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Released June 2012 / Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost / Up to 1 GB DDR5 Video RAM

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White screen of death no matter what

tl;dr No matter what I do, I get a white screen on startup after the Apple logo. Resetting PRAM, PMU, Safe Mode, and booting from external drives all have the same result.

I was doing a routine hard drive replacement. The original HDD was drastically slowing down and giving SMART errors, so I replaced it with a (somewhat smaller, but still big enough for all the data with room to spare) SDD. Everything worked fine; I installed the drive, booted with a Techtool Protogo USB stick with the High Sierra installer on it, formatted the disk with Disk Utility, installed High Sierra onto it, waited for it to reboot, plugged the old drive in via a Universal Drive Adapter, and restored all the data using the Migration Assistant built into the initial startup sequence. Great! Everything was working fine. And then it restarted, and—nothing. It refused to boot after that. Not only to the new internal drive, but to the Protogo, or to the original drive, or to the Recovery partition, or to Internet Recovery. It will show the Apple logo and the loading bar, then go to an all-white screen and stay there.

Well, that's what it does now. However, last night it would sometimes do that, and sometimes go to the white screen and then shut down, and sometimes spontaneously reboot, over and over. Once it immediately turned itself back on after I forced to turn off by holding the Power button for six seconds. When I went to Recovery or Internet Recovery (after it downloaded the installer), it would go to a horrible blue screen, that looked like some kind of awful graphics error—it hurt my eyes. When I boot to my Protogo, it shows a line of random colors in the upper portion of the screen for a second before it goes to the white screen.

I have tried: Booting in Safe Mode (no indication that that took effect), zapping the PRAM (seven reboots in a row to be sure), resetting the PMU (twice), Verbose mode (which works, until it goes to the white screen of death), Single User Mode (which works just fine, but all I know to do from there is to fsck the disk, which returns no errors), unplugging the battery for 30 seconds or so, resetting the RAM in its slot, and, as I said, repeatedly attempting to boot from an emergency drive. Nothing has worked. I am at a loss. What in God's name is going on here?

Also tried: Apple Hardware Test, extended testing: No trouble found. Booting over Firewire from another computer in Target Disk Mode: No difference.

Hm. I'm noticing that the computer is getting unusually hot, roughly where the fans are (i.e. not the battery).

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2 Answers

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I would double check the cable in this case. Try opening an closing the lid half way and monitor if there would be any changes to video output.

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The screen seems fine. Apple Hardware Test and the Target Disk Mode screen show up beautifully.

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This seems more like either a bad hard drive, or a bad hard drive flex cable.

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I have the exact same issue that you're experiencing (although got there by a different route).

I've spent the last 2 days trouble shooting the ( unable to boot no matter what) issue & it appears to be related to High Sierra and older Macs. Mine is a MBPro late 2011. In hindsight I first noticed that it felt really hot one day. Not long after that (2days at most), it crashed while I was uploading an attachment to an email in Mail. It wouldn't start up after that - was experiencing what you described. After a day of trouble shooting though I finally manage to boot it up and use it.

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Next day (today), same again while sending an email (no attachment this time though). Crashed. Have not been able to get it going since.

Apple Support suggested I go to a technician. But I decided I'd do some more research.

IT'S A WIDELY EXPERIENCED PROBLEM SINCE UPDATING TO THE LATEST OS!!!!

Apple doesn't appear to be interested in resolving the bug which has something to do with the new file system in HS and some old kernels assoc with various software....perhaps because it's only older Macs that are in trouble.

Sounds to me like a pretty underhanded way to get older Mac owners to upgrade their Macs!

My testing (Apple Hardware Test) has proved that there is NOTHING WRONG with my HARD DRIVE and via the Single User login and test nothing is wrong with my FILES.

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BUT because of the BUG IN HIGH SIERRA (whether it was intentionally put there by Apple or is something unintentional), I am unable to get into my computer at all through any of the numerous ways to get in.

Therefore I also cannot do a new install of an OS that does not have this bug.

The only renemedy seems to be to get a pro to somehow save my files and clean up with a new OS install prior to Sierra.

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I’ve spent the last 2 days troubleshooting my neighbor’s MBP late 2011 with the same problem after they had it in the repair shop 3 times for $500. I got it working enough to get everything off of it by using the fsck and after “volume appears to be ok”, typing “reboot” (this was the only way to get it to boot up normally as none of the other key prompts would work). I then backed it up to an external hard drive, wiped the current hard drive using target disk mode with another MBP also running High Sierra (I had to install the update to that computer first as disk utility had a glitch before the recent update), and then made a usb boot disk of High Sierra (all very time consuming). After the reinstall, which took forever and stopped several times, and then doing the same recent update which was not on the usb install, it worked great— until I turned it off and closed it up and my neighbor took it home. When they opened it up, same white screen! They’ll bring it back today and I’m planning on opening it up to see if possibly one or more cables is pinched and causing some of the troubles. I’m pretty sure the clean install helped as it restarted 20 times easily after I finished. The search on 2011’s and SSD drives leads me to believe that cable may be the problem which makes a lot of sense.

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