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holt 06-10-2012 07:56 PM

strangest crash I've ever seen
Everything shuts off but the sound.
I'll be performing a task on my Pro Mac (be it Photoshop, email, watching a video, etc.) and the screen will go black. The wireless keyboard will not respond. The wireless mouse will not respond. It's as if the computer shut down, but the drive is still spinning and, if I'm playing music or watching a video, the sound still comes through the speakers.

No attempt to "wake up" the computer will work, so I have to force it to shut down. If I restart right away, the problem is still there. However, if I wait 5 min or so, and shut down all power to the system, I can restart normally. But the problem will occur again, be it 10min later or three days later.

I thought it might be an application or driver conflict, but I couldn't figure it out on my own, so I've erased my startup drive and done a clean install of Snow Leopard. I've even updated SL to 10.6.8. The problem persists. And it seems to come in bursts. Long stretches of several days of normalcy between "crashes" followed by "crashes" every 10-15 minutes for a few days then back to the long stretches of normalcy again.

The problem started right around the time I signed up for Netflix streaming. At first, I thought it was a problem with Microsoft Silverlight (which is needed to view videos on If I watched a video in full-screen mode, it would guarantee a crash. However, if I watched a video in a normal window, the crash may or may not occur. It occurred more frequently with the new version of Silverlight, and I was able to get around the problem (sometimes) by installing an older version of Silverlight (v4).

The problem occurs even on Flash-driven videos, so I began to suspect Flash as well.

Now the problem can occur any time, video or no video. It crashed on me a minute ago while checking email (with no other applications open).

I'm completely baffled. I can't find anything online about this problem.

Can anyone shed some light?

Mac Pro
Dual Quad Core Xeon
Three 750GB internal hard drives
One 2TB internal hard drive
Dual Super drives
20" cinema display
Wireless keyboard & mouse
OS 10.6.8

chscag 06-10-2012 08:13 PM

It sounds like your video card is crashing. Do you by chance have another that you can swap it out with? Also wait until several of our Mac Pro experts have a chance to read through your post and see what they think.

holt 06-11-2012 01:07 PM

I don't have an extra video card lying around.
However, is it likely that the keyboard and mouse be non-responsive because of a bad video card? If iTunes is still playing songs after the crash, hitting the spacebar on the keyboard should pause the song. Likewise, hitting the "eject" key on the keyboard should eject the CD tray. In my situation, once the crash occurs, the keyboard and the mouse do not function. Like the monitor, they are on, but they do not function.

chscag 06-11-2012 08:58 PM

A bad video card can completely freeze the system and or produce symptoms varying from a dead keyboard and mouse to the fans running up at high speed.

The only other thing I can think of is a possible flaky power supply but that usually impacts the entire machine.

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