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iMac dying... is it Heat? Hard Drive? Something else?

by kcausin / September 7, 2009 6:28 AM PDT

So, I think my iMac is dying in some form or another, but I'm not sure if it's the hard drive, something heat related, or a combination of the two.

A preface: the machine is mainly used for the web, iTunes, and Warcraft, and I run iStat menus to keep track of system temperatures, etc. I run SMC fancontrol to keep the fans spun up when playing wow, and have noticed a significant difference in wows performance since beginning to do that late last year. Over the summer, I've noticed serious intermittent performance issues. Looking back, the common thread seems to be that I have issues when I'm not running the air conditioning, and the ambient temperature heats up over ~80 degreesish. The hottest I see my mac get when having these issues is ~135 (all temperatures are farenheit), and they seem to be substantially reduced below 125 degrees. Programs can take a while to launch, the system intermittently hangs, especially playing music or games, and beyond the stutters when playing music in iTunes or while playing wow, I find that the machine simply will not finish booting after being shut down if it's hot. I need to let it stay off for an hour or two and cool down to boot properly.

Running Apple Hardware test (on a hot machine) comes up with an HDD failure, and running disk utility fails to complete, or just doesn't even see the drive (if run from a cd while the machine is 'hot') - if I run both when the machine has cooled down, things pass with flying colors. The AHT error is: "4hdd/11/40000004: SATA(0 , 0)" - which, I'm presuming based on some googling means the drive is in fact, screwed. But it passes other times, so I'm just thoroughly confused. Will a new Hard Drive fix it? Should I be looking at something else?

This machine is out of warranty, and I'd /like/ to get it fixed for cheapish - any reccomendations? Was looking at this drive from Newegg: , but I'm a few years out of the loop on messing with iMac innards, so tell me if that's a bad choice. (It's a 2.66 Ghz, Early '08 Aluminium model).

Attempts to back up the drive have been mixed - things move /very/ slowly sometimes, and occasionally flake out with an utterly uninformative error -26 after spending an hour copying (and we're talking trying to move 1Gb files over FW 800 - that shouldn't take a whole hour.) Sad

Alternately, the issues I'm having seem to be significantly reduced in severity when the AC has been on for a while - iStat shows nothing running too hot (HDD sits around 95-110F, most other components the same, the outlier is the power supply which spikes to 120-130 when I'm playing a game or watching some HD video or some such.

Why would having the AC bringing the ambient temp down 5-10 degrees provide such a massive performance difference?

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That drive,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 7, 2009 7:57 AM PDT

seems to be ok for your machine but it is not a simple job to replace it.

As you may have noticed, there is a severe lack of screws on that machine and while the back would seem to be the logical place to go in through, the actual entry point is through the front, after removing the screen.

Unfortunately, iStat Menu does not work on Snow Leopard yet so I cannot compare your temps with mine. I have the same(ish) machine.


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by kcausin / September 7, 2009 8:00 AM PDT
In reply to: That drive,

iStat Menus was updated a few days ago.

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thanks, I missed that
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 8, 2009 3:11 AM PDT
In reply to: iStat

i'll download it tonight


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HELP! Similar problems...
by jessievaz / September 27, 2009 1:07 PM PDT

I am having similar problems with my iMac (2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 1.5 GB 667 Mhz) and am wondering if you have found any solutions? I too have been monitoring the temperatures in my computer but honestly have no idea what "normal" is so it seems a bit silly to start guessing if it is a temperature problem.

Have you any ideas/ suggestions on where to start to try and save this computer? I'm trying to back things up but it is a huge pain because it tends to shut down if I try to transfer anything that is too large of a file....


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Post your temperature results and we
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 27, 2009 9:57 PM PDT

can compare them with others.


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by jessievaz / September 29, 2009 8:19 PM PDT

On start up after being unplugged for 2 days...
ambient air: 23
CPU A Temp Diode:49
Graphics Processor Temp Diode: 47
Hard Drive Bay 1:36
Memory Controller: 39
Optical Drive SMART Disk: 27
CPU Core 1: 36
CPU Core 2: 47

After working for 2 hours:
Ambient Air:26
CPU A temp diode:63
Grapics Processor Temp Diode: 64
Hard DRive Bay 1: 49
Memory Controller: 54
Optical Drive SMART Disk: 49
CPU Core 1: 60
CPU Core 2: 68

After being on all night and used first thing in the morning:
Ambient Air: 25
CPU A Temp Diode: 62
Graphics Processor Temp Diode: 62
Hard Drive Bay 1: 47
Memory Controller: 52
Optical Drive SMART Disk: 38
CPU Core 1: 59
CPU Core 2: 66

All temperatures are Celsius. I've been tracking them with a program called Temperature Monitor.

Does any of that make sense to you?

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Not too hot,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 29, 2009 9:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Temperatures...

no overheating there


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Just checking
by Sugith / October 2, 2009 1:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Not too hot,

You've probably done this but my intermittent failures were cured when I vacuumed the small circular grill on the back of my iMac.

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