Apple ignores calls to fix 2011 MacBook Pro failures as problem grows

in Current Mac Hardware edited July 2015
Owners of early-2011 MacBook Pro continue to report GPU-related system failures, but Apple has yet to acknowledge the problem as widespread and, according to informed sources, is not planning a replacement program to remedy the issue.

Image showing early-2011 MacBook Pro graphics issue. | Source: Apple Support Communities forum member "Andy_Gee"

People familiar with Apple's internal repair network have informed AppleInsider that the company has no immediate plans to initiate a replacement program for early-2011 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models suffering from systematic crashes and graphics failures seemingly related to the laptops' discrete AMD-built GPUs.

While not yet common knowledge, some lower-tier Apple employees are aware of the situation. One Hong Kong Apple Store Genius, for example, has taken to directing out-of-warranty customers to third-party repair companies in lieu of official orders on how to handle the problem. According to multiple customer reports, local representatives in the U.S. and other countries are handling the matter in much the same way.
Sources say Apple is not expected to initiate a replacement program for affected early-2011 MacBook Pro units in the near future
Apple Authorized Service Providers are also seeing an influx of broken machines, sources say. In some cases, Apple has escalated AASP requests for further investigation up the chain and at least a handful of repair network managers have been informed of the issue.

The total number of affected MacBook Pros is unknown, though one third-party service provider estimates recent repair intake for this specific problem stands at about ten laptops per week. Despite the case load, Apple is disinclined to take remedial action to curb incoming repairs, such as a replacement program.

Known internally as a Quality Program, Apple's takeback, replacement and exchange initiatives are only activated in the event of severe, widespread or potentially dangerous hardware failures. A rare occurrence, the most recent program dealt with overheating Euro-spec 5W USB adaptors in June.

Problems first cropped up in October 2013 when MacBook Pro owners began to complain of sudden system unrecoverable system crashes though to stem from GPU issues. A few months later in May, reports of failures spread significantly, an alarming trend that continues today. The rate of reported failures could even be accelerating, one person said.

Apple could not be reached for comment on the matter.

Early-2011 MacBook Pro discrete AMD GPU. | Source:

As noted in previous reports, the GPU issue might present itself onscreen as visual artifacts, banding or a blank screen. What triggers the failure is unknown, though a common thread seems to be graphics-intensive operations like watching high-definition videos and performing processor-intensive operations in digital media programs.

Affected MacBook Pro owners have taken to Apple's Support Communities forum, with one of the longer threads racking up well over one million views and 7,611 replies since February 2013. Others have signed a petition asking Apple CEO Tim Cook and SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi to fix or replace MacBook Pro units subject to the "manufacturing defect." With 7,920 supporters, the petition needs another 2,080 signatures to reach its goal.

For those few who still have an active extended AppleCare Protection Plan, failures pose more of an inconvenience than a dilemma, but out-of-warranty users must pay to have their MacBook Pro repaired. Since the AMD graphics chip is soldered onto the logic board, Apple or an authorized service provider must replace entire part. Not a cheap fix.

As many three-year AppleCare warranties for the early-2011 MacBook Pro are likely expired, the chances of Apple introducing a replacement program are slim. Going forward, owners with faulty hardware will have two options: pay out-of-pocket for a replacement board or scrap the laptop as broken.


  • Reply 1 of 180
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    2011? That's beyond the normal warranty.
  • Reply 2 of 180

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

    2011? That's beyond the normal warranty.


    So were the 2008 Macbook Pro's with the nVidia graphics card issue but Apple still replaced those well beyond the warranty time period.

  • Reply 3 of 180
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,612member
    2011? That's beyond the normal warranty.

    True, but catastrophic GPU failure a few years down the road isn't expected when buying a pricey laptop. And the fact that so many people are affected seems more like faulty hardware versus being a simple fluke.
  • Reply 4 of 180
    ITS CALLED A DATABASE QUERY and the "GENIUSES" can easily search this criteria and assemble a concrete list of these machines.. COME ON TIM COOK I am now including APPLE in the DELL, HP, COMPAQ HEAP!!! their old admirable gloss of being the BEST is no longer applicable.. WE NEED A CLASS ACTION SUIT!!! my machine has had the motherboard replaced 2x twice and i am now out of my 3 year APPLE-I-DONT-CARE anymore warranty%u2026

    THIS SUCKS AND NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED!!! COME ON APPLE INSTEAD OF PAYING YOUR SHAREHOLDERS 3.6 BILLION back how about taking care of your hardcore base I have been advising my clients for 25 plus years that APPLE IS THE BEST AND ONLY BUY APPLE .. but not anymore -- you have now entered the DELL UNIVERSE and are just a cheap clone of yourself..
  • Reply 5 of 180

    yea mr rich guy- not when you pay $2000.00 for a pro machine you plan on using for more than 3 years!!!

  • Reply 6 of 180

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

    2011? That's beyond the normal warranty.


    yea mr rich guy- not when you pay $2000.00 for a pro machine you plan on using for more than 3 years!!! and the machine has an OBVIOUS FAULTY GRAPHICS CHIP THATS FAILING!!! but figuring  APPLE they are probably waiting for AMD to eat the costs and then they will address this issue.. I just hope that my machine last long enough before it DIES!!! this is UNACCEPTABLE we are spending thousands of dollars here for top of the line macbook pros not $250 chrome books or $350 DELL LAPTOPS ...

  • Reply 7 of 180

    Computers aren't supposed to fail under normal use as soon as the warranty expires. It's an extremely common design flaw in AMD dedicated laptop graphics cards of that era, and most manufacturers have offered replacement programs. The solder was weak  on the GPU and it becomes disconnected to the motherboard and requires being reflowed. Apple tells you to pay $600 or put your computer in the oven at 375ºF for 8 minutes, two things that are messed up.

  • Reply 8 of 180
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I hope Apple takes responsibility of this because a Mac dying in a few years thus requiring a replacement board that then fails again is not a solution. I know several people with this issue and it's ?$500 to fix.


    There's your problem; they put the chip in at a 45° angle¡

    PS: [@]bitzandbitez[/@], Pro Tip: You can edit your posts.
  • Reply 9 of 180
    mazda 3s wrote: »
    True, but catastrophic GPU failure a few years down the road isn't expected when buying a pricey laptop. And the fact that so many people are affected seems more like faulty hardware versus being a simple fluke.

    A member of my family had a 2011 MacBook Pro.. It went in for repairs for various reasons over the years. Finally it gave out a month ago - they said it was the hard drive - they replaced it and assured her that would fix it..

    Well -- she had to take the Calif. Bar exam on the Mac Pro like two weeks ago... The Mac crashed right in the middle of the test. She freaked ! She's not sure what will happen to her exam...

    Meanwhile she went into an Apple Store here in Los Angeles. Her dad went with her. He was pissed she had the Mac in so many times for service and realistically it was never fixed.

    He went to the store manager - reluctant at first - the manager looked at the history of the repairs - then finally concluded she'd refund the purchase price - so they got $1100 back on a three year old laptop.

    She right away used that money to buy a brand new MacPro and paid the price difference... Then the manager said she'd give her free Apple care for 3 years to make up the cash difference she had to pay out of pocket..

    Ok - I agree it's a bit obvious there is something grossly wrong with some of those Macs... Should a replacement program be offered ? Maybe. Why? Depends on the reasons.

    But.... Name one other company that would completely refund your money THREE YEARS later...

    While Apple is not perfect in every possible way let's face it - for some of us - they have come thru in the end - bottom line.
  • Reply 10 of 180

    I smell a lawsuit? Anyone?

  • Reply 11 of 180


  • Reply 12 of 180
    jlanddjlandd Posts: 873member

    That's not a screenshot.  

  • Reply 13 of 180
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,612member
    orbitly wrote: »
    or put your computer in the oven at 375ºF for 8 minutes, two things that are messed up.

  • Reply 14 of 180

    I must have lucked out, no issues with my early 2011 MacBook Pro 13" to date.

  • Reply 15 of 180

    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post


    Maybe he or she meant 8ºF at 375 minutes. <img class=" src="" />

  • Reply 16 of 180
    I truly find this surprising. My personal experience with Apple is that they've fessed up to problems and always taken care of customers. I've had three issues, outside of warranty, that were obvious issues and Apple took care of me each time. That is in big contrast to Dell which never owns up to anything.

    This is why I've been loyal to Apple and why I never will buy a Dell again. I though Apple was smart enough to know it can take years to build up loyalty but you can lose it in a second. You pay a premium for Apple and what comes with it is this extra level of care and attention. But if Apple is getting out of that practice, it will be a shame. It would be the thing that would make me think twice about buying from Apple again.
  • Reply 17 of 180
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    I have an Early 2011 17" and a Late 2011 15" and they have BOTH had motherboards replaced due to faulty video cards - fortunately one of them is a work machine and was covered under AppleCare but I did not get AppleCare on my personal machine - and it cost me nearly $400.

    I also have an older MacBook Pro with a Radeon 1600 chip that needs a motherboard replacement for full function - but works okay except for graphics intensive stuff - with the kernel drivers for the video chip disabled.
  • Reply 18 of 180

    I have an early 2011 15" MBP, occasionally I get weird graphics artifacts, but either they go away or I restart/sleep+wake and it's fine. This would probably explain a lot so I'll start doing my backups more often. 

  • Reply 19 of 180
    Mine broke in October last year. Luckily it was still under AppleCare, so Apple replaced the logic board.
  • Reply 20 of 180
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member
    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post


    I’ve actually heard of this working for resoldering and such.

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