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MacBook Pro owner among those suing Nvidia over faulty chips

post #1 of 25
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Apple, Dell, and HP notebook customers are banding together in an effort to gain class-action status on a combined lawsuit against Nvidia, which could potentially force the graphics chip maker to replace or compensate for faulty graphics processors in millions of computers.

Five plaintiffs are reportedly leading the charge [PDF], spearheaded by Louisiana resident Todd Feinstein, who purchased a MacBook Pro last April only to find that it "operates at excessively hot temperatures, has a screen which is fuzzy and displays only grey or black at certain times, and periodically shuts down entirely without warning."

Last July, Nvidia informed the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would incur a $150 million to $200 million charge to cover repair and replacement expenses resulting from "a weak die/packaging material set" in certain versions of its previous MCP and GPU products employed by various notebook vendors.

"The previous generation MCP and GPU products that are impacted were included in a number of notebook products that were shipped and sold in significant quantities," the chipmaker told the Commission. "Certain notebook configurations of these MCP and GPU products are failing in the field at higher than normal rates."

In a support document published in October, Apple claims to have contacted Nvidia in July only to be assured by the chipmaker "that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected." However, Apple went on to say that its own internal investigation determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor are likely affected.

"If the NVIDIA graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within two years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty," the company said.

As ComputerWorld points out, Dell and HP later offered its own notebook customers similar extended warranties but first issued BIOS updates designed by Nvidia that attempted to mask the issue increasing fan speed to help the chips run cooler.

"This is a grossly inadequate 'remedy,' as it results in additional manifest defects, including, without limitation, further degraded battery life, system performance and increased noise in the Class Computers," the plaintiffs using non-Apple systems wrote in the suit. " Worse, this 'remedy' fails to solve the actual problem. \tInstead, this measure only ensures that the Class Computers will fail after the OEM’s express warranty period expires, potentially leaving consumers with a defective computer and no immediate recourse."

Exactly why the plaintiffs are pressing forward with their suit against Nvidia in light of extended warranty plans from PC makers isn't entirely clear. One explanation may be that they believe the problems plaguing the graphics chips are inherent to past and current Nvidia graphics chips designs, which could lead to repeat issues even with replacement chips.

Following its own investigation into the matter last December, British technology tabloid the Inquirer stated boldly that the dedicated NVIDIA 9600M GT graphics chips in Apple's current unibody MacBook Pros use the same non-eutectic solder contact bumps (or bad bumps) as the GeForce 8400M and 8600M family of chips found in earlier models.

For its part, NVIDIA has vehemently denied the assessment, claiming that the "GeForce 9600 GPU in the MacBook Pro does not have bad bumps. The material set (combination of underfill and bump) that is being used is similar to the material set that has been shipped in 100s of millions of chipsets by the world's largest semiconductor company."
post #2 of 25
Shouldn't that be "banding" together, in the first sentence? I'm going to read the rest of the article now.
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post #3 of 25
go plaintiffs, increasing the fan speed to make your computer nosier is not a remedy. neither is releasing drivers to slow the performance


i remember the days when nvidia would delay a new chip to work out any problems. they should have done the same thing here
post #4 of 25
i knew a girl with bad bumps .... avoid her like the plague!!!
post #5 of 25
GPU market is tough and Nvidia/ATI are very competitive, Nvidia cut corners plain and simple, now they are taking a mass PR hit and may lose customers to ATI over this.
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post #6 of 25
This nvidea-crap-out happens to me on my MBP all the damned time.
I've already gotten one new MBP out of it though for free (love applecare), and planning on getting another one before the end of 09.
at this rate, nvidea... keep making crap. I get free computers this way.

at least, don't stop making crap before the end of 09.
post #7 of 25
For once, a totally legitamate lawsuit!
post #8 of 25
I am on my second MBP 15 inch. I really wanted this to be a software issue but alas it looks like Apple will end up having to replace some laptops. I think they are getting the raw end of the deal on this but they did the right thing with the repair policy.
post #9 of 25
The owners of the laptops need to go to Apple for a fix/replacement/refund

It's Apple, Dell etc who then sue nvidia.

The customers of Apple bought nothing from nvidia, and so their lawsuit will be thrown out.
post #10 of 25
Correct me if I'm wrong or not... but I thought 9400 and 9600m is a big improvement and don't expect to be faulty or defective, right?
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterxAce View Post

i knew a girl with bad bumps .... avoid her like the plague!!!

I think you're getting bad bumps confused with wobbly bits.
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Lizard View Post

The owners of the laptops need to go to Apple for a fix/replacement/refund

It's Apple, Dell etc who then sue nvidia.

The customers of Apple bought nothing from nvidia, and so their lawsuit will be thrown out.

I think you have a point there. Shouldn't these computer manufacturers have done better quality control? (Think of the Ford-Firestone analogy).

Add: I think that Apple's significant stock price decline today (in an otherwise flat market) shows that the market is worried.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Lizard View Post

The owners of the laptops need to go to Apple for a fix/replacement/refund

It's Apple, Dell etc who then sue nvidia.

The customers of Apple bought nothing from nvidia, and so their lawsuit will be thrown out.


Why do people think a lawsuit is the answer even if they win it will be so little compensation. Mine stuffed out a month ago. Out of warranty but replaced within 3 days for free now runs better than ever.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple, Dell, and HP notebook customers are banding together in an effort to gain class-action status on a combined lawsuit against Nvidia, which could potentially force the graphics chip maker to replace or compensate for faulty graphics processors in millions of computers.[/url][/c]

It's one thing if it were a user replaceable card and Nvidia could just ship a replacement. Since it's soldered-in, the entire motherboard needs to be replaced! That means a trip back to Apple to have the work done!

My last 15" MacBook Pro 2.4Ghz (June 2007) had the same GeForce 8600M GT graphics card which crapped out entirely, with no warning in December! Of course, I was trying to beat a huge deadline and had to buy a new MBP immediately! Luckily it was covered under AppleCare. I replaced it with the next generation MBP 2.6Ghz with the same graphics card.... (NO glossy screens for me!).

So, the repair? What was promised as a 4 day job turned into nearly a month! It's a good thing I could buy a repalcement Mac!
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post #15 of 25
My 17 unibody pro suffers from horrible screen flicker, when the display is set for low ambient light levels. Certain web sites have areas that really make the flicker terrible. Even changing to the advanced graphics chip doesn't help. I have to turn the brightness way up, so wasting battery life.
My unibody macbook (not pro) seems quite immune.
Can anyone tell me whether this flicker is part of the problem mentioned? I have called Apple, (I have applecare) and have a case. They told me (> 12 weeks ago) that this may be fixed with software.
Does anyone have advice - should I return the macbook pro?
thank you
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by fellaintga View Post

Why do people think a lawsuit is the answer even if they win it will be so little compensation. Mine stuffed out a month ago. Out of warranty but replaced within 3 days for free now runs better than ever.

It runs better than ever due to being a new revision that has accounted for the previously known flaws they deemed weren't show stoppers.

I found it interesting Apple did this contract so close after the flaws in the NV chipsets for Desktops was still fresh.

I'm glad they are getting them replaced, but the fact a subsystem that is vital to the system's use isn't considered critical enough to delay the chip tells me that they okay
d the stamp for fear losing the contract and seeing ATi going in them instead. They knew the risks and now are reaping what they sewed.

Too bad they don't come up with a new modular design for laptops that allow a person to just open a back panel and pull the card out without any screws removed on the laptop. A sort of tiny PCI-Express 2.0 slot that would allow people to pull it out and quickly replace it. Instead the entire system is resubmitted, torn open and then the card replaced.

The inconvenience seems to be part of one reason most people sue. It's another reason I'm not a fan of laptop.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Right_said_fred View Post

My 17 unibody pro suffers from horrible screen flicker, when the display is set for low ambient light levels...

Sorry to see the problem that you're having with your MBP; fortunately, I don't think that this is a problem in general with the new unibody MBPs. I got the 17'' unibody MBP recently and haven't had a problem with any of the hardware at all. My machine has the higher-clocked cpu and faster HD and so probably generates more heat than the standard MBP. I do play a 3-D flight simulator frequently that really loads the system, but there haven't been any issues because of heat. I do place a couple of plastic eraser blocks under the distal feet to elevate and angle the base for better convective heat transfer and so that may help a bit.

Otherwise, I think you just got a lemon machine and if you get it replaced by Apple there should be no problem.
post #18 of 25
Why don't they just put "beta" in the product name. You're asking for a lawsuit if you don't.
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post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

So, the repair? What was promised as a 4 day job turned into nearly a month! It's a good thing I could buy a repalcement Mac!

Would you mind sharing how it works financially? Do they substract from the new MBP price the original price of the old Macbook Pro (i.e. the price when it was bought), or some reduced price that takes into account age of the old machine? Does this work even for people without Apple Care (i.e. those within 2 years after purchase)?
post #20 of 25
I just got my MBP back today from Apple. The graphics had been funky once in a while and liked to run hot until if finally went black and wouldn't even chime on reboot. I took the laptop to the Apple Genius who checked the serial numbers and used a special hard drive that they use to to diagnose the Nvidia card problem. Interestingly enough he said that usually the chime should work even with the logic board problem, but they got the whole thing fixed (AppleCare!!) in 3 days and everything looks good.

My only issue is what did they replace the logic board with?! If I would have read this thread 2 hours ago, I'd have asked them personally.

Also if I hadn't had Apple Care, I assume I would have had to pay for this ... thus the lawsuit. As to suing Apple or Nvidia, I agree as a customer I should deal with Apple, not the subcontractor. Let the build-your-own crowd try to sue Nvidia.

Law suits, keeping capitalism honest for 200 years!
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post #21 of 25
That's funny- I thought Macs had different insides unlike that of a PC.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacGregor View Post

I just got my MBP back today from Apple. The graphics had been funky once in a while and liked to run hot until if finally went black and wouldn't even chime on reboot. I took the laptop to the Apple Genius who checked the serial numbers and used a special hard drive that they use to to diagnose the Nvidia card problem. Interestingly enough he said that usually the chime should work even with the logic board problem, but they got the whole thing fixed (AppleCare!!) in 3 days and everything looks good.

My only issue is what did they replace the logic board with?! If I would have read this thread 2 hours ago, I'd have asked them personally.

Also if I hadn't had Apple Care, I assume I would have had to pay for this ... thus the lawsuit. As to suing Apple or Nvidia, I agree as a customer I should deal with Apple, not the subcontractor. Let the build-your-own crowd try to sue Nvidia.

Law suits, keeping capitalism honest for 200 years!


Your AppleCare didn't cover the replacement logic board. This is being covered for any and all affected models regardless of AppleCare status. The replacement logic boards use higher quality bumps thus providing correct heat transfer. It is not the chips that are faulty it is the material used to 'glue' them to the board. The graphics processor test provides an issue validation code with which the technician can cover the financials of the replacement in the Apple Service administration system.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ontheinside View Post

Your AppleCare didn't cover the replacement logic board. This is being covered for any and all affected models regardless of AppleCare status. The replacement logic boards use higher quality bumps thus providing correct heat transfer. It is not the chips that are faulty it is the material used to 'glue' them to the board. The graphics processor test provides an issue validation code with which the technician can cover the financials of the replacement in the Apple Service administration system.

Thanks for the explanation and clarification. I assume the replacement would have been covered regardless of AppleCare as you state, but that is not what the Genius said.

Unfortunately now my MAC address is new and Time Machine doesn't recognize the logic board as the same computer and thus will not backup to my external drive anymore. So all last year is no longer available to go back into time!! I was given the Terminal work around, but even the Geniuses in the store usually can't get it to work, so they say. Does anyone here have a way to convince Time Machine to recognize the past? I hate to start over a new Time Machine. I also have a cloned back up, but sort of defeats the purpose of the whole thing. I was also planning on updating the storage (now that I have a shiney new logic board) and I suppose I could "restore" via Time Machine and hopefully have my laptop and external hd recognize each other again.

Anyone have an elegant solution?
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post #24 of 25
Any insights into what one could do if one does get a FAILED red banner but no validation code?



From the experience of others (online), I know it takes some 'doing' i.e. 1st AASP only got FAILED red banner and no validation code, but 2nd AASP managed to get the nvidia test to yield both FAILED banner plus a validation code.

What could the 1st and 2nd AASP's be doing differently.

Help would be much appreciated.

Aftab
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Lizard View Post

The owners of the laptops need to go to Apple for a fix/replacement/refund

It's Apple, Dell etc who then sue nvidia.

The customers of Apple bought nothing from nvidia, and so their lawsuit will be thrown out.

The lawsuit won't go through. Nvidia makes only the chips for that reason. Even if you look at the PC nvidia cards, nvidia does not make any boards themselves. It is up to the board makers and laptop makers to do QC on their equipment. Actually I think the only boards that nvidia actually makes are the Quadro series.
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