MacBook Pro 2011 GPU Glitch

Hi iFixit!

Thanks for the great site. I have fixed and repaired a lot of stuff using your guides. Clear and easy to follow!

Do you have any solutions to the wide spread MacBook Pro 2011 GPU Glitch?

http://action.mbp2011.com/

We are a lot of affected user that would love to get our MBP's up and running again.

Are there any hardware repairs or replacement one can do?

Here's a hack that sounds plausible but havent tried myself:

http://www.asyncro.com/2014/03/24/macboo...

Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2011mbp/

Thanks again iFixit would love to hear your feedback! Apple remains silent.

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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Anyone reading this with an 2011 MacBook Pro that still works I can recommend using the free Macs Fan Control if you want to keep the temperatures in check.

https://www.crystalidea.com/macs-fan-con...

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The FaceBook group offers no new help. It pushes Apple's REP which is now expired. Not much else to look at. After you check it (because it's there) . . . please continue below . . .

If your MBP's battery is 3 years old or more, it could be failing, and you are experiencing those symptoms, random not booting, white screen etc. Go (for example) to Amazon.com and buy a NEW 3rd party battery. The 2011 computer will not boot if it has a bad battery, Thank you Apple. Install it and see how your computer behaves. It's possible this is the only issue affecting your screen.

After installing a new battery, you STILL have this issue, then look to trying the suggestions outlined in the link below. AND a new battery is not a waste of funds either . . .

Go here: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/201... and read the information there about a working solution.

The down side of that solution: no more 3 screens.

- Gary

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I had the problem on my mid-2011 15" powerbook pro--blocks of pixels flashing in random places around the screen, both on the LCD and the connected monitor. Gets worse over time and leads to a frozen computer. I took it to Apple in 2015 and they explained it was a known logic board issue and repaired it even though it was out of warranty. It did it again in 2018. Apparently its a solder joint somewhere on the GPU getting thermally stressed and cracks. Controlling the temperature might help or postpone the problem. BUT the mid2012 motherboard corrected the issue and can directly replace the 2011 one (not the late2012 board, that's when Apple upgraded to the retina display). I put in a mid 2012 board--with the heat sinks still attached and that solved the problem. Some people had issue with re-connecting the LCD cable. It worked for me, but its an awkward cable to reconnect. I had to try a couple of times and clean it before I got the screen to work again. I kept original SDRAM, and it works

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15 Answers

Chosen Solution

This Article I found made mi MBP2011 boot again using only the i7 Intel HD3000!!! No Safe Mode 256 colors and slow graphic $@$*!& issues. This MBP was repaired under the Apple Extension Repair plan in 2015 and failed again in 2018. Please Spread this fix to all users you know with this issue... It really works (until now... its been almos two months since I tried this) It saves you a lot of frustration!!!

https://apple.stackexchange.com/question...

Background and explanations

All MacBook Pros from 2011 have a serious design defect. The thermal management and the generated heat together with the robustness of the discrete AMD graphics chips do not match up very well. Apple knew this and acted like a typical Soapy Smith, only reacting to this after an outrage. This scandal took on the name of RadeonGate. Only with a threatened class-action law suit Apple was finally pressured into offering a so called "Repair Extension Program".

The Apple Repair Extension program is not available anymore. The only real way to fix this problem is to replace the AMD chip alone. Not the logic board. Not "re-balling", not "reflowing", not "baking". Apple replaced a failed chip with a failing chip. Time and time again. Only replacing the graphics chip is still a costly hardware procedure for such a vintage laptop.

The only known way – that is: with software alone – to get a 2011 MacBook Pro (8,2) with 'only' a failed AMD graphics chip to almost reliably turn on again and boot into macOS and be quite useable with an accelerated GUI is this guide or a variation of it. Most previous tips just removed all AMD-kexts and this results in a horrible user experience with no GUI acceleration at all.

It is necessary to know your exact OS version. The following guide will be simpler for Yosemite but assumes El Capitan or newer. El Capitan, Sierra and High Sierra need SIP (System Integrity Protection) disabled. On previous systems (10.6–10.10) these steps are unnecessary.

Important: This guide assumes further that all kexts are still in their default location /System/Library/Extensions. Having all AMD-kexts there except one is beneficial for 'proper' operation. Previous hacks in this direction might have instructed you to move, or worse: remove all AMD*/ATI* kernel extensions. If that is the case: either move the kexts back into their default location or reinstall a system of your choice. Having most of the AMD kexts in place and then having the X3000-kext loaded with a delay will enable power management of the GPU which will otherwise burn electricity for nothing (and might hasten the final heat death of the chip on top of that). To reiterate: Only the file AMDRadeonX3000.kext really has be absent on boot to enable a successful startup, but all other (needed) AMD drivers should be in their default location and the X3000-kext loaded afterwards/delayed to get back into a realm of almost sensible power and temperature management.

Bypassing the discrete graphics chip

To get some display acceleration back it will be necessary to force the machine to not boot in discrete graphics (dGPU) but directly into integrated graphics (iGPU) and stay in this mode.

Booting into dGPU mode is the default on Macs with two switchable graphics cards. The procedure below will set an NVRAM variable that disables the dGPU and forces the system to only use the integrated Intel graphics even when booting.

The NVRAM variable is undocumented but appears to be universally applicable to all Macs with two switchable graphics cards. That means it should work on iMacs and MacBook Pros. Whether they have AMD or NVIDIA chips. The specifics about the drivers that might be necessary to move only cover AMD in this guide. But the NVRAM variable will bypass the discrete graphics chip in any case.

This will give you back your machine – but you will lose some features: e.g. the ability to drive an external display from the DisplayPort, a bit of 3D performance. Thunderbolt data connections should work.

In case this guide fails or is not wanted anymore: this procedure is pure software configuration and therefore fully reversible at any time with simple NVRAM reset.

The initial procedure:

Part 1: Disable SIP, disable dGPU, move one kernel extension

1 To start from a clean slate: reset SMC and NVRAM:
shutdown, unplug everything except power, now hold 
leftShift+Ctrl+Opt+Power 
and release all at the same time;

2 Now power on again and hold
Cmd+Opt+p+r 
at the same time until you hear the startup chime two times.

3 Boot into Single User Recovery by holding 
Cmd+r+s

4 Disable SIP: enter:
csrutil disable

5 disable dGPU on boot with setting the following variable:
nvram fa4ce28d-b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9:gpu-power-prefs=%01%00%00%00

6 enable verbose boot mode:
nvram boot-args="-v"

7 reboot into Single User-mode by holding 
Cmd+s 
on boot

8 mount root partition writeable 
/sbin/mount -uw /

9 make a kext-backup directory
mkdir -p /System/Library/Extensions-off

10 only move ONE offending kext out of the way:
mv /System/Library/Extensions/AMDRadeonX3000.kext /System/Library/Extensions-off/

11 inform the system to update its kextcache:
touch /System/Library/Extensions/

12 reboot normally: 


You should now have an iGPU accelerated display, but the system doesn't know how to power-management the failed AMD-chip. (In this state the GPU is always idling with relatively high power, consuming quite a bit of battery when unplugged and leading to GPU temperatures from 60°C upwards [on average 60-85°C], despite not being used for anything by system.)

Part 2: improve thermal and power management

For improved power management of the disabled GPU you have to either manually load the one crucial kext after boot by:

sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions-off/AMDRadeonX3000.kext

If you have a temperature sensor application you might want to have it open before issuing the above command and watch the temps drop…

Automate this with the following LoginHook that will get executed after the next reboot:

sudo mkdir -p /Library/LoginHook

sudo nano /Library/LoginHook/LoadX3000.sh

with the following content:

#!/bin/bash

kextload /System/Library/Extensions-off/AMDRadeonX3000.kext

pmset -a force gpuswitch 0 # undocumented/experimental

exit 0

then make it*1 executable and active:

sudo chmod a+x /Library/LoginHook/LoadX3000.sh

sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LoginHook /Library/LoginHook/LoadX3000.sh

*1: The undocumented use of this pmset command seems to improve sleep/wake/shutdown behaviour. If it doesn't, experiment with leaving it out.

See the Disclaimer below. The following is just speculation: sleep/wake/shutdown may remain troublesome. The theory here is that "something slowly corrupts" what is saved in the SMC. Therefore, resetting the SMC and re-applying the variable hack seems to alleviate the situation for a time. (Permanent solutions for this welcome!) As short time workarounds you might want to try to avoid "lid-closing sleep", that seems to give more trouble than other methods (Apple-Menu, Keyboard-Shorcut). Apparent hangs on shutdown are usually just very long delays that will shutdown, eventually, cleanly and successfully.
Unscientific sampling suggests that Yosemite is worst for this and El Capitan and Sierra much better behaved in this regard.

Manually or otherwise delayed loading of this crucial kernel extension allows the system to handle power management a bit better. The battery will be less used and the temperatures emanating from the unused GPU will drop to a range significantly below 50°C (on average between 15-50°C).

For proper power management the minimal set of loaded kexts are on boot (versions for 10.12.6, check with kextstat | grep AMD):

com.apple.kext.AMDLegacySupport (1.5.1)

com.apple.kext.AMD6000Controller (1.5.1)

com.apple.kext.AMDSupport (1.5.1)

com.apple.kext.AMDLegacyFramebuffer (1.5.1)

And if the above method of loading succeeded this should appear added to the list:

com.apple.AMDRadeonX3000 (1.5.1)

Preventive measures for future use

There are two further caveats to know: This is reversible when the SMC/NVRAM is reset. If that happens the GPU-power-pref NVRAM-variable can or even has to be set again to force the use of the iGPU from boot-time.

Since this can happen quite easily (and is often erroneously recommended way too many times than it is actually useful), you should probably prepare for such a scenario and create a simple script to greatly speed up the process and also make entering the necessary variable much less error prone:

sudo nano /force-iGPU-boot.sh

– Enter the following content to this file:

#/bin/sh

sudo nvram boot-args="-v"

sudo nvram fa4ce28d-b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9:gpu-power-prefs=%01%00%00%00

exit 0

– Now make that executable:

sudo chmod a+x /force-iGPU-boot.sh

In the future, when the SMC/PRAM/NVRAM gets reset to default values it is now possible to boot into SingleUser with:

Cmd+s

– And after mounting your boot-volume read-write to execute just this single line:

sh /force-iGPU-boot.sh

Part 3: Handling Updates from Apple

This setup has now one kext in a place Apple's installers do not expect. That is why in this guide SIP has not been reenabled. If an update that contains changes to the AMD drivers is about to take place it is advisable to move back the AMDRadeonX3000.kext to its default location before the update process. Otherwise the updater writes at least another kext of a different version to its default location or at worst you end up with an undefined state of partially non-matching drivers.

After any system update the folder /System/Library/Extensions has to be checked for the offending kext. Its presence there will lead to e.g. a boot hang on Yosemite and Sierra, an overheating boot-loop in High Sierra.

Upgrading to High Sierra 10.13: with this hack in place is almost straightforward: Despite applying a firmware update the installation process should not touch the NVRAM variable. The installation process also does not use a fully accelerated AMD chip but basic acceleration that is not problematic regarding this hack. However, as noted in the paragraph above the first boot into a system that is finished installing but just about to start the setup process will produce a heat/crash induced boot loop. The offending kernel extension has to be moved again like described above. (Starting at Step 3) After moving the kext, all shall be well.

Closing Remarks and Recommendations

Further: this laptop is overheating, no matter what you do. The cooling system is inadequate and the huge number of failing AMD chips are just proof of that.

To prolong the life of this now hacked machine it is advisable to abstain from really heavy lifting over prolonged stretches of time. Strictly follow the usual recommendations for laptops: use on hard surfaces, keep the fans and fins inside it clean. Using any fancontrol software with relatively aggressive settings should also help: like smcFanControl, MacsFanControl, or TGPro (both commercial).

Disclaimer: This whole procedure is no magic bullet. The state of failure for these chips not 100% predictable. Very few users have issues even with this hack in place: there might be issues with rebooting, going to sleep or waking up properly, most of them coming from users with Yosemite, the least trouble seems to be on Sierra. In these cases it seems sometimes necessary to not use the AMDRadeonX3000.kext, and therefore also not the LoginHook from Part 3. (But see the additional note under *1 above.) Within the restrictions outlined at the start of this answer: Most users report complete success.

A new and very cheap hardware modification is available at/from RealMacMods: While they use a relatively complicated way of setting the necessary EFI variable with linux the following has the advantage of cutting the core voltage to the dGPU completely by removing just one tiny resistor! (Pictures at the link)

On this reboot it is essential that you boot once into safe mode (hold Shift throughout boot), and then choose shutdown(not restart) from the menu.

Do this safe boot with the R8911 resistor in place. Without this SAFE BOOT, the next steps may not work.

Do no more boots until you complete the next steps.

The safe boot clears OS level GPU preferences, that may interfere with the following process.

This will now cause your MacBook Pro to stop switching to the Radeon automatically, but it will still draw power, create heat, and be visible to the OS.

We discovered that simply removing 1 resistor will resolve this.

The resistor can also be replaced with a switch, in case you need to turn your radeon back on for any reason.

The placement of this resistor varies between logic board models.

The resistor in question is R8911 on the 17″ MBP and R8911 on the 15″ MBP a 1 Ohm resistor that provides a current path to the ISL6263C DC to DC Converter.

This resistor controls power to the Voltage Regulator that provides the Core Voltage to the Radeon GPU. Simply put, no core voltage, no GPU. You will find the resistor just to the right of a cooling fan (in the above orientation). It will be near the ISL Voltage converter chip. This is the chip we will be disabling.

Just remove it. The preferred method is a professional reflow station, but an iron and a steady hand will get you where you need to be. If you used flux to remove it (not needed), make sure you clean up with a little Alcohol or other suitable solvent.

That is basically it. Next time you boot up you will notice your GPU defect issue is gone, and you will no longer see the AMD GPU as installed hardware.

I have not tested this but it should eliminate any need to care for the kexts and also solve any issues regarding sleep, wakeup, hibernation, reboot etc.

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Cool. Many thanks to TheMetalMusicMachine!!! I have a couple of questions:

Where can I read about the difference between lid-close sleep and other ways of invoking sleep?

In the Energy Saver Pref Pane there is a check box to enable/disable automatic graphics switching. How does that interact with the procedure?

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Thanks so much! You practically saved my computer. I wish everyone who had the same issue found this post. I had to dig to find this post and I am glad I did. :) +1

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Haha I actually pulled out the MBP after almost a year in the closet to try this solution only to find the battery had expanded to a ludicrous size and warped the bottom cover. Good timing though, had I not found out the the battery might’ve exploded while in the closet :0

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Mine stops at step 8. So i can let the mbp work again, but when restart i need to follow steps 1 - 7 again before i am able to work with it again. Any ideas why?

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'stops at step 8'--so it boots into single user mode and crashes? the AMD GPU is not used in single user mode, I believe. So you would have a different issue. The solution has worked really well for me for months now but I am puzzled about how closing the lid differs from other ways of triggering sleep.

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It is one of the biggest myths on Earth that lead free solder has ANYTHING to do with this. You can heat a dead chip to 120c and it will work again, this is 100c below what you need to melt lead free solder. The issue is with the eutectic bumps inside the chip, not the actual solder balls! EVERY LAPTOP for EIGHT YEARS has used lead free solder and the only ones having these issues to this level of insanity are Apple and the $@$* HPs, and also the few that got the dreaded Nvidia chipsets of the late 2000s.

The issue here is simple.

1) Slim design.

2) Sandy bridge quad core processor

3) Powerful GPU

4) Ventilation that sucks dust in without allowing it chance to escape.

Even if you do not use the GPU much, the quad core sandy bridge processor is heating it to !&&* and back everytime the CPU is used.

You tie a quad core, sandy bridge processor to a powerful GPU on the same, slim heatsink inside of a small case and you are begging for failure. This has nothing to do with lead vs. lead free. I have a Lenovo T520 with lead free solder from the same time period that I used and abused every day, and spent months mining litecoin on just to make the point that it is not about the balls used.

You don't get the most powerful CPU, most powerful GPU, and slimmest design without some compromise taking place. That compromise is no long term reliability. If the issue were the balls then reballing the chips would work, but it doesn't. It lasts for a week or two until they die again, because the chip itself is at fault.

Every single Apple laptop I open is riddled with dust. The entire design of the system just traps dust in without allowing it a method out. All fan based ventilation systems will allow a certain amount of dust in, but you look at a 3 year old Thinkpad and a 3 year old Macbook and it is obvious which manufacturer put thought into this and which didn't care.

Apple does fix these for free until February 2016, so I would suggest all of you kill your machine with GPUtest so you can get it replaced before they stop covering this issue.

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First, I'm speaking for my self here, I am just one volunteer of many who try to answer the questions posted. I am not paid in anyway by IFIXIT or Apple. Or, in the case of Apple have any affiliation with them other than a user of their products and one who services them. Given the fact there is litigation pending I don't think you will find the IFIXIT folks directly responding to your questions (nor any other company that deals with Apple or Apple products).

Personally, I think there is enough blame to pass around here: Apple, the GPU supplier, the EU demanding lead be removed from solder in all cases, users who fail to allow the system to breathe, and in some cases the applications running on the system.

The problem I have is knowing how many systems sold are effected (percentage), while I'm not disagreeing people are have problems, can it all be attributed to something Apple did or should have known? and then the question is, when did they know and what should have been the corrective action?

Remember, Apple was stung on a similar problem with the older MacBook Pro's (i.e. A1226) with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT. They (Apple as well as other companies) who had problems with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT chip went after NVIDEA. Apple then swapped out the logic board for their customers with NVIDEA paying for the repairs (one could argue Apple didn't run the program soon or long enough before they EoL the systems effected). At that time point the amount of systems in the wild effected was a lot less than here.

Are we so sure Apple dropped the ball here still again? Its it possible the GPU suppliers altered things after the initial builds of the system (as was the case of NVIDEA before). Did Apples hardware partners switch out the thermal paste to a cheaper less effective one? And lastly, has anyone done any of the deep analysis here to understand what is really going on?

While using leaded solder (I would only do the BGA chips that get excessively hot) would help reduce the tin whiskers problem if that is the cause, a more basic one is just the crystallization of the solder which alters from a conductor to a semiconductor from excessive heat over a period of time (often called a cold solider joint).

Using better thermal paste and more aggressive heat dissipation (heat sink and fan system) might help. But, that assumes the heat transfer to the heat sink fins was not working correctly in the current design. It's possible the GPU suppliers low balled the thermal mass needed to keep the GPU from running too hot. Maybe the GPU suppliers should have done a better design or used different materials so the chip would run cooler.

Maybe the app developers should have used different coding methods so the GPU didn't need to work as hard. Remember the use of our computers has evolved. Apple could be just guilty of not projecting out far enough what we expected the systems to do. As an example the visual effects in many of todays games are just mind blowing! And that is just in the last 3~4 years which is about the time point Apple started the design of the '11 series models.

And, lastly the users who push the limits of the system maybe expecting too much here. Running their systems with the vents clogged by the sheets and blankets of ones bed as an example playing todays most CPU/GPU demanding game. I'm guilty of doing this my self. I can't blame Apple for my misuse.

I should point out I am very supportive of removing Lead from our environment as much as possible as its clear it is a poison to not just us, but animals and fish as well. But swinging to the other extreme and only within the tech sector I think is a bit much. If we are serious here with Lead we need to address car batteries and other larger sources better. Using lead solder selectively in small quantities is not that large a risk considering the amount of Lead in a CRT (about 1/3 the weight of it!) which we no longer use.

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Hi Dan thanks for your comment! As Apple has yet to respond there is much we affected users don't know. Meanwhile our MacBook Pros still don't work.

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How about collecting some basic info on what models, what is the apps (productivity & games) and usage pattern maybe you can glean something that can point to a common set of conditions.

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UPDATE: (bumped my previous reply to be a main-topic response)

I hadn't realized that Apple extended their Quality Program to cover MBP 17" GPU failures through December 31 2016. Apple previously swapped my logic board 2 years ago, but it failed again (swapping boards doesn't get rid of the problem) but now they are apparently "replacing the GPU chip with a new version on logic board swaps and applying an improved heatsink thermocouple (their words). Anyway, since I just found that I can have my MBP 17" (early 2011) repaired again at $0 cost, so I scheduled an appointment at the Apple Store near me. Unlike when I visited the store two years back, they are now well aware of the issue and resolution, and had no problems supporting me even though my AppleCare was long expired, they are standing by their commitment through the Dec 31. Hence, I caught this just in time...

http://www.macrumors.com/2016/02/19/appl...

Thought others with similar issues might like to know of the extended date.

TICK-TOCK.

Good Luck,

Ed

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Hai guys i had the same issue... But i solved. My macbook is now working perfectly... Wowow... Without doing any hardware repair... U only need to follow these steps.. 10000000% working guys... :D

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/for...

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> now they are apparently "replacing the GPU chip with a new version on

> logic board swaps and applying an improved heatsink thermocouple

> (their words).

Is there any way to identify what board is used? Apple replaced mine in fall 2016 under the extended repair deal. It's now failed again and they say $500 to replace the board. But how can I tell what they put in last time, and whether they actually improved the design? (And can anyone recommend an independent repair place?)

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Mine was also repaired 2 years ago and is failing again (oddly, only when connected to my external monitor... for now). I'd also like to know a solution that actually works.

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Jay Ventura, if I use the method you link to force my MBP to always only use the Integrated Intel GPU, will it still drive my external monitor? I think the Discrete GPU is required for an external monitor, right? I need my dual 24" external monitor setup, so I will probably have to go with a hardware repair.

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If you have a suspected GPU problem review this: MacBook Pro Repair Extension Program for Video Issues

Here's an excerpt from Apple's page:

Apple has determined that a small percentage of MacBook Pro systems may exhibit distorted video, no video, or unexpected system restarts. These MacBook Pro systems were sold between February 2011 and December 2013.

Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will repair affected MacBook Pro systems, free of charge. See below for details on affected models and service options.

As of February 20, 2015, the repair process will be available in the U.S. and Canada. In other countries, it will be available as of February 27, 2015.

Symptoms:

An affected MacBook Pro may display one or more of the following symptoms:

Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen

No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on

Computer restarts unexpectedly

Products affected:

  • 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro models manufactured in 2011
  • 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina models manufactured from Mid 2012 to Early 2013

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Hi thanks yes there was a big buzz in the #mbp2011 community when Apple finally responded last week! The only DIY solution I have seen here on iFixit is still just the guy that baked his MBP and then drilled holes in the case for the fans :D

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And to follow my original post, an Apple service technician have since confirmed that the discrete graphic card was the problem and yes my laptop is covered by the Apple extended repair program.

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You mean GPU chip, there is no graphics card in this system.

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UPDATE: I hadn't realized that Apple extended their Quality Program to cover MBP 17" GPU failures through December 31 2016. Apple previously swapped my logic board 2 years ago, but it failed again (swapping boards doesn't get rid of the problem) but now they are replacing the GPU chip on logic board swaps. Anyway, since I just found that I can have my MBP repaired again at $0 cost, I took it in.

http://www.macrumors.com/2016/02/19/appl... includes links to Apple's official statement.

Thought others with similar issues might like to know of the extended date. TICK-TOCK.

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I had my Macbook Pro late 2011, 17" in two times for this graphics problem. Just this past December of 2017, it started acting up again. So this is three times for the same graphics problem. It stands to reason that Apple cannot repair these laptops. I called and raised !&&* with an administrator and I'm waiting to hear back. I think these machines qualify as lemons. They need to take them back, and replace them with units that will work.

This is Bull$#it.

Apple is sweeping this under the rug. A class action suit against Apple for having no ability to keep these laptops running is what is needed.

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I agree on this. I've had 2 logic board replacements for my 2011 17 inch MacBook Pro, both by Apple as recognised issue. First time some time in 2014 I think, second time about 2 years ago.

This one is now getting the same errors, on it's third logic board. Clearly a known issue, and at over £2,000 when I bought it in 2011, it should still work. It's a very capable computer when working... I shouldn't be forking out thousands for a computer with a known hardware issue that will cause multiple and regular failures of my equipment. Seriously poor.

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I also just started experiencing these issues. After calling Apple, they basically said take it to an authorized repair center because Apple will no longer fix it themselves. Unless anyone else know of something else I can do, that's what I will be doing this weekend.

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Which country are you in? I've spent the last few weeks pursuing a consumer law claim with Apple in the UK, and this morning got offered a brand new one for no cost.

- Incidentally I turned it down for environmental reasons, but they will cave eventually if you are persistent.

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I had the same thing happen to me today (May 10, 2017) - Apple says they can't do it. The Authorized Retailer says they can't even order the parts so they can't do it either. - this is US.

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That's exactly what's happened to me too. My laptop works fine though. It just starts glitching when I use a graphic intensive app like after effects

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Mine just bit the dust while I was using Photoshop today. It works fine via the Intel Integrated Graphics, but as soon as it needs to switch to the discrete graphics, it goes nuts. Seems like I missed the extended repair program by 4½ months, really lame.

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My MacBook Pro Early 2011 15" has just failed on me, when switching to discrete graphics just like Tony.

It seems to be rebooting as and when it wants.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a fix?

I bought it in the UK but I am currently living in Australia.

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I had Apple rep agree to potentially offer to extend the repair program for me when my early 2011 17"MPB had complete graphics system failure at work in May 2017. I did experience screen flickering in October 2016. I was too busy to make appointment at the time with a store, but was given a case #. I just called back AppleCare # (USA) yesterday and am now in late June. Rep told me recall program did NOT include early 2011 17" MBP. I was incredulous and went to the doc on Apple's website. Poof!...they decided to revise it in late June to not include any 2011 AMD GPU MBP models and now ONLY include 2012 Retinas. Here is the clever copy they added to the document in late May 2017:

"The program covers affected MacBook Pro models until December 31, 2016 or four years from its original date of sale, whichever provides longer coverage for you. The following models are no longer eligible for this program: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011), MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011), MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011)."

Information as of 2017-05-19

https://www.apple.com/support/macbookpro...

THANKS APPLE - For standing behind your acknowledged engineering mistake. Guess they saw it was time to close the door on integrity and move on to their next blunder. Good machine though, but now essentially a doorstop unless I want to shell out $550 to $900

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I do have a small piece of good news here.

It turns out most of the failures are do to tantalum capacitors breaking down from the high heat due to their placement near the GPU chip. If you force the system to use the Intel GPU using gfxCardStatus the screen should be stable then, if so it's the caps. While you can use the system this way a good board person can swap out the caps with better caps to repair the issue.

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@Dan, I've tried that avenue when the issue first started occuring. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. You can use gfxCardStatus to toggle between the integrated and discrete GPUs, but whenever an app requests the discrete GPU, the OS will override your selection and switch back over to the discrete one.

@jarsrove, yeah, Apple updated the support document in late May to remove eligibility for all 2011 model MacBook Pros. Given you've notified them of the issue in October when 2011 models were still covered, I think you could probably get a replacement from them if you're persistent. Good luck!

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Portuguese: Hoje busquei o meu na autorizada um MBP 15" 2011, o relatório diz, que esse é um modelo considerado vintage e não ha mais peças de reposição. Ele já passou pelo recall e 6 meses depois apresentou o mesmo problema. Agora estou testando o Windows sem instalar o drive gráfico da AMD.

English: Today I searched my authorized MBP 15 "2011, the report says, that this is a model considered vintage and there are no spare parts. He already passed the recall and 6 months later presented the same problem. Now I am testing Windows Without installing the AMD graphics drive.

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I sent my MBP to DT&T. Cost was $300, had it back in less than a week.

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This place? https://www.google.com/search?q=DT%26T+M...

How long ago did they fix yours?

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Is there a way or method while my 2011 MBP with it's NVIDIA chip set working properly to switch to the built-in graphics card? I would like to switch to the internal chip set automatically. A Terminal Command perhaps? Anyone with ideas? Fix the problem before it rears it's head. Thank you! Gary

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The Mac already switches automatically depending on load (though maybe not perfectly). gfxCardStatus allows you to switch to Intel graphics if no applications need discrete graphics, but it's not very helpful at preventing the problem because it can't force the OS to continue using Intel graphics. macOS overrides whatever option you choose in gfxCardStatus when any application requires discrete graphics.

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I have found and tested a successful work-a-round, for MacBook Pros with the known Dual Graphics Processor Unit failure problem. This procedure if successfully implemented forces the “Integrated Only GPU” into operation, and does not allow the “Discrete GPU” to function. The “Discrete GPU” is what has or will fail. It also turns off the GPU automatic switching capability.

In Summary.

Install an app called GFXCardStatus, Version 2.1 into your 2011 MacBook Pro. This usually means a 15 or 17 inch model, created early or late in 2011. Once installed, you boot the computer in safe mode (this assumes the Discrete GPU has already failed), this boots the Integrated GPU. Once in, open the app and configure it per directions found later in this document. Once configured, reboot the computer. Be patient. ASSUMING THE DUAL GFX CARD IS IN FACT YOUR MBP’S ISSUE, Properly done, your MBP will boot normally using the Integrated GPU and run quite well. It may require more than one reboot.


SIP must be disabled before making the changes noted below. (SIP stands for System Integrity Protection (SIP) protects files, directories, and processes at the root level from being modified.) 
 


To disable SIP, Boot into the Recovery Drive. 
 


How to boot into the Recovery Drive?!? 


Hold down Command-R key combinations on the keyboard immediately after pressing the power button to turn on the MBP, or immediately after the MBP begins to restart. 
 Launch the Terminal from the upper menu bar. 


Key in: csrutil disable <return>
 Reboot into the computer. For the “Work-A-Round” to consistently work 
 SIP needs to remain inactive.

01 On a working Mac, Go here: https://aploader.com/mac/apps/gfxcardsta... and download version 2.1. Nothing higher. Higher versions will not work as intended for this work-a-round. I've tried them. Alternately you may download the file from my DropBox site here: (Click on the DOWNLOAD Button on the right side of screen.)
 https://www.dropbox.com/s/qb5q89if0xlreo...

NOTE: gfxCardStatus 2.1.zip will probably D/L to your Downloads Folder, unless you redirect it.

02 About the SSD/HD in the errant 2011 MBP. Either remove it from the MBP, and USB it to another working 2011 MacBook Pro. Or, with the SSD/HD still in side the errant 2011 MBP connect it to a working 2011 MBP via FireWire or Thunderbolt. 
 (I used FW). You can connect to an iMac or other Mac Desktop as well.

03 Boot into the SSD/HD that was taken from the errant 2011 MBP. 


04 Install gfxCardStatus 2.1 into the bootable SSD/HD that was taken from errant 2011 MBP. Now, configure the gfxCardStatus App. You may have to reboot into the SSD/HD again before you can configure the app.

05 Go to the upper menu bar to the stylized i. Click it open. Come down to it's Preferences. 


Next: click on General, then check mark the 1st, 3rd, & 4th items only. Uncheck 2nd item if checked.

Next: click on Advanced, Now, check mark the 1st & 2nd items.

Where it says On Battery: Select Integrated 
 Where it says Plugged In: Select Integrated Now the screen has two check marked items, one grayed out, one not. 


This is as it should be.


06 Reboot into the SSD/HD that was taken from errant 2011.


Next: Verify the gfxCardStatus app settings. 


Go to the stylized i in the upper menu bar, click on it, and see that it points to the "integrated only" option. If it does, mission accomplished.



If booting into/through a desktop Mac, (not a MBP), the gfx app will show you an error because a desktop Mac does not have the dual GPU found in the 2011 MBP.
 15" or 17” 2011 MacBook Pro, with Dual GPU Issue Solution.

07 Shut down the computer and/or eject the USB SSD/HD drive. 


Put SSD/HD drive back into the original 2011 MBP. and button it up, if it was removed in an earlier step..

08 Boot the MBP. It may still show a failed jumbled display screen. 


To overcome this if it happens, reboot the computer two or three times quickly. 


I successfully did this by pressing the COMMAND-CONTROL-Power Button 3 times. The goal is to interrupt the boot process 3 times quickly. That is, press and hold each button, first COMMAND (and hold), CONTROL (and hold) and PowerButton, then release all three buttons at the same time.

On the 4th time, allow the MBP to boot normally. The display may start to look normal, but flick or show other oddities. However by the time the process ends, you should be at your desktop (Assuming you don't have to stop at a log in screen.) The MBP might reboot again on it’s own, as part of this process. If it does, that is okay.

09 Finally, go to System Preferences ---> Startup Disk and make sure your SSD/HD is in fact selected. Reboot one more time.


10 The MBP should boot normally, with no screen anomalies. 


This work-a-round has lasted through an upgrade from Mac OS Sierra to

High Sierra (10.12 to 10.13) in the authors personal 2011•17” MBP...

I recommend you clone your newly created drive, so you have a good working SSD/HD back up ... just in case. Carbon Copy Cloner is excellent for this job.

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I had the same issue with my GPU (AMD Radeon HD, 6770M) in my late 2011 17" MacBook Pro 2.5GHz (BTO, last model): discrete graphics failure under load (high temps) starting about 2 years (Jan 2014) after purchase (Jan 2012). This was before Apple acknowledged the discrete graphics problem.

I applied selecting the internal (Intel HD Graphics 3000) as the only graphics processor using GFXCardStatus. It usually worked, but not always, especially when booting up differently (external HDD/SSD, single user, or after a system update). Also, I went down the road removing the associated KEXTs in order to stabilize my MacBook Pro. Sometimes it booted nicely, sometimes it hung and was unusable. Also, I reapplied thermal paste and cleaned the fans in order to optimize heat flow away from the components. Still, the outcome was a no-go for reliability for normal operations.

After a lot of research, I blamed the solder (ROHS) as the cause and sent my MacBook Pro off to a SMD component repair shop. What's to loose? I attempted to resolve the GPU soldering issue by having the GPU re-soldered using non-ROHS (thus lead-based) solder. The issue (graphics failure) unfortunately remained.

The MacBook Pro was sent to second (no-repair no pay) component repair specialist in order to attempt the same work again. The issue (graphics failure) unfortunately remained.

The MacBook Pro, otherwise a magical machine, laid to rest in a drawer for a year. I passed by a repair shop (SMD component repair shop) where the owner said that he could fix the GPU issue. Quite a bold statement! He mentioned he learned that AMD had bad batches and most likely mine was one of those. A last option? A full GPU replacement?

Apple acknowledged the GPU problem. Looking at the official repair options, I reckoned I might get a faulty GPU again as a replacement, so I forfeited my official repair option. I purchased on eBay a new (!), same brand and model, GPU for about US$50 (from China) to possibly replace the one inside.

The shop fixed it and I requested a burn-in test for about a week using thermal cycles (CPU and GPU test software running repeatedly for heating up and cooling down the internals). 2 Weeks later the machine still worked. The repair cost just under US$250.

Now, 2.5 years later (Jul 2018) the discrete GPU still works under any load cycle.

I am not declaring that this is the (only) solution. I wanted to contribute that the unexpected road to replace a component, frankly, solved the problem. Was I lucky to have pulled a functional (good batch) AMD GPU from China and had my machine fixed unexpectedly, was a different technique used to re-solder the GPU, or something else? Either way, the US$300 was worth the chance.

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My MBP (8,2) Early 2011 succumbed to the faulty graphics problem sometime in 2015, but remained relatively useful with only occasional glitchy graphics. Little squares sprinkled over the screen sometimes followed by a system freeze. But a simple reboot always solved the problem. I installed the gfxCardStatus app to help manage the problem.

I use my mac with two external monitors. One connected to the thunderbolt port via a DVI connector, the other connected through a “Pluggable” USB graphics adapter that works surprisingly well. So with the MBP open and two 24” monitors, I have 3 screens. Probably too much for most people, but this setup has worked very well for me and I love it.

However, knowing that my machine had this issue, I finally took it to Apple for the free repair before their replacement program ended.

Apple replaced the motherboard and the graphics problems disappeared. Until about a month ago. I started noticing very minor glitches that assured me I was in for the same problems once again. It appears that the replacement motherboard now has a failing graphics chip.

Anyway, a few days ago the glitches became worse, then it froze and shut down. Rebooting didn’t work, white screen of death. I tried various attempts unplugging the external monitors, resetting the SMC, booting into safe mode, using the option key on startup to manually select the startup disk, booting into recovery mode, I seem to have lost my original Installation disks (which I kept up with until recently, but now are somehow missing). Nothing worked until I finally attempted to boot to an older bootable external HD that I had replaced. It booted, and after changing the startup disk back to the SSD, it booted back to it’s old self. The graphic issues still occur after prolonged use, but they are fairly minor. I can unplug and replug my thunderbolt monitor and the glitches go away. If it goes to sleep while Chrome is running it will often freeze or shut down. It’s often difficult to get it to reboot, but after resetting SMC and PRAM, trying safe mode, booting to my time machine drive, or other external boot drive first, then rebooting to the SSD, it will eventually boot. But it’s a huge PITA and I feel certain that it’s only a matter of time before it fails to reboot at all.

So. Having said all that, I have a question.

Since I use two external monitors, the integrated graphics chip cannot drive them so it must use the Discrete ADM chip. I still use gfxCardStatus set to load at startup and switch dynamically. My question is, if the AMD chip is the one that is failing, why does it seem to be the only one that works when I manage to successfully boot up? Is the AMD chip the real problem anyway? Could I have a different problem? Or, is it just a case of the AMD chip working sometime and failing randomly? It’s so finicky and difficult to reboot, but once it’s up and running it works great. In fact, when it’s running (with the AMD chip driving 3 screens) it’s not as glitchy as it was before the recent freeze and subsequent rebooting problem began.

What can I do to ensure that it reboots reliably? Running doesn’t seem to be a big problem. In fact I think I’ve narrowed down the factors …allowing it to go to sleep while Chrome is running. If I quit chrome when I walk away, or put it to sleep, then it wakes up and keeps going. If it goes to sleep while Chrome is running it often will not wake up, or will simply shut itself down. And then it’s back to many failed reboot attempts before landing on a successful reboot. I’ve gotten in the habit of closing Chrome more often and setting the system preferences to never sleep. Actually I believe Chrome plays an important part of the problem, because the graphic glitches only began after a recent Chrome upgrade. I would abandon Chrome if I didn’t depend on it for my web development work. I know there are other options, but I’m very happy with Chrome Dev Tools which is superior to other browser dev apps I’ve used.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I love this machine when it works. I can’t afford to replace it right now, but I also can’t afford to not have one at all (work). The main problem is with booting up. Once it’s up, it’s relatively reliable. Any advice to help me reboot reliably and still be able to use the AMD chip (required for my external monitors) would be HUGELY appreciated!

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Answer on iFixit


Jay writes:

Is the AMD chip the real problem anyway? Could I have a different problem?

I think you got it right here.

I got the MacBook Pro on which I am now writing from a friend. He got it from the university where he works, and some time ago the machine started having glitches like you describe, but with only its own display in use, and also with very light graphics load, so it could not be the discrete GPU. Furthermore, my friend noticed that the problem occurred mainly while moving the machine or when awakening it from the sleep state. After some inquiry I found Screen + 3 beeps problem!. (the editor doesn’t get the permalink to the answer of santiagodelatorre, but that is what I’m pointing at).

It seemed very logical to me that the problem was the RAM slots.

But for the university the only solution was to change the motherboard; (un)luckily the MacBook was too old and not worth that expense, so my friend, under my warm suggestion, just kept it. And, if I would have managed to repair it, I could have had it for me, as a compensation for being his IT man for free (anyway he had already bought for himself a well beefed up 2017 15” MBP :)

Surprise surprise, when I tried the trick at the link above, it didn’t work. I inquired further, and the RAM remained the only suspect.

I was already thinking of an home made reflow when I found this, so I went for it, trying to heat up with a hot air gun only the soldering of the RAM slots, shielding the surrounding with little wood pieces.

The first two times I was too mild, and it didn’t work. The third time I was too hot: the plastic of the slots became soft and deformed a bit (I should have taken a photo… :-), but one of the two slots came back to life. Since the laptop had 2x 4GB RAM, I bought a 1x 8 GB module. I also drilled a few holes in the bottom lid, a bit like in the in the link above, but larger and less in number. Furthermore, with some duct tape I fixed two pieces of a vacuum cleaner bag on the inside of lid, in front of the holes, so to keep the internals of the machine as dust-free as possible. (I have to admit that I am a bit scared that the duct tape gives up and the “filters” jam the fans, but to put it outside would have been aesthetically worse and would have required more holes to have the same air flow. Last but not least; since the original rubber feet where a bit worn out, I made new thicker ones, out of soft grippy foamy material, to lift the bottom a bit more from the resting surface. And, when I use it on soft surfaces, I place it on a wooden panel, which I already used with the same purpose under an iBook G4.

Block Image

The machine is working flawlessly since about one month. Even with a room temperature of about 30°C, it stays below 50°C (at the left fan sensor) with normal tasks (web browsing, video watching, audio editing…). When I put under load (mainly exporting the mixdown of some long audio recording), I preventively spin the fans to 3500 rpm with smcFanControl; in this way it usually stays below 60°C.

Should it fail again, I will try to reflow the RAM connectors with a 200 W soldering gun, coming very close to the motherboard but without touching it, so to have a more local heating. I also kept one of the 4 GB modules; if I would manage to revive both of the slots, I could have a 12 GB RAM setup  :-)

Just to give the whole thing a frame. Before this MBP, I had a 2010 white MacBook, bought used on eBay. It is a great machine, but the display is a bit small for the audio editing work. Now it is one of the two common laptops of the commune where I live, but with the clause that I can take it back if the MBP would fail. And yet, I didn’t go for the reflow of the RAM slots soldering until no other possibility was left, knowing that sometimes it works and sometimes it is the last nail on the coffin. So, Jay, I would understand you if you wouldn’t follow this road until there is another chance :-)

If I remember correctly, at some point in the question of the first link, there is also an hypothesis on why the problem seems to be related to the sleep/startup phase, and maybe also to Chrome, which is a memory hog and may warm up the ram modules and surrounding.

Hope this helps someone.

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