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Owners of 2011 MacBook Pros report critical GPU failures, system crashes

post #1 of 151
Thread Starter 
It appears a number of early-2011 MacBook Pro models with discrete AMD GPUs are seeing issues with system crashes and hardware failures, with reports of problems escalating in recent weeks.

MBP Screen
Screenshot of MacBook Pro graphics issue. | Source: Apple Support Communities forum member "abelliveau"


According to a 157-page thread on the Apple Support Communities forum, an increasing number of owners of early- to late-2011 MacBook Pros with discrete graphics cards are seeing what is being reported as hardware-related system crashes. And the problem appears to be getting worse.

With 206,237 views and 2,348 replies, the forum thread dates back to February 2013 with a steady stream of posts all citing issues with the discrete graphics card. Since the start of December, 53 pages of posts have been added to the growing discussion.

A majority of cases first see signs of the problem during graphics-intensive operations, like viewing high-definition videos or running heavy compute tasks. Displayed graphics become striated in some cases, while other uses have seen their screens go blank unexpectedly. A reboot temporarily solved the issue for a few forum members, but the problems returned after a short time.

Following the onset of graphical glitches, many users see their machine reboot to a blue or gray screen. For this type of issue, Apple suggests that restarting an affected Mac in Safe Mode, or resetting NVRAM/PRAM will solve the problem. In severe cases, a clean install of OS X is recommended.

As noted by forum posts, these methods -- and more -- were attempted, but did not resolve the issue.

The cause of the reported glitches is unknown at this time, though some users have speculated that heat is to blame for aggressive degradation of the discrete GPU. Some have found a solution in inhibiting automatic graphics switching to the more powerful AMD card through specialized software. Others, however, did not see success with the stopgap and were forced to replace their MacBook's logic board.

While some owners were able to take their machine in to Apple for a logic board swap, the operation is quite pricey without an extended AppleCare warranty.

Anecdotally, one AppleInsider staff member suffered from an identical issue as described in the Support Communities thread. In their case, the screen went black during heavy Photoshop editing. Upon restarting the machine, a blue screen was displayed and the MacBook's fans spooled up to near maximum RPM levels.

Rebooting to single user mode and performing a fsck to check and repair possibly corrupted files fixed the issue temporarily. Forcing the machine to use Intel integrated graphics also seemed to help the problem until the system went down after about one day of normal use.

A clean install was performed, which again revived the MacBook, but this too was short-lived. After repeated attempts to resolve the issue in single user mode and multiple clean installations, the machine is now unresponsive. When turned on, a gray screen with horizontal "squiggly" lines appears, denoting a possible hardware failure.

AppleInsider has reached out to Apple for comment and will update when a response is received.
post #2 of 151
My late 2005 Intel MBP is still trooping along fine, even though I could cook pancakes on it much of the time.
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post #3 of 151
Sounds like the old iBook G3 issues back in the day...
post #4 of 151
I've had the problem of the screen going black two times but I chalked it up to a bug putting the computer back to sleep unexpectedly. I'll have to keep an eye on it.
post #5 of 151
These models had notoriously bad applications of thermal paste on the CPU and GPU. If yours is still working, and you're comfortable with computer repair work, get some good thermal paste and clean and re-apply it on the two chips. iFixit's instructions are excellent, and the whole operation should take about an hour. http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook Pro 15-Inch Unibody Early 2011 Logic Board Replacement/5899
post #6 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

My late 2005 Intel MBP is still trooping along fine, even though I could cook pancakes on it much of the time.

That is an interesting comment considering the Intel MacBook Pros did not come out until 2006.

post #7 of 151
I had a similar issue with a 2010 which lasted about 10 months. My 2012 luckily has been stellar.
post #8 of 151
This is a big concern to me. I have an early 2011 17" MBP, and I have about 60 days left on Apple Care.

I think the documentation of failures should indicate a systematic, rather than random, failure which Apple needs to take care, even after the warranty period has expired.

It is especially important given the 17" is no longer being manufactured. There is no reasonable option for me and those similarly situated.
post #9 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

That is an interesting comment considering the Intel MacBook Pros did not come out until 2006.

Intel switch announced in 2005 + 15" MBP introduced January 2006 + 15" MBP shipped February 2006 + 8 years = an acceptable miscalculation on the year.

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post #10 of 151
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

My late 2005 Intel MBP is still trooping along fine, even though I could cook pancakes on it much of the time.

 

Originally Posted by hillstones View Post
 

That is an interesting comment considering the Intel MacBook Pros did not come out until 2006.

LOL

post #11 of 151
This is what my early 2011 15" MBP is suffering from. I have switched the automatic graphics switching to off, It does for a time, then a reload is necessary.
post #12 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Upon restarting the machine, a blue screen was displayed and the

It seems PCs aren't the only ones to get BSOD

 

And apparently iPhone 5s's too

post #13 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Intel switch announced in 2005 + 15" MBP introduced January 2006 + 15" MBP shipped February 2006 + 8 years = an acceptable miscalculation on the year.

89       :lol:

post #14 of 151
My late 2011 15" MBP just got a new motherboard under AppleCare for this problem.

Got it back and put my 8GB DIMMs back in and it was crashing with no video anomaly - downloaded Remember and Memtest and determined one of the memory cards was bad - that is getting replaced under warranty.

Wish there was an easy/cheap replacement for the Radeon X1600 GPU problem on my old MBP - system still works with the GPU kext files removed but then cannot run any graphics intensive operations.
post #15 of 151
Sorry, wrong thread.
Edited by diplication - 1/16/14 at 9:04pm

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post #16 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

That is an interesting comment considering the Intel MacBook Pros did not come out until 2006.

I must of picked it up during a short jaunt back in time. Even managed to pick up some 2005 email while I was there.
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post #17 of 151
I hate laptops.
post #18 of 151
My early-2011 MBP just had its logic board replaced by Apple due to the graphics issue. Hopefully this won%u2019t resurface...
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post #19 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

This is a big concern to me. I have an early 2011 17" MBP, and I have about 60 days left on Apple Care.

I think the documentation of failures should indicate a systematic, rather than random, failure which Apple needs to take care, even after the warranty period has expired.

It is especially important given the 17" is no longer being manufactured. There is no reasonable option for me and those similarly situated.


I'm in the same boat.  No new 17inch models.  I was planning on using mine for many years.  By then, I was hoping they would bring back the 17".  Hopefully there won't be issues?  Does anyone with a 17" model have this issue?

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post #20 of 151
No word from the Genius Bar? Or do they simply hand out a new one, just like iPhones?
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post #21 of 151
Great! My work MacBook Pro is an Early 2011 MBP with the AMD graphics in it. Hopefully mine keeps working fine. I really never stress it graphically and from what I see most of the time it uses the Intel 3000 graphics. My work is getting so damn cheap I know they won't get me a new one even though I require a Mac for work (Apple IT Administrator in a 2 school districts). They didn't even want to purchase AppleCare for it.

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post #22 of 151
This exact thing happened to my early 2011 mbp 15", this past June. Got so bad that it became unresponsive. Took it into the Apple store and had to get the logic board replaced. Didn't have applecare, so it cost me 600 bucks 1frown.gif
post #23 of 151
Happened with my wife's MBP. Ended up getting a brand new replacement !
post #24 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

This is a big concern to me. I have an early 2011 17" MBP, and I have about 60 days left on Apple Care.

I think the documentation of failures should indicate a systematic, rather than random, failure which Apple needs to take care, even after the warranty period has expired.

It is especially important given the 17" is no longer being manufactured. There is no reasonable option for me and those similarly situated.

I would take into an Apple Store posthaste.

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post #25 of 151

Three rapid-fire logic board replacements (two of those were in the big-guns repair facility in Tennessee) and also replaced RAM didn't solve it for my 2011 17" MBP ... As soon as I plugged in the freshly repaired MBP to the Apple Thunderbolt Display, disaster would strike.  Both screens would freeze, striate, alternate colors, ramp up the cooling fans, and force a hard restart (while dumping a few hundred megabytes of trash blocks onto the hard drive).

 

The final solution (for me) was to accompany a logic board replacement with a new LCD (had to wait 3 weeks for it to be built I guess) as well as a new aluminum frame/casing for the whole laptop.  Seriously -- I'm guessing there was some perfect storm of crappy thunderbolt connection, bungled LCD controller, who knows. Finally fixed after two months of hell.

post #26 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

No word from the Genius Bar? Or do they simply hand out a new one, just like iPhones?

I had the exact same issue with my 2009 MBP 15" i7 only it was an NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M in my case. I tried the genius route and got fobbed off so I called Apple support on the phone. It was still under extended warranty and the Apple support tech agreed to replace the logic board after I sent him the results of some hardware tests from a test utility he emailed me. The MBP is still going strong I am happy to say.
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post #27 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

^ post

And there's the proof that support issues get differently handled from Genius to Genius. Good to hear the Support Desk did what they did. Should do so, when under warranty. Don't understand actually why the Genius didn't do the same.
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post #28 of 151
I am having this very problem right now and AGAIN! They have already replaced my logic board twice (the first replacement they ordered had a bad GPU and they had to order a second). Now I am starting to get issues again. What I found out the first time is to take screenshots of it in action. When you do this, it really helps the guys at the genius bar since it is a problem not always easily reproduced. It has caused all kinds of weird failures in programs that are typically stable but are graphics intensive because the GPU is just (for lack of a better term) quitting. Apple has a real problem here. I am hoping to persuade them to replace the system the next time since this would be my fourth logic board (counting the original and another replacement). Thanks for drawing attention to this!
post #29 of 151
Annecdotally: my friend has been through FOUR of these! All for GPU issues I think, but with slightly varied symptoms. Thankfully she has AppleCare. (Or maybe Apple would have covered her anyway for this known issue? They certainly should.)
post #30 of 151
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Annecdotally: my friend has been through FOUR of these! All for GPU issues I think, but with slightly varied symptoms. Thankfully she has AppleCare. (Or maybe Apple would have covered her anyway for this known issue? They certainly should.)

At that point I don't want my machine to continually be replaced with the same faulty components. At that point I'd expect Apple to give me the next newest unit of a comparable performance and capacity. Refurbished would be fine. If they didn't I'd then address it with the Better Business Bureau to see where that goes.

It's expected that some products will have faults but when you get the same problem over and over for a given model of a product I simply don't want that product anymore, especially when the product cost a couple thousand dollars and is typically used 8 or more hours a day.

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post #31 of 151
Spent $3k on my first ever Mac computer and in less than 2 years, I have a useless P.O.S. sitting on the shelf and Apple will do nothing about it.

I will NEVER buy another Apple product again. $3,000 is no joke. I also have an HP laptop that was less than half the price and has more power. I will be switching to Android phone for the first time after many years of having an iPhone.

They should do the right thing because we really got screwed.
post #32 of 151

My machine is suffering from this problem.  We don't want replacement (faulty) logic boards, we want a totally fixed laptop or replacement unit with equivalent specs.   Am very disappointed that this "state of the art" machine is failing. We need Apple to take responsibility for a top of the line product that is proving to be a lemon. 

post #33 of 151
Funny, I've got an early 2011 MBP and this happened to me this morning, working with Quicken inside VMWare.

Well, OK, not so funny.
post #34 of 151
Add my MacBook to the afflicted - 15" early MBP, 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7, AMD 6750 chip, AMD Radeon HD 6750M 1024 MB. Started about two weeks ago and has been steadily getting worse. Thanks for publicizing this Apple Insider. It seems many people are writing to Apple and they don't consider it a problem yet. We need publications to help get the word out. Apple, please listen, this is not an isolated issue!
post #35 of 151

I had this exact same problem happen to my Early 2011 (15") MacBook Pro about 6 months ago, was fixed under AppleCare warranty.

 

Interestingly enough I had exactly the same problem with my Mid 2007 (15") MacBook Pro which had an Nvidia 8600m GT graphics card...  that one was fixed under AppleCare warranty twice. 

 

http://support.apple.com/kb/ts2377

post #36 of 151

I have an early 2011 15" MBP and had a problem with the GPU a few months back. It happened only when I would boot into Windows. The screen would start flickering and then suddenly go blank and then re-appear with a message box saying there was a problem with the graphics card and it is now OK.

 

However, after a week or so, it just crashed and the screen was exactly like how it is on the article's screenshot, in both OS X and Windows.

 

I got the entire motherboard replaced as it was under warranty.

 

Looks like there was a defective batch that year. Hope most of the owners had opted for the extended warranty.

post #37 of 151
I had my logic board changed a while back just before 90 days of my applecare validity. I have seen that new logic boards last less than the original ones ~4-6 months which is just after the 90 day period apple is giving for their repairs. I am terribly dissapointed by apple customer care and the way they are treating hardware problems. I would be very glad if apple would grant me at least 1 year of warranty but I think that is a long shot because apple failed in the past to assume responsibility for their faulty hardware.
post #38 of 151
I, too had the 'bad' GPU problem and my MacBook Pro simply became unusable. Luckily I have AppleCare so my logic board was replaced gratis. Still, I've only 9 days with this 'new' logic board and many of the users on the ASC have reported having to go through 2-3 logic boards: even without a true 'fix'. So I'm keeping my eye on the board: I have AppleCare until April of 2015, so Apple has over a year, for me, to make certain that they come up with a genuine fix.

clintond
post #39 of 151
My early 2011 MBP 17" is dead too -
Got it temporary fixed in the apple store - after extensive tests their hardware test said that it was only a light sensor in the screen that was off. Changing the screen would fix the problem.
Or covering the sensor with gaffer tape.
That worked for a while.
Now it is dead - real dead. No magic woodoo shortcuts will do.
The guys a the same genius bar looked at it 1 minute at said it needed a new logic board. That it might be a bad capacitor...
Price to get a new logic board, €421 21% tax (spain)


Pretty uncool
post #40 of 151
Typical hardware failure. Number of posts is statistically insignificant.
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