A customer brought in his out-of-warranty 8-core 3.0GHz first-generation Mac Pro at the end of last week, explaining that the frequent kernel panics were making productivity impossible.
This computer was about as upgraded as can be: 32GB of RAM, four hard drives, a fiber channel card for a Promise RAID, and a Nvidia Quadro FX 4500 video card were all installed, so troubleshooting promised to be interesting. We keep tons of extra known-good service parts in stock for diagnostic purposes, but the Quadro graphics cards and fiber channel cards are so uncommonly seen (and extremely expensive) that we don’t keep them on hand.
After eliminating software, RAM, AirPort card, Bluetooth card, hard drives, main logic board, processors, and fiber channel card, we went to swap out the Quadro card for a lesser model to see if that was the culprit. Sure enough, installing an X1800XT video card resolved the issues immediately.
I mentioned this card was expensive—and that the computer was out of warranty. By expensive, I meant about $2,000 expensive. AppleCare for Mac Pro costs $230. Help us remain at your side and get yourself covered!