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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fixed! Mac Mini Won't Start - No video No chime or Boot

It'd been a few weeks since we moved into our new house. Amongst all the boxes was my Mac Mini box (luckily I had my MacBook Pro; but haven't ordered my iMac yet) and I needed to pull it out to get to some documents.

So I spent some time unpacking it, finding the cables and then getting it all setup...then I plugged it in and heard the familiar Apple chime. After a few minutes through, all that seemed to occur was that I had a blank grey screen with no icons or indicators. I let it sit for another 10 minutes hoping it was just churning away, but after the time elapsed...I had to hold the power button until the Mac Mini turned off.

And that's when the fun began.

When I powered it back on, the light came on and I heard the super / dvd / cd drive power up, but that was just it. No familiar apple chime, the Mac Mini wouldn't start.

So, I then pulled the power plug for a minute thinking something happened with the whole gray screen during starup. Still, no luck.

Now I was starting to get worried.

I did some Google searches on the problem and came across a couple of possibilities.

1. Reset the PMU or the Power Management Unit, which also resets the PRAM or Parameter Random Access Memory.
2. Reset the SMC or the System Management Controller.

While Apple provides steps on how to do this from their support site, I'll cover it really quickly so you don't have to head over there.

To reset the PMU / PRAM on your Apple Mac Mini, do the following:
1. Unplug all cables from the computer, including the power cord.
2. Wait 10 seconds.
3. Plug in the power cord while simultaneously pressing and holding the power button on the back of the computer. (approximately 5 seconds)
4. Let go of the power button.
5. Press the power button once more to start up your Mac mini.

In my case, resetting the PMU did not have the desired effect, especially since mine is an Intel-based Mac Mini. The effect for me is that when the Mac Mini started up the fan came on at a high speed and just ran and ran and ran. In fact no chime, no video, just the fan running at high anytime I press the power button to start up the Mac Mini.

Next it was time to reset the SMC, which is recommended for Intel based Mac Mini computers.

1. Shut down the computer.
2. Unplug the computer's power cord.
3. Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds.
4. Release the power button.
5. Attach the computers power cable.
6. Press the power button to turn on the computer.

After resetting the SMC or System Management Controller, the situation with the fan running on high resolved itself, but I was still no better. The Mac Mini would power on, disk and drive would spin up, but no chime, boot up, or display.

Now I was getting a little desperate; having cracked open the Mac Mini in the past to upgrade the Mac Mini hard drive, I decided that would be my next step, just to check all the connections inside and see if anything had come loose.

If you haven't opened up your Mac Mini before, don't worry it is pretty easy -- just grab a spatula (I used a metal one) and you can crack it about 5 seconds. If you need some addition help, check out the video here: Upgrading your Mac Mini; for some easy instruction.

Once I opened the Mac Mini, I quickly went all the way around the computer and made sure all of the connections were snug with my fingers. Nothing was obviously loose, but once I was complete, they were definitely all tightened up.

I put the top back on the Mac Mini and tried to power it up. Surprise, surprise, I heard the chime immediately, saw video and the Mac Mini booted up as expected. Finally, after about 45 minutes of troubleshooting, my Mac worked again!

If you're having problems with your Mac Mini starting up, hopefully this will help you out. In the case you have a MacBook Pro or iMac, perhaps this can help as well!


Ciara said...

Thank you so much I reset the PMU / PRAM & the only thing that happened was the fan and the chime so I switched my mac off at the plug and back on and when I pressed the power button it worked...Really thanks so much the mac was given to me by a online schooling company because I do my schoolwork from home...

as2x said...

I had the same error, I opened the mac mini, removed 1 piece of ram e retried... I tested both of the pieces and found that the issue was due to a faulty RAM bank. I have replaced it and my Mac Mini is now working as before!

Jimmy Stuart said...

I have the issue where all I get is the light and the loud fan noise. Does PMU/PRAM cause you to lose everything on the computer?