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I’m disappointed

2006 iMac graphics card crash/freeze

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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