12 Replies Latest reply: Sep 10, 2013 8:57 AM by johnnyVDO
johnnyVDO Level 1 (125 points)

Hi y'all,


While operating my Mac Pro (early 2008) my screen got a bunch of "w" shaped pixels and colums of flickering pixels, then blinked and went black.  I tried to reboot but the garbage continued to be displayed and the computer won't boot.  I keep getting a gray screen of death as well.  I pulled the memory (recently purchased) and installed an old working board but no dice.  Has my video card bit the dust?

OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2), FCP 7
  • Studio K Level 2 (355 points)

    What Graphics card are you using?


    It sure sounds like a graphics problem.

  • The hatter Level 9 (60,925 points)

    You don't mention what mix of RAM you now have. Also left off the graphic card.


    Helps and we can help better with details more than superficial symptoms.

  • johnnyVDO Level 1 (125 points)

    nVidea G Force so.thing, whatever came with the computer

  • johnnyVDO Level 1 (125 points)

    nVidea G Force, original card.  I have 16 GB of newly installed (about 2 months ago) ram which seemed to be working fine last week, according to Tech Tool Pro.

  • johnnyVDO Level 1 (125 points)

    I tried to boot holding various keys, e.g., zap PRAM, "D" key, etc., but nothing works.


  • Studio K Level 2 (355 points)

    Probably an 8800GT card.


    It's been 5 years, so it might be in its death throes.


    I wonder if the Hatter knows how to definitively diagnose a failing graphics card.

  • johnnyVDO Level 1 (125 points)

    Why don't these computers last more than 5 years, and why does Apple abandon fixing them after 5 years?  Is this the nature of  consumption?  I am typing this on a Compac laptop that is 10+ years old and used daily.

  • Studio K Level 2 (355 points)

    johnnyVDO wrote:


    Why don't these computers last more than 5 years, and why does Apple abandon fixing them after 5 years?


    It's just one part.  Easily replaced.  The 8800 cards were known to be problematic (or so I've read).  You got 5 years out of it, so that's not bad.  You are about due for a more current GPU.


    If you update your OS to at least 10.8.3, then you can install all sorts of nVidia cards.  You can always buy an Apple card, but they do cost a bit more.  A PC card can be had for less and works out of the box in OS X.  You just lose the Apple boot screen and boot menu at startup.


    nVidia even provides 'web drivers' (as opposed to Apple's stock drivers) that fine-tune the cards performance.


    If you want an Apple card, then the 'go-to' upgrade is the Radeon 5770.  IT's a few years old now, but still sold at the Apple Store brand new for $250.


    All of this only matters if your problem is indeed the graphics card.

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (55,345 points)

    The simplest thing your Mac can do is boot to Startup Manager, also called Alt/Option boot. All the code to run it is in ROM. If you get the chime, but get no Icons for bootable Volumes, its probably the graphics card.


    There are some online guides to bake the 8800 in your home oven to re-flow the solder. You could try that if you like, but I would go with the Apple-firmware 5770-- works in every model Mac Pro, and drivers are in 10.6.5 and later.

  • johnnyVDO Level 1 (125 points)

    Thanks.  I tipped over the tower and banged on the sides a few times and it rebooted.  So, I suppose it's the video card not being seated properly or just loosening up.  I'd like to know more about the bake option - it sounds like this could cure the card for a while.  If it is a physical problem with the card, how would firmware help?

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 (55,345 points)

    The 5770 is sold in a PC-BIOS version for less money. Unfortuately, it does not show a picture under Mac OS X versions less than 10.8.3.


    So whenever I recommend the 5770, I have to go out of my way to say the APPLE 5770 that contains the Apple-EFI firmware, which shows a picture at Startup, and all the other conditions, including under Mac OS X.


    To the best of my knowledge, Apple has never told us WHY 10.8.3 suddenly supports so many more Graphics cards (at least at the Login Screen and later) that do not have EFI Firmware on board. Maybe this is somehow related to NVIDIA developing an EFI-package loaded into the computer's memory instead of in the card's firmware. I don't know.

  • johnnyVDO Level 1 (125 points)

    Thanks for the suggestions, folks.  I took out the nVidea 8800GT card, cleaned it up a bit, reseated it, and things are back to normal.  There are some good videos on YouTube reagarding baking the card which is what I will do next if I contiunue to have display interruptions.  If that doesn't work I will look for an Apple 5770.