or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › Apple opens video card replacement program for certain mid-2011 iMacs
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apple opens video card replacement program for certain mid-2011 iMacs

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Addressing complaints from owners, Apple has decided to institute a replacement program for graphics cards used in specific 27-inch iMac models sold between May 2011 and October 2012.

iMac


According to a document on Apple's Support webpage, the AMD Radeon HD 6970M video cards shipped with certain 27-inch iMac desktop configurations would fail, causing the display to "appear distorted, white or blue with vertical lines." In some cases, the screen would simply go black.

Models covered in the replacement program include high-end "mid-2011" 27-inch iMacs with 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 or 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processors. The all-in-ones first hit store shelves in May 2011 and remained on sale until the current ultra thin iMacs debuted in October 2012.

Apple will replace failed video cards free of charge for up to three years after the initial purchase date. In addition, people who may have paid for repair or replacement associated with the issue can seek a refund.

Those affected by the issue can take their iMac in for evaluation at the Genius Bar of a local Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. If those services are unavailable, owners are instructed to call Apple Technical Support for other further options.
post #2 of 19
Do we know WHY the cards are failing? I remember, on the first-gen MBPs, Apple underclocked the Radeon chips by 30% to avoid overheating. Also, is there any evidence that the Mac mini Radeon's might be similarly affected?
post #3 of 19

I wish Apple would have had a replacement program for the iMacs that had a video card problem in mid 2007.

 

I've been stuck with 10.6.2 because of it. Only learned about the problem 2 1/2 - 3 years after purchase.

 

Fortunately 10.6.2 hasn't been that bad. So far there isn't anything I can't do with this computer that I need or want to do.

 

First time ever in over 20 years that a Mac has failed me.


Edited by island hermit - 8/17/13 at 8:49am
na na na na na...
Reply
na na na na na...
Reply
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by DOSbox-gamer View Post

Do we know WHY the cards are failing? 

 

Three words: lead free solder.

post #5 of 19
Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

Three words: lead free solder.

 

But my environment!

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #6 of 19
Interesting news today:

I have exactly this iMac 27" sitting next to me with this very problem. I have an appointment for next week to replace the graphic card AGAIN, since it was replaced under AppleCare just 6 weeks ago for the same problem.

I kinda wish that my iMac could receive a completely new card other than AMD 6970M, such as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5 used in the new iMacs.

Not that I had any previous problems with the AMD, but just to mitigate future problems. I know this tends to be "batch manufacturing" problems, but still would like to keep this iMac working for a long time, as I have with all of my other Macs over the years.

Regardless of how convenient, slick, and powerful a fully loaded iMac really is, it does make you reconsider the All-In-One philosophy and buying decision when a problem such as this arises.

NOTE: I must say these AMD's run extremely hot! I had the iMac on again yesterday only in Target Disk mode... and it STILL kicked in the fans, even with a busted card. Pulled my preference files and turned it off for fear of frying something else(!) I HATE being afraid of a computer!!!... just sayin'...1smoking.gif
Knowing what you are talking about would help you understand why you are so wrong. By "Realistic" - AI Forum Member
Reply
Knowing what you are talking about would help you understand why you are so wrong. By "Realistic" - AI Forum Member
Reply
post #7 of 19
Yes we know why these cards are failing.  It is due to heat. (And although I agree that those pesky whiskers that grow over time out of Pb-free solder can cause shorts, those are not the cause of iMac video card failures.) 
 
I had AppleCare when I purchased my Nov. 2009 iMac i7 2.8GHz.  It had some freezing issues a year later so I took it in to the Apple Store in Nagoya Japan, but sadly they didn't find anything wrong.  Then a few months after my AppleCare expired this year, the computer would not boot.  Frustrated, I wrote an email to Tim Cook.  (No, I did not expect to receive a positive reply, but sometimes you have to do things for conscience sake.)  To my delight though, I received a reply from one of the top brass in Singapore (because I am based in Japan), I was told that a senior Apple engineer would telephone me to confirm if I had tested everything to exclude it being a software problem.  But since I had tested everything (including a fresh OS install), I only had to spend 5 minutes with the engineer for him to confirm the problem.
 
In the end, they had my local Apple Store Nagoya (Sakae) swap out the video card (as well as the main logic board and hard drive and LCD display for good measure), and the problem was solved.  And because I was granted a Special AppleCare Exemption, it was replaced at no cost to me.  But the root problem was the video card, and failed due to heat.  Even the replacement (which is the same card) gets very hot.  Right now it is running at almost 70°C as per smcFanControl.  It cools to about 55°C when the fans spin up rapidly.  But I am still concerned that this card too may fail a year or two hence.
post #8 of 19

Lead free solder is a whole lot more brittle than solder with lead in it. It also is a lot more difficult to get it to reflow correctly. The combination of those two factors causes a ton of issues under thermal cycling.

post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

 

Three words: lead free solder.

Yea, it's called "silver".  It's another basic element akin to lead, however more conductive.

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

Lead free solder is a whole lot more brittle than solder with lead in it. It also is a lot more difficult to get it to reflow correctly. The combination of those two factors causes a ton of issues under thermal cycling.

Well, yes and no.  

 

Lead free solder being more brittle.  No.  That's an elemental function.  Especially if you're talking about Silver.  Silver will provide a higher bond, better conductivity and in most circumstances is less brittle than Lead (Pb) depending on the application.

 

I have no idea where you're getting the idea of a lead free solder being brittle from, but you should check your sources.

 

Please enlighten me.  I would appreciate it.

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vadania View Post

Lead free solder being more brittle.  No.  That's an elemental function.  Especially if you're talking about Silver.  Silver will provide a higher bond, better conductivity and in most circumstances is less brittle than Lead (Pb) depending on the application.

 

Completely incorrect.

 

http://flipchips.com/tutorial/applications/avoiding-lead-free-brittle-failures/

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/print/volume-19/issue-1/news/news/achieving-reliability-with-lead-free-solders.html

http://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation/white_papers/wp372_Lead_Free_Solder_Ball_Fragility.pdf

 

Lead free solder is not just silver, as you seem to suppose. A typical lead-free solder has no more than a few percent silver. Just like leaded solder, it is an alloy with very complex properties needed to flow, melt at a low temperature, and bond with metals like copper, among other things.


Edited by konqerror - 8/17/13 at 2:52am
post #12 of 19

I have this Mac as well, mine has been running perfectly. No issues what so ever. Do you have to be having a problem to get the card fixed? or can I go in and get my graphics hardware replaced? I'm a little concerned about it failing further down the road.

post #13 of 19
I had this Mac and this problem. After having it serviced several times (covered under AppleCare), they finally just built me a brand new computer for free. They even threw in an external SuperDrive since the new model doesn't have one built in.

I love Apple's customer service.
post #14 of 19
I have never had the problem on my 3.4GHz 27" iMac, but again, I never play games games on my Mac. The most I will do graphics-wise is play full-screen video.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDW View Post

Yes we know why these cards are failing.  It is due to heat. (And although I agree that those pesky whiskers that grow over time out of Pb-free solder can cause shorts, those are not the cause of iMac video card failures.) 
 
I had AppleCare when I purchased my Nov. 2009 iMac i7 2.8GHz.  It had some freezing issues a year later so I took it in to the Apple Store in Nagoya Japan, but sadly they didn't find anything wrong.  Then a few months after my AppleCare expired this year, the computer would not boot.  Frustrated, I wrote an email to Tim Cook.  (No, I did not expect to receive a positive reply, but sometimes you have to do things for conscience sake.)  To my delight though, I received a reply from one of the top brass in Singapore (because I am based in Japan), I was told that a senior Apple engineer would telephone me to confirm if I had tested everything to exclude it being a software problem.  But since I had tested everything (including a fresh OS install), I only had to spend 5 minutes with the engineer for him to confirm the problem.
 
In the end, they had my local Apple Store Nagoya (Sakae) swap out the video card (as well as the main logic board and hard drive and LCD display for good measure), and the problem was solved.  And because I was granted a Special AppleCare Exemption, it was replaced at no cost to me.  But the root problem was the video card, and failed due to heat.  Even the replacement (which is the same card) gets very hot.  Right now it is running at almost 70°C as per smcFanControl.  It cools to about 55°C when the fans spin up rapidly.  But I am still concerned that this card too may fail a year or two hence.

Would any other company do the same? Apple is awesome.

2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

Reply

2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

Reply
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post


Would any other company do the same? Apple is awesome.

Dell did it for me once, back when they were doing well. These days, with their consumer division not doing so well, I doubt they would. Dell replaced a run of the mill Inspiron refurb (which cost me around $1,000) with their top of the line Inspiron XPS model which retailed for over $4,000. The refurb failed on me while I was in the midst of completing a final in college, so perhaps they felt bad for me. At the same time, Apple also replaced the water cooling system on a Quad G5 long after the warranty had expired, but then again that was due to an acknowledged design defect. Either way, I have had pretty good experiences with all of the major computer manufacturers I've dealt with. Even Amazon replaced a Kindle Fire because the glass had broken, even though I admitted it did so because I dropped it. Appliance/TV manufacturers are an entirely different story all together.

post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDW View Post

Yes we know why these cards are failing.  It is due to heat.

Some people support AMD but this has been a problem with quite a few of their GPUs. NVidia has had its share of GPU failures but the ATI X1900XT had heat issues, as did the X1600 in both iMac and MBP and the 6750M in the 2011 MBP. The 6630M gets hot in the Mini too.

I could see this being a motivating factor in Apple moving to Intel graphics. They could leave the high-end dedicated GPUs for the 27" iMac and Mac Pro. This gives an upsell and reduces potential costs if GPU issues arise because they will make up a smaller volume of users.
post #18 of 19
So clearly there's a continual problem with making portable computer GPUs. My MacBook Pro 3,1 is now mostly useless because of the all too common NVIDIA failure. The machine works and i can operate it through screen sharing, but that's useless for doing anything that requires fast UI response and screen updates. So, basically, i can't do graphics, music, video, text editing... i basically have only used it as a glorified juke box since this happened. It has put a major crimp in my music production. i was moving all my music work from my evil PC to that Mac, but now i'm getting nothing accomplished. i'm now waiting for the new Mac Pro. i assume we don't have to worry as much about heat damage in a larger machine with better air flow. This is frustrating. i've enjoyed using Apple computers way more than Windows computers but i feel irritated about the defective GPU issue, which, as this article shows, is a continuing problem and not isolated to NVIDIA.
post #19 of 19
Yep,
I had this problem on my fully-optioned 2011 27" about a year ago. Problem was it was very intermittent! When I went in to the Genius Bar to have it looked at the rig ran perfectly! Luckily they sorted it out...in record time too!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Current Mac Hardware
AppleInsider › Forums › Mac Hardware › Current Mac Hardware › Apple opens video card replacement program for certain mid-2011 iMacs