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Thread: Computer monitor won't stay on - video card gone bad?

  1. #1
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    Default Monitor won't stay on - video card gone bad?

    Hi, am on 2008 Mac Pro 8-core with a NVidia GT120 card. Everything has been working perfectly until today, when the monitor unexpectedly went blank and returned to "wait" status (like it does when the computer shuts down). When I press the power button on the monitor again, it just turns back to waiting status.

    What I tried:

    another external power supply brick with the same specs

    Plugged in another monitor which worked for about 5 minutes, then it did the same thing.

    Plugged back in the original monitor with another DVI cable and it worked throughout the computer boot-up and continued for another 5 minutes, then conked out again.

    Took the monitor over to my G5 (what I'm on now) and monitor is fine.

    So, does this sound like the GT120 has gone bad, or is the problem worse, like a mother board connection issue? Inside it seems to be seated securely but I wondered if somehow it isn't?

    BTW, I've been holding the power button on the front of the computer to turn it off (since I can't see the screen) before unplugging/plugging in the DVI cable, which I assumed I should do. Question on this: does turning the mac off this way damage the power supply or anything in any way?

    Thank you!
    Last edited by macmac; 11-22-2013 at 10:43 AM.

  2. #2
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    I would see if you could swap your graphics card out with another tempory. I would assumne graphic's but that randim chance a different giltch can happen. Others might add some more testing procedures.

  3. #3
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    hard shut downs should not hurt any hardware. Can be a little hard on OS/directory after repeated cycles.

    As for the problem, most likely the video card is bad. You can try reseating it, but be prepared to replace it. If the issue was the logic board or PS, etc, it would likely not run stable.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  4. #4
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    Thank you guys, and thanks Unclemac for the reply about hard shut down. When I changed monitors to test, I assumed I shouldn't hot-swap, right?? so the only way to do shut down without seeing a monitor was to hold press the power button.

    Update: I did some upgrade research but before I bought anything, I decided to try one more thing: remove the card and clean it. (the card seemed to be seated securely, it wasn't loose). Used canned air and a toothbrush gently on the fan. Reseated it, and now it's been working for 2 days now. Doesn't mean the problem won't resurface, but so far so good. TechTool Pro showed all is well.

    I was looking into a 5770, 4870, and GTX285, which are all better cards than the one I have. However I will state that I have not come upon any limitations with my current card (GT 120). I did also note that nVidia has CUDA which I may or may not benefit from (Adobe but I don't do video) and some 3D. Is it something to consider over an ATI card?

    Question: My concern is that my current card does not require an extra power cable whereas the ones I listed do. Right now my computer contains 4 internal drives (One SSD 120GB; one 2TB, and two 1TB), and an eSATA card for my Burly. I also have two USB hubs, full, but not with major power draws, and two firewire devices. The computer is very fast and has no lag issues. Would one of these cards requiring extra power drag me down at all?? e.g. that things meant to be used with newer computers are stretching the limits of an older computer.

    If you have any recommendations on a card choice, I would appreciate it. 2008 3,1 (8-core 2.8)

  5. #5
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    Good on you for cleaning first.

    Some video cards are prone to overheating from dust build up, so you may good for a while. Be sure the fan is turning when running.

    Mac Pros have a built in lead for powered GPUs IIRC, so you should not have any issues. Someone here will yell if that is not the case. Don't forget there is power for the second optical bay too, that is empty on 99% of them.

    As for video power….more is better. The question is how much?

    Some cards can take on extra work via OpenCL from the CPU in later OSes. I don't have any direct info or real world numbers, but OpenCL could justify a beefier video card…as a way of helping extend useable power beyond just 3D heavy stuff. Similar question here about 2D editing.

    Here is nice summary:

    What is "OpenCL"? Which Macs support the "OpenCL" technology provided by MacOS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard"?


    Apple explains that the "OpenCL" graphics technology that is part of MacOS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard":

    Takes the power of graphics processors and makes it available for general-purpose computing. No longer will graphics processors be limited to graphics-intensive applications such as games and 3D modeling. Instead, once developers begin to use OpenCL in their applications, you'll experience greatly improved speed in a wide spectrum of applications.

    In basic terms, OpenCL essentially makes it possible for software to access and use the graphics processor and video memory for purposes other than just graphics. The key words in the Apple marketing copy, however, are "once developers begin to use OpenCL". OpenCL does not provide an immediate speed boost for existing software and programs have to be written explicitly to take advantage of it.

    Apple further explains that not all Macs that can boot MacOS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" can use OpenCL, and the technology is limited to systems with the following graphics cards:

    NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 9600M GT, GeForce 8600M GT, GeForce GT 120, GeForce GT 130, GeForce GTX 285, GeForce 8800 GT, GeForce 8800 GS, Quadro FX 4800, Quadro FX5600

    ATI Radeon HD 4670, ATI Radeon HD 4850, Radeon HD 4870
    The list above will likely grow and include more/new models too. Tech like this sometimes takes off (with lots of software written to support/utilize it) but sometimes goes nowhere. If I were in your shoes, I would consider cards that support it, unless you find a real steal on one that does not. One vote in favor of OpenCL is the fact that the new MacPro has two OpenCL heavy lifters built in, so Apple is betting on it….

    Happy hunting.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  6. #6
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    There are two motherboard 6 pin power sockets for powering graphics. Right at the front of the graphics card.

    And enough oomph in a MacPro power supply to run your kitchen off of. No worries on that account.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  7. #7
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    Thank you. Any recommendations on which card for this computer? (One OS is Snow Leopard, another drive is ML, and I may install Mavericks one day).

  8. #8
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    Default Expanded info

    I need your help, Gurus.

    Is it possible that a monitor can be too old for a card? Why I'm asking is this: This particular monitor does have a DVI and also an analog connector and is powered by an external brick. It had experienced periodical moments on both my Mac Pro and years ago on my G5 where it would shut off and go into the wait state (orange light), but by pressing its power button, it would turn back on. Not happen that often, but it would occur. Much like what has been happening for me lately. I had always chocked it up to a bad brick, and by replacing the brick it would usually be OK. So this time when I was prompted to ask you gurus on this forum about this problem, I figured the monitor had finally bit the dust. It wasn't until I switched monitors (also many years old) and the problem happened again that it seemed it must then be the card. I have had no strange issues with the computer itself, no freezing, no crashes, nothing.

    So yesterday, after 2 days running great after cleaning the graphics card, the problem re-occurred three times... but I was able to turn the monitor back on with its power button.

    So this morning, I replaced the GT120 card with the old spare I found (2600 that shipped with the Mac), to see if the issue is indeed the card or something else. This is the card that the Mac came with, but when I booted, I get a screen full of artifacts (see attachment). When I scroll, like in this Safari browser, they multiply. And, one of the artifact patterns follows my cursor arrow (lower right). I did not get any screen issues with the GT120.

    So now my questions are:

    is it possible a monitor is not compatible with a card?

    can a faulty monitor do damage to a card?

    why the artifacts from a card that came with the computer?

    Does it sound like this is the card? I hate to spend the money on a card only to find it continues to happen if there is something wrong with the computer. Or do I try a new monitor?

    And if the card, is there a better choice for the 2008 3,1 mac pro? (another GT120, 4870, 5770, GTX285 or other?) And would another card do the same artifact thing as the 2600 does?!!!

    Thank you so much.
    Last edited by macmac; 11-26-2013 at 07:21 AM.

  9. #9
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    Addendum: I tried changing the display size in preferences. Big mistake... talk about the monitor losing signal... well it stayed perpetually there, even after resetting the PRAM which brought on a panic with text on the Apple screen.

    So now I'm back to the GT120. Does this info help further?

  10. #10
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    I'm afraid that to me, this seems like the type of problem where the only 'simple' way to test a theory is by replacing parts. The 'swap' method is the only one Apple teaches its repair techs. Not that most longer serving techs don't become MUCH more adept at fixing a Mac than Apple expected them to be capable of. However, all an Apple Service Manual provides is for the tech to go through lists of symptoms for which the solutions are: replace item 1, retest, replace item 2, retest. And so on until resolved.

    And I'm afraid that the complexity of a disfunction is usually far beyond 'figuring it out' using logic. The realm of possible corruptions and failures is too large. And most of the possibilities are totally invisible to the tester - even for an Apple Repair Tech at his fully outfitted bench. Firmware corruption, minor or major component failure, driver incompatibility, cable failure, external hardware failure, software corruption. A list of possible failures too large for comprehension. The only ones we control without replacing hardware is OS, software and drivers. Then we start swapping externals and cables, last internal components.

    At this stage, you have figured what you can. It *looks* like a bad graphics card. And yes, some older graphics cards may have problems with some monitors with unsupported resolutions and or bad contacts or whatever.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  11. #11
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    Agreed.

    So to expand, it is possible the older card is bad (though seems unlikely that both are bad), or more likely, perhaps is not fully supported by a new(er) OS. But…this model had a recall, so likelihood of failure is pretty high.

    To Rick's point, all you can do is start swapping, and see what fixes it. I would want to be sure I had a known good monitor first. If there is any doubt about it…another variable that makes it hard to point a figure at GPU hardware or software.

    Last common thing to throw in the mix is removing the OS variable. Booting in safe mode is a good start, and even better is building a new, pristine test OS with nothing else loaded, to remove all software variables.

    Cleaning both the card and the slot are important steps, and you can try the card(s) in a different slot, to rule out a a bad slot/logic board.

    If you have exhausted all that, it is time to move on to GPU hardware, and find a card that is known to be good, and compatible with your hardware and OS.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  12. #12
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    PRAM reset should not bring a KP…. Could be a unique event, could be RAM issues, could be something else.

    RAM casuses 87% of panics (I made that number up), so consider reseating, and if KPs continue, same thing: remove and swap to figure out which stick(s) seem to cause the issue. Any good RAM has a lifetime warranty, so hopefully if you find an issue, it is simply an inconvenience to get the offending sticks replaced.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  13. #13
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    Default A shot in the dark...

    Have you tried using a different user account just to see? You say it's hardware and looks it and if it's a hardware issue it should screw up all the user accounts. I thunk.

  14. #14
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    Thank you all for your help and info, and on the 2600. With the KP, I had followed an old note to hold the keys for three chimes, and that's when I got the KP. However when I held them for one chime, it was fine. I held too long, it seems ?

    OK, this one is embarrassing, but Monday after cleaning the card, when everything was working fine until I got those 3 blackouts that I reported to you? Well after going through the card swap and then reinstalling the GT120, everything was good yesterday. But then last night when returning to the computer, there was a black screen. All of a sudden I remembered that Monday when I cleaned the card (where everything was working then later got those 3 screen blackouts), in the morning I had set a sleep time of a few minutes because I had to run out for a short while, and later that day I totally forgot that I had done that. So that last report was due to the sleep—whew (and duh ) Everything is working fine now. So a dirty card could do this. I did try a different account and safe boot, and all is well there too. Mea culpa on that particular report.

    When you said "Cleaning both the card and the slot are important steps", I want to make sure I did everything you had in mind. I used canned air to blow out the card, the connectors, the connector on the logic board, and the fan (let it whirl a bit) after cleaning the blades with a toothbrush and Q-tip to get out all the fuzz and gunk. I did not touch or clean the pins. Did I clean enough?

    Thank you for your immense knowledge. This is such an excellent forum and the service you provide is so valuable. It was much appreciated and I certainly learned from it, as I am sure others will too when they happen across this thread.

  15. #15
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    macmac:
    I have the same 2008 MacPro 8-core and this summer experienced many random problems very very similar to yours - sometimes runs ok for hours, sometimes for minutes, sometimes not at all. Spent days trying many things, but finally had to take it to apple store. Even they weren’t sure, but suspected Video Card. I did too but didn’t have the ecourage of my convictions.

    Anyway, they replaced it and it works like a charm.

    Oh yes, my screen also showed artifacts but somewhat different from yours. I didn’t bother removing it and cleaning the contacts.

    marrand

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