G5 - freezing

Mon, Mar. 24 2008

Figured it's time to add some Apple to the blog...

I have a five-year-old G5 at home (along with a Powerbook, Macbook, Ruby Red iMac, & a Dell Inspiron laptop) that started freezing up only weeks after I backed-up the system to a new external Lacie drive and added a new keyboard and Wacom tablet. It's important to note that Lis also purchased the same machine at the same time and hers recently bit the dust (unusual I know, but as much as I love Apple - it happened) - so this is cause for real alarm. After troubleshooting and re-installing the system, it was still freezing so I made an online appointment at the local Apple store and walked the machine in. Now, when I say I walked the machine in, what I really mean is I lugged the machine in. And while the G5 appears to have two handles made for easy transport, these are actually stylistic features that serve little purpose in practice - there really is no easy way to carry this beast. The Apple store is bustling as always, but my wait is short because I've got a reservation. When called, I take my place at the counter within earshot of a young, sort of trendy woman who is getting a lesson on the usefulness of playlists in iTunes. My Mac genius takes charge immediately and I see that he's relieved we've already done some of the work with a clean system install (when I say, "we", I mean my wife). All he has to do is run a diagnostics test from a disk - the process takes about a a half hour and it's not very entertaining so I go and hang around the mall with my wife and son, who is very entertaining. Of course, when I return I see immediately that my machine has passed with flying colors. I also see genuine disappointment in his face - we'd both prefer to get at the cause. We decide to test the memory cards. Meanwhile, he's checked to see if I'm covered but I'm nearly two years out of warranty, so he tells me if we can't figure it out I should take the machine elsewhere for more tests because Apple will be too expensive. Gotta love the honesty.

Memory test also passes - he tells me to take it to Tek Serve in the city or Computer Super Center in Greenwich. He asks me if I'd like some assistance lugging the machine back to my car but I decline because my knee and hip are already bruised from the walk in and what's the point in punishing him. Side note - a client tells me that while she was at the same Apple store, she saw a woman accept help getting a 12" MacBook to her car. I wonder if they'll carry an iPod to your car?

I take it to Greenwich and immediately they say they've seen a few macs with the same problem - they think it's probably a bad video card but they'll test to be sure. They seem confident and competent and things are suddenly looking up...

A few days later, they confirm it is the video card. After some debate about adding storage and replacing my DVD drive (which refuses to read burned DVD's or mini-DVD's), we decide to just replace the video card and be on our way. $700+ later, ($400 video card, $169/hr labor, $130 OS X Leopard).

We've had the machine now for two weeks and it's humming along.Installed Leopard (slick!) and digging it so far (except for one small glitch with iPhoto - another post)...

Lesson - even geniuses fail sometimes (or at least their diagnostics tests do)

AAPL - 139.37