I don't think it's 100% driver related, because not everyone is experiencing it. And a clean install doesn't fix the issue... so it's possibly a part on the logic board, and hopefully they put that under my AC so last minute because if not, then it would be cheaper to buy a new led cinema display and use my MBP instead of paying a hefty 900+ euro for a reparation.
I was hoping 10.7.4 might have new graphics drivers (and therefore a fix) but according to a post on Macrumors they're exactly the same drivers as 10.7.3, so it's likely our problems will remain,
I am now desperate enough to try using Snow Leopard drivers (replacing three ATI kexts). Step-by-step instructions are provided in this thread: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2384136?start=405
I'm going to extract the relevant drivers (for my card) from 10.6.8. Fingers crossed.
Success. Switching to Snow Leopard drivers for my video card has solved the problem for me. I've been running for three days without a hitch - no artefacts anywhere, no glitches, no problems. With the Lion drivers I'd be lucky if I could run for an hour before things would start to go haywire. So, for my machine at least, it's definitely an issue with the Lion graphics drivers.
My machine is a mid-2010 iMac with an ATI Radeon HD 5750 1024 MB.
Here's what I did:
1. Used Pacifist to extract three kext files (drivers) from Snow Leopard Graphics Update v1.0 (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1083?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US). The kexts I used were
I was going to use the kexts from 10.6.8, but the files sizes looked very similar to the Lion kexts and the drivers in the Graphics Update appeared to have the last meaningful fixes for my card.
2. Used Kext Helper b7 (available here: http://cheetha.net/) to install the kext files.
And that's that. Of course unless Apple manages to fix the Lion or Mountain Lion drivers I'll need to repeat this process every system upgrade, but it's easy enough to do.
Bear in mind that the ATI5000Controller.kext is SPECIFIC to my iMac's video card. If you're thinking of trying this and have a different ATI card, you'll need to use the driver for your card. I'm not sure which kexts you'd need to change for Nvidia cards.
So after months and months of stuffing around trying to fix this - system re-installs, PRAM zaps, etc - it turns out to be nothing more than a faulty graphics driver.
Hope this helps.
People i'm back with some more news... I'm tired of this and i'l stop investigating, i lost my imac for about 5 weeks total and i can't afford to lose it anymore...
- First they changed the graphics card and upgraded the ram (at my cost for the ram)
Issue wasn't fixed... so i turned it back
- After that they replaced the logic board (still under AC)
Issue is still present, if i turn it back now they will send it to Apple in Ireland (in Belgium we don't have an Apple store they are authorized resellers and repair centers)
And driver related? I have a Nvidea graphic card... normaly the drivers are from card to card different...
Sorry to hear you were without your Mac for such a long time and that the hardware "fixes" didn't do any good. My .kext replacement solution is not a long-term solution either: after a week or so I started getting kernel panics relating to the drivers (specifically another ATI kext which I ddidn't replace) and switched back to the Lion drivers. But it was nice while it lasted:-)
I finally filed a bug report with Apple. The good news is it's a known issue "which is currently being investigated by engineering". Our best hope is that it's fixed by a future system update - if not 10.7.4, then maybe by 10.8.
Going through this same situation. I send a report to apple through their Mac OS X feedback page. I hope his gets solved quickly becuase issue completely freezes the system.
In my case the issue started showing up in Lion. It happened just a couple of times then it become so frequent that my OS become unusable. I followed advices from this thread and did a new partition and a clean&fresh installation of Snow Leopard. SL seems much more stable, however after installing the Diablo III beta the issue appeared in SL for me (which coincidentally, on Lion partition was the same, even though I had suffered a couple of occurrences in Lion prior playing the beta, it become a permanent issue after playing it), The issue started happening at a very frequent rate even when I was not playing anymore (browsing the Internet in Safari triggered the issue). I'm currently reporting this issue here and in Blizzard forums, hopefully someone comes with a solution.
Screen artifacts also occur in Snow Leopard
I did try most of the suggestions in this thread and none of them has fixed the issue. Even the fresh SL install did not work (although it behaves significantly better than Lion). I even downgraded to Safari 4 in SL, the issue persists, although I haven't experienced a single occurrence not related to D3 beta
Message was edited by: JRRamirez
I also have this graphic issues.
My MBP mid 2010 needs to be rebooted after connecting an external monitor.
It's very frustrating that Apple obviously does NOTHING to fix this issue.
I wait since 10.7.0 for a fix...
Do you have any idea what kext's have to be replaced for nVidia cards?
I have a GT 330M installed in my MacBook.
Thanks a lot for any help
After a week of testing with no graphics glitches or crashes whatsoever, I think it's safe to say I've finally fixed the problem on my machine. The "fix" is basically a do-it-yourself firmware upgrade for the graphics card, in my case the ATI Radeon HD 5750 (really a Mobility HD 5850) inside my mid-2010 iMac. It's a fairly straightforward fix, although it does require you to use a Bootcamp partition to run Windows on your machine and it's not for the faint of heart. Flashing the BIOS (firmware) of a card (or anything else) can be risky. If something goes wrong during the process you might not be able to boot your machine. Chances are everything will be fine, and for me it was a very smooth process, but you should always be prepared for the worst.
Be aware, too, that this is a fix for a very specific problem. Ever since the Lion upgrade, my iMac has been experiencing graphical glitches, especially in Finder windows (Quicklook previews were a disaster), although they also started spreading to Mail windows and Safari menus. I kept hoping a Lion update would fix it; instead, it kept getting worse. With 10.7.4, I also began to experience the crashes that others have described in this thread, where the screen would freeze (usually while showing odd square-shaped artefacts) and only the mouse pointer would move. A hard re-boot was the only fix. Console logs showed this was a problem with the GPU (GPU Debug Info messages appeared every time).
I'd always assumed the problem was Lion specific, but a post in this thread showed me the crashes could occur in Snow Leopard, too. So I started digging around and it turns out the exact problem also appeared for users running the same ATI card in Windows machines. Lion may have revealed the problem, just as Windows 7 apparently revealed the problem for PC users, but it's really a problem with the GPU. In a nutshell, the problem is this: the BIOS of certain ATI HD 4XXX and 5XXX cards sets the power-saving idle clock speeds too low. Whenever the GPU is required to switch to a higher speed (for example, by drawing a Quicklook image preview), glitches occur and stability is compromised. I think Lion (and Windows 7) allows the GPU to enter the idle state way more often than Snow Leopard did, hence the increased frequency of the problem.
Check these links for a discussion of the problem:
On the PC side, ATI driver updates and in some cases BIOS (firmware) updates have fixed the problem. You can also use ATI's Catalyst Control Centre on a PC to tweak a card's core and memory clock speeds without having to flash the BIOS.
I'm not sure that a driver update from Apple will fix the problem. There have been plenty of updates to the ATI kext files since Lion's release and the problem remains. It may be that the drivers can't override the speeds set in the BIOS, in which case a firmware update for affected cards is needed. But Apple doesn't appear to be in any hurry to release a graphics firmware update for mid-2010 iMacs, which is why I decided to do it myself. I was having so many problems that my machine was basically unusable, and I figured I'd need a new graphics card anyway if the fix didn't work, so what did I really have to lose?
As luck would have it, the tools to extract, edit and re-flash an ATI graphics card's BIOS are readily available to Windows users. There's also an excellent guide to the entire process, which I read and followed step by step. The guide is here:
Essentially, I booted into Windows 7 (that's why you need a Bootcamp partition - virtualisation software won't give you direct access to the hardware) and followed the Techpowerup.com guide.
Here's what I did:
First, I extracted the BIOS using GPU-Z (available here: http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/2137/TechPowerUp_GPU-Z_v0.6.2.html).
Then, I loaded the BIOS file into Radeon BIOS Editor (RBE), available here: http://www.techpowerup.com/rbe/
Radeon BIOS Editor gives you all sorts of interesting information about your GPU's BIOS, but the most important tab for our purposes is Clock Settings. The Clock Settings tab shows the clock speeds and voltages of the various PowerPlay settings (the boot mode and various power-saving modes, for example) on the card. The GPU speed (in MHz) is the core clock speed; the RAM speed is the memory clock speed.
Sure enough, the lowest power-saving setting of my card was set to 157 (GPU) and 295 (RAM) - the same setting that had caused problems for Windows users. So I changed it to 398 (GPU) and 1000 (RAM), which matched the next lowest PowerPlay setting in the card and was also close to the suggested fix from PC forums (from 157/300 to 400/900).
I then saved the modified BIOS and flashed it the card using ATI WinFlash (available here: http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/2107/ATI_Winflash_220.127.116.11.html), rebooted back into Windows to confirm the changes had taken, then rebooted back into OS X.
I've been running glitch-free ever since - no graphics artefacts, no crashes, no problems of any kind. It's only been a week but I'm certain it's a permanent fix. Before I flashed the GPU I'd had three consecutive overnight lockup and I'd been having problems with glitches and graphics artefacts every day. Every time I clicked on a Finder window I'd regret it; every time I opened an email with an embedded image I'd flinch. If the problems I'd been experiencing for months on end were going to resurface, I'm sure they would have resurfaced by now.
I've been running Hardware Monitor to keep an eye on the temperature of the graphics card heatsink and diode. Obviously the idle speed of the GPU is slightly higher now, but the temperatures are well within the normal range so I don't expect any problems to arise. Right now, everything "just works".
As I said, this is not a fix for the faint of heart. If you're not comfortable with tinkering with your hardware, don't do it. I've made Apple engineers aware of it and hope they'll release their own firmware update for affected cards.
I also have this graphics issue. It has been a small nuisance since upgrading to 10.7.1, but has been getting increasingly worse. After the 10.7.3 update, when the screen goes wacky, the artifacts cover the entire screen and the computer stops responding to mouse clicks and keyboard input. I must shut down by pressing the power button for 10 seconds, which cannot be helping.
I see that this is an iMac forum, but I've read reports from users with many different systems. I have a first gen Mac Pro 1,1. I've lost hours of my life trying various suggestions from Apple support and from these discussion boards. I've spent a bunch of money I don't really have to replace the graphics card (I have the original nvidia geforce 7300 which tests just fine in TechTool Pro) with one that is among those listed in the OpenCL section of the Lion technical specs, an ATI Radeon 5770. New systems, old systems, Nvidia, ATI--lots of us are experiencing this.
Lion: GRRRROAR. Please, Apple!
@mollyf, you'll notice the Radeon 5770 is one of the cards that gave PC users the same trouble. I'm pretty confident the BIOS flash I described above will fix the issue you're having (check the Console and you'll see the "GPU Debug Info" starting with each crash). I had exactly the same problem and have been running now for almost two weeks without a single issue.
Many many thanks for this Andrew. I would have never figured that out on my own and I researched this particular issue for a while.
I actually have the exact same Imac so I wasn't really worried on trying it out and the flashing went fine. My artifacts weren't that severe, thought they were appearing mostly in photoshop (which is quite a bummer when you are trying to work) with effects using the GPU or whenever the machine was stretched more than usual (still not to a level you'd expect artifacts of this sort), on windows I only came by it when the computer was overheated and speeding the fans worked, didn't under Lion though.
It's great to see that some folks here have found a fix for this however I don't run bootcamp... nore will I ever. Also my my 27' imac came with lion "pre installed". Everything worked fine for nearly a year and then I installed Diablo III. That's when the artifacting started just about 2 weeks after installing said software. I have been on the phone with apple care, no fix there and I have been all over the forums. The Diablo III connection has been noted on a few forums. I imagine this was just a catalyst to a problem that was already waiting to happen. I find it hard to believe that I have seen date stamps on forums going all the way back to April of 2011 and this is still an issue?? I can only assume that they are waiting for Mountain Lion to drop a possible "fix" which is completely unacceptable. But since I don't really have the ability to fix this problem on my own I'm now forced to wait for apple. The problem is slowly becoming worse with artifacting interfering with even the simplest of daily use. Please Apple....