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My Intel Core Duo MacBook Pro 15" has been crashing more and more. Previously there were various types of screen-freezes. Now the screen-freeze is being followed by an auto-reboot, which suggests to me a serious memory fault. Auto-reboot is a 3-5 second freeze followed by sudden system reboot, that reloads the OS like normal. I have backed everything up and run Drive Genius programs to defrag and verify the drive, but the problems have come back. My current plan is to replace the hard drive. My question is: what else could be going on here? Can RAM or CPU chips be the of cause this? Is there any way to check that?

Screen-freezes include any of the following:

  • everything but the mouse freezes
  • everything freezes but no graphics distortion
  • all graphics distortion (whole screen; couple times with trippy mouse tracer effect)
  • all graphics fade to an eerie pale blue color (3 second fade time)

Specs

  • Processor 2.16 Ghz Intel Core Duo
  • Memory 2 GB 667 Mhz DDR2 SDRAM
  • 100GB hard drive (profiler doesn't show me the model)
  • This is the first generation of Intel MBPs; purchased new in 2006 I think.
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When you say screen freeze, do you mean that the graphics are jumpy, everything but the mouse freezes, EVERYTHING freezes but no graphics distortion, all graphics distortion? Also, what do you mean by auto-reboot? Does that mean that it shuts down on its own? Can you be a little more specific with the symptoms? Thanks! –  Matt Love Jan 12 '12 at 22:19
    
@MattLove see edits in the body, thx –  ted.strauss Jan 12 '12 at 22:34
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2 Answers

An Apple Hardware Test can help you diagnose many hardware-related issues. http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1509

You can also check Applications -> Utilities -> Console to see if the system logged any information related to the crash.

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I will definitely use console for future crashes. AHT does not work on my machine using the normal methods, and my Snow Leopard install DVD isn't working either. will post update on this later. thanks for your answer. –  ted.strauss Jan 13 '12 at 18:52
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Doesn't sound like a hard drive failure to me; maybe RAM or - worse - anything logic board.

Try the already mentioned AHT and try to find error logs via Console (if you don't know where to start looking, try narrowing your options by looking at the timestamps, they'll pretty much stop after whatever went wrong and then continue after the reboot with a noticeable time shift)

Other things you could try:

  • Verifying Volume and File Permissions, ideally while booting from a recovery/install disc, not the installation on the hard drive.While the graphical errors don't seem to be caused by a hard disk problem, the OS crashes themselves might be because of corrupted files that cause problems when being read/written.
  • Running a memory test and / or removing RAM modules to see whether one of those is faulty. In my experience though, faulty memory is more likely to result in the device not starting up at all.
  • Try to check the temperatures of various parts of your machine, e.g. with iStats (and/or check whether you can simply feel your machine getting noticeably hot). Graphical errors and/or freezes might be due to overheating of components resulting in an emergency shutdown to prevent damage to the hardware.
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i have done option 1 before, with no improvement. haven't tried option 2. option 3: my MBP definitely gets warm-hot. maybe the fan is broken, i'll look into replacing it. haven't been able to run AHT, despite many forum tips. aiming for a genius bar appt next week, but low expectations based on previous visits. –  ted.strauss Jan 13 '12 at 18:50
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