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MBP Freezing on Start Up (Spinning Gear) - tried Safe boot, boot from OS disc, etc.

7511 Views 4 Replies Latest reply: Sep 20, 2012 6:25 AM by Cosme422 RSS
jperro87 Calculating status...
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May 28, 2012 5:25 PM

Hi All -


I've been reading and reviewing as much information as possible about troubleshooting an issue on my MBP and I cannot figure out a solution. I am a fairly technical person so I've tried all the typical troubleshooting steps and again - no solution. It seems there have been lots of similar issues for people but I'm yet to find a good answer for my machine.



Early 2008 Macbook Pro (15.4"); 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo; 4GB RAM; OSX 10.7.4 (Lion)



On a typical reboot, my machine began freezing during the start up process. At the grey screen with the apple logo and spinning gear, it goes on for a few minutes as if starting normally and then always freezes. I've read that this appears to be a video card issue and while I agree I can't figure out how to fix it. Many people suggest that this is due to the "automatic" video switching with the video card, but my machine has no option to change a similar setting.



  • Tried booting off an OSX disc (Leopard and Snow Leopard) - still freezes at same spot with spinning gear
  • Tried booting from Recovery HD - still freezes at same spot with spinning gear
  • Tried booting in Safe boot - freezes on spinning gear at start up
  • Tried resetting the PRAM and then booting normally
  • Tried combinations of all the above with the power unplugged, the battery out, holding the power button to clear the RAM, etc.


I have ONLY been able to get my computer to boot by doing the following:

  1. Start up while resetting PRAM
  2. Upon second startup chime (after PRAM reset) hold Shift for Safeboot start up - this works though often times it boots with the display flickering and pink flourecent coloring


  1. Starting the computer while holding CMD+S for a command line boot


Does anyone have any idea what I can try? Do I need to replace the video card? If so, should I just use a standard replacement video card? Is it better to try going back to an older version OSX such as Snow Leopard?

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.4), Early 2008
  • tjk Level 7 Level 7 (24,130 points)

    Hi j,


    Your description does not fit the classic NVIDIA GPU issue, however, it still may be caused by it. First, go to System Profiler > Hardware > Graphics/Displays and see if you have the GeForce 8600M GT GPU. This is the GPU covered under the free repair program. While there, also look at PCIe Lane Width. If it says anything other than x16, the GPU has issues (but this is only one potential symptom). If you have the 8600 GPU, bring the MBP to an Apple Store or AASP for free testing. If Apple's free test confirms the issue, repair is free. Read all about it here:


    There have been stories of, ummm, "uninformed" workers, so print out the article, familiarize yourself with it, and if you meet resistance, politely/firmly stand your ground and ask for someone higher up the food chain if need be. The GPU is part of the logic board, so "repairing" it means replacing the logic board (Some workers have tried to play word games, saying the logic board needed to be replaced so it wasn't a covered repair because it wasn't just the GPU. Grrrrrr!). Good luck!

  • tjk Level 7 Level 7 (24,130 points)

    I've never looked/read about looking while in Safe Mode, so I cannot answer your question. The x1 is a classic symptom, so it sure gives me pause. Definitely off to the Apple Store with it. Good luck!

  • Cosme422 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you for posting this thread! I've been trying to boot up my MBP since yesterday and as soon as it came on and the apple showed, it froze. I was so... so... so.... scared that I would loose all my data since I run Pro Tools on it and have all the whistles and bells turned off. (no backup etc...)


    But now thanks to your posting how to boot up in safe mode I have been able to boot up and backup all my stuff and undo the only change I did before this problem started.


    I installed "Broadcaster" software from uStream and worked a little more on my computer with other stuff, then powered it down and went home. When I got home yesterday the unexpected began, and man was I scared!!! lol...


    I removed that program that I installed yesterday and backed up my stuff and I'm ready to reboot. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but at this point it doesn't matter if I have to reinstall the OS since I'm backed up. I even cancelled my appointment at the apple store! :-)


    So thank you! thank you! thank you!



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