Mid 2010 second opinion on a dead motherboard

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Makosuke, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    The Mini Server (Mid 2010) at work just flaked out, and I wanted to get a second opinion before declaring it completely dead and scrapping it for parts (tragically, I forgot to buy Applecare for it, and it's like 35 days out of warranty :( ).

    Symptom is that it started hanging randomly after a few minutes of being on. Booting from a different partition on a separate internal drive seemed to keep it up longer, but didn't cure it. It then started having trouble booting; pushing the power button would spin up the fans, drives, and turn on the power light, but no chime and no video output (not even a grey screen). If I reset the SMC it will usually chime and then attempt to boot.

    Tried removing each stick of RAM individually (to test both sticks and both slots), no change.

    Tried running Hardware Test from an external CD drive; it didn't find any errors, but would hang randomly partway through the tests (and not on the same test, or after the same amount of time--once during the 12th RAM test, twice during the HD surface scan).

    One of the to internal hard drives had previously shown a few reallocated sectors (but passed SMART checks, and the reallocation count wasn't going up, so I'd left it like that for a while since I was only using one of the internals and didn't want to take it out of service to fiddle with something that wasn't technically broken), so I thought that might have flaked out.

    Cracked it open, pulled that drive, tested it hooked to a USB adapter, but it seemed to read fine. Reassembled the Mini with only the "good" hard drive and it seemed to power on and run, so I left it running a full Hardware Test scan. The scan completed, but it hung again while sitting doing nothing on the "test completed" screen, and again refused to even chime when powered on, like before.

    I can try swapping out the remaining hard drive (the one with no reallocated sectors), but I'm assuming that it's the motherboard. Anybody seen similar behavior? Is there anything else I should try before declaring this an ex-Mini?
  2. SoCalReviews, Mar 12, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013

    SoCalReviews macrumors 6502

    Dec 31, 2012
    I have seen failing power supplies on PCs cause those intermittent problems when they don't supply enough power to the hard drives and motherboard. Besides random shut downs a failing power supply can also cause corrupted data on underpowered hard drives. The things to check on a long time running computer before blaming the motherboard/logicboard... cooling fans, hard drives, power supply, and I'm not sure about Macs but for PCs...sometimes the CMOS battery goes bad and the system can't retain a record of the time/date and registered devices. There are easy ways that a tech could test the power supply especially if it's external. I wouldn't give on on the machine yet. In your situation you might want to take it to a local Mac repair place and get their opinion. Just don't pay a fortune to repair a Mac machine that you might be able to replace for less than quoted repair costs.
  3. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Thanks for the suggestions; the CMOS battery was a good thought, which hadn't occurred to me since the computer is only a year old. The voltage on it wasn't terrible, but I tried a fresh one for the heck of it. Sadly, no love.

    It is now refusing to chime or boot at all, so whatever was intermittently failing has decided to completely fail (or I finished breaking it on my 2nd or 3rd disassembly or reassembly). Oddly, it'll still give the "no RAM" POST beep, which I sort of wouldn't have expected, but it's pretty toast regardless and I don't think it's both sticks of RAM simultaneously.

    Since it won't chime even with both hard drives disconnected, the only things left are the power supply (which is internal and I don't have a spare available without dismantling an in-use, under-warranty Mini) or the motherboard.

    Since it's far cheaper to replace than repair, I'm not honestly sure it's even worth the diagnostic cost on the small chance it might be the power supply rather than the motherboard. If I thought it was likely it was the power supply, I'd have it checked, and if I wasn't a bit squeamish about tearing apart a good Mini I might try a known good one, but given that it's almost certainly the motherboard, neither seems like a good idea.

    Oh well.
  4. Stellaz49 macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2013
    I have a simikar issue here - http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=16991912#post16991912

    I pulled the power supply and am going to replace - will let you know how it goes.
  5. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    That does sound like exactly the same symptoms. I'd be very interested in knowing if replacing the power supply ends up fixing your problem.

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