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Portables (Apple) Hardware Apple

GPUs Dropping Dead In 2011 MacBook Pro Models 359

New submitter blackwizard writes "MacRumors is reporting on pervasive GPU failures in 2011 MacBook Pro machines, leading both to intermittent video issues, corruption, crashing/freezing, and eventually even failure to boot. Luckily for Apple, the machines are now out of warranty (unless you bought AppleCare). The issues have been reported both on Apple's own forums and other blogs. Apple has so far failed to take action on the problem. Will they take ownership of the issue, or continue to ask customers to pay for an entire new logic board when just the GPU fails?"
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GPUs Dropping Dead In 2011 MacBook Pro Models

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @12:42PM (#45998861)

    Motherboard failure happed to me with a Mac Mini only one month after the warranty expired. The problem was that the epoxy used on the boards when they were made was in short supply, so a substitute resin was used on some to keep production up. Apple wanted $499 for a new board. I never bought another Apple product again. If your MacBook Pro died. Find out what it will cost to replace the board. After your shock go look for a new machine. Apple price gouges the aftermarket.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @12:47PM (#45998899)

    Bullshit, Apple will do no such thing unless they face severe penalties. Here in Denmark it took several court cases regarding faulty design on the MBP, which Apple lost all of them - even then did Apple not want to own up and repair the affected MBPs, it wasn't until they faced severe repercussions they started fixing them.

    By the way, I'm a happy MBP owner and will probably keep being one, just saying, don't expect them to go out of the way to help you.

  • Re:History (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mark4ST ( 249650 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:59PM (#45999369) Homepage
    The problem is that Quanta (they build system boards for Apple's laptop division) has never been able to properly do a ball grid array. The problem is not the chips or cooling, it's the "good enough" techniques Quanta uses to attach them to to a system board. If a ball grid array is done properly, it can be quite robust-- Quanta doesn't seem to care about longevity of the product, and hasn't for a number of years.

    Quanta's quality problems are even more dire when you see that they manufacture about one third of the world's laptop system boards.

    Please see Quanta [wikipedia.org] and ball grid array [wikipedia.org].

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @01:59PM (#45999375)

    I've also noticed that the high-end appliances seem to have more problems than the cheap stuff. Admittedly, I'm a small sample size, but I bought a house that had previously been owned by Orthodox Jews, and so there are two of everything in the kitchen. I haven't had to repair any of the cheaper appliances, but the expensive stuff keeps nickel and diming me.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @02:01PM (#45999389) Homepage

    This is an industry wide issue thanks to RoHS. This isn't just Apple, this effects Dell and HP laptops that have high temp GPUs. The XBox 360 is another perfect example. The problem is caused from the constant thermal cycling causing expansion and contraction as it cools. Like bending a paper clip, over time metal fatigue sets in and cracks the solder.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @02:33PM (#45999623)

    A refrigerator from 30 years ago was built to last. Modern appliances have every penny that could be saved taken into account.

    That said, a 30 year old refrigerator isn't nearly as energy efficient as a modern one. You might be surprised to learn that a new one might pay for itself in two years from the savings in energy alone.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Saturday January 18, 2014 @02:57PM (#45999767) Homepage Journal

    In the case of the 2008 and the 2.2/2.4 mbp's, the problem was actually Nvidia, fault, not Apple.. Apple pushes the design limits of their components pretty close to the edge to keep their designs small, light, and enduring. The frame and cooling was designed to only slightly exceed required cooling for nvidia's GPU, according to their provided specifications.

    Nvidia lied about the cooling requirements of their GPU, describing it as requiring less cooling than it actually did. (probably as a selling point to get Apple to use it) As a result, the machine didn't adequately cool it under very high stress. (playing WoW for an extended time was a known cause of failure) As a result, boards and GPUs flexed, ball solder joints failed, and gpus stopped functioning. (this is not a gpu defect or a ball problem, it's a mechanical problem, caused by thermal stress due to inadequate cooling)

    After Apple had encountered a larger number of in-warranty failures than expected, they contacted Nvidia, who denied the problem. Bad logic boards continued to pour in and get repaired under the one year warranty, but replaced boards were frequently failing again, and users were sometimes seeing 2-4 replacements within the first year. A few customers got a new machine per Apple's policy on "three major repairs within warranty", some of which had gpu failures on their replacement machines as well. Apple put their own engineers to work testing new GPUs, and found that the cooling requirements were significantly above Nvidia's stated specs.

    Although they were aware of this issue well before the first year, Apple's SOP on an issue like this is to stay quiet until the units start dropping out of their first year's warranty, and then issue a Repair Extension on them. (probably trying to mitigate a drop in sales on a "defective model") Coverage time for REPs vary, and only extend the warranty on the specific part, and only for the specific failure. REPs typically extend coverage to the 2, 3, or 4 year point after purchase. It does not stack with applecare extended warranty. This REP I believe went the maximum at four years from date of purchase.

    Apple has issued a dozen or so REPs in the last ten years. Considering the units sold, the variety of models offered, and the cutting-edge technology they'r fond of using, this is actually a pretty low failure rate, as well as a very good manufacturer's response.

    2011 is not a new computer, it's going on three years old. Referring to them as "dropping dead" makes it sound like it's a very early failure (first year or so) I think the article is being sensational and a bit deceptive to link-bait. Apple expects their products to last 3-5 years before they get replaced. Considering how fast tech advances, and that Apple users typically want new and cutting-edge tech, this isn't at all unreasonable. With as many models as they make, there are going to be those that fail sooner than others, and that you can expect to get less than 7-8 years out of. This may just be one of them. It happens. And it can suck to be the unlucky one that owns one. But "only" getting three years out of a laptop may not be desirable, but it's hardly a travesty. If Apple were to refuse to cover failures inside the one year warranty, or not extend coverage to units failing frequently in the 2-3 year area, that'd be newsworthy. This really isn't.

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:10AM (#46004691)
    I don't think you have ever owned a Mac there, friend.

    One of the primary selling points is their longevity. I have two Macs from 2006-7 that I still use on a regular basis. I'm typing this on a 2007 model now. Finally had to shelve my 2003 model a few years ago as it can't handle playing high res video.

    As an amusing anecdote, I will tell you about my experience with Mac vs PC in a laboratory environment. My lab has always been all Mac, even before I got there. I was allowed to get a new iMac back in 2008 as I needed a higher resolution screen to do graphics manipulation on electron micrographs. A couple of years later, another member of our lab wanted a new computer, but insisted on a PC (he had to run some stats software and couldn't into boot camp). So we got him one. A couple of years later, he wanted another one, complaining that his had slowed down so much it was unusable. I was still using my 2008 model, and it was running like a champ. It still works fine, so far as I know, as I have since moved on. Also of note is that we had another Mac from the early 90's running our HPLC, which still works, though that probably isn't a fair comparison as we never used it for anything else.

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