2006 iMac graphics card crash/freeze

  • Question
  • Updated 3 days ago
This problem is quite common for a range of iMacs bought/manufactured in 2006.

Symptoms include:
a) Crashes/freezes when doing something that makes the graphics processor work hard (e.g. playing a video in Quicktime or playing a 3D game).
b) Horizontal blocky lines across part of the screen.
c) The screen freezes (although sound may continue).
d) The Spinning beachball cursor appears.

At the moment, Apple are denying that this is caused by a manufacturing/design defect. However, given the number of machines that have been reported to be affected it seems very likely that it has been caused by a manufacturing/design defect with 2006 iMacs.

For early 2006 20-inch iMacs, the graphics card is soldered onto the main logic board, so the only way to get it fixed is to replace the whole board. This replacement is very expensive. For 24-inch iMacs, the graphics card is actually a separate board, so the replacement is not as expensive.

Because this is almost certainly a manufacturing defect, Apple should be fixing it for free.

Currently I am extremely disappointed with Apple's reaction to this problem. I have taken my iMac into an Apple store and reproduced the problem for them, spent a long time on the phone to both AppleCare and the Apple Customer Relations department, with no response, except to say that I need to pay them a large amount of money for them to fix it. For such a 'premium' product to have failed within 3 years of purchase is not acceptable.

If you are experiencing the same problem, please give details of the crash and
iMac specification to this report, and maybe we can persuade Apple to do the right thing.

Other details that may help to confirm if you have this problem:
1) It only crashes if the GPU is being used (i.e. gets "hot") - the machine runs perfectly OK is just running applications that do not use the GPU much.

2) I installed the "Hardware Monitor" software, which consistently shows that the crashes happen when the GPU temperature gets to 56 degrees centigrade. Others have reported that the crash occurs even at lower temperatures. The GPU should be able to cope with temperatures much higher than 56 degrees.

3) I can get the crash to occur easily, within a minute or so, by running 3 QuickTime players at the same time - the GPU temperature goes slowly up and then the crash occurs. It also occurs when running a single QuickTime player in full-screen (but it then takes longer to for the GPU to get hot, so longer before the crash).

4) Sometimes after the crash, the audio of the video being played continues OK, but the video is frozen. The cursor turns into the spinning beachball. The cursor moves with the mouse, but all mouse clicks are ignored. Command-Alt-Esc does not bring up Force Quit.

5) I installed "Fan Control" which did reduce the temperature of the GPU, which made it last longer before crashing (but it still crashed if the GPU got higher than 56 degrees)..

6) I get the following in the system log (which seems to occur with a few other people that have reported similar problems):
Jul 30 23:17:24 Swallow kernel[0]: ATIRadeon::wait_for_rb_space: Overflowed block waiting for FIFO space. Have 2, need 5. RBBM_STATUS 0x10000140
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: ** ASIC Hang Log Start **
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: 0x010071c5 00040100 0001fff2 200801b8
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: 0x1b826098 80000004 00000002 00000008
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: 0x00000047 00000000 00002f2f 10000140
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: 0x00080000 00000000 00000001 40000000
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: 0x4000ffff 0004000a 00000000 00800000
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: 0x00000003 0000444f 10040100
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: 0:0x000101ce
Jul 30 23:17:35 Swallow kernel[0]: 1:0x0861c020
Jul 30 23:17:46 Swallow kernel[0]: 1022:0x01100332
Jul 30 23:17:46 Swallow kernel[0]: 1023:0x4c0361d4
Jul 30 23:17:46 Swallow kernel[0]: 0xea2608fa
Jul 30 23:17:46 Swallow kernel[0]: ** ASIC Hang Log End **

7) After the GPU has crashed, it is sometimes possible to login to the machine using SSH ad run command line commands. This shows that the CPU is still running and Mac OS X is still OK, its just the GPU that has crashed.

The specifications for my machine are as follows:
20-inch iMac, 2GHz, early 2006 (actually purchased in August 2006), Mac OS X 10.4.11, Graphics Card: ATI RadeonX1600.
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Posted 6 years ago

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  • 62 Points
I have the same issues as Woll. I have not checked my logs but my computer experiences the exact same symptoms. The problem took about 4 months to really become so bad that the computer is unusable. Crashing within a few minutes of starting the computer. The computer barely runs in Safe Mode now and does not completely start up otherwise.

Computer Specs: 20-inch iMac, 2GHz, early 2006, Mac OS X 10.4.11, Graphics Card: ATI RadeonX1600
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same problems too, horizontal lines, Imac 24" white late 2006
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I have this same issue. One of the other symptoms are red/green pixels. The GPU usually crashes around 50 C. Apple claims that it is not a known issue and uses the excuse that the complaints are only on message boards and don't reflect reality. My machine cost $1700 and lasted around 1.5 - 2 years before developing this problem. This was my first Mac and I switched because of all the problems I had with Dells - my iMac didn't turn out to be much better.

The only way to manage this problem is by using SMC Fan Control or another fan program to up the fan speeds to about 2000 rpm, keeping the system around 40 C. With graphics intensive programs though it is nearly impossible.

Apple needs to address this issue.

Computer specs: 20-inch iMac, 2.16 GHz, Mac OS X 10.4.11
Graphics card: ATI Radeon x1600 256MB
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  • 62 Points
same problem here with white late 2006, 24'' iMac, 2.16 GHz, NVidia 7600 gpu with 256 MB.
Also keeping the system temperatures as low as possible (40 oC). GPU starts to fail at around 50 oC and after a few seconds or minutes the whole system freezes.
Also did a hardware cleaning and disconnected the dvd-drive. Furthermore I improved ventilation of the power supply. Problem has to be acknowledged and solved by Apple.
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I have a 20" Intel iMac 2.16 GHz (Late 2006), ATI X1600 128MB, running OS X 10.5.8.

I have the same exact problem: Horizontal lines, freezes with spinning beach ball, random shutdowns, colored squares, etc. However, I don't see anything in my console logs related to ATIRadeon. But I know it's GPU related because the glitches and freezes start happening when the GPU diode gets to about 48C according to the iStat dashboard widget.

I'm using iMac Fan Control to run the CPU fan faster (1700 RPM minimum), but that doesn't really stop the glitches and the system will freeze sooner or later since the damage has already been done to the defective part.

I've signed these petitions below, but a couple hundred people may not be enough to warrant any action from Apple:


Since Apple refuses to acknowedge the problem even exists, the only recourse we have is to start a class action lawsuit. Apple may not be very motivated by user complaints, but they have to respond to a legal summons.

Does anyone know a good lawyer?
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Sean Ozz

  • 60 Points
I agree, count me in!!! info@worldofozz.com
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Milan Kovac

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I have 2,16GHz white iMac (2006) and I have horizontal lines with random pixel, and after that I usually get crash (everything frozen except mouse pointer, beach ball, and sound...)

this usually happens when GPU temperature reach 48C.

if apple do nothing about our problem, I for sure won't recommend another Apple product to anyone! and myself will buy ordinary PC and install Mac OS X on it using EFiX!
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As well as adding details of the problem on your iMac to this GetSatisfaction thread, please also report the problem directly to Apple via:
Select "Bug Report" for the Feedback Type.

Even though Apple supposedly monitor the discussions on the Apple site, and there are many reports of this problem in other places on the internet, I suspect that Apple will take more notice if we contact them directly.
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Andra P. DuPont

  • 70 Points
Same problem. I have been using smcFanControl for about a year now to try and get more life out of my 2006 iMac 24 inch with an Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT graphics chipset. I have had to keep increasing the fan speed to where I now run it all three fans at 100%. This of course is noisy and also draws in dust. Last week I had to open up the case and blow out the dust to get the temps down.

My screen locks up at GPU temps in the mid 40s. I am really disappointed that Apple does not acknowledge this defect.
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  • 62 Points
I bought my first Mac ever back in late 2006, it was an intel 24" iMac, I really enjoyed it, but lately it has stopped working properly, with similar symptoms referred on this thread: an horizontal line (or two). And the spinning beach ball, that freezes the iMac and renders it unusable unless I do a hard reboot. I am so disappointed, because it is apparent that I am not the only one, and it's a common issue. My computer lasted less than 3 years! That's not what I was expecting for a premium product. But reading the postings has opened my eyes, macs are as bad as pcs. Well maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but definitely macs have a dark side.

From what I can conclude the problem is the video card?

Is there any hope on solving this problem?

I suggest people to talk to the different apple podcast, some suggestions:

Mac Geek gab
Macbreak weekly

I have already left a voicemail to the guys at the Mac Geek Gab, if more of us do the same we can create some fuzz!

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Tim Mercer

  • 62 Points
I also have this problem. Took it into an Apple service provider and was informed, as expected, that I need to replace the logic board. Very frustrating that this isn't covered in an extended repair program.
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do they told you how much it costs to fix it?
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I've got the same problem, Weird lines on the screen then kernel panic, very dissapointing. Makes me want to switch back to windows...
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Patrick Fink

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Same exact problem with a 2006 iMAC 24" . Most expensive brick I have ever bought. Apple needs to give us some help here .
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  • 60 Points
Same problem - early 2006 20" iMac. Started out as vertical lines running through screen, then horizontal now sometimes I have a completely unreadable screen - stable though. As I type this my screen is clear after about a 2 month run of being almost unreadable. Took it in when it was still under warranty but they couldn't reproduce the problem. Hopefully, given they have noted the problem then, they will fix it free. But knowing Apple, I doubt it. Bastards.They're not doing much to promote themselves as a quality manufacturer with this bulls**t.
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Same problem here, and same machine.
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  • 60 Points
Same problem on a late 2006 20" iMac (ATI X1600 GPU). In addition to horizontal lines, I have discolored pixels, color blocks, and other distortions/warping of images before the eventual freeze. Using Fan Control to max out the RPM on the CPU fan definitely helps, but the horizontal lines begin to reappear at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit; this happens even with the fan on high with any GPU-intensive processes.
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  • 60 Points
Same problem as above: Crashing, horizontal lines, discolored pixels, swathes of discoloration, image warping. 3 years is too soon for a machine this expensive to become nonfunctional.
Late 2006 20" iMac, ATY X1600 GPU, 2GHz, 1.5GB RAM, OS X 10.5.8
Will try fan control. Thanks for the tip.
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Apple has archived the thread in the Apple Discussion forums - that means that they have "locked" it and we can no longer comment. We are being censored.

We have started a new thread here: http://discussions.apple.com/thread.j...
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R Rice

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I have an early 2006 24" and developed the same problem. In spending hours trying to find a solution, I read a post where the same problem existed unless the user was using Windows. That made me wonder if it is a hardware problem. My machine only had the problem when using Photoshop. Not when using InDesign or on the Internet, etc. So, then I started looking for a software solution. (Why doesn't Nvidia provide drivers for Macs?!) I finally found a Photoshop CS4 update because of clues left by various people on various blogs. (Thanks to all.) The update (from version 11.0 to 11.0.1 seems to have fixed the problem. I do use the SMCfancontrol as well - thanks for that advice. The fan control alone did not solve my problem but could forstall it. Now I run the fans at medium speed when using Photoshop for hours and don't have any lock ups.

My machine is: 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo 667 Mhz NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT
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Ross Pelton

  • 60 Points
Same here.

I hate this. Apple needs to admit this is a design flaw and fix this one. They are pushing the all in one computer and a lot of us are resistant to for the reason that one small component go out and we are effed. Fix it and maintain confidence in your product.
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Meisleman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz, P.C. have recently started an investigation into a possible class action regarding this issue. If you are a resident of California, contact Jerome Noll at JNoll@mdpcelaw.com .

They have filed class actions against Apple in the past, so they have some experience dealing with Apple in these matters:
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Bill Gross

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If we live outside of CA, is there anything we can do to support this?
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Thanks cami but this doesn't sound like our problem although they might have some of the symptom details wrong. The systems in question are Late 2007 models with bad LCDs , we all have the previous model (i.e. Late 2006/Early 2007). It is funny too because I have never even heard of the problem they are filing for; the only comment on Tom's page is from a user who bought our iMac model - ironic and funny.
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I think you can be part of the class action group, but in order for them to file the suit in California (where Apple is headquartered I assume), they need a California resident as the plaintiff. So if you were the plaintiff, it would be Bill Gross vs Apple, Inc. but the class action would cover everyone who is affected by the problem. That's my understanding anyway.
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Just to clarify, our issue is not listed on their website yet. They just started the investigation. They are looking for California plaintiffs.

For anyone who is having this problem, I would go ahead and contact Jerome (JNoll@mdpcelaw.com) and provide details regarding your iMac system. The more information he has, the stronger the case against Apple.
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Oh, my fault. I went to the site, saw the LCD story and assumed... Thanks!
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Apple made an attempt on ours lifes.
We have a defective Apple product. An Imac with horizontal lines, freezes and glitches.
Apple in silent for more than one year.
It is an attempt on our health.
Headaches, insomnia, discomfort...
So Apple is source of danger to human health.
In Europe there is the Directorate General for 'Health and Consumers'
I think the Europe's citizens with this problem have contact with this Directorate.
"Our job is to help make Europe's citizens healthier, safer and more confident."
"Our citizens expect to live safe, healthy and full lives. They expect their health and their rights to be protected throughout the EU at the same high level."
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Jim Hodapp

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That's a bit extreme. This is a computer. If it's so bad for your health, stop using a computer.
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Sorry but I love computers. Its not the solution. The solution is that apple admit bad hardware or desing fault. I think that apple politic is more extreme. And of course Im going to stop using "apple computers" but not "computers" because I love good computers. My actual computer is a bad computer and is an apple computer. This is my last apple computer. Apple is too mach busy manufacturing shit and sorry but I dont need a shit-machine.
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Matej Ukmar

  • 60 Points
I have the same problem with my 24 inch early 2006 iMac. I can see horizontal lines on my screen right now. It freezes if I use a 3D app or even
when I'm minimizing windows with "supercool" genie effect, sometimes when I go with mouse on a dock. And it surely freezes if GPU unit reaches 43 degrees celsius so I'm running my fans.
They want 215 EUR to repair it ... although I can buy new nVidia GEFORCE 9400 GT 512MB for 43 EUR.
I tried today to stuff it in my mac but there is no slot although it states my current card is in PCI express slot.

Apple is a Rip-off.

And I'm in India where it is no use to contact European consumer directorate.
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Bill Gross

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If anybody is wondering, I just installed Snow Leopard, and it has similar problems too. They aren't _exactly_ the same... but still bad, maybe even worse.

The display still corrodes with the horizontal lines, but not nearly as bad as in Leopard. Overall, the graphics system seems more robust (i.e., less annoying blips here and there). However, it has been hard-crashing much more often though, and in weirder ways. For example, the first time I played with it, the display randomly went black... then came on for a second, then went to sleep (with the display on, and still SSH-able). Then finally completely crashed (all within ~30 seconds). I've never seen that before (usually the graphics get worse and worse until it just freezes).

Snow Leopard looks fun, but I hope I can get this crashing under control.
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annie onyi cheung

  • 72 Points
my problems got worse after upgrading to snow leopard. thought it was a graphics card problem (lots more animated elements in snow leopard than tiger..) but seems to be a combination of many iMac specific problems.
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  • 70 Points
My issues only manifested when I installed Snow Leopard from 10.4. What a nightmare that was, no drivers for printers, Parallels was useless had to spend and spend on new gear. Thanks Apple. Oh and to top it off the graphics issue we are all writing about. Hard to justify the Big $$.
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  • 70 Points
My issues only manifested when I installed Snow Leopard from 10.4. What a nightmare that was, no drivers for printers, Parallels was useless had to spend and spend on new gear. Thanks Apple. Oh and to top it off the graphics issue we are all writing about. Hard to justify the Big $$.
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  • 60 Points
I have the Same with my 17" iMac CD.