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Released April 2010 / 2.4, 2.53 GHz Core i5 or 2.66, 2.8 GHz Core i7 Processors

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Touchpad and keyboard backlight stopped working. Broken SMC?

I have and old 2010 Macbook Pro 15 that has done an amazing job to keep going for 9 years. I mostly use it as a media server and a few emails these days. I recently took it for a clean and had the thermal paste reapplied. That appears to have done it a world of good as temperatures are reading about 5-10 degrees lower.

Unfortunately on putting it back together the repair shop have been unable to get the trackpad to work again. Everything was fine before it went in. It appears the physical click works but touch does not. Upon discovering this he replaced the trackpad and inspected all the connections and cannot find any physical damage that might cause this issue. The new and old trackpads both have the issue.

Resetting the SMC does not fix the issue, this has been tried many times. The guy in the shop even stripped it back and tested the chips with a meter and couldn’t see any problems there.

I now have the laptop back as the shop is closed until Monday and I am still able to use it with an external mouse. Since having it back I have noticed the backlight on the keyboard no longer works either.

It was mentioned that it might be a corrupt SMC and the issue only presented itself after the battery was disconnected.

I have done some digging and have been looking at manually resetting/updating the SMC.

I have tried downloading the firmware from apple but the updates say they are not compatible with my machine as I suspect it is just detecting that I already have the latest firmware.

I have been looking at manually reapplying the latest firmware using rEFIt but have been unable to boot into that and haven’t got very far.

I was wondering if doing a re-install of High Sierra might perform the firmware reset (just a thought)?

Any other ideas I can try?

The shop mentioned that he has a couple of spare Macbooks of the same model that he was going to check on Monday and see if I could have the logic board from one of them.

I understand that after 9 Years there is only so far it’s worth going to fix this but any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.

Edit: Here are some pictures of the connections. I can’t see any signs of damage and have connected and unconnected them a couple of times with no change to the issue.

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1 Answer

Most Helpful Answer

The SMC firmware reload is a red herring! Stop looking at a software/firmware issue and focus on the hardware.

You likely have a problem with the ribbon cable connector on the logic board. Lets focus on that for starters. Take the bottom cover off and take a tight picture on the connector so we can see it. Reference this guide MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Mid 2010 Logic Board Replacement Jump to Step 18. We need both the board and the cable connector sides. What I’m suspecting is the connector pins have been damaged. Lets hope the cable end is damaged. Post the pics here so I can see Adding images to an existing question

MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Mid 2010 Logic Board Image

Guide

MacBook Pro 15" Unibody Mid 2010 Logic Board Replacement

Difficulty:

Difficult

30 minutes

iFixit Image

Guide

Adding images to an existing question

Difficulty:

Very easy

2 - 5 minutes

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I didn’t go into the full detail in my original post but the guy in the shop has already tried replacing the trackpad and its ribbon. He also inspected the connection on the logic board and couldn’t find any issues with the pins.

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Trust me! These connectors can be damaged if you don't align them correctly before pressing on. I'm very sure this is the problem.

You can prove this by looking at the About This Mac > System Report > USB The "Apple Internal Keyboard / Trackpad" will be listed as this logic is mounted on the main logic board which is what the systems firmware and the OS would interact with. If it wasn't present then you have a deeper issue on the logic board.

OK, so lets make the argument it's not the connector what would I do next? Sadly I would try another trackpad MacBook Pro 15" Unibody (Mid 2009-Mid 2012) Trackpad. I've gotten a few bad ones so thats possible here.

Beyond this the logic board would need to be inspected for damage as it was removed it could have been damaged.

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I've disconnected and reconnected the trackpad and can't see an signs of damage. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by looking in the system report. The keyboard is working fine except the backlight no longer works and the physical click works on the mouse but no touch. It makes sense that they still appear in the system report even as they do partially work. I've added pictures to the op.

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The logic board side looks healthy, but I do see some whitish material along the connector wall. Take a cotton swab dampened with 85% isopropyl alcohol and carefully clean it off. The cable end looks OK from the angle you took the picture but I can't see the pins on the other side. Their might be some corrosion on them.

What is the MacOS you are running on the system? If you are running Mojave using DosDude patcher you'll need to run the patcher again.

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I've opened it up again and given the connections a clean. As far as i can see they are looking immaculate. Still no change when I booted up. I'm running High Sierra 10.13.6

I was unaware there was a workaround to install Mojave on this mac

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