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chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Hi All, first post here, I hope somebody can help, as this is a stumper.

tl;dr Mac Pro 3,1 (early 2008) crashes: screen goes black, fans go automatically to 100%. Reasonably sure that it's a hardware problem, but can't isolate. I list all problem-solving steps I've taken in the thread below.

tl;dr questions:
  1. what sort of hardware problem leads to a black screen crash?
  2. what logs do I check to see what was running when the crashes happened?
  3. can this machine run safely with one RAM riser, instead of two?

Here’s the long, detailed, version:

So, I've had this workhorse Mac Pro since they first came out. Lately, it's only been for email, a few legacy Mac-only programs that I can't replace, and as a storage archive (there are 6 drives inside: 4 in the drive bays, 2 on the internal SATA ports, plus 2 external drives connected via USB). But now it’s crashing, consistently, and I can’t trust it. I'm not in a position to buy a new Mac, so I'm rather anxious to fix this one.

Symptom: screen suddenly goes black (almost as if the machine is going to sleep), 5 seconds later the fans ramp up to 100%, and I have to force a restart (sometimes two restarts, as the first, even if I wait a few minutes, won’t result in a startup chime). I do not get a kernel panic error screen.

Possible cause: I am reasonably sure that it’s a hardware problem, but that’s all I’ve been able to figure out so far. It happens randomly, as best as I can tell, e.g. if the machine is on but doing nothing, if I'm copying from one disk to another, if I'm browsing online, if I'm watching a video, etc. Can happen minutes after starting up, can happen hours after starting up.

In the past, before this crashing problem started, this Mac could be running weeks between reboots, and has always been rock solid. Well, except for one thing: for several years it has had one strange peculiarity: it doesn’t like to start up. I press the power button, fans go on, but no chime. I typically have to shut it down (holding down the power button) and then immediately start it again and then I hear the chime and it boots up normally. I have to do this at least once, sometimes twice, every time I start from cold. This has been happening years before I had this new problem of it crashing; it’s one reason I have tended to leave it on for weeks.

Another possibly relevant fact: this machine was running on 10.10.x Yosemite ever since 10.10 came out (several years ago). I only recently updated it to 10.11.x El Capitan, and it was a couple of days after that that it started this crashing problem. Note: I never updated to 10.11.x before because that version of OSX disabled my generic USB 3 PCI-E card (a well documented problem with a certain generation of USB 3 card under 10.11.x and above). Once updating to 10.11.x, I was forced to take this card out (it made a 3TB disk-to-disk copy I had to make go really really slowly, LOL), so it is not a factor in my crashing problem.

I've considered upgrading to 10.13.x High Sierra using the various hacks out there, but not until I solve this crashing problem (I'm not at all confident that 10.13.x would solve the problem).

I’ve had Macs since 1985, and have fixed quite a few in my time (software and hardware issues), but I’m stumped this time.

Steps taken to isolate the cause:

1) installed vanilla 10.10.1 on a separate SSD​
-Crashing started a few days after I installed 10.11.x on an internal SSD (automatic upgrades have taken it to 10.11.6). So, to eliminate that variable, I installed a vanilla copy of 10.10.1 on a different internal SSD, but the crash still happens (I think that it takes longer to crash under 10.10.1 than it does under 10.11.6, but I haven't done any timing tests).​
question: I’m reasonably confident I've eliminated a software cause, but which logs should I check to see what was running when the crash happened?​
2) turned off computer sleep, screen sleep and drive sleep, still crashes.​
3) booted from 10.10 and 10.11 recovery drive and ran disk first aid on all drives. Still crashes.​
4) booted from DiskWarrior and rebuilt all directories, still crashes.​
5) disconnected all drives (internal and external) except boot drive, crash still happens.​
6) turned off all network services (machine is not using wifi, networking connectivity is via two ethernet connections). Still crashes.​
7) checked all DIMMS. Found issues, but not related to the crashes.​
-I discovered 1 dead DIMM (prob been dead for years, but it was on the top riser, and the red “I’m dead” LED was not visible), and I also discovered (today) that one of the two RAM risers is dead.​
-I was able to determine there was a dead riser because machine won't start (no startup chime) if the dead riser has DIMMs. No chime when it’s the only riser installed, and no chime when it’s installed (and has DIMMs) along with the good riser. Machine will only start if the good riser, and only the good riser, is installed (well, it’ll also start with good riser and bad riser, but only if bad riser has no DIMMs. But I don’t want to keep the bad riser installed, just in case whatever is “bad” can cause any other interference or damage to the machine). Both riser slots are good; I tested the good rider in both the top and bottom slots (also tested bad riser the same way).​
-Machine is now running from a single RAM riser, with 2 x 4GB and 2 x 2GB DIMMs installed. I had thought that this was the root of the problem and that I’d solved it, but it crashed (same way as usual) after a few hours in this configuration. Frustrating!​
question: these Macs are supposed to run with pairs of DIMMs on both risers https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205043 I have two pairs of DIMMs, one pair is supposed to be on one riser, the other on the other riser. Would running from a single riser cause this crash?​
observation: on a hunch, I just downloaded a temperature sensor app, and the modules on the DIMMs are running at 129 degrees C. That seems really hot to me. I know that this type of RAM is supposed to run hot (the reason they all have heatsinks attached), but this hot? Interestingly, if I manually ramp up all the fans to max speed, DIMM temperature doesn’t change. I've attached a screenshot of the temperature monitor program.​

It’s possible that the graphics card is the culprit (it's a stock ATI Radeon HD 2600, been installed since purchase) but, unfortunately, I don’t have a spare to swap in to eliminate that variable.

So, it’s a possible multivariate problem (the worst kind!), but I’ve tried to remove as many variables as possible. Does anyone have any ideas as to what I could do next to solve this problem?

Many thanks in advance!

Chas

ps. this machine crashed, with a new symptom, just as I was about to post this! As normal, I forced a shutdown and then immediately restarted. I got the startup chime, then a pause, and then half a startup chime (never heard that before), then a half chime again, and then it booted. Weird!

pps. I forgot: Happy Christmas to all of you who celebrate it!

Screen Shot 2020-12-24 at 17.39.43.jpg
 
Last edited:

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Are you using two font colors in your post? I can only read some sections (I'm in dark mode) if I highlight the text.
Hi Brian,

Thanks for letting me know, I’m not sure what happened. I composed in a text editor in OSX (because I was afraid of losing the post in a web browser when my Mac inevitably crashed), and then copied the text into the post window here.

I’m in light mode, I can see it all, but I’ve just selected all the text here and applied black to it. Hopefully that solves the problem!

Edit: went into dark mode myself, Black text doesn’t work, LOL. Looks like the display engine here doesn’t deal well with whatever strange colour my text had when I copied it over. So I’ve just, I think, removed all colour. I can now see the text while in dark mode :)
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Hi Macschrauber,

Well, the graphics card is the one variable I can't eliminate, so it would make semi-ironic sense that it is the problem, LOL. You also getting that half-chime thing is strong evidence, thanks for letting me know!

And I really hope you're right, because my Mac is now crashing consistently about a minute after startup (it knows I'm asking questions here! ;-) So I'm going to order another one of these cards off ebay and, hopefully, that'll solve my problem.

Fingers are crossed!

And thanks for taking the time to answer me on Christmas Eve, I really appreciate it (even if it's not your own holiday).

Cheers!

Chas

I vote for the graphics card, especially the chime - half chime - thing I got while testing dead gpus.
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Well @Macschrauber, I have received my replacement ebay-purchased ATI Radeon HD 2600 but...I foolishly didn't make sure that I ordered a used Mac version, rather I accidentally bought a PC version, or so I believe, as it is shaped differently (longer, and has a third port outside, which is round). Booting (with successful chime) with my monitor plugged into the new card shows no signal being set to the monitor, arrgh! I guess that OSX doesn't have drivers for it, or, alternatively, it's missing Mac specific firmware (an issue that I vaguely remember from long ago, when Mac users were searching for cheaper PC versions of their video cards).

Interestingly, System Information says the following (note: my old 2600 is plugged into slot 2, the new one is plugged into slot 1):

Screen Shot 2020-12-30 at 14.31.22.jpg


Note how it says that a driver is installed:
Screen Shot 2020-12-30 at 14.36.33.jpg


but also note that it says a driver is not installed:
Screen Shot 2020-12-30 at 14.36.46.jpg


Not sure if any of this might be useful to me (I realise now that I haven't tried my monitor in the other DVI port on the new card).

So, I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and buy another 2600, but this time make sure I get one that came from a Mac (this card I just received was only £15, all of the Mac-specific cards are around £40 :-( )

I hope you had a great Christmas!
 

Macschrauber

macrumors 68000
Dec 27, 2015
1,620
659
Germany
In some combinations the efi of the mac Gpu drives the PC gpu. had such a 2600 combination running back in the days.

if you pull the mac 2600 the pc 2600 may dont work anymore.
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
In some combinations the efi of the mac Gpu drives the PC gpu. had such a 2600 combination running back in the days.

if you pull the mac 2600 the pc 2600 may dont work anymore.
hi @Macschrauber. Sorry it’s taken to long to reply, it took that long to source a replacement Radeon 2600 from an old 3,1 Mac Pro via eBay.

Bad news: the problem persists :-( It’ll boot (takes at least two tries to boot, still with the chime and then two half chimes), but the same crash happens within minutes.

I’m absolutely gutted, I have no idea what to do now. The only thing that I haven’t eliminated as a variable is the motherboard, and I’m not going to be able to replace that (too expensive, and too much of a pain in the ass to pull out and replace!).

So it’s a write off.

maybe I can scrape together enough cash to buy an old Mac Mini so that I can at least run my accounting software :-/
 
Last edited:

Dayo

macrumors 65816
Dec 21, 2018
1,364
700
Might be the motherboard as you suspect but just to let you know I was having crashing issues with mine about two years ago. Not exactly same symptoms as yours but basically crashing at random and it turned out to be a faulty RAM module.

Can't recollect what finally got me to see this as the issue, may have just been the red light thing. Been good so far after eliminating the offending RAM stick.

You mention a good and bad riser but since these thing are probably made in the same batches, when one goes, you need to consider that the other is on its way out as well.
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Might be the motherboard as you suspect but just to let you know I was having crashing issues with mine about two years ago. Not exactly same symptoms as yours but basically crashing at random and it turned out to be a faulty RAM module.

Can't recollect what finally got me to see this as the issue, may have just been the red light thing. Been good so far after eliminating the offending RAM stick.

You mention a good and bad riser but since these thing are probably made in the same batches, when one goes, you need to consider that the other is on its way out as well.
Hi @Dayo, thanks for your reply.

Checking the remaining RAM riser as a possible problem source was a good idea, so I pulled it and left just the new one in (with two DIMMs). Sadly, that didn't solve the problem, but it was at least something that I hadn't tested yet!

The 4 DIMMs I've got installed (presently one pair on top, one pair on bottom), I've tested carefully. I'm pretty sure they're all good (or they're all slightly bad, LOL).

If it's the motherboard, I'm screwed. It has to be something fundamental, because of the chime problem (whatever the problem is, it rears its head right at power on).

Thanks again, I really appreciate it.
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Thanks @Dayo that's very kind of you.

Sadly, after several weeks (and tons of help from you and others here!) I haven't found a reason for this crashing problem with my Mac Pro so...I've bitten the bullet and ordered a new M1 Mac Mini (wife is not quite happy, we were going to use that money for something else, but I need to work). I've also had to buy an enclosure for all the drives I had in the Mac Pro, should be interesting.

Ah well, there's no problem that can't be solved with sufficient funds, right? LOL.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,995
1,519
Baltimore, Maryland
Thanks @Dayo that's very kind of you.

Sadly, after several weeks (and tons of help from you and others here!) I haven't found a reason for this crashing problem with my Mac Pro so...I've bitten the bullet and ordered a new M1 Mac Mini (wife is not quite happy, we were going to use that money for something else, but I need to work). I've also had to buy an enclosure for all the drives I had in the Mac Pro, should be interesting.

Ah well, there's no problem that can't be solved with sufficient funds, right? LOL.
What enclosure did you get for your soon-to-be external drives?
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
What enclosure did you get for your soon-to-be external drives?
Hi @BrianBaughn I got this one:


It's relatively inexpensive, does JBOD, cooling seems decent. I looked into thunderbolt options, but they are too pricey for me at the moment (until I start earning again :)
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,995
1,519
Baltimore, Maryland
Hi @BrianBaughn I got this one:


It's relatively inexpensive, does JBOD, cooling seems decent. I looked into thunderbolt options, but they are too pricey for me at the moment (until I start earning again :)
Thanks. What you're doing is probably the future for a lot of folks, including me with my six-year old hackintosh.

When you get a Blackmagic speed test on the drives in that external housing, please give us the results.
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Thanks. What you're doing is probably the future for a lot of folks, including me with my six-year old hackintosh.

When you get a Blackmagic speed test on the drives in that external housing, please give us the results.
@BrianBaughn I have to admit I'm a little weirded out by moving from what I've always considered a Pro machine (a nice, big, tower with lots of drives and RAM) to a teeny tiny little Mac Mini, LOL. Of course, this little Mini will be vastly more powerful than my 2008 Mac Pro, but still! ;-)

The Mini will probably be more powerful than my working machine as well: a PC with what used to be a beefy processor, 3 years ago (but it does have 64GB of RAM and 10 drives inside). I bought this PC when I decided my 2008 Mac Pro wasn't cutting it anymore, but the latest Mac Pro at the time was the trashcan, and the cost/performance ratio suffered greatly against a custom-built PC (keeping in mind all the peripherals I'd need for my drives with the trashcan). So I went a PC and Windows, but it may be time to retire that beast (it's a lot larger than my 2008 Mac Pro!) and go back to all Mac (my fav OS since our first Mac in 1984 :)

Once I get the 5-bay enclosure, I'll post some speed tests. I've also got a USB 3.1 enclosure for a 2TB m.2 drive, I'll see how fast that is too (considering springing for a thunderbolt version of that enclosure, it's not too expensive).
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,995
1,519
Baltimore, Maryland
Once I get the 5-bay enclosure, I'll post some speed tests. I've also got a USB 3.1 enclosure for a 2TB m.2 drive, I'll see how fast that is too (considering springing for a thunderbolt version of that enclosure, it's not too expensive).

Do you have anything to report on this now?

Thanks.
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Do you have anything to report on this now?

Thanks.

Hi @BrianBaughn, sorry to be silent.

The summary: I'm sending it back, and buying a lightly-used Terramaster 5-bay Thunderbolt JBOD enclosure instead.

Blackmagic Speed test (5GB) on a 3TB SATA HD (quite an old one, admittedly) in the Yottamaster 5-bay USB 3 enclosure:

2021-01-26 SATA HD speedtest.png


I'm afraid that I don't have any recent drives to test but, because I plan to acquire some, the Thunderbolt case makes a good future-proofing case to me.


BTW: the USB-C connected NVME drive I've got (a Sabrent Rocket Gen 3, 2TB) does pretty well (and will do a lot better when I get a Thunderbolt case for it):

2021-01-26 NVME USB-C speedtest.png


And, for completeness' sake, here the speediest on the internal SSD (256GB on this M1 Mac Mini). Phew!
2021-01-26 internal SSD speedtest.png
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Good question!

I never planned to use one as fast storage, mostly for archiving and older projects that I may still need to access, but it would be nice to have them be a little faster!

When I get the thunderbolt enclosure, I'll do the same tests and report back.
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
@BrianBaughn thanks for the pointer. I've read about and been planning to get either the OWC or Caldigit TB 4 hubs, so it's good to see that the OWC works nicely. I was surprised, though, to find out that all USB-C/TB cables aren't the same, which is a bit frustrating. I've got a collection of them, and now I've got to go through them one by one to see which are fast and which are slow, grr (none have speed labels on them).
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
Ah @BrianBaughn, about that 5-bay TerraMaster Thunderbolt enclosure I was getting to replace the 5-Bay Yottamaster USB 3 enclosure...

It arrived today aaaaannnnnd: it's not compatible with the M1 Macs! It needs a driver (been a while since _that_ was something that was a Mac issue, grr). TerraMaster says that the driver is forthcoming, for the middle of March, but that doesn't help me a lot. Because I bought it off eBay, it's not all that easy to return, and I don't even have an older Mac to test it on to see if it actually works (if it works, because: ebay).

One interesting thing: I plugged my USB-C external m.2 enclosure into the second Thunderbolt port on this TerraMaster enclosure (nice to free up a TB on the Mini). It must be still running the m.2 at USB-C speeds (because that's what the m.2 enclosure is: USB-C), but it's running with about 10% faster throughput than when the m.2 enclosure is plugged directly into the USB-C/Thunderbolt port on the Mac Mini. How strange is that?

Not sure what to do now, as I paid £250 for this TerraMaster enclosure. Keep it until mid-March and hope TerraMaster comes through with the promised driver, or send it back? (£250 is a really good price, I'm sure I won't find it for that price again). The only reason I'm not sending it back immediately is that the m.2 does work through it, so I'm thinking that it's fully functional (yes, assumptions and all that). Sigh.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 604
Feb 13, 2011
7,995
1,519
Baltimore, Maryland
I think the USB-C speed improvement going through the TerraMaster probably corresponds to the same thing that happens with that OWC hub in the video review from that other thread…linked to above. The controllers on the M1 Mac just aren't as fast as the OWC hub's and using the hub (and the TerraMaster) bypasses the M1 controllers.
 

chasg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 22, 2020
19
0
yeah, that's what I was thinking (thanks for the reminder).
 
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