Mac mini video ran­domly flick­ers

Mac Format - - APPLE TALK -

Q I have a late 2012 Mac mini. The com­puter is on 24/7, with a screen­saver af­ter 10 min­utes, and screen power shuts off af­ter 15 min­utes. Lately I’ve no­ticed that there was a ‘tear­ing’ ef­fect across the screen. I swapped out the HDMI ca­ble for a VGA don­gle, and it seemed to clear it up. How­ever, I’ve again no­ticed this tear­ing ef­fect, although now much smaller, in ran­dom places on the screen. It will typ­i­cally be about 5mm high, and up to 10 or 20mm long. It may ap­pear as a line of shapes across the dis­play. It flick­ers al­most like elec­tri­cal in­ter­fer­ence – but I can’t lo­cate any de­vice that may be caus­ing it. The ef­fect is not there all the time, and I am un­able to make it hap­pen. I’m won­der­ing if my video is fail­ing? How can I check it? Would it mean a mum board re­place­ment? Robert Chalmers A This sort of graph­i­cal glitch is a clas­sic symp­tom of an over­heat­ing graph­ics card. But the Mac mini uses In­tel HD Graph­ics 4000, which is in­te­grated on the same sil­i­con as the CPU, so you can’t sim­ply re­place it. A com­plete re­place­ment of the ‘mum board’ (in 25 years, this is the first time I have ever heard the moth­er­board called this – I love it!) might fix the prob­lem for a while, if your mini is over­heat­ing be­cause of dust build-up. But that’s un­likely af­ter just a year or so. And it’s a sledge­ham­mer to crack a nut in any case.

Graph­i­cal tear­ing is an early warn­ing symp­tom of over­heat­ing. It kicks in well be­fore the graph­ics chip gets hot enough to cause per­ma­nent dam­age. If the mini’s fan is still spin­ning, make sure the air­flow isn’t ob­structed and you don’t have stuff stacked on the top. If the fan isn’t spin­ning, well then there’s your prob­lem and you should get that re­placed im­me­di­ately.

If your graph­ics start glitch­ing, check that the cool­ing fan on your Mac hasn’t failed

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