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gearhatesme 09-20-2010 08:30 AM

Intermittent video distortion Mac Pro + HP Monitor
Hello: and thanks in advance to anyone who has experience in this area:
I have a mac Pro dual Quadcore (2x2.26) GHz machine that is one year old. I am using an HP LE2201w 22 inch monitor.
The monitor looks great, but has an intermittent distortion (not typical flicker, but a wavyness that flicks all around the screen. There seems no rhyme or reason; I can't duplicate it in a repair facility, so after three stops to an apple repair facility, no help.
But it does it a lot sometimes. And it goes from subtle, to full on LSD vision, like there was some massive electrical current running across the screen. I tried a new 23" LG, and cannot duplicate the problem with the LG; but the LG looks like crap The HP kicks it's butt in clarity and wide angle viewing. Plus the HP has a three year warranty.
The trouble is, HP's support for business monitors is unspeakably horrible, and in India-so enough said. They flatly state they do not support HP monitors with Mac, so I am S.O.L. They are real crooks.
Since the problem is intermittent, I would be lucky to get any tech in any store to look at it attentively enough to see it, even though it will surely freak out when they're out having a smoke, or scratching their lazy butts. (Bitter? oh, I guess...I'm sick of paying for "no problem found" (because the techs aren't paying attention enough).

I did a P Ram reset (along with some other hardware reset with Apple care...thought it solved it, but it still goes on. I switched cables ( The HP only has a VGA out, so I use a VGA cable to an Apple VGA to DVI adapter), and I THOUGHT it fixed it...but even with another cable, it will do this wavy flicker. Since it takes hours to see the flicking, one can't tell reliably right away-even though it could start immediately as the machine fires's so random.
Yet the HP monitor works fine with a Toshiba Satelite, and the Mac Pro has not flickered with the awful-looking LG, and the Mac Pro works fine with an old Sony VGA.

I hear everybody-even at the Mac Store-say that Macs work with whatever display they plug in...I am leaning toward thinking this is an HP issue, but it is strange that the HP won't bug out on my PC.
I have spent weeks wasting my life troubleshooting this boondoggle.

bobtomay 09-20-2010 10:02 AM

While it's neither here nor there, I'm curious as to why you would have bought a VGA only monitor in this day and age - just a mistake imho - particularly with Macs. Apple has been moving to all digital for a couple of years now and providing adapters to VGA only for backwards compatability.

Although, I would be in agreement that it is a HP issue. Just a quick search and I was able to find other reviews of this monitor with flickering issues. One of them said they lowered the resolution to 1280x768 which allowed them to raise the refresh from 60 to 75 hertz. Realizing that you say it's not really a flickering issue, I'd still give that a shot.

Am guessing you've already tried multiple vga cables, I would probably also go ahead and get another adapter to see if that solves it.

Personally, my best recommendation would be to sell that monitor and get yourself one with DVI input. Surely the time, aggravation and frustration you've put into this already would make it a worthwhile purchase.

The only other thing would be the video card on it's way out. You say you've tried other monitors without the issue, but you haven't mentioned whether you're using the same adapter and cable with them.

gearhatesme 09-20-2010 05:10 PM

Re: reply to HP monitor
Thanks BobTomay:

Yes, I tried an LG monitor (but used the vga to dvi adapter to keep conditions constant in troubleshooting the HP issue).

I agree, mismatches are a potential bomb to blow up on you. But just my luck, it seems...others do fine with any PC monitor they use.

HP is even worse than I said before, the cluster**** of trying to get them to speak and think is impossible. Bums me out. Because this particular monitor really works great, when it's NOT spazzing.

I would even consider getting a 27" apple cinema (my macstore is discounting them at 799.00, but ouch.

Hey, do YOU have any suggestions for a reasonably priced 22-24" (non-Mac) monitor with a nice mate screen and really clean graphics? The reason: I record pro audio (Pro Tools), and I am often playing a part whilst being at a distance and/ or angle from the monitor. The HP I have is quite good at providing a clear image at wide angles, and distances, without getting dark (whereas the LG is pretty much only clear when you're looking straight on.
Any suggestions appreciated! So nice to hear from somebody with some experience, and who can , you know, communicate.

PS: I'd gladly go DVI...I had no idea that HP was vga when I got it from macmall!

PPS: apparently, HP "service centers in the USA" simply take your word for it and request a replacement , no questions asked...good! because if you call good ol' india, they give you the mega runaround.

bobtomay 09-20-2010 05:43 PM

After re-reading your description - I'd be looking at what else you have on or around the desk or near the monitor also... any type of phone or base set for wireless, router, speakers, etc. - anything within about 3-4' or so.

Am assuming when it does this it lasts for more than a few seconds and would give you time to start moving any of these other items 6' or more away to see if they have any effect.

gearhatesme 09-20-2010 07:30 PM

RE: HP monitor with mac
Good call on looking for RF interference from modems, phones, etc:
But, unfortunately, when I move these to another room, same problem.

Now this setup is close to shielded audio monitors, and a power amp, and other studio hoo-ha, but it's quite typical of studio setups.

Others I've talked to kind of shrug when I raise the spectre of EMF/RF interference causing the video distortions. Though in my general ignorance of electronics, it seems to LOOK like a manifestation of a very strong magnetic or electrical wave, made visual on the monitor.

Now, when I move the vga cord at it's connection to the Apple VGA to DVI adapter, (when the video distortions are present), I can often influence (worsen, or stop) the video warbles. This is especially true with the VGA cord that came with the HP. When I switched to the VGA cord that came with the LG, there is LESS warble, when it occurs, and wiggling the plug seems to have less effect on it overall. See what I mean by Gremlins, or why my handle is GEAR HATES ME?

Seriously, electronics hate me. They are cruel to me.

So it might be an interaction problem: Let's say the mac does it's mac thing, video-wise. Maybe it's slightly out of spec, but not enough to be detected in a hardware test. Let's then say the HP is also barely compatible with the mac. Let's throw in a crappy cable, and viola! You got intermittent video noise that is hard to isolate. That's my current theory, because all the troubleshooting I've done, leaves several factors. I'm definitely going to get Apple care now, before the warranty expires, to cover the Mac end. I'm going to tinker a bit more with the environment; move my digidesign board, tower, monitor, to another location, and see if I can replicate the problem.
And I'm gonna' take the HP monitor to a service center (where a tech told me there was no diagnostic; he'll look up the warranty, request a new one, and ship mie off when it's replacement comes.
So easy, huh?

Do you really love Apple Cinema Displays? Is it worth it to fork over 800 clams for a 24" monitor? Is reliability, performance and customer service up to that price tag?


gearhatesme 09-20-2010 11:32 PM

Changing resolution of HP Monitor to eliminate distortion
Hello Bobtomay:
Thanks for the advice on changing from the native resolution on the HP monitor:
During a severe episode of video distortion, changing to 1280 x 960 @ 60 Hz has stopped the visual mess. And when I toggle back to native, the screen freaks out.
Great! Thanks for giving the first bit of useful information among probably ten "professionals." Really, you are appreciated.

Of course, now the screen looks as sharp as a butterknife (que drumroll, cymbal crash).

Thanks, awaiting your reply!

bobtomay 09-21-2010 05:56 AM

That would lead me personally to suspect the monitor or the length of the cable if you're over maybe 20-25' (6-7 meters) or possibly a better shielded cable. While the GT120 is not the greatest card, it shouldn't have any issues pushing the resolutions you're using with that monitor. Your issue is also, just not the sort of thing associated with video cards in general except to say that the video driver can affect the distance that can be pushed.

Can't answer the question about the Apple Cinema displays. The folks that have them seem to love them, but to me they are overpriced (although, I have not done the research to make that a definitive statement). In years past when I was into having the best monitor I could buy, a top of the line NEC is what typically sat on my desk. It usually takes me a month+ of researching to decide on a monitor/TV.

Nowadays, I'm into sitting in my recliner with my iPad or my MBP rather than at a desk. I moved to HDTVs (and 32" or bigger) for connecting my computers to about 5-6 years ago. I don't suggest that for serious work with a Mac as text sucks and I therefore moved back to using Windows when I want a big screen. With a Mac, I definitely recommend a computer monitor and their higher resolutions over anything with the name HDTV.

The only time I've sat down at the desk and switched on the last monitor in the house during the past 3years, is when I've got one of my friends windows machines I'm working on.

jerthies 12-01-2011 05:17 PM

Doing it to me too
I was having the same problem with getting a crazy intermittent distortion in the video. It was as if the sync signal decided to eat some cat nip. The signal would get very wavy and seem to 'sizzle' which makes it impossible to use the monitor. I have an HP monitor with an 11" first gen macbook air. I also tried using a viewsonic monitor and a sony tv but was getting the same problem on all three screens. I aslo have a 15" macbook pro and never had this problem on the same hp monitor. The problem is always hit or miss - some days it's almost constant some days not at all. It doesn't seem to matter if I shake the cable or pull the cord in and out. I tried switching vga cables (I use a 6') and mini-displayport adapters but always the same problem on all three monitors.

I switched the resolution from 1920x1080 to 1440x900 and the issue seems resolved. Time will tell but considering what it was doing to where it is now I'm guessing I'm good. I wonder if there is a limitation on the vga settings for using that high of an output. Perhaps the assumption is any hd signals would be coming through on a digital signal - that's my guess since it must be coming from the video card side of things. I've also ordered a dvi cable to see if that solves the issue as well.

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