Yet more on NVIDIA graphics card problem

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 15th, 2009 • 10:16 am

After my latest post on the subject of my issues with my Mac Pro’s NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphics card in Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), I received yet more feedback from readers that I thought I should share.

First of all, one reader noted that the simple fact of having taken the card out and then re-seated everything might have somehow “cured” the problem I was having, by either readjusting its position or eliminating a tarnishing problem on some connectors. This certainly sounds like a plausible explanation, although of course I didn’t notice that anything was amiss when I opened the machine and took things out. Unfortunately, I have no way of ascertaining that this was what happened, but if other readers are experiencing similar problems, I think the evidence so far shows that they should definitely try and open their machine, take the card out, remove any dust, and make sure things are put firmly back in place. It can’t really hurt provided that you take the usual precautions.

Another reader noted that NVIDIA has just released a version of their driver software for Mac OS X as a stand-alone installer on their own web site. This is rather unusual, as it is the first time they’ve had Mac drivers available on their site. Usually, the drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards in Apple machines are made available exclusively through Apple, as part of their regular system updates.

Now, the driver software that NVIDIA has just released is for specific cards only (the GTX 285 is mentioned), but it might be an indication that NVIDIA is indeed working on fixes for their driver software and that these fixes will be available to users of other NVIDIA cards, including the GeForce 7300 GT, either through Apple-blessed system updates or through stand-alone installers on the NVIDIA web site.

The NVIDIA page for the installer has a link to a page where you can subscribe to the NVIDIA newsletter, which supposedly notifies you of upcoming drivers for “Mac OSX” (sic). However, when I tried to fill out the form, I was unable to get past the screen asking for my name, email address, country, and occupation. The “Submit” button stayed greyed out, even after I properly filled out all the required fields. I tried in both Safari and Camino, and it just wouldn’t work for me. (Why NVIDIA has to use Flash-based controls for a simple web form is beyond me, but there you go.)

It is interesting to note that this feedback from Betalogue readers points towards two opposite directions: one dwells on the possibility of a hardware issue, whereas the other one suggests that the problem is indeed a software problem that needs to be addressed through a software update.

This pretty much confirms the difficulty of pinpointing the exact source of such problems, especially for end users just trying to use their machine for work or play.

Incidentally, I just got another note from Apple’s Bug Reporter staff today about the issue, saying once again:

Please know that our engineers have not been able to reproduce this reported behavior.

Moving to verify as we am afraid not much NVIDIA can do to address this without repro.

Should you continue to encounter this issue, please provide any information that would assist engineering in reproducing this reported behavior.

I had updated my bug report twice to indicate that I was no longer able to reproduce the problem, but I guess they are still trying to move things forward. I will keep the bug report open as long as I can, but eventually I suppose they will want to close it if there is no new information that would help isolate its source.

This does not rule out the possibility that someone somewhere else (either at NVIDIA or at Apple) is working on a software fix. It is just that, in my case, I am unable to provide them with more information that might help them connect my problem to a problem reported by other users, simply because I am no longer able to reproduce the problem myself—which I am not complaining about, of course!

Thanks to the Betalogue readers who have sent more feedback. Even though I am no longer experiencing the issue myself, I will try to keep track of things and post any new information that I might encounter.

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