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Ask Max: Kernel panics and freezes on my MacBook Pro - help!

Asked on 03/16/2009:


For the last month, I’ve been having frequent kernel panics and freezes on my MacBook Pro (2.33 GHz, OS 10.5.5, 4 GB Ram). I know these symptoms are often associated with some kind of hardware issue – internal or external. These crashes occur with or without my peripherals attached, or with NO peripherals attached. Some crashes occur in the middle of typing an email; some occur when booting up (right at the log-in point).

I have done a lot of experimenting trying to find the source of the issue.
- Tested externals – USB keyboard, Apple display, Epson inkjet printer, USB Hub, USB cables, FireWire cables, 3 backup HD’s, etc.
- Replaced RAM (upgraded from 2 GB to 4 GB (tested with “Memtest”)
- Zapped PRAM
- Safe Booted to “clean” test Account
- Added air space between backup HD’s to allow them to run cooler
- Ran Disk Warrior, FSCK, Applejack, Techtool Deluxe
- Re-installed OS 10.5.5

Nothing I did helped. I took it to our local “Mac” store’s tech support guys. After 3 days of testing in their shop, it has not crashed. They have contacted Apple engineering support to get help with identifying the source of the freezes. My guess is the Logic Board has gone bad; but I really don’t know.

Any thoughts or suggestions?


In this case you have done much of the troubleshooting I would have suggested. I would not rule out the RAM as a cause though, and it would not be a ™bad RAM™ issue but a problem with the slot or amount of RAM. Your model Macbook Pro only supports 3GB of RAM although it will see all 4GB installed. Try running with a single stick of Apple original RAM installed. When you get a failure, move the stick to another slot. If it fails then repeat with another RAM stick, each time running in just one slot.

Also I assume that with the ™re-installed OS 10.5.5™ you did an Archive and Install. If you did not, that full Archive and Install Process can work better than a Combo Update reinstall. I would also suggest that you run the Apple Hardware Test off the install DVD. You restart your system holding down the [D] key with the install disk in the drive.

Hope that helps, some.


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