Mac Mini (early 2009) display problem.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jdryyz, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. jdryyz, Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2010

    jdryyz macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2007

    My 20 month old early 2009 Mac Mini w/ 2.26 Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM and 320GB hard drive seems to be having a problem with graphics.

    The best way to describe it is to show you a carefully about 22 secs in.

    After the display gets scrambled, the Mac locks up and I'm forced to press and hold the power button to shut down. I can power back on normally and then about 2 mins later, the same thing happens. my nvidia chip dying? It apparently has nothing to do with the system. I've booted from another Mac OS system as well as my Win7 system and it happens on all. I also do not suspect overheating as a cause because my fan RPM and CPU temps are both normal. The Mac is also used in a clean environment. There was very little dust contamination and I already blew it out with a duster.

    I am currently using a mini DVI to HDMI adapter (from Monoprice) for the video output. I have not been able to try the mini Display Port because I have misplaced my adapter for that. I suspect trying the second video out won't make a difference anyway since the nvidia chip controls both.

    Any ideas? I would hate to have to seek out a new logic board. I'm guessing I may as well get a new Mac but, darn, those 2010 Minis starting at $700 makes that too difficult right now.
  2. rgarjr, Dec 7, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010

    rgarjr macrumors 603


    Apr 2, 2009
    Southern California
    i would try a minidisplayport to hdmi just to rule it out. Try a different screen and resolution settings even.
  3. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2007
    Some hope...

    The mini DisplayPort adapter arrived yesterday and I tried it out. It made no difference (as I anticipated).

    I then decided I was going to spend the next day disassembling the Mini and take a look around. There's a chance that, due to the shared memory for video, I could have a faulty module.

    Prior to taking the machine apart, I ran the Apple Hardware Test (the extensive one). About and 90 minutes later, an error related to my hard drive was reported. Nothing regarding RAM or graphics, but I'm uncertain if graphics tests are even performed. I was not bothered by the drive error as I know the drive was reported okay by other tests. I have never ran the Apple Test before so I'm not sure how much I can trust it.

    At any rate, I totally disassembled the Mini. I was especially concerned about the nvidia chip cooler. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) thermal adhesive is used to secure the heatsink so I was unable to inspect the seal. Because it didn't budge, that was good enough for me. The spring clips were also in good shape.

    The next step was to swap my RAM and hard drive. When I first received the Mini, I upgraded to (2) 2GB modules and a Western Digital Black 320GB 7200 RPM drive. For testing purposes, I threw in an old 1GB module and a WD160GB drive. I then decided to boot from the original Mac OS X 10.5.6 DVD rather than my Snow Leopard disc.

    The system booted fine and several minutes into the install and I experienced no scrambled graphics!

    So the likely culprit is a faulty RAM module and nothing to do with the graphics chip or my 320GB drive. I say this because I booted from an optical disc before and I still saw the problem. Although, it is curious that the drive error was reported.

    I am pleased by this outcome and will next try to install from my Snow Leopard disc to do further testing. If RAM is at fault, this now gives me an excuse to fully max out the RAM in the Mini to 8GB! Can anyone recommend a good brand? As it turns out, my (2) 2GB modules were by Crucial (a trusted brand no doubt) but maybe I should try something else this time around.
  4. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
  5. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2007
  6. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2007
    Just a follow-up on this issue. I purchased a couple of 4GB modules earlier this month and have experienced no further graphics corruption.

    I also used a Windows-based laptop that accepts DDR3 memory and MEMTEST software to determine which module is faulty. The bad module errored-out pretty quickly.

    I understand Crucial will do a warranty replacement even if I do not have my original proof of purchase. Can anyone confirm this?

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