One of the few things that I'm very dissatisfied with on my new MacBook (yes, the one that arrived from the online Apple store just three days ago) is a weird problem that keeps occurring intermittently: the usual OS X smooth-gradient drop shadows around some of the windows sometimes turn into rows of solid lines, with a fuzzy mess of dots in each corner.
And sometimes I get this other effect, where a blue bar appears just below the menu bar, running all the way across the screen. (Again, click the thumbnail to see the full-size version.) That's rarer, though.
The good news is that these problems go away (temporarily) when I put the computer to sleep and then wake it up again, or when I restart. But not when I disconnect or reconnect an external monitor.
I haven't been able to reliably reproduce it; it happens anywhere from five minutes to a couple hours after I start using the computer, and there doesn't seem to be a common pattern for what triggers it. A few other people have run into the same problem; one Apple support forum thread suggests that it's a problem with Rosetta apps (apps that aren't yet converted to work natively with the Intel chip), and I had wondered if that was the common factor in my situation too, but I don't think it is. I'm pretty much always running at least a couple of Rosetta apps, but sometimes it takes hours before the problem occurs, and when it does occur sometimes it's only on a few windows. The image shows it happening on Terminal windows (when no other windows were affected); I've also seen it happen only to a single Finder window.
Another person had similar video artifact problems; his diagnosis is that they were due to the graphics chip overheating. Does the MacBook even have a graphics chip per se? It's possible that my problems have something to do with overheating, but given that they often occur on only some of the windows on the screen, I'm dubious.
My problem started after I had been running some OpenGL applications, but I've tried running OpenGL apps to reproduce it, to no avail.
Anyway, I called Apple support about this yesterday, and they told me to take it to the Genius Bar at my local Apple store. I did that today, and the guy there said he'd never seen anything like it before. (He showed it to the other Genius on duty, who glanced at it and said, "That's bad.")
The Genius guy recommended that I do an archive-and-reinstall of the operating system. He offered to do it for me, but even though I ran a full backup overnight, I had done some work this morning that I hadn't yet backed up. So he recommended that I go home, check out forums and such to see if anyone else had a solution, and then re-seat the RAM, and then if it was still happening, to do the OS reinstall and see if that worked. I can do that, but it's frustrating--this happened basically straight out of the box, so I don't think it's a software problem. (But I can't be sure, because I copied over my files and apps from my old machine as part of the OS X auto-setup process.)
I also asked the Genius about the fact that there's a little bit of slightly disturbing flexibility in the case, in the solid border to the right of the screen--I had accidentally discovered that there are a couple of places on that border where if I press in gently, the front panel pushes back slightly with a pop/click. It's probably nothing bad, but I'd rather it not happen. And the Genius agreed that it was an issue, but said that since I'd done a build-to-order, I would have to send it back to Apple to get it fixed, and that it might take 10-14 days. Argh.
At this point, I'm really wishing I had bought the stock model from the in-person Apple Store and just added memory and disk myself. That way I could return it and get it replaced immediately. I would just return this one and buy a new one, except that you can't return build-to-order Macs. Gah.
So it's looking like I'll probably end up copying all my files back to my old machine and using that for a couple weeks while Apple repairs my brand-new computer. Very frustrating.
Aha--it turns out this is actually a fairly widespread issue, both on the MacBook and the Mini.
See the following Apple discussion forum threads:
- Shadow artifacts when waking from sleep with an external monitor
- Corrupt graphics (shadows under windows)
- Window border graphic distortion
- Graphics corruption after sleep
- MacBook Display Artifacts - Defective?
Various of those threads suggest possible solutions:
I'll try most of those, in roughly that order, and see if any of it helps.
See also a related Ars Technica thread.