G5 Quad: No longer freezing

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
September 19th, 2006 • 2:33 pm

The Mystery of the Freezing G5 Quad continues. After the crisis of the week-end before last, when the G5 Quad died on me in full red-glowing splendor, I had no choice but to take a different approach. I switched back to my noisy old G4 MDD as my main work machine, and I set the G5 Quad up on my other desk with its 30″ display (which the G4 does not support) to see what would happen to it over the following few days.

Well, 10 days later, I am afraid I have to report that the G5 Quad is no longer freezing. After it died on me the Sunday before last and I only managed to revive it after a last-ditch attempt to fiddle with a few connections inside, I not only set it up with only the 30″ display and no peripherals other than a keyboard and mouse, but I also removed the third-party RAM and the two third-party internal hard drives and put the original 512 MB of RAM and the 250 GB hard drive that came with it, and still had an older version of Mac OS X 10.4 on it.

I left the machine running with a few applications open, and nothing happened for a few days. So I put the 4 GB of RAM back in it (replacing the original 512 MB). Nothing happened for a few days. I then put the two Seagate hard drives back in it (replacing the original 250 GB hard drive). Nothing happened for a few days.

In other words, the machine is no longer acting up. It is no longer freezing. It’s still too early to tell whether the problem is gone for good, but it certainly looks like it.

I have decided, at this point, to rebuild my full work environment bit by bit. The RAM and the hard drives were the first steps. I have now added one of my external FireWire hard drives, which I use for my iTunes music library, and I have started downloading music files with Speed Download in the background on that machine on an on-going basis again. It’s been a couple of days and things are working fine.

If nothing happens in the next couple of days, I will gradually add more peripherals, and start running a greater number of the applications that I typically run.

It will take me a while to get back to my full work environment, but as far as I can tell it’s the only way to determine the possible source of the freezes, if there is still one.

It is also rather annoying to try and keep things in sync on two different machines, but I can manage. The more annoying thing is to have to endure the noise of the G4 MDD on a daily basis again. It’s a rather warm month of September here in Nova Scotia (relatively speaking) and this causes the G4 MDD’s fans to rev up during the day and make even more noise than the normal level, which is already noisy enough.

But I guess I can survive in this environment for a while longer.

In my opinion, one of the key stages in the coming days or weeks will be the addition of the secondary monitor. The more I think about it, the more I have reasons to think that this might be the source of my problem:

  1. I normally use a 30″ display as the main monitor and a 23″ display as the secondary monitor. While the G5 Quad’s video card is supposed to support this configuration, it’s definitely the maximum it can do.
  2. The original video card in my G5 Quad was defective and I had to get it replaced.
  3. The replacement video card eliminated the original problem that I had with the defective one (video artefacts on the secondary monitor), but didn’t eliminate the occasional problems I had on the main monitor, with rows of green pixels occasionally appearing around the edges of objects on the monitor, after waking the monitor from sleep. The green pixels can be eliminated by turning the 30″ monitor off and then back on, but it still is a recurring problem that seems to indicate insufficient power going to the display.
  4. Ever since I have set up the G5 Quad on a separate desk with only the 30″ display and no secondary monitor, I have not noticed the green pixels once. So the problem seems to occur only when I have both the 30″ and the 23″ displays connected to the G5 Quad’s video card.
  5. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if the freezes were caused by a video card problem. It is, after all, one of those areas where the OS is unlikely to “degrade gracefully” in case of a failure.
  6. It would still be a bit puzzling that the freezes only started after the machine worked fine for nearly 8 months with the same configuration, but I suppose that there could be heat-related issues that were triggered by the higher temperature and humidity of the summer weather.

In any case, adding the second monitor to the configuration is definitely a step that I will pay very close attention to. I won’t do anything else at the same time and I will make sure that the machine has been running fine for several days before I add the monitor.

We shall see.

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.