MacPro Startup Issues - Weirdness!!

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by russrussell, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. russrussell macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    Hi all,

    I hope this is the right place to post this, sorry i'm a bit of a forum noob.

    I have a MacPro 2x2.66 Dual Core Intel Xeon with 5G RAM Running 10.5.8

    When i start up i get the Spinning Ball of Doom and my Desktop picture and my drive icons but no dock and no top menu bar, cant do anything at all with it apart from restart with the power button - then it comes to life, my dock is there and the menu is back, often there will be a few strange things graphically, like little bits missing out of the desktop picture or the icon names being fuzzy, but i can then restart from the menu and then eveything is fine after that - i can shutdown and restart all day long with out the problem occurring. But when i shutdown overnight the problem is back in the morning - i believe this maybe a big clue to the problem?

    I have started up from a previously cloned drive and repaired the system disk (which checks out fine, no problems reported) and i regularly repair permissions. when the problem started i was on 10.5.6 but i have done the updates to see if that made any difference, but no change.

    My next step would be a total wipe and start from scratch which i'm willing to do but would rather not if its not necessary as it will take aaaaaages for me to reauthorise alot of my software.

    Anyone seen anything like this before??


  2. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    Hey Russ
    Could be the beginnings of a Graphics card issue....What GPU do you have in there?

    If you have a spare partition or external hard drive you could try a fresh install on that, just adding the apps you need day to day and see if the problem goes away (or perhaps more appropriately, doesn't come back). If this solves the problem after running for a week or two, then you know somethings broken with your current OS X install. You can then clone your new install back to your main partition and hopefully things will be fixed.
  3. russrussell thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    Thanks for your reply - i have a NVIDIA Geforce 7300 GT - its something i know absolutely nothing about, i'm in the audio world, if it makes a noize i know what it does but graphics, well if i can see the screen thats good enough for me ;-)

    I will def try the second OSX install though, didnt think of it because i had the cloned drive but yeah makes total sense to have only a fresh OS install and nothing else.

    Thanks for your help, hope all is good with you
  4. seisend macrumors 6502a


    Feb 20, 2009
    Switzerland, ZG
    Can you be more specific about what strange graphically things appear? I think it could be a faulty graphics card.

    Let us know if your clean installation worked.
  5. russrussell thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    I figured i would make use of the one empty drive bay i have left so i've ordered another new drive which i will do the osx install on tomorrow.

    But i do fear it is hardware not OS related - things are getting worse, today on startup there was just blue screen, that the first time thats happened.

    After a hard restart the desktop picture came up but no menu bar at the top and the dock appeared but all the icons were completely white, then the system just hanged.

    After a second hard restart (is that the right terminology? when you have to restart with the power button rather than on screen?) anyway this time everything was all there and looking normal, but when i open a window or move anything around the screen it leaves traces of itself behind it and windows leave a black hole in the desktop picture when i close them.
    And after a minute the system hangs again.

    OK third restart - everything seems normal now, i did a restart from the menu just to be sure and now yes i have a functioning mac.

    Only takes just over 10 minutes to do this but as i'm sure you'll agree its all rather worrying as this is my work mac and i dont have a spare so sending it off is really not an option, the downtime would screw me up. I either have to fix this myself quick or bite the bullet and buy a new one.

    Thanks again for your replies, its makes it easier to deal with and think about just getting some feedback,

    Cheers - Russ

    Oh one thought - would it be worth taking out the graphics card and putting it back to check its seated properly? must be worth a shot.
  6. ildondeigiocchi macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2007
    Have you tried resetting the PRAM on your Mac Pro. As stupid as this may sound it's gotten me out of problems with my system many times. If that doesn't work which it may, it seems it is a video card problem starting to emerge. An upgrade would surely make your Mac Pro happy. The 4890 is a great option and easy to flash from what I hear.
  7. russrussell thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    Thanks for the tip - i have reset the PRAM, i wont know if its made any difference till tomorrow morning as its only after the machine has been off all night that the problem occurs - once its up and running it will stay running fine all day - i have considered just leaving it on but that wont actually fix the problem.

    You say - "The 4890 is a great option and easy to flash from what I hear."
    there seem to be several different makes, which one would you recommend? - or does it not matter?
    and i'm a little embarrased to ask but what does "easy to flash" mean? Sorry, i've never dealt with graphis cards at all, could you explain.

    Many thanks

  8. russrussell thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    Aaaah its OK i found a good article on BIOS Flashing, interesting.

    Sorry for being a dumb ass :eek: :D
  9. russrussell thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    Well i've now tried a fresh OS install on a brand new drive and still the same problem so i guess it wasnt that. I've done the full hardware diagnostic test and everything checks out fine. So i suppose its time for a new graphics card and hope that solves the problem.

  10. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2009
    Hmm... Maybe its the thermal interface between the GPU and the GPU heatsink; once the compound warms up enough it makes full contact with both the die and the heatsink. Thermal expansion (aka physics) might be the problem.

  11. ARF900 macrumors 65816


    Oct 30, 2009
    one solution would be to not shut down at all. Why turn it off every night?
  12. russrussell thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    this makes sense - it is as if it has to warm up and gradually comes to life. i've been looking for a replacement card but i cant find any the same as i have in there, maybe they dont make them anymore? can anyone recommend a good replacement for around the £100 price range?

    i have been leaving it on to avoid the problems but it doesnt actually fix the fault and if the graphics card or something else is on the way out i'd rather fix it sooner than later.

    thanks for your replies
  13. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    Hi Russ
    What year did you buy your mac? Is it a Mac Pro 1,1, 2,1, 3,1, or 4,1? The answer to this question will determine what GPU options you have. If it's a 3,1 or later, you can just slot in a GeForce GT120 if you want something cheap and cheerful. If your mac is older, you may have to either spend a bit more money or hunt around for a PC card to flash. If you're going to look for a 4890 or a 4870, make sure you get a "reference design" card otherwise you'll have problems getting it to work. You can search these forums for info on this.

    Personally, if you're a music guy and just need a card that works, I'd avoid the flashing route because reference cards are hard to come by at this point in time, due to the part of the development cycle that ATI and Apple are in.

    Sorry about the troubles you're having, it does very much sound like a GPU issue.
  14. russrussell thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    had it a few years now, its a mac pro 1.1 - would one of these cards work without any modifications - Apple NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT - i just wanna plug and go

    it seems to be a newer version of what i got in there now - i need the dual dvi outs, apart from that i dont really care about "whistles and bells" so long as it looks as good as it does now.

    you know whats funny though, even when its not working properly i still love my mac, in years past if a pc would go flaky on me i would have set about it with a hammer by now, but the mac just needs a little TLC - crazy?? maybe!! X-D
  15. Gomff macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    OK, then you're in a bit of a more difficult position. For reasons that are too long to go into now, your machine will not support a plug in and go 8800 GT unless it's the model specifically made for your machine. I just checked the Apple store online and they don't seem to be selling any cards for your model. I think your best bet is to ring Apple support and tell them your situation, perhaps they have some cards that will be compatible with your Mac.

    Unfortunately Apple have screwed over owners of Macs before the 3,1. It's to do with something called EFI. Your model has a 32 bit version and 3,1's and newer have 64 bit. Most of the newer cards from Apple only support 64 bit. The other option you have is to try and track down a flashable PC card.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do....I would seriously ring Apple first and see whether they can offer you something.
  16. russrussell thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 9, 2010
    There have been new developments - it seems there is a known fault on these cards and macpros within a certain serial number range have been given extended warranty and apple will replace this card for free if it is indeed caused by this known fault - basically the two main capacitors in the centre of the board are blown - shown only by being slightly raised in the centre.

    Good news you would think?? well yes and no - they will only replace this card if i send mine back for them to test and confirm that it is indeed the problem - how long will this take? who knows - i think conservatively it could easily be a week or more - no mac for a week?? thats pretty unthinkable. gonna have to investigate other options, if they can replace it then it means they have suitable cards so i figure i'll just buy one - maybe they'll refund me when i send mine back after getting the new one in?

    anyway - feels good to get to the bottom of this, hopefully it'll get resolved soon.

    if anyone has this same issue i can post a pic of the card with the fault outlined so you can check your own.

    meanwhile thanks again for the advice here - much better than other forums.
  17. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    i had similar issues last year with my 2.66 quad (macpro 1,1)

    you can view a small conversation i had with myself at mac support forums (and you've probably already seen this if you've been searching the web for answers)

    (there's a link to a screenshot in there showing what to expect to happen next prior to the computer becoming completely unusable)

    i bought a 8800GT from Club Mac last may and everything has be fine since.. they don't appear to sell them anymore. here's some info from the invoice that may help locating one. good luck!

    Item #07493160
    Manufacturer Part No. MB560Z/A
    Quantity: 1
    Price: $264.99 ​

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