Radeon x1600 mobility drivers [SOLVED]

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moze229
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Radeon x1600 mobility drivers [SOLVED]

Post by moze229 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 3:18 pm

Hello all,

After a week of tearing my hair out and reading threads on this forum and others, I was able to get Mint 18 working on a late 2006 iMac. Everything minus the iSight camera works, but that's not a problem. What IS a problem is heat generation. I know that it is commonly known that Mint/Ubuntu 'run hot' on Macs for whatever reason, and usually people fight this by using some sort of fan control. While this may remedy the heat and eventually wear out fans that weren't designed to run all of the time, it doesn't address the actual issue. I also considered going back to 17, but this heat issue has been around since 13, from what I've read. Perhaps even further.

I seem to have narrowed the problem (at least on my machine) to the graphics. The system is a Core 2 Duo 2.16. Viewing System Monitor 'resources' tab - both cores are at 10 - 15% usage at idle. Moving the mouse increases both cores by 5%. Dragging a window across the screen brings both cores to 65%. Scrolling a window in FireFox brings both cores to 100% momentarily. System Monitor 'processes' tab doesn't show ANY CPU usage hardly at all, with System Monitor bringing the lead at 5%.

Symptoms - after about 1-2 hours of use, the video gets 'flaky'. Some fonts look weird, random lines and dots on the screen, etc. Reaching behind the iMac where the vent is feels like heat that would be sufficient to cook an egg.

Graphics - ATI Radeon x1600 mobility with 512k VRAM. The iMacs internally are a laptop configuration. Of course the logic board is made specifically for the iMac, but the 'flavor' of the setup is basically a laptop. Most Linux distros treat it as such. Is there a different driver that I can try? The one that is installed defaulty works wonderful, but something about this particular configuration doesn't seem 100% compatible with this graphics chipset. Is there somewhere else I can check for CPU usage? How can I try and narrow this down? Perhaps I'm using the regular x1600 drivers and not the mobility drivers? Would there be a difference? How can I check?

I also realize that Gnome may just be too much for this old machine to handle, but I think a Core 2 Duo with 3GB ram should be able to operate within this environment pretty easy. I'm not trying to play games or process videos and graphics. I just want to browse the web and do email. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Last edited by moze229 on Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by Citizen229 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 3:33 pm

The x1600-x1800 is so old its considered legacy.Which means open source driver is the only option. You will not find another driver for it.

Dots on the screen- this is called "Artifacting". Usually you will see this term when people have reached the Oc limit of there video card, but not quite enough for it to crash. It is the critical point.
Running as is, that gpu will not last long.
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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by DanielR » Mon Jun 26, 2017 4:15 pm

I can't speak from experience with a Mac Book but one of my HP notebooks has a x1600 video card. Even with Mint 13 (Ubuntu 12.04) only the open source Radeon drivers were available. Graphics performance is pretty mediocre and the darn graphics runs very hot with the Linux drivers (it ain't an awful lot cooler with the Windows drivers either). I would suggest you get a notebook with Nvidia graphics and use the legacy Nvidia drivers. My present notebook with Nvidia Quadro FX2700M ran well with Mint 13, with Mint 17.3 at least the graphics ran fine without issues and presently with LMDE2 the whole system is very usable. Thanks to the powermizer option of the Nvidia driver the graphics stays very cool during 2D operations and rarely reaches 65°C under heavy 3D load. Needless to say, I regularly clean the heat sink and fan(s) on my notebooks.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by moze229 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 4:34 pm

The x1600 is old indeed. However, researching this reveals that there are many running old Mac Books with newer versions of Ubuntu and various other distributions. Even though this is an iMac, it's using the same mobility gpu as the laptops. I suppose I'll live with using it for small periods of time.

The reasons for me wanting to use the old iMac are twofold. One is that as a web browser/word processor/email machine it's perfectly suited. Two, there's nothing wrong with it and it's already sitting here. It's worth $0 so putting it into the recycle bin is the other option. I don't have a problem with that, but I wanted to see if I could get some additional life out of it. Runs older versions of Mac OS like a dream, but web browsing wouldn't be available.

My other two PCs (i5 and i7) do EVERYTHING I need them to do, so why am I messing with this thing? Because.

I'd like to get to the bottom of why the cores are at at least 10% utilization just sitting here doing nothing. System Monitor 'processes' reports ~8% usage overall, but the live 'resource' view shows ~10% on both cores with nothing open but System Monitor. Something else is going on.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by Citizen229 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 4:45 pm

Drivers for AMD use a little of each core. drivers for nvidia use 100% of 1 core. Your 5% is high because you have 2 cores. If you had 8 cores you would be a little over 1% on each core.
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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by moze229 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 5:26 pm

Interesting. So the Radeon mobility operates like the Intel graphics, using the CPU for processing? That's when things start to make a whole lot of sense. But I thought that this particular setup processed everything through its own gpu. I remember one of the buying variables I weighed in on at the time was this exact issue, and I chose a machine that had it's own gpu. Of course that was a long time ago. LOL Learn something new everyday.

Well, it is what it is. I was hoping to have a computer sitting around for my younger son to play around with a little. He's not getting a tablet or a phone yet, and I don't want him on my PCs. I just figured there would be a distribution out there that might work with this setup. Linux is pretty good at bringing these older machines back to life. I was going to try a lighter version like mate, but I'll still be stuck with the same drivers, so that won't do me any good at all.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by DanielR » Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:56 pm

Have you considered trying a real light weight DE like XFCE on this Mac? I'm presently using Mate and I can not reproduce such drastic CPU usage while moving windows or scrolling web pages (Nvidia graphics).

BTW, have you checked if your graphics is using software rendering? I had quite an ordeal to get my x1600M properly configured to use hardware rendering and proper 3D acceleration (see: viewtopic.php?f=59&t=145792#p775508).

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by moze229 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:28 pm

DanielR wrote:Have you considered trying a real light weight DE like XFCE on this Mac? I'm presently using Mate and I can not reproduce such drastic CPU usage while moving windows or scrolling web pages (Nvidia graphics).

BTW, have you checked if your graphics is using software rendering? I had quite an ordeal to get my x1600M properly configured to use hardware rendering and proper 3D acceleration (see: viewtopic.php?f=59&t=145792#p775508).
I have, but as I mentioned in my last post, I'll be stuck using the same video driver regardless. At this point we're assuming that's what the issue is, but I don't know enough about Linux to do any real investigation into verifying that it is, in fact, the video that's the problem here. As far as the display goes, if I'm not providing any input for the drivers to do any work, and there's nothing loading/changing/moving on the screen, then what are the cores processing? What are they doing in the background? Using the only tool that I'm familiar with (system monitor), I can't tell. It may not be the video at all. That conclusion was drawn based on the symptoms that I've had. I'm personally steering away from graphics processing being to problem at this point to some other phantom process in the background that's running. The problem is, I can't identify it. What is the CPU doing?

Thanks for the 3D acceleration link. I'll look at it.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by moze229 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:43 pm

Ok.

More research has revealed that even some folks running Mac OS with my particular model have heat issues with the GPU. (I never have, but I did notice after installing OS X 10.7, the computer ran much hotter than it ever had.) After watching a couple of videos and seeing the poor design of the internals, I'm going to blame the poor design and me trying to over extend the ability of this ancient gpu. The case is designed in a way that the air coming from the CPU fan travels up through a duct and runs over the gpu. This passage is likely partially blocked by lot of dust build up inside which isn't going to help. I'm going to first try blasting the thing out with my compressor. If that doesn't help, I'll try more aggressive mods until something works. Cutting a hole in the case and mounting a big heat sink/fan on it isn't out of the question. I'll see where it goes. I will try and update my solution here once I get something to work. Until then, I'm considering this matter solved. Thanks to all of those who had comments.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by moze229 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 4:35 pm

Apparently the iMacs, at least of the mid to late 2000's era, are super sensitive to dust build-up. I suspect this has been a problem through the years with folks having video issues on these machines. I took it out to the garage today and blew a LOT of dust out. (I've have never cleaned it out since 2006. LOL.) Opened Firefox with several tabs and played YouTube videos for an hour straight. It got really warm, but not hot. No artifacts, lines, or other weird display anomalies. Seeing the amount of dust that came out, it would likely be worth opening this case and giving it a nice thorough cleaning.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by moze229 » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:59 am

Just to update, I now realize how much harder this old iMac has to work to run modern software. The initial issues that I was having wasn't related to the video drivers at all. It was just the system heat generated by general processing.

While I think running the fans in these older iMacs/MacBooks faster than intended are going to cause them to eventually fail, I have been able to control my heat issues with mbpfan. Macfanctld worked ok on the iMac, but only controlled 2 fans. (Ironically, the CPU fan, the most important one, was the one I could not control.) mbpfan controls all three fans in my old iMac. This is the thread where I resolved the issue on my late 2006 20" iMac.

viewtopic.php?f=47&t=248344

By now, these old systems & laptops have zero value. Running the fans full-time faster than initial intended speeds results in little loss if one fails. I personally think that getting any additional use out of the machine outweighs the potential abuse/failure of the fans. What can you do with an old, unsupported version of MacOS anyway? Nothing.

As it is now, I can run the newest versions of Firefox with Flash, Shockwave, etc. without security concerns on an 11 year old computer. I think the key now is keeping the airways clear of dust. If you don't own a compressor, find one who does and use it to blow out the machine periodically.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers

Post by Hoser Rob » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:09 am

moze229 wrote:Interesting. So the Radeon mobility operates like the Intel graphics, using the CPU for processing? That's when things start to make a whole lot of sense. ...
Actually that made no sense. You simply have an old and not very well supported video card in Linux. The ubunut wikis may say that a card that old has 3D support but that doesn';t mean it's very well supported or works particularly well.

All that stuff about how Linux works better on old hardware ... I think the usual phrase is "Linux breathes life into old hardware ... is not 100% true. The hardware is often poorly supported at the kernel level (or, in Windozespeak, the drivers don't work properly) and there is little or no hope for new drivers, ever.

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Re: Radeon x1600 mobility drivers [SOLVED]

Post by sig » Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:12 pm

I got my iSight working perfectly by copying the "isight.fw" file and running a script at startup. If you're interested in knowing this I can post it here. Very simple.

I've decided to post this which is how I worked throught it. I'm assuming this will work for any "i"Mac "i"book hardware.

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/use-isig ... 38894.html

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