Archive of Monday, June 16th, 2014 News                   Go to Current News Page

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Report on repeated 2011 MacBook Pro Video Problems/Logic board replacements
(Feb. 2015 Update: Apple posted an Early 2011 to Early 2013 MacBook Pro Repair Extension Program for Video/GPU Issues)

(original post from June 16, 2014 follows)
From a reader mail. See below for link to (long) 2011 MacBook Pro forum thread on problems/repairs.

Late 2011 15" MacBook Pro issues?
Have you heard anything about systemic issues with the early (above says Late) 2011 15" MacBook Pros (w/ATI graphics)? Mine had the logic board fail three times in the 2 years that I've owned it (1st: no video output, 2nd/3rd: graphics corruption at power-on, no boot). The 1st and 3rd time it happened during normal, non-intensive use. The 2nd time it happened as I started up Mass Effect 2 under BootCamp. I learned later that the previous owner of the laptop also had the logic board replaced under warranty once before selling it to me.

That's 4 logic boards in 3 years. o_O
Either there's a systemic issue with the model line or my unit had a separate problem that just led to premature logic board failure.

Glad I had AppleCare! (AppleCare is transferable.) The first two times (for me), Apple replaced the logic board and everything was fine (until it wasn't, of course). The third time, they were going to replace the board again until I politely pointed out that this was the third time and there seems to be a pattern. The Genius lady said, "Give me a moment to talk to somebody about this." When she came back, she had a late 2013 15" Retina MacBook Pro in her arms and said it was mine if I was okay with that... Um, hang on, let me think about that... Yeah - I'm okay with that!

I actually ended up with the higher-spec model (paid for the difference in price between the two). So, all in all, I'm a happy camper. I'm just wondering if I just had a bum unit or if we're looking at a bigger issue. Thanks again for the site.
-Jason K."

Glad it worked out as it did. (IIRC, some states have a lemon law after 3 repairs for the same problem.) I remember Apple docs/reports on problems with 2010 MacBook Pros (w/Nvidia 330/320M) and older models w/infamous 8600M chip failures (links to posts/repairs/apple docs still on the Video topics page here) but didn't recall any apple docs/repair program on the 2011 MBPs. I do remember posts and articles on using a GFX utility to switch GPUs (and cooling fan utils) but checking Apple's MBP forum shows the original (from Feb. 2013) thread on 2011 MacBook Pro Discrete Graphics problems is now 400+ pages (as of mid-June 2014) and has reports of multiple repairs from some owners. (Several readers also replied about 2011 MacBook Pro GPU failures.)

Deja-Vu from previous BGA problems (some blame lead-free solder) and comments on excessive thermal paste. (That problem was seen on the first MacBook Pros in 2006 - thick slabs/gobs of it.)

It's not the entire reason but cases like these remind me of form over function/the obsession with thin designs, often at the expense of reliability. (At least for those that use software that stresses the processors.) And in some cases, thin designs sacrifice repairability and maintainability. But it seems thinner and lighter continues to be the design and marketing focus and touted at almost every keynote/new product intro. (I guess that's what most customers want and what 'sells'.)

More efficient/lower voltage CPUs/GPUs and better cooling/designs may make all the past problems just a bad memory. But I'd gladly trade some thickness for a cooler and quieter running (even when heavily stressed) higher performance notebook that's also user serviceable. (Not a closed box that requires a service center repair for everything.) I'm not the target market though.

Apple/Mac/iOS related News/Rumors/Op-Ed/PR:

Saw an apple forum post on a Aperture graphic card issue with full resolution images after updating to OS X 10.9.3 on a Mac Pro with both Nvidia GT120 and AMD 5770 cards installed. He said it wasn't a problem if only 1 of the 2 cards were installed. (And I assume Aperture was OK with both cards installed before updating to OS X 10.9.3.) I don't post there but wonder if he tried a a Combo reinstall, removing any 3rd party add-ons or if the Nvidia driver updates for OS X 10.9.3 would help. (And some are still posting about multi-display problems they've had with 10.9.3.)

Apple Support Article Updates:

(Topic-based page of Tips, Troubleshooting & How-To Guides for Mac/OS X/iOS Users here.)

Recent Articles/Tips/Tweaks/Reviews:
Listing/links of Updates, DIY mod/upgrade articles, Tips and more you may have missed. (Mac EFI/SMC/SW updates, Mac compatible 802.11ac wifi cards/adapters, Radeon 7970 in 2007 Mac Pro, Mac mini/MBP/iMac internal Mini-PCIe eSATA Card Mods, OS X Updates/Tips/Problems, Low-Cost CPU Upgrades for early Mac Pros/Xserves and Minis, Mac Mini SSD upgrades, OS X SSD Trim Enablers, DIY Fusion drives and more.)

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Previous News Archive Summary:
    Friday June 13th, 2014 News
  • Apple 5W European USB Power Adapter Exchange Program
  • OWC Makes Replacing Your 2008/2009 MacBook Air Battery Simple (sponsor blog)
  • Updated Apple guide to Installing or replacing memory in a Late 2013 Mac Pro
  • Headphone makers will be wary of Apple's Lightning audio pitch
  • Roundup of the MFi Game Controllers from the E3 Show
  • How the Mac is invading the enterprise

For links to older news pages, see the Archives.

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