think it is some sort of misconfiguration rather than shipping damage. This is the most elegant Apple packaging yet. They must have talked to the Eggland's Best packaging person. Earth-friendly and crumple zones like crazy. Had a good laugh with the Fedex guy over the shape of the box. I said this has to drive you nuts. Not sure if the shape is a good thing or a bad thing. I dunno, I think maybe 10,00 cycles of rocking back and forth on a plane might be a bad thing. :( Maybe it's meant as a stress test. Boring, rectangular box might be more reliable, just sayin'.
Was the seal that you open a iMAC still on it? That strip you pull to open the box and not just packing tape? Because if so, then BHPhoto never touched it. The last place that touched it was Apple. It doesn't matter if you buy it from bhphoto or any other place other than apple. If that seal is intact, you got the same you would from an Apple store.

upload_2018-11-15_15-58-18.png
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
432
Yes, the seal was intact, and there was no evidence of replacement, which would have been obvious. Wish I had thought to take a photo - you can bet I took a BUNCH of photos of the replacement before opening!