View Full Version : Computer freezing, weird video

01-05-2009, 05:53 PM
Hi, I have an eMac (USB 2.0)
2 GB RAM (recently replaced due to these problems...didn't help)
1.25 GHz PowerPC G4
32 MB ATI Video

Recently, I began having issues with freezing on startup, or freezing when opening the dock, or freezing when going to the menu, or just freezing for seemingly no reason.

Some of the other symptoms are: when it freezes the picture (icon) of whatever it had selected in the dock was distorted and "separated" (lines through it). Sometimes, there are random white or black spots or lines on the screen, randomly. Sometimes, they stay, sometimes they move to another position. Sometimes it seems to work fine for awhile. Sometimes there is a black screen on startup.

When the issue began, I tested the ram with memtest and it said the ram was bad, so I replaced it, hoping to fix the issue. No such luck. The new ram is good according to memtest.

I have repaired permissions multiple times, repaired disk with disk utility and rebuilt it with disk warrior. I can find nothing wrong with my computer, except that the problem still exists. I hope it is not a video card problem, but I am beginning to think that it is. eMac's don't have a replaceable video card.

Any ideas?

Please help,

01-05-2009, 06:18 PM
I don't know much about eMacs (never messed with one) but that does look like a video issue to me. Maybe something similar to the iBooks i.e. bad connections developing on the GPU due to heat. Just a WAG.

01-05-2009, 08:02 PM
Might try an Open Firmware Reset. To do that hold the Command+Option+O+F keys during startup. At the '>' prompt type:

Hit Return
Hit Return
Hit Return and your computer will restart. See if that helps - it resets the PRAMs on the motherboard, of which there are quite a few.


01-05-2009, 08:23 PM
Hi Ricks and M. Brane,

I have done the PRAM reset that Ricks recommended, and I will test it out.

I have been doing some research since I was on here earlier and it seems that the model eMac I have is one of the ones that had bad capacitors (or at least the serial number is within the recall). However, Apple has stopped fixing the issue now. Apparently, it seems that it wasn't well publicized, you just needed to know that there was a problem.

I don't know that my eMac has bad capacitors, because I would need to take the thing apart and look at the capacitors to see if they are bulging or leaking. From what I hear, it's quite an endeavor to get inside one of these things! I wanted to replace the HD awhile back, but after looking online at the process and dangers of doing it, decided to go with an external. I may do it now to see if that is indeed the issue, but I want to have a good reason first.

If the capacitors are shot, then I don't know what I can do about it. Apparently, it's not an easy soldering job.

M. Brane said that he hasn't messed with any eMacs. Have you Ricks? Or anyone else? Have either of you ever heard of this issue before?

Thanks for the speedy reply,

01-05-2009, 08:42 PM
Here is some more information about the bad capacitor problem. I guess I'll need to at least look to see what I can see.



Any thoughts on the matter? I would be willing to go inside of my mac (past warranty now anyway) to check it out if I had enough support/encouragement.

01-05-2009, 08:55 PM
Unfortunately the links in those posts to the actual pics aren't there anymore.

As someone who is reasonably competent with de-soldering/soldering on PCBs I don't know that I'd bother to do this on an eMac unless I had no other choice. Not when you can find G4 towers for a few hundred bucks.

Of course to de-solder successfully on a PCB you need to have the correct tools. I use a vacuum de-solderer. It works very well, but requires some skill. If in doubt you may want to practice a bit on something that's not critical to get the hang of it.

01-05-2009, 09:11 PM
I don't have any experience at that level of repair. I have upgraded several macs with Ram, video cards, sonnet and XLR8 processors, hard drives (including my old iMac DV 400 which is all-in-one like emac), disc drives, and optical drives...but this is too much for me to handle, I think.

Well, maybe it's time to move into the Intel Mac world and see what it has to offer. I hear that they are fast and have seen several in action. Too bad they cost so much money! I love the way the iMac looks and my son rocks his pretty good.

I'll keep checking back to see if anyone has any more insight or suggestions to add. (I also need to look inside the mac to see if that is indeed the issue).

Thank you for your help,

01-05-2009, 11:16 PM
I have never been inside an eMac. Since they are not acceleratable till your eyeballs burn out of your head, well... just say we never even had one around - I probably couldn't tell you what one was if I walked up on it unless it had a sign. Some Guru I am, huh? Sorry.

There are undoubtedly some great online guides to disassembly and most likely to repairing the motherboard. Or you may be able to get a replacement mobo for cheap. True with just about everything. Search around and see what you find.


01-05-2009, 11:30 PM
Having worked on and with eMacs, I would say move on. You could spend time and money, only to lose the monitor or other component the next day. Keep an eye on the Mac news tomorrow.....could be good things. A new Mini may be just the thing to replace aging budget Macs.

01-05-2009, 11:44 PM
Some Guru I am, huh? Sorry.


You are in fact a Guru of the highest order Rick. You have played with hardware I could only dream of having.:)

Me, I hack up old stuff because that's the only way I can stay in the game.:rolleyes:


I would trust unclemac's advice on this since he is the resident AIO guru. The eMacs were never meant to be long-lived machines much like iMacs, and iBooks. They were meant as entry-level Macs for the average (read:non hardware savvy) user, and below-average budgets.

01-06-2009, 08:48 AM
Well I also have no experience with emacs, but I do have experience with the capacitors issue. My mom's iMacs has been repaired twice for it. Your symptoms do not sound like the symptoms she had. Her video issue was the widescreen would suddenly fail over about 50% of the screen. Completely black around the edges. Looked like a letterbox DVD. Also it only crashed once or twice before failing to ever boot again. The leaking and swelled caps are pretty obvious if you can get a look at them.

I have seen your symptoms before though... bad video ram or improperly seated video ram chips have caused this for me on more than one occasion. The odd crashes and the messed up icons would always be a dead giveaway on the old legacy Macs (7500, 8500, 9600 etc) that the video ram was the problem. In my case it was almost always an improperly seated vram module.

If you do take it apart see if it has a vram module that you can remove and reseat. Also clean the dust out of it as an overheated chip can do this as well

01-08-2009, 09:09 PM
Hey Guys,

I really appreciate everybodies input. I opened the access door on the bottom and there are two visible capacitors. The one with a K on it seems fine, but the one with a '+' on it is bulging. Damien, I appear to be having the same issues that other eMac users with the bad capacitors have had. It's all over the boards at the Apple Discussion Forum and other Mac Forums. People are pretty pissed off.

Having said that, I am not giving up yet.

In response to Ricks' comment about not being a real Mac Guru, I laughed until I had tears in my eyes. I have been here a few times and have gotten excellent advice from both Ricks and Unclemac, they have always been helpful and I do consider you both to be true Gurus. M. Brane, I checked out your mods and think they are bad@$$!

I really appreciate everybody's willingness to spend your time here helping us "entry-level Macs for the average (read:non hardware savvy) user, and below-average budgets" users. I went to the apple store site and my dream computer is $22,464.85. Since I can't afford that, I think I'll work on another solution. The computer in question is actually my wife's computer, so I may be buying her another at some point...but I have an eMac too, and it may provide some opportunity for me to explore this fun little box!


01-08-2009, 09:29 PM
Hey Guys,

I really appreciate everybodies input. I opened the access door on the bottom and there are two visible capacitors. The one with a K on it seems fine, but the one with a '+' on it is bulging. Damien, I appear to be having the same issues that other eMac users with the bad capacitors have had. It's all over the boards at the Apple Discussion Forum and other Mac Forums. People are pretty pissed off.

Yeah this is a common issue with Apple's cheaper hardware. I don't blame them completely as they are trying to produce a product to a certain price point. Naturally they are going to source the cheapest components they can find for the build, and that means possible QC issues. Interesting though that the Minis don't seem to have these kinds of problems.

It worries me much more when the military, and it's suppliers do the same thing.

M. Brane, I checked out your mods and think they are bad@$$!

Thanks man. The G4 just keeps on rockin'. I had to put a dab of Mobil 1 on my PCI fan the other day to quiet it down, but other than that it's a happy camper.

I went to the apple store site and my dream computer is $22,464.85.

LOL I've done that too, and came up with a similar amount. Of course you don't have to spend quite that much if you buy RAM, and drives from someone like Rick.:)

Back on topic: replacing a couple caps is not that big an issue if you can solder, and manage to get the thing apart/re-assembled without breaking anything. The latter is the harder part at least for me. As someone who has repaired a G3 iBook power jack I feel like I've passed the Apple hardware repair test. I still have to replace the battery, and drive in my iPod Mini though..........

01-08-2009, 09:57 PM
M. Brane,

I have no soldering experience except for the time I tried to solder something that looked so bad I scraped it off and fixed it with tape, which looked better. I don't have faith in my soldering skills.

Apparently, according to what I've read on the boards, HP, Dell and many other "computer" companies have had the same issues with bad capacitors. I just happened to buy two computers that dwell within the range of computers that used them. SUCK!

I have owned, used and still have around a Mac Classic, PM 6500, PM8500, PM9500, LC 475, Powercomputing Powerbase 240, 3 eMacs (one which I gave to my mom), an iMac DV 400 (G3), a PM G4 MDD (at work), and an Intel iMac (my son's). Of these computers, I have accelerated the PM 6500, 8500, & 9500, & the PowerComputing computers. It was fun making a G3 out of a little 240 MHz 603e processor! I also replaced the hard drive in my all-in-one iMac DV, which is very similar to the eMac. It was a challenge, but it was also fun to do. I went from a 12GB HD to an 80 GB HD in that one!

I have wanted to upgrade the HD in my eMac (the one that hasn't yet had problems) awhile back, but lost the nerve. Well, actually, I didn't do it because it was still under the Applecare protection. It is no longer protected, so I may consider it (especially if I end up having a spare for parts!). Too bad everything is hardwired in, otherwise I could upgrade the processor, video card, etc.

01-08-2009, 10:02 PM
I forgot to mention that you got a smile for the "dab of Mobile 1 on the PCI fan" description. That's an awesome fix, so simple, but brilliant!

My MDD has the loud fan, and I just missed the fan replacement program by a month or two. That was one of the few times I have ever been unhappy with Apple for a customer service issue. They wouldn't replace it. Do you know of another way to fix it? I have two drives in the machine, so I don't want to turn it down.


01-08-2009, 10:42 PM
I use Mobil 1 for all my vehicles so it just makes sense to use it on my Mac too.:D

I've never messed with a MDD, but if you think about what I did with my DA it was a simple matter of getting the air to move through the case/components as efficiently as possible with minimal recirculation. I did those mods specifically to keep the thing quiet while providing enough airflow to keep things cool. It's worked out even better than I had anticipated. I've stuck my hand behind it while my kid was flogging it relentlessly for hours playing games, and the exhaust is only moderately warm. It also doesn't go right back into the case. The loudest things in it are the drives.:)

At the time that the G4s were made Apple hardware engineers were really between a rock, and a hard place. They had to have a fast (hot-running with the CPUs, and drives at the time) machine that was stylish, cheap, and based on the aging B&W G3 case design. It's obvious that ambient noise was not their primary concern. The only one that really has me scratching my head is the Quicksilver. Put the CPU intake right between the lower intake, and the PSU exhaust? WTF were they thinking? The additional intake on the back is a bad idea from the start. C'mon guys move the air up, and out not in a freakin' circle.:rolleyes:

01-08-2009, 10:49 PM
Oh yeah soldering is not really that hard to learn it just takes practice. Shiny, and smooth is good. That takes plenty of heat, and quick work. If you use an iron that's too cold for the job you are doomed from the start.

Hot iron, and work quickly.

With the huge amount of junk PCBs around these days it's not hard to find things to practice on.