I recently purchased a second-hand Mac Pro 2019. It worked for about 5 days, but then I started to notice it was a bit unstable, and now when it starts, I just get a flashing folder with a question mark, and I can't even get into recovery mode.

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  • 24 Core Xeon W
  • Radeon RX6900XT 16GB (Not the standard MPX module provided by Apple)
  • 250GB SSD provided by Apple
  • External 2TB SSD mounted to a PCIe card

The last thing I did before it died was to re-install MacOS (Ventura) but using the external SSD, rather than the internal one, as I wanted more space for the OS and programs. The internal SSD was left blank with no partition.

Then I was running a software build using gradle, which isn't a particularly strenuous task; my 2013 Mac Pro can run it without issue, but whilst running this task, I noticed a distinct hot smell coming from the tower, and then the machine froze.

I restarted the machine, and then ran a terminal command to check the CPU temperature while running the build. It maxed at around 85C, which shouldn't be hot enough to kill the machine (should it?). Again, the machine froze.

Restarting it again caused it's death, and the flashing question mark folder. I've tried recovery mode (Command + R, and variations thereof), but nothing works. I've also tried removing the external SSD, and leaving it unplugged from the mains for several hours...still nothing.

I then told the seller what was happening. They suggested that it might be the graphics card causing issues, as it was using a "cheap splitter cable from Amazon", and so was probably not receiving adequate power to run.

If anyone has experienced this issue, or similar issues, or could shed some light as to what exactly might have gone wrong, or what I might be able to try to resolve it, I'd be most grateful. Thanks.

  • "distinct hot smell " that would be enough for me to send it straight back. Letting out the magic smoke is never a good idea & you don't know what was heating sufficiently to be able to smell it. Unless you can isolate that & get the seller to replace it to test again, i'd just send it back.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 13 at 10:18
  • 1
    If the GPU is non-standard, using some cheap adaptor, then that's certainly the first call for investigation. Ideally, I'd want to test it with standard config. However: T2 Macs need to have the internal SSD working, with firmware partition. But yeah, I'd be looking to the seller to help out, at least.
    – benwiggy
    Jan 13 at 10:18


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