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Apple's 2011 MacBook Pro lineup suffering from sporadic GPU failures

post #1 of 126
Thread Starter 
Owners of early-2011 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros are reporting issues with the discrete AMD graphics processors in their notebooks, which in some cases results in the failure of the component, leaving an expensive logic board replacement as the only remedy.

MacBook Pro


The problem, as highlighted by multiple threads on Apple's Support Communities forum, first presents itself as a graphical glitch -- or, in more serious cases, complete system lockup -- when an affected MacBook Pro switches from the integrated Intel graphics chip to the discrete AMD graphics processing unit, or GPU. Reports of the issue first cropped up in February, but have become more frequent over the past month.

In 2010, Apple introduced the automatic graphics switching system, which dynamically shifts the processing load between the integrated chip and the discrete GPU based on what the user is doing. Owners of MacBook Pros built prior to 2010 have to manually select the more powerful GPU from OS X Settings, which forces the operating system to restart.

Users of affected machines report that display discoloration, banding, and image distortion are the most common visible symptoms, but many say that their computers suddenly freeze without any of the graphical warning signs. Rebooting --?even several times in succession --?rarely fixes the problem, and some have even tried to remedy the situation by forcing their laptop to use the integrated chip exclusively with only moderate degrees of success.

Data compiled from several Apple Support Communities threads by forum user "saramwrap" suggests that the majority of affected users are using early-2011 MacBook Pros with the AMD Radeon 6750M GPU, though failures are not limited to that chip. Those whose notebooks contain Radeon 6490M, 6750M, and 6970M GPUs are also experiencing the problem.

Apple has yet to address the fairly widespread issue, with many users reporting that the only repair option given to those without AppleCare coverage is a complete logic board replacement at a cost of $500 or more.

Apple's popular laptop line ran into similar troubles soon after its early 2011 hardware refresh, coming to light in another Apple support forum thread that now stretches more than 140 pages with over 2,000 replies. ArsTechnica reported at the time that Apple was aware of the issue and specifically targeted the problem with a special build of the OS X 10.6.7 update.
post #2 of 126
That proves it's form over function and that a $400 notebook is better. /s
post #3 of 126

I had this issue 2 months ago. It started with some graphical glitches and it worsen by the week. In the end it would freeze minutes after a reboot.

Took to an Apple Store, PRAM reset got me an extra week until all the problems returned. Had to fork over £400 to get the motherboard replaced :(

post #4 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ingo Hoffmann View Post

I had this issue 2 months ago. It started with some graphical glitches and it worsen by the week. In the end it would freeze minutes after a reboot.
Took to an Apple Store, PRAM reset got me an extra week until all the problems returned. Had to fork over £400 to get the motherboard replaced 1frown.gif

Did this still occur when you switched between to the iGPU over the dGPU?

I thought warranties for items were 2 full years in the UK for electronics.
post #5 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by akqies View Post

That proves it's form over function and that a $400 notebook is better. /s

Speaking as an IT technician that has to fix those $400 notebooks you're full of crap.

 

Failure rate of MacBook Pros are CONSIDERABLY less than the failure rate of a $400 laptop.

 

There's still the elephant in the room though. That $400 notebook is still running a crap OS... even with Linux on it (Yes I damn well went there).

post #6 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by akqies View Post


Did this still occur when you switched between to the iGPU over the dGPU?

Yes. After about 1 1/2 week on iGPU the problem started to show up again. gfxCardStatus didn't help much unfortunately.

post #7 of 126

Well that's one way to promote Apple Care

post #8 of 126
Is it just me or does this not happen with nVidia? Yes, I'm going there.
post #9 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryn Lowe View Post

Speaking as an IT technician that has to fix those $400 notebooks you're full of crap.

Is /s really an unknown concept for someone1) on the internet, 2) on an internet forum, 3) who has been a member of this forum for over 1.5 years?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ingo Hoffmann View Post

Yes. After about 1 1/2 week on iGPU the problem started to show up again. gfxCardStatus didn't help much unfortunately.

Hmm. Considering it's happening across multiple dGPUs and the iGPU this seems different from other GPU issues that have cropped up over the years. I hope you get your money back for the new MoBo when this is all said and done.
post #10 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter View Post

Is it just me or does this not happen with nVidia? Yes, I'm going there.

There have been plenty of issues with Nvidia components. Here's one major issue involving Macs: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2377
post #11 of 126
Wait a minute. I thought the narrative was that Apple moved away from nvidia in their notebooks supposedly because of video chipset failure. Now AMDs are failing?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #12 of 126

I have a mid-2012 15" MacBook Pro. "Graphics  NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1024 MB"

post #13 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by akqies View Post
Hmm. Considering it's happening across multiple dGPUs and the iGPU this seems different from other GPU issues that have cropped up over the years. I hope you get your money back for the new MoBo when this is all said and done.

Hope so too man. It was very weird and I thought of *gasp* reformat. But working on IT I tried to isolate the issues and in the end what happens is the smallest change in GPU, sometimes unnoticeable, crashed the whole laptop.

 

The system.log messages were pretty weird and the Apple Quick Hardware Diagnostic that the Genius runs shows no problem at all.

post #14 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post
 

Well that's one way to promote Apple Care

 

Or perhaps Apple to get into the GPU business. I wonder if those Ax graphics guys can help out ;)

post #15 of 126
I completely forgot about the 8600M GT. I should have said, in the last five years has there been problems with nVidia but that statement could come back to bite me as well because we do not know how the 2012 rMBP will be a few years from now.
post #16 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryn Lowe View Post

Speaking as an IT technician that has to fix those $400 notebooks you're full of crap.
Quote:
Many of those $400 laptops aren't that easy to fix either.
Failure rate of MacBook Pros are CONSIDERABLY less than the failure rate of a $400 laptop.
Quote:
The issue with GPUs is wide spread! The good thing with a $400 laptop is that it likely has an integrated GPU.
There's still the elephant in the room though. That $400 notebook is still running a crap OS... even with Linux on it (Yes I damn well went there).

Which is a huge point if you had to ever run the latest versions of Windows. Linux isn't that bad if you GUI expectations are low and you can deal with the limited app environment
post #17 of 126
This happened to one of our 2012 15" MBP's just last week. To our surprise, Apple support acknowledged the problem and agreed to fix it for free even though the machine is out of warranty.
post #18 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

Well that's one way to promote Apple Care

AppleCare for a MBP is $349, it still isn't a good deal. In fact it is a terrible deal considering it only provide 3 years of warranty protection.
post #19 of 126

I had this on a 17" way back... I posted in the Apple forums about my experience and was contacted directly by Apple. They replaced my older model with the brand newest 17" -that happened to be the last of its kind :(

post #20 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter View Post

Is it just me or does this not happen with nVidia? Yes, I'm going there.

Actually NVidia had a huge problems in MBPs a few years ago. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the move to AMD was the result of that issue. In NVidias case it was a solder joint failure problem. We don't know what is up with the AMD failures but at this point they don't appear to be even close to what owners of those NVidia powered machine experienced.

It will be interesting to see what the root cause is with this stuff. it could be an assembly problem, an AMD design problem or a problem with TSMC processes.
post #21 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Wait a minute. I thought the narrative was that Apple moved away from nvidia in their notebooks supposedly because of video chipset failure. Now AMDs are failing?

Funny isn't it?

It will be interesting to see if they can come up with a common failure mode like the NVidia chips had. Frankly I don't think at this point they really know, however this seems to cover a wider array of chips so mostly likely there is more than one thing going on here.
post #22 of 126
Finally an admission. I just spent the last three weeks trying to get mine fixed for this very problem. 9 round trips, 450 miles and three weeks later I am finally up and running. Two logic board replacements. First one I had to send off because it was out of warranty then it came back and lasted a few hours and was worse than before. I don't know how they couldn't duplicate the problem. It showed up initially a few times then got to where it happened every time I used the discrete chip or external display. It was then followed up by locking up hard and overheating then when I powered on I would see screen issues where before it was only after switching to the discrete video. After the logic board, memory and hd were replaced I used it the next day and it locked up again. I could quit the program that made it switch then it would recover but eventually got to where it would not and the screen was either pink or snow on power up. They then replaced the logic board in the store since it was covered by the new board 90 day warranty. That one lasted a week then failed again. They then replaced the laptop and had to custom order it since I had the Hires anti-glare screen. It finally came in then when I went to pick it up they had used the standard screen. I had to get them to order a new one and finally got it back yesterday. So far so good. I haven't really every had an issue with Apple but at least they took care of it. Too bad it took so long to admit there was a problem and make me pay for it.
post #23 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post

Or perhaps Apple to get into the GPU business. I wonder if those Ax graphics guys can help out 1wink.gif

Interesting that you should ask considering how many AMD engineers Apple has hired lately. However how much these guys can help out depends entirely on why the GPU's are failing. For all we know people could be over clocking them.
post #24 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


AppleCare for a MBP is $349, it still isn't a good deal. In fact it is a terrible deal considering it only provide 3 years of warranty protection.

 

Was a good deal for me. I purchased it for my first-generation MBP and had 

  • A battery replaced
  • A power supply replaced
  • Both cooling fans replaced

 

I think there was one other thing that went wrong with it, but I can't remember now. It's generally recommended for laptops because of the harsh environment (limited cooling, getting knocked about).

 

I purchased it for my (yep) Early 2011 MBP and so far haven't needed it for anything, but I'm still glad I have it. Even more-so now after reading this article. I'm kind of hoping my machine acts up in the next six months while it's still covered! 

post #25 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter View Post

I completely forgot about the 8600M GT. I should have said, in the last five years has there been problems with nVidia but that statement could come back to bite me as well because we do not know how the 2012 rMBP will be a few years from now.

The problem with GPU's, be they from NVidia, Intel, AMD or somebody else, is that they are ran very hard in modern systems. Even in Haswell the GPU is often the hottest part of the chip by a large measure. Discrete GPU's can often be a significant portion of the entire power used in a laptop.

Running hot is a problem for all electronics. Along with that the chips often run on bleeding edge silicon processes that don't have the reliability history and production refinement to predict suitable operating conditions.

Then we have the nonsense of the me too crowd that equates their personal failure to the failure of all other users out there. Right now we don't know what is going on or even if it is an AMD failure. It could very well be Apples custom GPU switching facility for all we know. That is only if the failure mode is consistent across all reported problems. The important thing here is to not jump to conclusions as most likely the evidence isn't there yet to say what is going on.
post #26 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ingo Hoffmann View Post
 

I had this issue 2 months ago. It started with some graphical glitches and it worsen by the week. In the end it would freeze minutes after a reboot.

Took to an Apple Store, PRAM reset got me an extra week until all the problems returned. Had to fork over £400 to get the motherboard replaced :(


Given the UK's stringent consumer protection, why would you fork over the money?  I believe the UK legislation doesn't state a specific time limit but does state that if a product fails sooner than would be reasonable to expect, taking into account the nature and cost of the item, then you can demand it be fixed.

 

Given what Macbook pros cost, less than 3 years use would be well inside the period one could reasonably expect given the nature of the product and especially the high price paid.

post #27 of 126

Told you guys. Lead free solder + thermal cycling = failure. It's not just ATI, nVidia or Microsoft, it's an industry-wide problem.

post #28 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post
 


Given the UK's stringent consumer protection, why would you fork over the money?  I believe the UK legislation doesn't state a specific time limit but does state that if a product fails sooner than would be reasonable to expect, taking into account the nature and cost of the item, then you can demand it be fixed.

 

Given what Macbook pros cost, less than 3 years use would be well inside the period one could reasonably expect given the nature of the product and especially the high price paid.

Because I bought this MBP in the US, so it was out of warranty after an year.

post #29 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames4242 View Post

Was a good deal for me. I purchased it for my first-generation MBP and had 
  • A battery replaced
Batteries are someplace between 90 and $140
Quote:
[*] A power supply replaced
A power supply is $79.
Quote:
[*] Both cooling fans replaced
Cooling fans are unknown to me at this time but lets face it if you take them out of the equation you spend $350 for maybe $160 worth of parts.
Quote:
I think there was one other thing that went wrong with it, but I can't remember now. It's generally recommended for laptops because of the harsh environment (limited cooling, getting knocked about).
I don't deny the environment is harsh but that varies with user. I still maintain that Apple is the only one that makes out well with Apple Care on Macs. Your questionable success above doesn't mean that everybody gets that sort of value out of Apple Care on a Mac. I'm far less resistant to Apple Care on the iOS devices for an even harsher environment they live in.
Quote:
I purchased it for my (yep) Early 2011 MBP and so far haven't needed it for anything, but I'm still glad I have it.
Why? Wouldn't you rather have that money in the bank?
Quote:
Even more-so now after reading this article. I'm kind of hoping my machine acts up in the next six months while it's still covered! 
That sounds ridiculous honestly. Why would you hope for a machine to fail if it is working well right now?
post #30 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

Told you guys. Lead free solder + thermal cycling = failure. It's not just ATI, nVidia or Microsoft, it's an industry-wide problem.

That may be true but we don't know if it even applies here. By the way the irrational move to lead free solders is one of the stupidest things to come out of the European union since it was formed. Lead in electronics is nothing like lead in gasoline, at least not in the sense that it is spewed into the environment in a random manner from a gasoline engine.
post #31 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter View Post

I completely forgot about the 8600M GT. I should have said, in the last five years has there been problems with nVidia but that statement could come back to bite me as well because we do not know how the 2012 rMBP will be a few years from now.

There's also an issue with the GeForce GT 330M - http://support.apple.com/kb/TS4088

It's been discussed here - https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4159809?start=0&tstart=0 and in a few more posts.

I happen to have this issue on my 2009 15" MBP as well. Kernel panics like crazy on Mountain Lion, works just fine on Snow Leopard. 

Apple has been replacing logic boards on this model of MBP and they did extend support up 3 years for it.

---
iMac Early '08- 20", 2.66 Ghz C2D, 320Gb HD, ATI 2600 Pro, 4Gb RAM 800 Mhz DDR2 SDRAM
MBP Mid '10 - 15", 2.4 Ghz i5, 320Gb HD, NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M, 4Gb RAM 1066 Mhz DDR3
4Gen. iPod Nano - 8Gb

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iMac Early '08- 20", 2.66 Ghz C2D, 320Gb HD, ATI 2600 Pro, 4Gb RAM 800 Mhz DDR2 SDRAM
MBP Mid '10 - 15", 2.4 Ghz i5, 320Gb HD, NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M, 4Gb RAM 1066 Mhz DDR3
4Gen. iPod Nano - 8Gb

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post #32 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


Batteries are someplace between 90 and $140
A power supply is $79.
Cooling fans are unknown to me at this time but lets face it if you take them out of the equation you spend $350 for maybe $160 worth of parts.
I don't deny the environment is harsh but that varies with user. I still maintain that Apple is the only one that makes out well with Apple Care on Macs. Your questionable success above doesn't mean that everybody gets that sort of value out of Apple Care on a Mac. I'm far less resistant to Apple Care on the iOS devices for an even harsher environment they live in.
Why? Wouldn't you rather have that money in the bank?
That sounds ridiculous honestly. Why would you hope for a machine to fail if it is working well right now?

 

Your point is fair, extended warrantees are never designed to save the consumer money, they make a lot of money for the folks that sell them. There are very few devices on which I would purchase them, but a laptop is one of them. 15 years ago I had the screen go out on a $2500 Sony laptop and I was quoted some ludicrous price of about $1000 to replace it, but the extended warrantee I purchased covered it. In my case, I didn't pay $350 for AppleCare: I get a corporate discount which knocks it down to right around $300; I may or may not have broken even. The battery was worth $130, the power supply $80, which leaves $90 for two CPU fans and the labor Apple would have charged to replace them. I'd bet that would have gone over $90.

 

Anyway, for a device that runs as hot as it does and subject to that sort of torture, $300 isn't much for me to know that I'll not have to fork over a grand for a logic board replacement should one be required. As for hoping my machine fails, I'd prefer it doesn't ever fail. But if it's going to, better during the three years it's covered than at three-and-a-half. My 1st-gen MBP served me for six years before I decided it was time to replace it. I hope this one lasts me as long...

post #33 of 126

Back in 2006 or 2007, there was a big problem with nVidia GPU in laptops that were overheating, burning out WiFi cards, then eventually burn out the motherboard.  I remember this because I kept replacing WiFi cards in my HP laptop but it would function for several hours and then it fails.  nVidia and HP tried to remedy the problem by keep the fan on all the time, but eventually nVidia had to do a massive recall and many PC/Mac were getting replacements for a small fee.

 

Those were the days of custom PC mods.  For a while modder knew the manufacturers put in some cheap thermal grease between the CPU and the heat-sink/fans and we replace them with something like Artic Silver to get better heat conduction and more stable systems.

post #34 of 126
same happened to me. i was so disheartened that i was very close to abandoning ship. after 30 years of committed support to apple computer, i couldnt believe the state of things, with this and the trackpad problem (my mouse was jumping all over and the apple measurements read it was fine). i decided to give it another chance, cause after all in 30 years it really was the only major problem.. but seriously.. with all the money they have to spend, maybe they could invest it a little bit in making sure they r not ripping off their customers. a little less profit wouldnt hurt them nearly as much as lack of loyalty does. peace

apple user since 1983..

IIe, IIc, 128k, Plus, Se/30, IIci, LC, SI, LCIII, PPC7100, G3, iMac Bondi

Newton MP2000, iPod 10Gb / Touch 4g, iPhone / 3G

PowerBook 170 / G3 Lombard / G4 17" 1GHz

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apple user since 1983..

IIe, IIc, 128k, Plus, Se/30, IIci, LC, SI, LCIII, PPC7100, G3, iMac Bondi

Newton MP2000, iPod 10Gb / Touch 4g, iPhone / 3G

PowerBook 170 / G3 Lombard / G4 17" 1GHz

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post #35 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winter View Post

I completely forgot about the 8600M GT. I should have said, in the last five years has there been problems with nVidia but that statement could come back to bite me as well because we do not know how the 2012 rMBP will be a few years from now.

That's true, however that is older (nVidia has PC issues as well with some of those older chips dying).  For the moment the newer nVidia cards in iMacs and Mac laptops seem to be doing okay (although that may just be because they are too new to show large failure rates).

 

Currently it seems the AMD chips from the 2011's Macs are having a hard time.  Apple currently has an out of warranty replacement program for AMD chips on 2011 27" iMac's because of a high failure rate.  The replacement program for the iMac covers the entire production run (not just some bad chips from a batch or two) - making me wonder if the video cards just cook themselves (i.e. poor cooling design) ...I'll be unloading my iMac after it comes back from the free replacement service (its in right now).

 

I think for laptops and iMacs (which often use laptop components and have the same heating issues because of the tight spaces) Apple Care is a good thing.  I'd prefer larger cases for iMacs so we didn't have to worry about this stuff.

post #36 of 126

Okay, so I have so many questions. I have an early 2011 MBP and ever since I got it I have been convinced it's a lemon. It runs fine on the HD 3000 chip, but as soon as it switches to the 6750m it gets ridiculously hot. Many times while using graphic intensive programs it would shut down. I have been to the apple store twice and both times they were unable to duplicate the results I got, IE crashing. I basically accepted that I couldn't do the things I wanted to do with my computer, but now I am thinking that maybe I do actually have a lemon? I haven't had weird visual glitches just terrible overheating and performance issues. I had complained online to other people with the same model and heard they didn't have the same limitations. Let's say they replace the problem parts, is it just going to happen again? And what do I have to say to them at the store to get things replaced. I don't want to leave again without these issues being resolved. 

post #37 of 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by bananafoot View Post

Okay, so I have so many questions. I have an early 2011 MBP and ever since I got it I have been convinced it's a lemon. It runs fine on the HD 3000 chip, but as soon as it switches to the 6750m it gets ridiculously hot. Many times while using graphic intensive programs it would shut down. I have been to the apple store twice and both times they were unable to duplicate the results I got, IE crashing. I basically accepted that I couldn't do the things I wanted to do with my computer, but now I am thinking that maybe I do actually have a lemon? I haven't had weird visual glitches just terrible overheating and performance issues. I had complained online to other people with the same model and heard they didn't have the same limitations. Let's say they replace the problem parts, is it just going to happen again? And what do I have to say to them at the store to get things replaced. I don't want to leave again without these issues being resolved. 

It seems like you should be able to reproduce a component overheating.
post #38 of 126
I had the same issue on my 2010 MBP 15" i7 not that long ago and only weeks before the warranty ran out, I had extended AC. My motherboard was replaced by Apple I am glad to say. The guy I worked with extremely helpful.
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
Reply
post #39 of 126

Dear ALL,

 

I also got this problem about a month ago. My MBP (15-inch) was bought on early 2011 (April timeframe, with Sandy Bridge) along with 4GB RAM and 500GB HDD, 2.2GHz i7, and discrete AMD Radeon GPU 6750M.

 

The sporadic GPU failure took place when I connected my MBP with an external monitor  (2550x1440 resolution) and the system got very hot when I play video on the Youtube which I believes MBP used discrete graphics. After 30 minutes or so, the system die out and hang on "low resolution" apple logo after a boot. Reset or others did not help. So I brought the MBP to Apple Shop and the engineer immediately said this is the motherboard issue and need to charge me US$ 550 for replacement (since I don't have the AppleCare coverage). This gave me no choice but force me to pay if I still need to use my only MBP. 

 

However, if this is a well-known fault or hardware bug, Apple should not charge anything at all. I will lower my customer satisfaction if this proves to be hardware fault at the end rather than misuse of the machine.

 

QK 

post #40 of 126
Those are Intels products not Apple.
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