Mid 2009 Model A1278 / 2.26 or 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo processor EMC 2326

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2009 MacBook Pro 13" boots to white screen even after SMC/NVRAM reset

Hello all, hoping someone can shed some light on this issue.

I currently have a 2009 MacBook Pro 13", 2.26Ghz model that boots to a white screen only.

Here's is the scenario:

From a cold boot, pressing the power button lights up the sleep indicator light, then I hear the normal boot chime. The sleep indicator light then goes out, and the MBP then immediately displays a plain white screen, no Apple logo, no folder with a question mark... nothing. Just plain white screen.

I have attempted SMC Resets, NVRAM resets, have replaced the RAM with known working RAM, and replaced the hard drive with a known working drive.

Booting with C, D, R and any combination of these keys with the Option key produces the same white screen. Trying to boot to Safe Mode produces the same result. I have hooked up an external USB drive (which I know works as it booted my Mac Pro 15 minutes ago), and held down the Option key after I pressed the power button, and the same white screen appears...

I never see the Startup manager appear giving me an option to boot from the external drive. The power LED light on the external drive blinks 3 times when I press power on the MBP, then glows solid afterward, so I know it is receiving power and I can hear it spinning up.

The MacBook Pro seems to charge OK, as the magsafe adapter light glowed orange for the entire time I charged the battery (about 1.5 hours) and then changed to green once the battery indicator lights on the side of the Macbook Pro all turned solid green.

The MBP also boots (albeit to the same white screen) when using just the battery. The MBP seems to behave as it should when an SMC Reset is performed (status light on magsafe adapter changes color), and NVRAM resets also seem to have the desired effect, as the MBP will continue to reboot as long as I hold down the proper keys. One odd thing that might be worth mentioning is that in whatever configuration I try, as soon as I press the power button on the MBP, I do not hear the optical drive spin up, which usually precedes the boot chime. Of course the optical drive may be dead.

I'm at a loss here. Any help would be appreciated.

So to sum up: MacBook Pro 2009 13.3" 2.26 GHz model, always boots directly to blank white screen

  • 4 GB of known good RAM
  • 250GB known working hard drive installed
  • Working battery and MagSafe power supply
  • At least 20 SMC resets performed
  • At least 20 NVRAM resets performed
  • Attaching external hard drive produces same results as trying to use internal HD
  • Option-D produces no results
  • Option-R produces no results
  • Safe Mode produces no results
Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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Can you give us some back history here. Like did you bang or drop the system, did your house get hit by lightning or have a power surge, did you spill something into the system or sit it on a wet surface.

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Dan,

This MBP is an eBay purchase, so I don't know the entire history of the laptop. The logic board does not appear to be water damaged, and I used all proper ESD procedures when opening up the laptop. No lightning or power surges here, and there is no evidence of a drop severe enough to cause logic board damage (the outside of the case is dent free).

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3 Answers

Chosen Solution

From your symptoms I would say your logic board is damaged.

Did you use proper ESD protection when you opened the system as you could have zapped the logic board.

Update (02/14/2016)

At this point I think you'll need to try a new logic board. Here are the two you could put in: MacBookPro5,5.

  • Logic Board 2.26GHz C2D (P7550) - 661-5230
  • Logic Board 2.53GHz C2D (P8700) - 661-5231

Both are about $270 US

Update (09/18/2016)

Lets give this a try someone had recommended:

First disconnect the internal drive and then let it boot up with no drive. Do you get a blinking question mark this time?

If you do, plug in your external bootable drive are you up and running then? If so go into the system prefs and alter the boot up to the external drive.

Now shut the system down, re-connect the internal HD and boot up again under the external drive run Disk Utilities Disk First Aid to double check the drive.

Now shutdown the system disconnect the external drive and now let it boot up. We don't want to alter the Startup pref setting yet until we get it to boot up under the internal when it still programed to look for the external.

Now once the system is booted up under the internal drive now alter the setting and now shutdown the system and restart it again (full cold boot) Is it working?

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I disagree with Dan on this one (That's a rarity). This sounds like a bad hard drive or hard drive cable issue to me. You say you know the drive to be good, but how and what OS is on it. I would disconnect the HD cable from the logic board and boot from an external source.

The RAM may be good but is it the correct RAM for your machine and have you tried just one stick and in each of the slots?

RAM Type: PC3-8500 DDR3 Min. RAM Speed: 1066 MHz

Details: Supports 1066 MHz PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM.

Standard RAM: 2 GB Maximum RAM: 8 GB

I try everything before replacing a logic board.

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@Mayer - The clue was he tried booting up with a USB drive with a working OS on it and never got the boot manager when holding the Option key, he only got a white screen in all cases.

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@danj Again, what OS. he's getting three three blinks on it. Did this machine ever work for him? That white screen tells me it's a hard drive issue.

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Mayer, thanks for your input. I did try a different Hard Drive cable, that is known to be working, and got the same result. The OS on the external hard drive is El Capitan. I also tried an external drive with Snow Leopard on it, and they all gave the same white screen result. The RAM is correct for this machine (Apple Stock, 1066MHz PC3-8500). Tried no RAM; got standard beep and no boot. Tried one stick in each slot: white screen. Tried one stick in lower slot: white screen. Tried one stick in upper slot: white screen. As danj mentioned, I get no boot manager when holding down the Option key at startup. As far as the three blinks goes, when I connect the USB drive with El Cap on it and boot my 15" MBP from it, I get the same three quick blinks at boot chime, then random flashes from the LED through the boot process indicating the MBP is accessing data from the external hard drive. On this particular 13" MBP, I get just those first three blinks.

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All external drives I've tried as well as two internal drives (one with El Cap, one with Snow Leopard) are known to be good as they will boot another 13" MBP I have on my workbench with no issues whatsoever. My test RAM also works in the functioning MBP. I'm afraid danj is right...it's looking more and more like a dead logic board.

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OK. Some machines can't be diagnosed over the internet. An alternative to Dan's suggestion of a new logic board (which may or may not fix it), is a "Flat Rate Repair" from Apple. For $357 (shipping and tax included), Apple will overnight you a shipping box, repair any and all problems and send it back. Total time, four days. Return it to as original condition as you can before shipping.

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Hi, I have the same problem, I have test like Dan all rescue solution but no change " white screen with no logo" also I have connect an external display and I get image and a can start my MBP but my internal display no change " white screen" I think is not a logic board problem, I don't find anything on internet for this problem. If somebody can help me about this problem. Thank you.

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Please if you found something tell me

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