Mid-2011 27" iMac w/ Random Power Offs

Discussion in 'iMac' started by darinzook, Dec 13, 2016.

  1. darinzook macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2016
    Location:
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    #1
    So I wanted to post on MacRumors as I read the site often for both news and forums, and I wanted to get the opinions of some of the folks on here who know their Apple hardware well.

    My issues started around 3 weeks ago with my Mid 2011 27" iMac. It is the 3.1GHz i5 Sandy Bridge generation with the AMD Radeon HD 6970M w/ 1GB video ram. I'm the only owner and purchased it in May of 2011. The issue is rather bizarre. During nearly any type of activity, the machine will hard power off. I've repeated the issue surfing Safari, playing movies, word processing in Word or Pages, etc. Most commonly the issue is easiest to repeat in Safari when playing a streamed video. It literally acts as if the machine lost complete power. Early on it almost sounded like a short on the logic board or power supply. You'd hear a discharging "Pop!" noise when it occurred. Then following the hard power loss the machine would "reboot following power loss". My machine has been serviced on 2 other occasions. I was plagued in a bad batch of 27" display panels where the gray "blotching" would occur on the panel. I'm on my 3rd panel, and both of the replacements occurred under the 3 year AppleCare extended plan.

    I started my barrage of tests. I swapped out my OWC RAM for the factory RAM, ran the AHT that came on Disc 2 of the installation DVDs. Ran the old Tech Tool Deluxe that came with my AppleCare purchase, and everything came back clean. So I then started my google research and stumbled across a repair program for 27" iMacs with the Graphics card that my own model contained (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203787). So knowing that I was well out of warranty and that my machine didn't possess the exact same symptoms as described in the article, I called AppleCare anyway.

    My conversation with AppleCare on Sunday Dec 4th, started with a Level 1 tech, who the poor girl, was incredibly confused by all of my technical speak and quickly escalated me to a Tier 2 Advisor. This guy very clearly knew his stuff and was a nuts and bolts guy like myself. He agreed something was wrong and wanted to see diagnostics get run on the machine and specifically the graphics card, since the issue could most frequently be replicated during streaming videos. He created a Genius Bar appointment for me at my local store in Lancaster, PA and created an CS Code(CR) Warranty exception on my behalf. Believe it or not, I had no idea what the CS Code was until I did some research. I'm VERY grateful to this Advisor, as he's likely saved me a ton of money.

    On Monday evening Dec 5th after work, I took the iMac to my Genius Bar appt. I got a great genius, who again was a nuts and bolts guy like me, and we were able to speak very frankly and matter of factly on the issue. All firmware and diags run on the spot came up clean, except for my hard drive which S.M.A.R.T. status showed as failing. We then allowed MacOS to boot and I was able to repeat the issue for him twice on the spot. Once while playing a video, and then the machine went into a reboot loop where something was obviously wrong. His feeling was that a short was likely occurring on the Logic Board and wanted to replace the logic board and hard drive as well as run ASD OS and ASD EF tests to attempt to find other issues with the Logic Board and/or Video Card.

    After the 4th Day, Friday the 9th, I received a call from Apple asking if they could have my iMac a few days longer. I obliged and received a call on Sunday night the 11th at 7:30p that my iMac was ready for pickup. Considering that the store closed at 8p, I had to wait until after work last night to go get my iMac. I went and picked it up. They noted that they replaced the Logic Board & Hard Drive at $701.73 and no cost to me, thanks to the CS Code. I took it home, plugged it in and started through the macOS setup. On the language selection screen, the machine goes dark and reboots. My heart sank. I chalked it up as a fluke thing, and attempted to complete the macOS setup. Setup finishes, I open safari and jump to weather.com and play a random video. The ad finishes, and the video starts, and dark screen. I'm devastated.

    I call in and work thru the infuriating process of what is the Apple Retail IVR. Finally asking to speak to a store manager and getting through. I explained my case, told him they didn't fix the issue and that I want to bring my iMac back to them. He agreed and said that I could drop it back off. So I drove my 25 min back to my local Apple Store and handed them back my iMac to begin day 8 of repairs. The specialist I gave my Mac to said that they're going to order additional parts (including a graphics card) and it'll be a few days.

    I'm really frustrated. No question, Apple is doing me a solid here in attempting to fix this. But a week without my Photos library, and the ability to edit them, my main home media server and streaming library, it stinks.

    Has anyone else seen this issue or know of the symptoms and what it may be? I'll definitely update this thread once I hopefully get a resolution. Its been a great machine despite now being on its 3rd display panel, 2nd hard drive & 2nd logic board.
     
  2. darinzook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2016
    Location:
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    #2
    So quick update... called the Apple Store asking about turnaround and what to expect this time. They thought my iMac was still waiting for pickup. No one had checked it back in. This experience is getting quite frustrating.
     
  3. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #3
    It sounds like the repair was maybe misdiagnosed at the store. Call AppleCare back up and speak with a senior level advisir this time. Explain the situation on how the repair was not done right the first time and how delay had occurred for you. Apple is good about customer support.

    This is what I would do.
     
  4. darinzook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2016
    Location:
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    #4
    I'm trying to maintain my sanity. They're doing me a solid in getting this out of warranty Mac fixed at no additional cost to me, so I should be grateful and not pushy. But today is Day 9 of them having my machine, and I have no ETA on when they plan to have my iMac ready for pickup. Just that I should expect a call from them to give me an ETA within the next 24-48 hours. Maybe I'm unreasonable. It just doesn't feel like a normal Apple experience.
     
  5. briloronmacrumo, Dec 15, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016

    briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502

    briloronmacrumo

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #5
    Seems the Apple techs didn't test their work. Hopefully, they're taking the time to get it right, so I wouldn't be concerned yet. My own 2011 27" iMac had the GPU replaced once and it's surprising your GPU didn't have a problem. One thought: did the techs put new thermal paste on the CPU and GPU the last time it was serviced? Often this dries up, contributes to overheating, and potentially contributes to many issues. Good luck.
     
  6. darinzook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2016
    Location:
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    #6
    So after another day of hearing nothing on my iMac (today is Day 12), I called into the Apple Store earlier this afternoon. They completed testing on Wednesday and ordered a replacement graphics card (my original suspicion). It came in today, and they should be replacing it tonight or tomorrow. They're hoping to have my iMac ready for pick up by tomorrow now. I don't plan on leaving the store without testing - and at least getting a solid 10-15 minutes of uptime. Last time, it was evident that it wasn't fixed within minutes.

    Meanwhile... Apple sent me a Genius Bar survey today.

    @briloronmacumo - Good call on the thermal paste. I'm going to ask when I pick up. I would hope thats a standard item - but you raise a great point.
     
  7. darinzook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2016
    Location:
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    #7
    Still had heard nothing and called in for a status update with my local Apple Store earlier tonight. After waiting on hold a few minutes, the Genius Team Lead came on the phone and introduced himself. He indicated that they have been running diagnostics following replacement of the Graphics card earlier this weekend. I explained my total experience, and he seemed sympathetic to my frustration. He clarified some things for me:
    • Graphics card & heatsink come as a single assembly. They remove the logic board, replace the graphics card & heatsink as one, and put it all back in place. There is no chance for them to deal with thermal paste. So that was reassuring against potential future issues.
    • The tests that they've been running to date (diags), could not and have not reproduced my power issue. He said they reproduced my issue when logged into macOS as my user, but that diags didn't reproduce it. He agreed that it was definitely a hardware issue as the reinstalls of macOS that I performed and they performed ruled out the macOS issue.
    • He indicated that it has likely been a GPU issue all along as he's seen issues similar to this previously.
    • This time around, before giving the iMac back to me, they will be running Graphics card stress testing as my user. He said that these tests are similar to a graphics intensive game, but without the game. They plan to run these overnight and ensure that the issue is resolved.
    So I'm still waiting. Tomorrow will begin day 15. And while I'm still frustrated with the overall experience, I at least spoke with someone who seemed like he knew what he was talking about and he put my concerns at ease that this *should* be the last repair attempt. He also indicated that since they've been replaced - my Logic Board, GPU & Hard Drive will be covered under a 90 day warranty should the issue reoccur or something happen with any of these components.

    He also stated that they have been incredibly busy this week with the iPhone 6S battery replacements. He acknowledged that this doesn't excuse the lack of communication or the wait time, but that this has been a big undertaking for them and that they were ill-equipped to handle the influx of repairs. This didn't make me feel better, but I get it. Its not an enviable position to be in, and we all have times like it with work. I'm sympathetic toward them, but frustrated to be the impacted party (I think we all would be).

    Anyway. Thats the update for now. Hopefully this is reaching a conclusion soon.
     
  8. zhaoxin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2015
    #8
    I am using iMac 5K 27 2014 late. Mine lost power yesterday and I ordered a pickup today. It was customized 4 GHz i7 with AMD Radeon R9 M290X with 2GB Video RAM.

    When mine had this issue, I couldn't start my iMac by pressing the power button. I had to remove all USB devices and removed and inserted back the RAMs, then iMac would boot.

    I never thought this was video card related before I saw your post here. I thought it maybe because of CPU overheating or inner power issues.

    I would love to know your version of macOS, mine is macOS 10.12.2, I have never encountered this before.
     
  9. darinzook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2016
    Location:
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    #9
    So I wanted to update the post tonight to give an update on my issue.

    Monday afternoon 12/19, I got the call from the same Lead Genius as the night before. He said that they'd been running non-stop stress testing on my iMac with newly installed AMD Radeon 6970m graphics card. He said my power-off issue had not reproduced to that point. He said that he'd like me to plan to come get it Monday night when I leave work, but that he was going to shut it off and let it rest for an hour, power it back on, and run the same testing.

    I went in Monday night and picked it up. I brought it home ran the 10.12.2 update, set my media server stuff back up (iTunes, Plex, etc) and ran it hard most of the night with videos, and other things running. As of the next morning, it still had an uptime since the night before. After some continued heavy use over the course of the week, I was able to maintain an uptime of 3 days, 11 hours 36 minutes. Last night, I went through my rebuild process, to tie it back to my iCloud account, finish installing my frequently used apps, restore my Photos library (600GB), etc. Its been rock solid.

    It looks like it was indeed the Graphics card, as I had suspected since day one. Though, while it took two weeks, thanks to Apple, I have essentially a new computer in the same case. I have a new Logic Board, Graphics Card & Hard Drive.

    @zhaoxin if you have AppleCare, I'd just take it to Apple directly. My iMac had a Expired Graphics Card recall that I had not seen until this occurred, and my serial number was in the affected batch. My symptoms were not listed in the article, but I called AppleCare and just was looking for an opinion. It was that Advisor who started the process for me, and my AppleCare had long expired. Apple did me a huge favor.

    So Thank You, Apple. Oh, and FYI... $1234.14 in "total repair costs". Had AppleCare not thrown the assist, I think I would've just bought a new Mac.
     
  10. zhaoxin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2015
    #10
    Mine was picked up by Apple yesterday. I got a call from the repairing engineer in the evening and he said "I went an Apple hardware test and found all passed." I suggested him to do some stress testing and he agreed.

    I just hope he could reproduce the issue. So I won't need to wait until it is more serious and repair it again.

    I do have apple care and it still has 14 months lasting. But I'd rather it wouldn't need to be repaired. Every time it goes, I have to use my MacBook air 13, which is quite slow and with non-retina display. And I do don't think buy a new MacBook pro just for the repairing days is a bright idea.
     

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