2013 Mac Pro GPU Freezes Appear to be Fixed by macOS Sierra

| Analysis

As I write this on my 2013 Mac Pro, I’m at almost 19 days of continuous uptime. This is significant for those Mac Pro users. I’ll explain.

12:29  up 18 days, 22:42, 2 users, load averages: 1.77 1.80 1.80

Prior to that, I had 11 days of continuous uptime right after the upgrade to macOS Sierra 10.12 and then 9 more days after the upgrade to Sierra 10.12.1. I’m pointing this out because, prior to Sierra, I (and many others) were having a multitude of graphics lockups, daily, with El Capitan and Yosemite.

2013 Mac Pro

Image Credit: Apple

The Mac Pro Back Story

For reference, I wrote about the problem on June 1st, 2016. “2013 Mac Pro Freezes Continue – Owners Have Little Recourse – Apple is Helpless.” I described the problem, its visible symptoms and a half-baked workaround that, at least, helped avoid lost work. Usually.

While Apple launched a quiet repair program for 2013 Mac Pros with AMD FirePro D500 and D700 GPUs, owners with the D300 were left out in the cold.

Without repeating the original article, which 2013 Mac Pro owners should read, there seemed to be an unresolvable graphics card lockup that could not be remedied by a clean install of OS X or even a replacement machine. Over at MacRumors forums, there are 868 entries as users have wrestled with this issue since early 2015. “Mac Pro (Late 2013) GPU (Driver) Issues.

While there are few lingering problems reported by customers in that forum, I can report that macOS Sierra looks very much as if it has solved my problem. With OS X Mavericks, the OS my Mac Pro shipped with, there were no issues. The problem, cropped up occasionally in Yosemite, but became particularly bad in the latter days of El Capitan. Sometimes, I would lose control and have to reboot as many as six times per day. My black trashcan seemed ready for the real trashcan.

Salvation!

I’ve scanned the console log and can find no more entries related to kernel or WindowServer issues. Since upgrading to Sierra, my Mac Pro is now a joy to use and the constant dread of the spinning beach ball prior to completely losing control of the Mac is gone. Although, I must admit that I still don’t let my screensavers kick in or allow the Mac to go to sleep—by habit. Such testing requires an extended period of isolated variable experimentation that I haven’t had time to conduct.

Until I get to all that, I wanted to report, with plenty of supporting evidence over time, that, in my estimation, Apple engineers found the OS problem and fixed it. At least for healthy hardware, which I think is my case. With only one unrelated glitch and one OS upgrade, leading to reboots, in the last 39 days, I’m ready to declare an end to my year of misery. I do occasionally get a spinning beach ball, mostly with Safari, but it always resolves in a few seconds.

My Mac Pro is now, once again, back to its original, sleek, black, glorious self. Thanks Apple.

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