Major Defect: Apple 30″ Cinema Display Monitors

I’ve been fortunate to have a terrific computing setup here for the past nine months: a quad-core Intel Mac Pro with 1.25TB disk, 4GB RAM, and *both* a 23″ and 30″ monitor. Sweet, indeed.

But from the very start I’ve had a problem, which turns out to be extremely common: The 30-inch display is plagued with green pixels that appear in image-context-sensitive areas. This wasn’t too bad when I was mostly doing audio and text work, but now that I’m working more with images in Photoshop and video in Final Cut Pro, it’s truly unacceptable. Here’s an example. I photographed this directly from my screen

Well, it turns out this is a problem shared by a very large number of users. Referred to as the “flickering/dancing pixel problem,” it has been the subject of an ongoing discussion for well over two years with more than 400 messages posted to the thread! As far as any of us can tell, Apple has never acknowledged this problem or offered a fix to anyone. The company continues to replace monitors under warranty, but the replacements always have the same problem. As others in the discussion point out, I’m amazed that Apple continues to sell a product with such a significant known defect. This isn’t a minor issue; these green pixels can be all over the screen.

I bought the Apple 30-inch monitor ($2,000) because it looks so nice on my desk. Dumb move. I should have saved a few hundred dollars and bought the Dell 30-inch monitor instead. Word on the street is that it doesn’t have this problem. If you’re considering such a large monitor, I urge you to avoid the temptation to buy the Apple product until the company deals with this problem. And if you work at Apple…hey, what are you guys doing there? Remember us, the customers?


41 thoughts on “Major Defect: Apple 30″ Cinema Display Monitors

  1. Miguel Soares


    i live in Portugal and bought this 30′ apple hd cinema dixplay back in 2007!

    blue lines or dots all over now! shutting down or unplugging the cord fixes temporarily the problem.. but it comes back shortly after. only noticeable on darken backgrounds! annoying for CAD and gaming with dark environments!

    if i only knew.. i would have saved some MAJOR €€ and spend on dell or HP! i curse the day i wasted 1800€ on this!

    Apple never ever again i don’t care what the “fan boys” say! NEVER ever again! waste of money and better monitor with better specs out there!

    1. Chris

      Fanboy or not, I’d say six year of use (likely24/7) isn’t too bad. Sorry it went out. I sure you found plenty alternatives as well constructed as the Cinema Display.

  2. Chaz

    I’ve had this problem for years. I use the 30″ cinema display on my PC rather than on my 27″ iMac. It happens several times a day and I simply unplug the signal cable and re-plug and it goes away for a time. It’s ridiculous that Apple won’t acknowledge this problem on a $2,000 product. The only blight on the “I love Apple” horizon for me. :(

  3. Mike

    So far so good … screen saver to NONE …. I have the green outlines when the screen gets hot … lets hope this works for along time .. Thanks

  4. MacFranky

    Here too. I have it for years. Turning the monitor off and on again fixes it. (Temporarily). My AppleCare changed the graphicscard, but with no success.

    It’s quite a scandal I would say. It’s a lot of money we’re talking about. Not alone the lack of service; not even a official response???

    Black spot on Apple’d esthetic image, I would say…

    (I actually sent Steve Jobs 2 mails about it. lol)

  5. snsd genie

    Perfect write-up! I am only beginning out in advertising and marketing and attempting to understand to perform it effectively – assets just like this report are very precious. As our organization is primarily based in america, it is all a little new to us.

  6. Kris J.

    Thanks for the post and comments. Thought I was alone in the problem like to offer what I found fixed the same issue. Just shut off the screensaver. I noticed my MBP got really hot when the screensaver was on. I tried a different screensaver since I thought may the “Flurry” was too intense for the card, but got the same problem with photos.

    Once the screensaver was set to “Never” and the monitor is set to go to sleep after 15 minutes, the unit now does not have the issue and stays cooler.

    I remember this problems in PCs as well. The machines were prone to some kind of wake issue after running the screensaver. Hope this helps.

  7. Brian

    I recently acquired a 30 inch display from work that was going to be thrown out. After working for a while, the screen goes white and/or color bars fill the screen. Took it to Apple and they said it was the logic board and they cannot fix it. Could this be true? The monitor works 95% of the time? Any easy fixes? I can’t find hardly anything about this issue on the net.

    1. Lisa

      Brian, I know it has been awhile, but did you ever find a fix for your Apple Cinema HD Display? I have been looking online for days and yours is the only post that expresses my exact issue. Thank you.

  8. Paul artist

    What a sad commentary on Apple for not acknowledging this issue. I have had this problem for 3 years and the only solution I have found is picking the machine up and banging it around – this sometimes gets rid of the red lines but leaves dents. Next time I throw it out the window!

  9. Louis Savaria

    I purchased the same nov 2006 after 15 months the screen went red but the same as green. Apple replaced it after nagging them, i’m on my second screen (30 inch) and just last weekend it started doing crazy stuff again, Apple store told me to bring the screen in to check but again they deny it’s a common problem. I also do photography and its annoying. Should of purchased a La Cie.

  10. kitkats

    I bought a 30″ Display from 2006 on ebay last week and it seems to have this problem. No green pixels but blue or purple horizontal lines and occasional full-on noise or visual ‘breakdown’. It comes and goes, but weirdly it seems related to the amount of black being displayed – it doesn’t tend to start happening unless there is some black or very dark area somewhere on screen. Sleep doesn’t help. Disconnecting the power brick mini-lead seems to sort it as does or disconnecting the DVI cable. I haven’t noticed if it only occurs after sleep yet. Running Snow Leopard here.

    So has anyone had this problem get worse and worse until the display dies completely? …Hoping I haven’t wasted 600 quid on this thing…

  11. Steve L

    I’ve just noticed the green pixel glitch happening again (see my post no 26) today – but something a little different. It went away without restarting. It came on after the screensaver kicked in but I left it on as I was doing something else when I returned to the mac the screensaver was on (for some reason just a black screen rather than my iphoto library which is selected) and the pixels were gone??? This is the first time this has happened. usually I have to restart to get rid of them. Maybe this will help point towards a solution to the problem? What if it was something to do with OSX rather than the dvi cables or video cards? Come on Apple, recognise the fault and do something about it!

  12. Michael Everson

    This happened to me this morning… dancing green and lines of magenta. Resettling the DVI cable connection on the MacBook Pro fixed it. (I noticed that the computer had moved a bit which suggests to me that a cat stepped on it which loosened the DVI cable.

    THANK you for this thread. My heart sure did sink thinking that I’d have to get a new Cinema Display (mine has served me well since 2002).

  13. Steve L

    I have the same problem on a 2 year old 30″ cinema display – changed cards from a dodgy ati radeon x1900 to a geoforce the problems still here. I find that if I shut down and turn off power supply the problem temporarily goes away. It seems to come back when I leave the mac on for long periods, suggesting that it may be overheating or something. I have returned the mac pro and the monitor to Apple on 3 occassions and swapped the units, now I’ve just given up. I think Apple have become more like any old PC vendor since they found more lucrative markets (with Ipod, Iphone etc)and started building units in China.
    I’ve been using macs since the mac plus, some of my older units still work (this was when they were hungry for business and put more effort into quality control). Now it seems life expectancy has gone down to about 2 years (if your lucky!) When this monitor finally goes, I won’t be buying another Apple screen. I have 2 Formac 19″ screens currently 9 years old and still going strong without a glitch. The screens on the imacs are also dodgy they often suffer from screen burn and a yellow haze instead of white. A dreadful performance from a Rotten to the core Apple!!!

  14. nick g

    Well Don, as I said in my post I tried it with three different transformers and even the monitor on different machines with the same result, so we might have different problems. I contacted apple and here in the UK, in fact all of Europe they have the policy that there are ‘no serviceable parts’, to this monitor, ie they can’t open it up and replace the logic board or whatever… whilst looking at posts relating to this issue in the US, you can… So I either have find and ship it to a repairer in the US or bin it.. Not very impressed Apple… once again we in the UK seem to get second class service from you.. (as well as paying a lot more to buy it in the first place). Since posting, I’ve seen a lot more reports of this around, some guy has even put a vid up on you tube…. what a let down for such an expensive piece of hardware!!!!

  15. Don

    It is not the monitor. I had the exact same problem. Apple replaced several parts, and ultimately replaced my MacPro. Still had the problem. They finally suggesting replacing the box that the monitor dvi cable plugs into and said if that didn’t solve the problem they would replace the monitor as well. After replacing that box, I never had the problem again. That was 3 years ago.

  16. nick g

    It’s not the graphics card.. I’ve got three 30″ screens hooked up to a new mac pro running snow leopard, and one of them has started doing this.. tried it with different bricks/cables, different graphics cards. Still the same problem… Then tried it on an older mac pro (first intel model) running and older version of leopard.. and still the same, indicating that it’s the monitor alone.. taking it in tomorrow to see if it can be repaired.. Will let everyone know…

  17. Kevin Morgan

    We have a couple of these at work that exhibit this problem, the reliable way we get rid of it is to unplug the monitor from its power supply brick for a second. That implies that it’s a problem with the 30″ hardware somehow. We’ve tried too many G5s and Mac Pros on 10.4.x, 10.5.x, 10.6.x, and too many different graphics cards, the problem reliably follows the monitors and their power supply regardless of what machine setup it’s plugged into.

    Doesn’t happen on the other 7 30″s we have, and these two are some of the oldest we have, perhaps the problem got fixed in later production runs? Maybe we should collect serial numbers and figure it out …

  18. Jamie Steidl

    I’m not sure I agree with Tony about it being the graphics card. Here’s why. I take a screen shot of the nasty dancing green pixels that follow the areas of high contrast, then unplug and replug the video display from the computer, and when I look at the screen shot, it’s fine. This tells me that the image (frame buffer memory) in the display card which is being saved in the screen shot doesn’t have the problem. It’s only when the screen tries to render the image that the problem happens. Quad Core intel mac here with GeForce 7300 GT graphics running latest version of leopard. It only happens when the monitor sleeps (not the computer). If I unplug and replug it goes away (or sleep computer or restart computer). Turning off the monitor doesn’t fix it (probably just turns lamp off).

  19. Tony B

    Guys it is a problem with certain mac graphics cards. Usually having to do with running multiple monitors and an old OS. Getting a certain card (only certain ones will fix the problem), and I did it and can’t remember which card it was now, but check online there is much talk about it. It’s not the monitor it’s the power supply from the apple. And it is fixed in newer versions of the OS as they reallocate power. In fact I haven’t heard of this problem for a cple of years. I thought it was solved already fro everyone. Google and u’ll find the answer. Meanwhile make sure you have the most recent update of whichever OS u are using (I’m in Tiger 4.2 for eg), or Leopard and u should be fine. also turn off the power save mode, that gets it started, and turn off your screen saver.

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  21. Jon

    —-It only happens after the screen resumes from sleep——-

    exactly same problem, I think it is the graphics card is not able to supply enough power through the connection at times… just a hair underpowered, and restarting it resets power… i don’t think it is the screen, for instance the length of the cable matters, and unplugging the DVI cable and plugging it back in will work 70% of the time.

    i have a GeForce 8800GT, with TWO 30″ cinema displays, one displays the problem with the green dancing pixels, but clears itself with the dvi unplugging, and the other displays a ghosting, which also clears itself with a restart, and these two things happen about 20% of the time after screen sleep, not a deep sleep.

  22. Pissed

    Same here. I just unplug the dvi plug it back in and voila back to normal.

    It only happens after the screen resumes from sleep. I turn off power management it never goes to s3 sleep and the problem mever happens. Strange thing is that if you turn off and on the screen the are still there.

  23. david

    I have the same problem with my 30 in as well. I have found that taking a tooth brush with some alcohol on it and rub the connector on the display cable and them put it back on the card seems to make my problem go away for a while but it seems to always come back when i am heavily involved on a project when i need it the most.

  24. Lloyd

    I have 30″ and 20″ on a GeForce 8800GT in a 2×2.66 Dual Core with 4G of RAM. Same problem. I recently replaced a bad ATI Radeon 1900 XT with the GeForce 8800GT… BOTH cards had the same issue with the green dancing pixels. I usually just restart and it goes away most of the time.

  25. Ben

    I’ve had this problem on two different 30″ cinema displays. It was fixed by tightening the DVI connection. At first I thought the display was going, but it was really just a loose cable.

  26. Andrew

    I discovered as well that unplugging the monitor cable to the power supply (not the power cord) removed the green pixels. In some cases it was only temporary but when trying it again they stayed away for longer periods. Not sure if the connection here. I am dealing with a reseller tech who thinks its either the graphics card or the logic board. Thing is…why would the power supply make the monitor randomly produce the green pixels once and a while. Is it a power surge prob from over heating or something?

    Or is it causing some interference somehow in the signal. I am not techy so someone explain it to me if they can. lol


  27. Steve Perkins

    30″ display with red [ixels that swam the screen and blue vertical bands. I took display into Apple and it seemed to work fine. I purchased a new graphics card with no luck. I even bought a new mac and still the same. I switched it to another mac further away in our office and that worked for a while. If I switch to one of the other plugs on card that is for smaller displays it seems to work fine except that defeats the purpose of such a big display. I am wondering if it is in power supply (overheating?) or if it is caused by electrical interference in the building.

  28. Masahiro

    I recently discovered a problem with my two years old 30″ Apple Cinema Display with green or purple splashing/flickering lines crossing the screen. It happens when I connect to the main DVI port with high resolution (2560×1600) set up and does not happen with the other DVI port of my NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphic card. (BTW The display is connected to MacPro 2.66 dual-core 3GB memory Mac OS Leopard.) I have another NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphic card installed and tested, the result was the same.
    It shows the same, green or purple splashing/flickering lines crossing the screen when I use the primary DVI port.
    I also tested the power supply adapter from other 30″ Apple Cinema Display and the result was the same.
    It seems like the problem is in either the cable or the logic board inside the Display but not sure.
    Any suggestions?
    PS I could also attach the image of the screen, if you could respond me with your address.

  29. mark dietterich

    I have a intel 8 core w/ 12 gigs of ram, ati1900 video and new 30″ monitor dual linked with a wacom 20ux cintiq. Everything works lovely here! My pictures are absolutely beautiful.

  30. Ian

    I bought a Dr Bott Moniswitch Pro DVI Pro for use with a Dell 3007WFP-HC. I have flashing red, green and blue pixels on full colour images, particularly in the darker areas. I have returned the unit to Dr Bott and am waiting for a reply. Either the unit or the cable(s) is at fault, all is fine without them. Any one got a solution yet?

  31. Frost

    I’ve tried that a long time ago Ken, it still happens on both Dual Link DVI ports on the graphics card.

  32. site admin Post author

    I’ve found the fix: Just blog about it and all your troubles will disappear. Seriously, after having this problem for years, it has not appeared for more than two weeks. Weird.

  33. Simon

    Well I’m wrong. The Dell works fine, the cables work fine. It’s the KVM itself which is the issue. I have the Moniswitch Pro DVI DL (2560 x 1600) 4 port switch and when I hook my systems up via that KVM I get dancing pixels exactly as seen in the image on this page. I bought a cheap ACER monitor and hooked that up and I had the same issue. But when I remove the KVM entirely from the equation then the monitors work fine. Everything is DVI-D with all the proper dual link cables.

  34. Simon

    Actually, I think I nailed the issue on my Dell 30″. When I use the supplied DVI cable from Dell to connect the monitor DIRECTLY to the Mac laptop or the workstation PC or my G4 it works like a dream (no dancing pixels). It’s only when I try to connect the monitor through the KVM that the pixels appear. I’m not entirely sure if it’s the KVM itself or the cables that came with it (still testing) but I’m convinced there is nothing wrong with the monitor.


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