back to article Doctor, I think I have an HDMI: Apple starts investigating M1 Mac Mini graphics issues

Apple is investigating a weird graphical glitch in the latest M1 Mac Mini, which sees intrusive pink squares spontaneously appear on the display. The issue primarily affects those connecting to an external display using the Mac Mini's HDMI connection. The M1 Mac Mini is presently the only device in Apple's line-up that …

  1. Snake Silver badge

    Shonky soldering

    Faulty [lead-free] soldering on graphics devices is not new and not exclusively an Apple problem, not by a long shot.

    Ask me about the double motherboard service & replacements on my discrete graphics nVidia-equipped HP laptop one day, why don'tca... o.O

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shonky soldering

      Yup the HP's were renowned for it back in the day

      1. Smirnov

        Re: Shonky soldering

        No, they weren't. The problem was caused by a failure inside the Nvidia GPU (the bonding material in the chip failed) and aside from HP and Apple also affected Dell and pretty much every other computer manufacturer who put the same GPU on their systemboards. Like Apple, HP had a long recall program for the affected computers where the boards were replaced.

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: bonding material

          Separate problems. On many systems the solder balls on BGA packages cracked and therefore failed, versus the internal bonding issue.

    2. ThomH

      Re: Shonky soldering

      If your HP has had its motherboard replaced twice then it's exactly tied with my 2015 Retina Macbook.

      No graphics issues with my M1 Mini so far, thankfully. It did suffer from the dodgy Bluetooth but that seems to have been resolved by a software patch somewhere along the way.

      The funny thing is that I never had a problem with a Mac prior to the 2015 — indeed the 2011 model it replaced still runs fine*, as does the 2005 model that the 2011 replaced.

      * well, I'm cheating a bit there. At one point I knocked it off a high shelf and discovered two days later that it had gained a massively swollen battery as a result. But luckily replacing the battery in that model is 'just' 15 screws and one connector. No glue, no prising. For an Apple computer of the last decade, that's as good as it gets.

    3. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: Shonky soldering

      A few years back, I had a laptop that needed a new motherboard. That said, every time the mobo failed, they charged me £120 for a new hard disk - each time they always said "it's the hard disk, send it back, we will replace it and send it to you", even when I said "no it isn't, it's the same symptoms as last time and the time before, and it was the motherboard both times." And my question of "if it turns out to be the motherboard, do I get a refund on the hard disk drive I don't need?" was always answered with "it IS the hard disk, and no we wouldn't consider refunding it as the part is defective".

      Calls to the service desk were also made for the trackpad (failed in the first two months), as well as other parts.

      Eventually, it had three new mother boards, and three new hard disks, all out of warranty. Inside the warranty it had the new trackpad, as well as another part I can't even remember (this was about ten years ago).

      Realistically, never going to buy from that brand again. Ever.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Shonky soldering

        Please name and shame the brand involved to protect the rest of us.

      2. TheRealRoland

        Re: Shonky soldering

        Trigger's laptop!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shonky soldering

      Agreed that faulty lead-free soldering isn't new. Of course, quality lead-free soldering is also not new, and has been pretty mainstream for over 20 years now. Lead-free component leads go back another decade or three beyond that.

      There are even some applications where lead-free alloys have higher reliability than eutetic tin/lead solder (assuming good processes for both).

  2. karlkarl Silver badge

    "There's no Intel or discrete graphics to speak of, just what exists on the SoC, which precludes some of the workarounds used with the 2011 iMac and MacBook Pro"

    That sounds like a bad design. Didn't we solve the issue with modular components over 30 years ago? Apple is so frigging retro and old fashioned!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The 2011 MacBook Pro graphics issue - linked to the introduction of lead free solder - can't occur if the GPU is a part of the SoC.

      As others have noted, other firms such as Microsoft's XBOX 360, also suffered faults due to inexperience with lead free solder.

      Lead solder can still be used if the components are headed to a military or aerospace application.

      1. Mike 16

        Solder failures

        Not new at all. The "Dual USB" iBook (2001) so frequently sent its video into witness protection that when I went looking for advice on the intertubes, there was an amazing variety of "this should fix it", some involving tea-lights.

        No idea if that was lead-free solder, or just typical shoddy manufacture.

      2. Mage

        Re: Lead solder can still be used

        Or the spacing is tiny. Some Swiss watch makers can use it.

        Bring back lead solder and recycle. I'm convinced lead free solder increases stuff to landfill.

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge

        The 2011 MBP GPU problems were due to terrible thermal design (so often with Apple) which fried the GPU. If it fried you had to replace the GPU, if it hadn't fried yet then you could apply thermal paste and pads liberally. There was also a software fix for it which was to disable the GPU firmware and make it always use the integrated graphics or (not as good) delete the graphics driver from the OS.

      4. TVU Silver badge

        I would have thought it's possible to come up with a more practical lead-free alternative solder alloy, e.g. something along the lines of silver and copper + A N Other to give a relatively low melting point as in 200°C or less.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      "Didn't we solve the issue with modular components over 30 years ago?"

      Not really - otherwise we wouldn't have had a plethora of different interconnects since then.

      We do seem to be heading down the route of USB-C and USB/PCIe/displayport being the "one ring" of connector/protocols combinations to rule them all.

      So you can add storage to the M1 mac mini, or indeed basically anything other than a graphics card at the moment (although I suspect that will change at some point fairly soon), that's what the ports are there for.

      Given the ludicrous bandwidth available over these connectors I am irritated to find that latency specs are conspicuous by their absence, but I wonder when an external memory module will be developed, as a "super swap" space.

  3. Zebo-the-Fat

    Another reason

    Another reason not to buy over priced crapple stuff

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Another reason

      Wow! You've found a way to never suffer a hardware niggle ever again!

      1. RM Myers

        Re: Another reason

        If this turns out to be the M1 chip, that is a hell of a niggle - that is like a typical PC having a bad CPU, GPU, storage controller, and a number of other components!

  4. MarcC

    They're holding it wrong.

    1. N2


      Perhaps they're looking at it incorrectly?

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Rounded corners

        The problem, the pink squares did not have rounded corners. :)

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Rounded corners

          Fixed by wearing special Apple glasses.

          1. RM Myers

            Fixed by wearing special Apple glasses

            which cost 3 times as much as the computer.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Fixed by wearing special Apple glasses

              Actually, this is a case of Apple saving its customers money as they don't need to buy rose tinted iSpectacles to be able to see how wonderful Apple hardware is (for years I assumed that given all the fuss everyone made over iStuff that it must be wonderful ... then 2 years ago I moved to a job where we have macbooks and its been a revelation to find all by illusions shattered by an encounter with reality)

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: Rounded corners

          If they did have rounded corners, then, it would be by design

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Our new M1+ chip will not experience any problems and we offer a generous trade-in allowance when you upgrade your computer.

  5. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Not just the M1

    My Mac Mini i7 2018 went tits-up on the HDMI with my LG 4k display when Big Sur updated. Problem is no display at all - Mini & display fail to acknowledge each other. Ended up running the display off a 4k USB-C dongle.

    Nope, not the cable or the port. The HDMI port works just fine on other monitors, and the cable works just fine with the USB-C dongle. Only conclusion is Apple crapped on something in the OS update.

    1. prismatics

      Re: Not just the M1

      I can attest, I had some other Big Sur-prises beyond that as well and installed 10.14 because MATLAB didn't work perfectly since 10.15....

      Never going to do any update beyond security updates on Apple again.

      1. Mike 16

        Only security updates?

        Good luck with that.

        Definitely not unique to Apple, but pretty much all the major (and many minor) software suppliers will tuck all sorts of crap into their "critical security updates". Sort of like how the locksmith who replaces your aged front-door lock just happens to also install a hidden camera in your daughter's bedroom. Or would, if the typical locksmith had the same ethical sense as the typical executive.

        1. needmorehare
          Thumb Up

          You can be reasonably confident

          Security updates won’t change too much because Apple pretty much barfs backwards compatibility with every major OS release, meaning their minor updates actually tend to stay minor, unlike when dealing with that gecko and the four squares.

    2. -tim

      Re: Not just the M1

      There were problems going back to at least 10.11 when too much video ram has to be moved too much. If you use fast user switching and multiple desktops on multiple screens you will see the problem isn't new and still hasn't been fixed.

    3. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Not just the M1

      "HDMI with my LG 4k display when Big Sur updated"

      Well there you go. If you had an Apple Certified LG tv, it wouldn't be an issue, so it's your fault.

    4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Not just the M1

      Having not seen it, but from the description, this pink square problem is definitely something internal to the device itself. HDMI output generation is pretty simple, and it's not going to create random pink squares that react to opening of folders or mouse waving. HDMI is a raster based scanline output and not block based therefore the pink squares are in whatever memory space the output buffer is stored in. How the pink squares got into this output buffer... that's the important question. If the output buffer is dedicated RAM (it's a SoC then it could be) then it could be a local hardware fault with this RAM, if it's shared RAM then it's likely to be whatever process that is compositing the output buffer that generates this.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Imagine that there are PC manufacturers that don't even give their customers pink squares. Apple wins again - think pink!

  7. NanoMeter


    Must be a feature, not a fault...

  8. thondwe

    Do these Pink Squares have rounded corners?

  9. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Seeing pink elephants

    Are we sure it is pink squares and not pink elephants?

    Have fanbois been overindulging a bit with the Apple Cider?

  10. trevorde Silver badge

    Obvious solution

    "You're looking at it wrong!"

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