Mac Pro 3,1 red led not the RAM ones

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by m1kygarcia, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. m1kygarcia macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Hello Guys, first of all let me say that I am new to this forum, and any help or orientation you guys can give me would be highly appreciated, so thanks in advance.

    Well This post could turn into a really long one, if I tell the whole story of my Mac Pro, so instead of writing you the "iHell" I've lived through the last year, I'm just going to post a picture of a Red Led on my 2008 Mac Pro logic Board and if someone hopefully could tell me what that means I'd appreciate it.

    The led started to light up today, after waking the Mac from sleep it just hanged up, so I had to force and push the power button, after that a progress bar appeared and it took like 6 min to boot up on ML, so I opened the lid to take a look if something else have happened, and to my surprise that Led start to light up again.

    I'm saying again, because last year that same thing happened to me, and that turned out into a PSU, and Logic board replacements after the so called genius didn't knew what that led meant and told me that is just normal behavior, so I continued using it on a regular basis, at that time, the MP was just functioning ok, and all of the sudden one day it turned off and became a one expensive foot rest.

    I mean the Mac functions fine everything works, but that led wasn't flashing before, and now it's all the time on, and i'Ve been hours on google trying to find out, what this means, but so far no luck.
    I've reset the PRAM and SMC, reseated the ram, changed the internal battery for a new one, reseated the video card, cleaned the computer with compressed air,
    I've checked the 3 hard drives and they work just fine, ran apple hardware test, looped for many times and passed all the tests.

    The Led is on the upper left corner of the logic board, behind the 1st and 2nd hard drive bays,next to the BT chip. Also the diagnostic LEDs of the logic board indicates that everything should be Ok.

    So As my previous experience, I'd stop using the Mac until at least I could find some info of what is wrong. I cant afford to spend $2000 US again.

    Pardon my English, since is not my native. Language.
    And thanks in advance for your help.

    Attached Files:

  2. recd macrumors newbie

    Jul 19, 2007
    Can you show exactly where the LED is, use a program, like pixelmator or photoshop for example, to draw an arrow pointing to it. I can't see any LED near the BT card on my 2008 MacPro and its not mentioned in the service manual ( Googled it to download one).
  3. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Today, i´v found something interesting.

    i turned on the MP, and the led was off, but 10 seconds later, it turned on again!

    if anyone knows please help, is appreciated.


    here are the pictures with the highlighted led

    Attached Files:

  4. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Also i've read the entire service manual and It does not say anything about that particular led.
  5. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    A little update on my current situation:

    After hours and hours researching, I think I've discovered what that led means.
    So for the past couple of days, I monitored the electrical sensors on my MP, and what I found is that, for some reason the machine was showing signs of using more voltage and amp than usual, also the temperature of pretty much the hole machine went up, not considerably high, but enough to make the machine hotter.
    So, since my previous experience of the same situation last year, I believe that led means the MP electrical management is not normal, and as result obviously on a long term it will burn the logic board.

    What I did is to use the apple diagnostic service, and loop the test for couple of hours, interestingly enough nothing came up. What I did next, is to force re install of the EFI firmware, and I say "force", cause It took me several attempts to install it, ( since the machine was booting fine)

    To my surprise, after re installing the firmware, the led is gone. At least for now, it's been 1 day and nothing.

    The hole situation is pretty awkward, and I will not call it a fix. Everything started after going sleep mode, it's a positive sign the MP Is maybe back to normal, and I'm knocking on wood it remains like this.
  6. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Update on my situation:

    Well as predicted, my Mac Pro 2008 is dead, yesterday night i turned it off, it was working ok, tomorrow morning prepared some coffe, push the power on button, and what do i get?, not chime, not booting up.

    I turn it on, and I got a solid power on, fans spins quietly but that´s it, no Mac Love for me. i´ve done the usual reseat ram, reseat video card on different slot, plug it on with only boot hard drive and preach to Steve Jobs respectfully, so maybe it can help and, NADA.

    No red Led this time, only when i press the Diag_Led button, i´ve got trickle power OK, EFI ok, GPU ok, no processor sign of damage, but the Power Ok led does not light up.

    So, should i assume the PSU just died?. Please Help.
  7. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    It's where I would start... Could be a lot of things. Do you have any way of testing the PSU?
  8. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    mmm unfortanetly no, is there any way to clip test the PSU like regular PC?.

    i think is the logic board also, right now i´ve tried to boot it up without Ram memory, and it does not beep indicating no ram on the logic board.

    the way i see it, it´s time to throw it to the garbage and get an update, there´s no point investing money on repair parts wich only gives you 90 days warranty, and when even the Mac Mini Server i7 quad core, outruns the processing power of the Mac Pro.

    what can i say, i am really frustrated for the first time with a Mac Product, just less than a year ago changed the Logic Board and PSU cost me $2000 US, cause they had to import the repair parts, have to pay a lot of taxes, and now is failling again... To me that´s bad design.

    anyway, if someone could share some helpful information, i´d gladly appreciate it.

    Thanks is advance.
  9. El Awesome macrumors 6502

    El Awesome

    Jul 21, 2012
    I am really sorry for you, but I think you have to trow your machine in the garbage. It seems something is VERY wrong there, I would say that the repair costs will be higher than getting a maxed out Mini or even iMac...

    You can take to the repair guy and let him check what's wring this time..
  10. m1kygarcia, Aug 17, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012

    m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    i think, getting a Mac Mini is the way to go, i´ve learned my lesson wich is not investing in a Mac Pro ever, a very expensive equipment wich only would last you for 4 years (if you are lucky, or the starts are aligned), without failing at some point, And paying lots of money, when almost all reparis are refurbished.

    sorry to say, but the phrase "Macs are built like a tank", are long gone with in the Power-PC era (my 7 year old iBook G4, still working like day 1), Macs have become disposable objects, as soon as your warranty is out, if it fails the cost of repairing is ridiculous.

    anyway, i´m going to disamble all the unit, and check if there is a fuse blown on the logic board, or something that is at first sight notourios.

    at least hopefully i can save the processors, and build a hackintosh. what can i say, i think investing in such costly equipment should become obsolete first than failing out of nowhere, i´ve treated carefully since the last repair (i even had to learn about electric mangament and stuff, to prevent electric damage, that should be not the case).
  11. El Awesome macrumors 6502

    El Awesome

    Jul 21, 2012
    But honstely, how often does this occur?
    I guess you had plenty of bad luck there.

    I'm writing this in a 2009 MP, works like a charm!
    I now plenty of G5s that are still working fine, although they are 8 years old by now.

    If I compare my MP to a friend's PC from late 2010, I outperform him in every task, execpt that he has an i7 with more power than my 2.66 Quad. RAM same, I have the better GPU by now.
  12. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Exactly Power-PC macs, were made better in general terms i´m just guessing here but from what i´ve asked the people i know, and owned power pc macs, the general opinion is that they are still being usable, obsolete indeed, but usable.

    now, this is my point, i´ve invested $4000 US with apple care originally, failed some months ago, another $2000, (and this was in different place cause i was living in a different city, so it´s not like i had the same electrical issue) and now to get it working again i have to invest another $2000???, $8000 grand in 3.5 years aprox. WTF, not cool.

    i think Apple needs to start from scratch with the Mac Pro Line, cause at the pace technology is evolving, there´s no point on spending money on a Machine that will become "obsolete", in 2 years pretty much.
  13. El Awesome macrumors 6502

    El Awesome

    Jul 21, 2012
    Mac Pros are obsolete if you buy them new at the moment. The 2012 model is 3-4 years behind.

    The thing is that there are many many very happy MP1.1 users here. They had no problem at all.
    You're the first one that I hear saying that his machine fails all the time.

    Are you even sure that you have to invest another 2k? Maybe it's, as you said, just a blown fuse. I'd take it to the next Apple Center, ask them kindly if they want to take a look at it without charging you something.
    If you're lucky, it's just a tiny blown thing.
  14. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    i guess your suggestion is my best bet, i've managed to check the video card on another PC, it doesn't work the computer wont boot, so it's another sign that something VERY bad happened, i know i can't diagnosticate without working parts, but i guess i'm going to keep it and when i had the opportunity, take it to an AASP.
    Right now i won't spend another bit of money on this computer and rather save to get a Mac Mini Server, it does look like a good option to my needs (i'd prefer to have a mac with warranty that one without it)


    if someone knows how to check the PSU is providing good power by clipping the connectors on a Mac Pro please let me know, i know how to do it on PC's PSU, but on this particular machine is just out of my knowleadge, i just bought a VU multimeter and i want to make sure the PSU is dead.
  15. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    The problem is if you need 7 years out of a computer to justify its value, you're likely spending too much. All computers have the potential to break down. I understand if you're buying something because it fits a specific workflow and do not wish to upgrade until your requirements undergo significant changes. If you need a mac pro, you are tied to a certain minimum sale, yet I don't agree with spending huge amounts of money just on the idea that they will last forever. Unfortunately tech products aren't very well built, and these things are generally outpaced by newer generations.

    The late PowerPCs such as G5s were quite problematic. You should buy your hardware based on what you need today. If it's not justifiable over 3 years or so, budget less for a machine. Being tied to Apple can be pretty limiting.

    4 years is being disingenuous. The cheapest option has a 2009 cpu. The gpus weren't announced until the tail end of 2009. They're really more like early 2010 hardware. The Westmere cpu options didn't come out until 2010. They're out of date, but you are really stretching how far. Four years would have been 2008. None of the internals were manufactured in that year.
  16. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    I think I've learned my lesson on this one, and like I said before, I won't spend more money on getting another Mac Pro or at least repair this one, is just not worth it, and at the peace technology is evolving it's just pointless to buy expensive equipment anyomore to my thinking.
    Specially when, everything indicates that procesing power is getting faster, and smaller. For instance the Mac Mini Server, powerful enough to get the job done in my case, and for half the price, and when ever I'd like to get more new stuff, I just sell it an get another one more recent.

    I used the Mac Pro for music production, so I don't need powerful GPU.

    But in the end I think I could survive with my iPad until I can afford to get the new one. I'm not kidding, and that's what makes me think that large desktop computers are on it's way out. And this is another reason why I'm not considering it anymore.

    After all what I'm trying to say is, the relation between what you pay for what you get is not equivalent anymore to my point of view. Specially with the attitude that apples been showing of these past couple of years, just dropping support, for their high end products.
  17. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I think it's quite important to assess your needs and actual requirements. If you needed specific PCI hardware or benefited greatly from the internal bays, it can push you toward a mac pro if Apple's line is the only thing considered. Technology does change though, so it's important to ensure your purchases are justified quickly. I hope you do better with the next machine. I've suggested used mac pros before, but it's only really worthwhile if you're getting a really good deal as repairs are still quite expensive.
  18. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Yup, at the time I got the Mac Pro, the laptops or lower desktops simply didn't have the processing power that they do now a days. I guess it's a matter of hardware caught up with software. What I am still considering is waiting for the next Mac mini release or just get one, I'd love to try the ivy bridge technology.
    What are your thoughts?
  19. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    My thoughts are that Apple's options are somewhat minimal. The notebooks run quite hot. The mini would be a better value with desktop components closer to a headless imac, not that we'll see this happen. The imac is not very serviceable for a machine to be used professionally and I only tend to suggest it as a cost cutting measure relative to the lowest mac pro. I am disappointed with their lineup. Right now my needs aren't too crazy, and hardware has come a long way in the past few years while software demands haven't increased as much. An Ivy Bridge mini could be a solid little machine even with some of its shortcomings.
  20. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Sometimes power supply issues are easy fixes, such as bad caps, take some voltage readings and see if that's it before chucking it.
  21. TinHead88 macrumors regular


    Oct 30, 2008
    My Mac Pro 3,1 (Early 2008) is still working fine and doing a great job of running my Logic setup. I think they are very well built and designed machines, however, technology is never infallible and you simply can't expect this from any computer manufacturer unless you accept paying for military grade components, design and assembly.

    I recently investigated a very similar case to the one you describe. It was a G5 tower. There was an LED on the motherboard that was lit and the computer simply would not boot. I talked to an Apple Service Technician and he could not determine without looking at the machine what the cause of the problem was but agreed that is was possibly the PSU (which requires a lot of disassembly on those machines). We decided it wasn't worth the cost of repairs and that a Mac Mini would be a good replacement for the tasks assigned to that machine.

    This G5 did have a lot of thick dust everywhere inside. I mention this because it looks like yours does also. Although the Mac towers are well designed I suspect dust can cause trouble, especially in the long term. It could be your Mac Pro was a victim of too much dust for too long.

    It could also be that the repair was not done perfectly (always a chance of human error). Personally I would not have repaired the unit in the first place as $2000 is just too much for a repair. Memory is expensive for the older Mac Pros now and for music you shouldn't need PCI expansions.

    I'm sorry to hear you Mac died. You were unlucky. The same thing can happen when you buy a Mercedes.
  22. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012

    I know, and I'm glad you guys could understand how frustrating it could be with my same situation, don't get me wrong, I love the Mac Pro is such a sexy and elegant design, but and this is the BIG but, if only repair parts wouldn't be that expensive T_T.

    As for what could of happened, I don't know, I really have no idea, and it's incredible that not even in the service manual that apple genius use to diagnosticate if something is wrong, appear what that led could possibly mean.

    You guys should know that outside of the US repair parts cost 15 or 30% more, because of the stupid apple policy of shipping everything from the US and import taxes increment the price.

    I guess in time I'm gonna repair it when the prices go low, just because I have particular memories with this machine, and the stuff I had learned and do.

    As usual thank you for your interest and time.
  23. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    It is not all that unusual for a debug or production use LED not to get documented in a repair manual. You would need to get ahold of a schematic and probably have a pretty good understanding of the board design and firmware to be able to decipher what most LEDs really mean. They are there to help with the initial build and debug of the board design and are just abandoned in place. In this day, it is less money to just replace the logic board than to document everything, and then deal with the support questions. The risk of breaking three other things to repair a logic board problem makes repair risky and results usually unsatisfying.

    I think you've done about the best you can do, ask here to see if anyone has seen that LED lit and what it means.

    BTW my quadra 950 and G4 mac pro are both still running without issue aside from the occasional hard drive problem (and they are kinda stuck at some older OS rev). The nvidia video card in my 2008 Mac Pro caused some pretty strange symptoms, however. Over the recent years I've had four iMacs completely die and two laptops.
  24. spoonie1972 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2012
    i just bought a 15" base pro (2.3i7) - it benches as fast as my mac pro 3,1 in many things, and once i have an ssd in here, it's game over.

    granted, i dont have 4 HD bays or room for multiple video cards, but with many of the vendors catching up (fw ssl, universal audio etc) - probably moving to Thunderbolt, who's going to need those fancy cards? even PT will probably have a magma chassis with a TB cable, if they don't already.

    with that said, i think my 3,1 still has a bit of an advantage with 20gigs of ram in there and the extra parallel processing for logic audio - but not by much.
  25. m1kygarcia thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2012
    That's the plan, getting a Mac Mini Server, i'm just waiting if there's going to be a new revisión with ivy bridge, i don't need a laptop ATM, plus it's always exciting to Get a faster mac.
    And what i mean with The led, is that. It's not an option to take It to an AASP, and pay for The diagnosis and really actually they come up with "we don't know what's The problem, but we have to change It all" what kind of service is that.
    That's what happened to me last time, an took It to 3 different ones. That's why as soon as i saw that led again i knew my Mac Pro would die, and i just like to know why, something reasonable, not just change It all and pay lots of money.

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