Flashing question mark folder, HDD okay. Bad logic board?

MacBook Pro 13.3" - Late 2011 (Macbook Pro 8,1)

  • 2.8GHz Core i7 (2640M)
  • 4 MB PC3-10600 SODIMM
  • Model #: A1278 Sales number: MD314LL/A
  • OSX Lion 10.7

So, over a year ago my computer froze up while I was using it a few times over several days, every time I had to do a hard reset.

The last time it happened, it never started up again. I only get the flashing question mark folder.

My research made me think I needed a new hard drive. I brought the computer to a "professional" repair shop in my neighborhood and paid for a diagnosis and to test my hard drive just in case I wasn't correct.

Next day he says I need a new hard drive and everything on my old drive is unsalvageable. So I purchase a new 1TB SSHD from him and install it myself. I still get the flashing question mark folder. I go back to the "professional" and after some unpleasant interrogation he admits he didn't actually test anything, but just assumed I needed a hard drive because of my symptoms.

He offers to test my old hard drive for free (free? I actually paid for it the first time!) and he now says he was mistaken, my old drive is just fine, and I need a new logic board. Of course, at this point I don't trust him, so my question is...

How can I determine whether or not I need a new logic board?

I have reset NVRAM and tried internet recovery. I am able to open Disk Utility, and my hard drive is not listed in the left hand column. Same results with the old drive or the new drive. I basically cannot get the computer to recognize any internal hard drive I install. If I plug in a thumb drive or a flash card they are recognized and I can format and partition them without issue.

Update (12/02/2016)

Oh, I bought a case and the wire for my old hard drive so I could use it as an external drive. It worked just fine on my other computer and I was able to copy all of my data onto my other computer. So I know for sure the old hard drive works just fine. I gave the new drive to my son, and he uses it as an external drive for his computer, so I know there was nothing wrong with that drive either.

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You'll hitting a known issue. Sorry ;-{

Your problem is the SATA cable has failed. Here is the IFIXIT guide to replace it: MacBook Pro 13" Unibody Late 2011 Hard Drive Cable Replacement.

To prove it you could use your external case with your original HD in it and then boot up the system holding the Option key to get to the boot manager. At that point you could select your external drive to boot the system thus, bypassing the bad SATA cable.

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You're saying there is a known issue with the SATA cables in these computers? I specifically asked the "professional" if maybe it might be a bad connection or cable, and he said "no, it's gotta be the logic board. So frustrating.


The problem with professional is kind of like doctors. They all get the same degree one finished first in his class and one finished last and you don't don't know which one finished where.

I replace about three to five of these a week, and have had for the last three years. Now, in my experience, about 50% of the time the bad cable will destroy the hard drive. When you replace the cable go with the 2012 cable rather than the 2011. Put small pads on either side of the cable where it comes over the ledge on the optical drive to prevent the bottom from hitting the cable. Next time come to see us first ;-). The price is much better.


@marcleonti obviously that "professional" is actually an idiot, I'm 12 and know more than them.


Oh man the hard drive cable on these MacBook are a common point of failure.


What can I say ;-}

The 'Pro' you went to needs to do a bit of reading. Apple has it listed as an issue in their support news and repair documentation.

You'll also see many others encountering the issue here in IFIXIT if you take the time to look, all of them have a hallelujah moment when it works!


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I too had this problem and it was indeed the cable. Now some time later I’m getting the same problem me thinks now the logic board is faulty as the hard drive is fine and cable is new.

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It can be the logic board. After replacing HDD and cable, the problem is not resolved on MacBook Pro 8,1

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In my case, after replacing the cable, it was the HDD. Got a new one and done.

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marcleonti will be eternally grateful.
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