Mac Pro 2008 - no video output

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Sprinx, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. Sprinx macrumors newbie

    Sprinx

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Location:
    Tennessee, US
    #1
    Hey everybody. I'm a PC enthusiast with very little Mac experience. A graphics designer user at my work had her Mac Pro quit working, and the IT dept. (who also have little Mac experience) tried to troubleshoot it by installing a different (PC-compatible) video card, but just bought her a new MB Pro in the end as she was due for an upgrade. I brought it home with me, and I'm curious to see if I can get it running again and put Ableton Live on it instead of using Windows for this with it's substandard audio processing. I'd like to put as little money as possible into this. Sorry about the novel I’ve written, but here goes.

    Specs from the label on the back:
    Model: A1186
    EMC No.: 2180
    MAC PRO/2.8_8CX/2X1G/8800GT/1TB/1TB/2XSD/RAID/WM/WK

    RAM was upgrade to 4 x 2 G (8 GB total) after we bought it in 2009. There are two 1 TB hard drives in RAID 1 (mirror) using the Apple Mac Pro RAID card.

    The former user is pretty sure that it is currently running Snow Leopard. The original 8800 GT is still in the machine.

    The IT dept had issues with the RAID battery in the weeks before the machine was replaced. It seems this is a pretty common problem, but not a point of complete failure.

    Troubleshooting done so far, with results:

    --When I brought it home, the machine powered on and would chime continuously, pause, then chime some more. I looked at boot chime patterns on the internet and what they would mean, but it didn’t seem to match any of the patterns, and it never seemed to chime the same way twice.

    --I then removed the RAID card and the hard drives and tried to boot, but still no video at all. However, at some point it only chimed once and then no more. During this time, I also removed/ replaced the RAM DIMM slots, dusted out all kinds of stuff, etc. There are no red lights on the DIMM risers after booting, so I think the RAM is fine. Since this time, it has only chimed once upon powering on - no more of the multiple chimes.

    --I reinserted the RAID card and the video card, and the system at this point will chime once, and the hard drives are spinning and making noise. After a minute or two, I can press the “eject” button on the Mac keyboard, and the drive will eject. If I put a disc in and close the drive, the hard drives will churn as though the OS is analyzing the disc. If I press “Caps Lock,” the light on the keyboard will activate. So, it seems to me that the system is booting into the OS, but it’s just not displaying video.

    --I tried booting with the OS X installation disc that came with the desktop by holding down C, and it starts churning away at the disc like a madman, but still no display.

    --I tried putting the 8800 GT into slot 3 (x 16 slot), and still no video output.

    --I tried inserting a Quadro 600 card (from a Dell PC workstation) into slots 1 and 3, but no video. It’s not a Mac card, and from what I’ve found it’s not really supported in Macs, even if you are able to interact with the OS and use hacks to get it to work. I’m pretty sure this card won’t work in any standard Mac Pro.

    --I tried putting in my PC’s EVGA GTX 680 SC (reference card 02G-P4-2684-KR) into slot 1 (I cannot try slot 3 due to the RAID card), but still the same thing: no video. The card was purchased in April 2012 when they were brand new. Since purchasing the card, I upgraded my PC to an ASUS Z97 PRO / i7 4770K with a UEFI firmware. Therefore, I flashed my card with the EVGA-provided UEFI firmware for the GTX 680 so that I could run Windows 8/10 in “Secure boot mode.” I've done some research, and this particular model can be flashed to the EVGA Mac firmware, which I have downloaded. However, I’m afraid to flash this Mac ROM since this is my main card for my gaming PC. Most of the threads related to flashing this card for MAC usage assume that it’s the standard non-UEFI firmware that one is beginning the process with.

    --I tried putting the 8800 GT into my Z97 PC in the primary PCI-Express 16 slot, and the card’s fan runs full blast and my PC will not boot at all (the display registers no signal). If I put this card into a secondary PCI-express slot, the 8800 GT does not show in Windows 10 Device Manager at all. I have no idea what should happen when you put a Mac card into a UEFI PC. (I disabled Secure Boot during this test).

    I have two questions:

    1. I understand there are risks with flashing cards, especially if the wrong ROM is used. That being said, is it unreasonable for me to think that I can flash my GTX 680 to the Mac ROM, test to see if this works, and then flash it back to my UEFI PC ROM (which I have saved on my hard drive still)? Or is it stuck as a Mac card then?

    2. I connected an Ethernet cord to the Mac, and turned it on and it seemed to be booted into OS X. However, I could not see the Mac on my network. I used my router to check this – I can see all devices connected via LAN w/ their MAC addresses. Should I have expected to see the Mac on the network, or does one have to log into OS X first before Ethernet connections are activated?

    TL;DR – System seems to boot into OS X, but no video can be displayed using the original Mac card or with two different PC cards. I think the logic board / hard drives are all good, and the video card needs to be replaced.

    Any help or ideas would be appreciated.
     
  2. bax2003 macrumors 6502a

    bax2003

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Location:
    Belgrade, Serbia
    #2
    If Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.x) is on the boot drive, that is the reason why EVGA GTX 680 doesn´t display any video.
    You need Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8.3) or later to use GTX 680.

    So, you need, for example bootable
     
  3. drasl macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2014
    #3
    Im not an expert but did you disconnect all USB devices, including the keyboard when starting the computer (as a part of the troubleshooting), it might be worth a try (just to get it out of the way).
     
  4. Sprinx thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sprinx

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Location:
    Tennessee, US
    #4
    Okay, I looked more into this, and I see that video card compatibility really improved with Mountain Lion. I didn't know the OS until this morning when I asked the former user, so I didn't have a chance to really research this.

    Could I borrow the install discs that came with the newly purchased MB Pro? It probably came with Mavericks or Yosemite. Would the GTX 680 work with bootup, installation, etc.? Hopefully the Quadro 600 will work, so that I can put the 680 back in my PC.

    I don't know if I tried it with the keyboard disconnected or not. I'll give it a shot. It's a Mac keyboard that I bought at Goodwill for $7 quite a few years ago. It's like the one in the background here:

    https://9to5mac.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/macipadkeyboards-5.jpg?w=1000&h=668

    I've used the keyboard numerous times on PCs just fine.
     
  5. bax2003 macrumors 6502a

    bax2003

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Location:
    Belgrade, Serbia
    #5
    New MacBooks don´t come with install discs. What you nees is hard drive or SSD where 10.8.3+ is already installed, or USB/FireWire drive with 10.8.3 + installer on it.
     
  6. Sprinx, Nov 2, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015

    Sprinx thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sprinx

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Location:
    Tennessee, US
    #6
    Ah, yeah, no optical drive these days. Could I create a USB bootable thumb drive with the new MacBook Pro using the built-in tools?
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201372

    Or will this boot USB drive only work on the hardware on which it is created?

    I just thought that I haven't tried to boot from a Windows boot disc. Then it will load the drivers from Windows which can handle any video card....hmm.

    EDIT: hah - this worked! I was able to load the Windows 7 x64 boot environment from a DVD by holding "C" during startup. This pretty much confirms that the 8800 GT video card is faulty, and that the rest of the hardware is probably fine.

    I'll try to build a bootable USB from the new MB Pro to see if I can put the newer OS onto this Mac Pro tower. I've got a spare SSD that will be perfect for this.

    Thanks, @bax2003 for helping me realize that the current OS Snow Leopard won't work with the other video cards I've been trying.
     
  7. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    New York City, NY
    #7
    This should work fine. Just download one of the more recent versions of OS X from the App Store on the MacBook Pro and use DiskMaker X to make a bootable USB flash drive.
     
  8. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #8
    You may be on the right track trying to find a video card that works. I've had two occasions where my 2008 MP stopped displaying video. The first is when the original video card failed, the second is when the original power supply was not supplying enough voltage. Some of those old video cards developed poor solder joints and failed, there was a bake in oven method that revived some but usually it was a replace. I dunno if the one you have is a susceptible model. A misbehaving video card can cause all kinds of what seems to be unrelated problems. There was much talk here maybe 3 or 4 years ago. Sorry I don't recall all the details. No OS is going to help you as its an hardware issue, the Mac may only partially boot.
     
  9. Fl0r!an macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    #9
    It's a good idea to flash the GTX680 with a Mac EFI ROM. Although Snow Leopard doesn't have drivers for it, you'll see what happens during boot and you'll easily be able to install a more recent version of OS X.
    In Snow Leopard, the 680 might work in software rendering mode when flashed (thanks to the EFI). Maybe the drivers will crash when OS X load, don't know, never tried something like that.

    You can flash the card back with your normal PC ROM afterwards, just be sure to make a backup.

    Btw, it's perfectly normal that the Mac doesn't show anything with those PC cards since 10.6 didn't have the auto-init drivers allowing easy use of unflashed PC cards. A dead 8800 is also no surprise, those cards were crap.
     
  10. Sprinx thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sprinx

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Location:
    Tennessee, US
    #10
    Awesome, I looked up DiskMaker X and that's just what I need. I may try the command line createinstallmedia first, just so I don't have to install any software on a laptop I don't own.

    I did confirm last night that the video card is faulty. I'm familiar with the bake method, but I have little interest in fixing this card with 9-year old technology. I have a couple of spare PCI-express PC cards that I can use in its place, provided I can install Mountain Lion or later (it's currently running Snow Leopard). That's why the OS is important, as the newer OS X versions should provide video output on most any video card (albeit without the boot screen).

    My colleague at work will bring in her old MacBook Pro tomorrow so that I can borrow it for a few hours and build the boot media on a USB drive. I may also try burning it to a dual-layer DVD in case the USB boot is uncooperative (her old MBP does have a disc drive).

    Maybe when Pascal is released by NVIDIA next year, I will buy a new card and then flash my 680 with the Mac ROM to permanently go in the Mac Pro.

    Thanks to all! I'll post an update when I get things up and running. It may not be until this weekend.
     
  11. MacVidCards Suspended

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #11
    Btw, flashing Mac EFI on the 680 won't stop it from working on PC. It will just use legacy BIOS mode. If you aren't using Windows Fast Start mode, which requires UEFI on logic board, you will never miss it.
     
  12. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #12
    Oh, sorry.. it wasn't clear to me that you knew what you were doing :) There was a third occasion where I lost video, someone turned off the monitor :)
     
  13. Sprinx thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sprinx

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Location:
    Tennessee, US
    #13
    Haha - I've done the same thing. The power cable wasn't inserted tightly into my Dell monitor and fell out just enough to become unplugged. I must have tried to troubleshoot that for 10 minutes or so before I figured out what happened.

    Actually, I may one day try and do the bake method, just so I have an official Mac video card with which I can access the boot options, if need be.
     
  14. Sprinx thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sprinx

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Location:
    Tennessee, US
    #14
    Using the new MBP, I was able to use the creatinstallmedia tool in Terminal to create a bootable USB drive. I'm currently installing OS X El Capitan on the Mac Pro, with the video using the Quadro 600 card.

    I completely removed the RAID card and hooked the cable up to the motherboard, and I've just got an SSD in there right now. TBH, the RAID card was a huge waste of money (what our former IT mgr was known for), as it was just doing RAID 1 on two 1 TB drives. Software RAID could have handled that just as well.

    Anyway, thanks to all for helping me figure out how to get this Mac Pro up and running. Now to try out some Ableton Live with my keyboard.
     
  15. nigelbb macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    #15
    Performance of the Apple RAID card wasn't great & 3rd-party alternatives were better value but software RAID-1 on OS X is an absolute dog performance-wise. The way the disk mirroring is implemented it writes to one disk then the other & only signals completion after both writes have completed. This has the effect of ensuring disk write speed is literally half that of a single disk. The advantage of a hardware RAID card with write cache is that the writes are done in parallel & that write completion is signalled after the IO hits the cache which will see an improvement in performance versus a single disk.
     

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