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My 15" Mid-2014 Retina MacBook Pro has been hard-crashing frequently over the past few months. It seems to be getting worse lately, though maybe I'm just getting more exasperated. =(

The crashing behavior is:

  • The mouse pointer suddenly freezes in place, and no keyboard input is accepted.
  • Then the system fan turns on and gets louder and louder, as the machine gets hotter (mostly near the upper-left corner of the keyboard, above the 'esc' key.
  • The machine turns off completely after about 5 to 15 seconds of the above. The fan and screen turn off simultaneously and the machine is off.

It turns on fine after the shutdown (although it might crash again in a similar manner after starting it up again). The startup sequence is normal: startup chime, Apple logo, progress bar, and after about 10-20 seconds I get a list of users to log in as.

It does not seem to matter what I'm doing to "cause" the crash. The battery can be fully charged or not, power cord plugged in or not. I could be exercising the machine hard or not (e.g. my daughter might be playing The Sims, which always pegs the processor & turns on the fans, but it doesn't seem to make it crash more frequently). I could be logged in as myself, or my daughter might be on her account without me logged in. It doesn't seem to be related to heat of components, I'm guessing.

I've run a hardware test (restart with 'D' held down) and it reports no errors. Clicking on the battery icon in the menu bar with 'option' held down also reports no perceived battery problems.

For some reason I've been suspecting the battery is faulting somehow and causing this, but I don't have much evidence for that at all. Mostly it's just an idea because it seems like about the right time in this machine's life for battery problems, I guess.

I also tried starting in "safe" mode by holding down "shift" during startup. The computer was nearly unusable in this mode because of bad graphics glitches. (This page leads me to believe maybe that's "normal"?) I had to stop using it pretty quickly, so it wasn't really conclusive whether that made a difference in the crashing behavior or not.

I've looked in the Console logs, but no crash reports seem relevant. Unless I'm looking in the wrong places, I don't think a crash report is being generated when this happens - I think the crash is too "hard" for it to get a chance to write any diagnostics.

I'm mainly hoping for advice on how to troubleshoot, not necessarily a bunch of ideas for what the problem might be. Because: the internet is a big place and I've already searched a lot of it trying to figure this out. =) That said, I definitely do welcome any information anyone has.

I'm running High Sierra, 10.13.6.

(The machine crashed about 10 times while trying to write this post, until I finally found another machine to continue it from! Definitely getting worse, not just me getting more exasperated.)

Update: here's output of log show --predicate '(sender == "kernel")' showing the period right before and after a crash (crash was at 11:07:58). I don't see anything weird. I also made a Gist of a tail -n 1000 of the same content, but much longer time period: https://gist.github.com/kenahoo/0cb6817c8b2a5d13685fd5a504dab989

2018-12-29 11:07:54.507309-0600 0x20ff2    Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: kern_close_file_for_direct_io(<private>)
2018-12-29 11:07:54.507315-0600 0x20ff2    Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: vnode_close(0)
2018-12-29 11:07:55.758219-0600 0x545      Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: IOConsoleUsers: time(1) 1546092651->1546092651, lin 1, llk 1,
2018-12-29 11:07:55.758241-0600 0x545      Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: IOConsoleUsers: gIOScreenLockState 3, hs 0, bs 0, now 1546103275, sm 0x0
2018-12-29 11:07:58.177930-0600 0x545      Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: IOConsoleUsers: time(1) 1546092651->1546092651, lin 1, llk 1,
2018-12-29 11:07:58.177940-0600 0x545      Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: IOConsoleUsers: gIOScreenLockState 3, hs 0, bs 0, now 1546103278, sm 0x0
2018-12-29 11:07:58.182915-0600 0x545      Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: IOConsoleUsers: time(1) 1546092651->1546092651, lin 1, llk 1,
2018-12-29 11:07:58.182925-0600 0x545      Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: IOConsoleUsers: gIOScreenLockState 3, hs 0, bs 0, now 1546103278, sm 0x0
2018-12-29 11:10:47.000042-0600 0x0        Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: PMAP: PCID enabled
2018-12-29 11:10:47.000045-0600 0x0        Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: PMAP: Supervisor Mode Execute Protection enabled
2018-12-29 11:10:47.002167-0600 0x0        Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: Darwin Kernel Version 17.7.0: Thu Jun 21 22:53:14 PDT 2018; root:xnu-4570.71.2~1/RELEASE_X86_64
2018-12-29 11:10:47.117757-0600 0x0        Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: vm_page_bootstrap: 3989563 free pages and 171973 wired pages
2018-12-29 11:10:47.144672-0600 0x0        Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: kext submap [0x<private> - 0x<private>], kernel text [0x<private> - 0x<private>]
2018-12-29 11:10:47.144676-0600 0x0        Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: zone leak detection enabled
2018-12-29 11:10:47.144679-0600 0x0        Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: zalloc: allocating memory for zone names buffer
2018-12-29 11:10:47.144716-0600 0x0        Default     0x0                  0      0    kernel: "vm_compressor_mode" is 4

Update 2: I brought my machine into the Genius Bar, they booted it from a "known good" OS and couldn't get it to crash after keeping it for a couple days. So I'm just going to pick it back up again. I'll see if I can troubleshoot it any further.

  • did you ever look in to Activity Monitor while the Fan is running to see who is doing it. Did you ever look in the Console to see what is going on – Ruskes Dec 29 '18 at 6:16
  • Depending on your OS X this might on work or not. What is shutting down the computer syslog -k Sender kernel -k Message CSeq 'n Cause: -' | tail | awk '/:/{$4=""; print}' | pbcopy The output is in the clipboard – Ruskes Dec 29 '18 at 6:18
  • @Buscar웃 - there's no opportunity to look in Activity Monitor (or top) while this is happening, because the machine is completely frozen and will be dead in seconds. It doesn't seem to be preceded by any unusual activity in Activity Monitor either. – Ken Williams Dec 29 '18 at 6:40
  • You said you notice the fans going loud, meanwhile the Activity Monitor should show it. Anyway, the console log shows the history so look at it after you had one of those events. Not looking for crash report but what was it doing before it happened. All you have to do is look up the time when it happens so you can find it in Console log. – Ruskes Dec 29 '18 at 6:46
  • @Buscar웃 the sequence is the reverse of what you have in mind, I think - the machine freezes and then the fans go loud. As for logs - I'm on 10.13.6, so I think I'd need a log invocation instead of syslog - your command is giving the output NOTE: Most system logs have moved to a new logging system. See log(1) for more information. when I just run syslog -k Sender kernel -k Message CSeq 'n Cause: -'. – Ken Williams Dec 29 '18 at 6:58

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