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?

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:

Facebook group:

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

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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.


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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...

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


Good Luck,


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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.


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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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.


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


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.


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


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. 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 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.


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.


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


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.


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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