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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Addressing MacBook Pro 15 or 17 video issues

Addressing MacBook Pro 15 or 17 video issues
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reader50
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Sep 2, 2018, 06:15 PM
 
If you own a 15" or 17" MBP with discrete graphics chip, you may presently experience graphics issues. And/or crashing. And/or boot failure. This has been covered in Mac news articles before, usually under "2011 MacBook Pro GPU failures". I have been bitten, so I feel like writing it all up in one place. Along with solutions.

Models

Does not affect: 13" MBP.
Does not affect: 15" 2010 or earlier.
Does not affect: 17" 2010 or earlier.
Affects: 15" MBP 2011.
Affects: 17" MBP 2011.
Unknown: 15" MBP 2012 non-retina, 15" retina 2012 and early-2013.
Does not affect: 15" late-2013 through 2015 base models without discrete GPU: late-2013 (2.0 GHz), mid-2014 (2.2 GHz), mid-2015 (2.2 GHz)
Probably OK: 15" late-2013 and later with discrete GPU.

note: 2009-2011 iMacs are often affected by the same issues. However, as these iMac CPUs lack integrated GPUs, the fixes below will not work. Such iMacs need replacement MXM graphics cards. Some PC MXM cards will work, though without boot screens - video comes on late in the boot process. Otherwise follow MacVidCards blog for when they start selling mac-compatible replacement cards.

Root Causes

This is a multi-cause failure. Several design decisions overlap to cause it. Each decision made sense by itself.

15" and 17" MBPs have cases large enough to handle the heat load of both a quad-core processor and a real graphics chip. So Apple provided most of these MBPs with a strong separate GPU in addition to the Intel integrated GPU (part of the CPU). The 13" MBP is too small, so it only has Intel integrated graphics.

Because the discrete GPU uses more power than integrated graphics, using it cuts battery life. In order to limit power usage, Apple does automatic GPU switching. When you need more graphics power, the discrete GPU is powered up. When the need passes, it is turned off - the MBP switches back to the integrated GPU. Switching happens constantly throughout the day as you jump between apps.

The European RoHS directive bans lead from consumer electronics, with some exceptions. Lead/tin solder is used to attach electronic components to circuit boards. Although RoHS exceptions cover high-performance (high temperature) parts of computers, Apple chose to be an early adopter of lead-free manufacture in 2011 MBPs.

Apple has been slimming their notebooks as much as possible. To meet consumer demands and to limit upgrade options, which reduce future sales. Slim cases force most components to be soldered down, including the GPU chip. As opposed to socketed components.

The Problem

With dynamic GPU switching, discrete GPUs regularly heat up (sometimes approaching 90C), then cool down as they turn off. Lead-free solder is more brittle than standard solder. Constant thermal expansion/contraction causes microfractures. Eventually these grow to real cracks, affecting one or more connections to the discrete GPUs.

Randomly interrupting pin connections to the GPU causes screen corruption and/or system crashes and/or boot failure. The symptoms grow worse with time, until the notebook is unusable. The GPU chip is actually undamaged. The problem is failing connections with the rest of the computer.

How Apple could fix it

If a thicker case were used, it would allow a socketed GPU. The thermal stress of switching would apply to the pin/socket interface, rather than the logic board solder connections. This has not been done.

If standard solder were used for GPUs and other high-temp parts, the problem would go away. This has not been done.

Remove the discrete GPU from the 15" MBP. This was done in 15" base models only, from late-2013 through mid-2015. Though probably for market reasons rather than GPU reliability.

Further refinement of lead-free solder may have eliminated the thermal fracture problem. This is the most desirable solution. It is unclear if this has been achieved. 15" MBPs from late-2013 onwards have not been added to the Repair Program page. This may mean stable lead-free solder has been achieved. Or it may mean Apple is handling later failures quietly. Insufficient data. Has anyone with a later model experienced the failure? Post a reply if you have.

How Apple has addressed it

Apple introduced the MacBook Pro Repair Extension Program for Video Issues. This offers free motherboard swaps for affected systems. The boards used are service spares - extra boards of the same model. Because they use the same design, a swap only fixes the problem temporarily. It resets the failure clock. A system with motherboard swap will presently fail again.

And ... the 2011 models have been dropped from the program as of January 2017. Perhaps because they are unsupported models now. Perhaps because AMD has stopped making the GPU chips those models used. As of this writing, mid-2012 and early 2013 are still covered.

What you can do

If you have a 2012 or later MBP and it is an affected model, use Apple's repair program. Before your model becomes ineligible. All affected MBPs will eventually fail - the question is when, not if. My 2011 failed several months after Apple dropped them from the repair program.

The Rossman Repair Group is a shop in New York which does component-level repairs. They can replace a failing GPU. I assume they use standard lead solder; if so, their fix would be permanent. However, they cannot help 2011 MBP owners, because AMD has stopped making those GPU chips. If Apple drops support for 2012 or later models, Rossman may still be able to help. For a price.

If you have a 2011 model not affected yet, install gfxCardStatus. System Preferences -> Energy Saver lets you choose Dynamic GPU Switching (box checked) or Discrete GPU all-the-time (box unchecked). gfxCardStatus adds another option: Integrated GPU all-the-time. Setting Integrated Only will prevent the discrete GPU failure, at the cost of lower graphics performance.

note1: You should also apply the EFI variable hack (below) to force integrated during early boot.
note2: Using an external monitor still forces the discrete GPU to activate. Do it infrequently, or see the External Monitors section (below).

If you set the system to use Discrete Only, it will reduce the thermal swings of the GPU, delaying the failure somewhat. A simple solution if you plan to replace the notebook in the near future, and do not want to compromise performance.

What to do if your 2011 system already has the glitch

Consider the DeMux fix discussed farther down.

You can buy a later model. Some base-model 15s have only integrated GPUs and are therefore safe. Late-2013 models (and later) may be entirely safe, but I do not have confirmation. All 13" MBPs are safe as they lack discrete GPUs.

You can buy an earlier model, 2010 or earlier. But all earlier models are dual-core CPUs. And they are getting iffy for ongoing macOS support. High Sierra supports back to mid-2010 MBPs. Mojave supports mid-2012 and later MBPs. Hacks can get Mojave working on earlier models, but may require the discrete GPU.

You can try applying a heat gun to the discrete GPU to "reflow" the solder connections underneath. This is more likely to kill your MBP than succeed. Even if it does work, it is temporary. It does not address the design flaw, so it only resets the failure clock. No one has gotten more than a few months before the failure returned. Do not do this unless you are ready to throw your MBP out and/or have a gambling addiction.
( Last edited by reader50; Aug 21, 2019 at 05:35 PM. )
     
reader50  (op)
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Sep 2, 2018, 11:51 PM
 
How to stabilize your glitched 2011 system

You can stabilize your current MBP. Your system will work fine if it avoids using the discrete GPU. Though with reduced graphics performance. Two hacks are required: one for early boot conditions, one involving video drivers the OS loads later.

Note that using an external monitor is a separate problem - see External Monitors below.

Stabilize the early boot

The system defaults to booting with the discrete GPU. This is the cause of early boot hangs. You need to hack the EFI variable for gpu-power-prefs to make your MBP start with the integrated GPU. This guy worked out how. It is a long post, well worth reading if you are technical minded. I have boiled it down to the essentials here, if you just want your MBP to work again.

The EFI variables are hidden in your MBP's NVRAM, which has its own filesystem. You need to hack one variable.

MacOS single-user method - I have not tested this one. It was discovered after I started hacking my MBP.
If you have macOS installed:
1 - Boot Single User (press Command + S) at boot. (skip to the Commands section)

If macOS isn't installed, or you don't trust your installation, use a copy of the macOS installer:
1 - If you have a blank HD, then use the USB stick/pendrive with the macOS installer (El Capitan, Sierra or HighSierra).
2 - Press Option key at boot, position the mouse on the macOS installer icon.
3 - Press Command + S and keep holding these two keys.
4 - Click the macOS installer icon -> continue holding the Command + S keys until you finish the macOS installer Single User boot.

Enter these commands (change gpu-power-prefs to Intel GPU and boot verbose):
Code:
nvram fa4ce28d-b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9:gpu-power-prefs=%01%00%00%00 nvram boot-args="-v" {<-- this step is optional} reboot
ArchLinux method - I use this one, keeping a bootable linux flashdrive on hand.
Get a compatible linux boot image here or here. Don't use a later version - they stopped automounting the EFI filesystem.

Then create a bootable USB from the ISO image you downloaded. Use the great detailed instructions from this page.

Plug the bootable USB flash drive in, and Option-boot to reach the boot selector. The USB drive will appear on far-right, as "EFI boot". If your screen is blank or too corrupted to read, wait a reasonable time. Then press the left-arrow key <-- once, so the selected boot device will jump to the far-right option. Assuming your leftmost option is usually preselected. If a different item is usually selected, you may have to experiment with different numbers of arrow presses.

Click Return to start the boot.

The Linux boot option comes up almost immediately, with the top menu choice already selected.

Press "e" key immediately on the main menu top to edit the GRUB options, which appear as a text line at the bottom of the screen. Hold the right arrow to run to the end of the line, so you can add an extra parameter. Add " nomodeset" to the end, without the quotes. Note the space at the beginning. Then press Return.

If everything is done correctly, Linux boot will proceed, ending at the Linux console. Booting can take up to a minute. Once you are at the Linux console, enter the following commands. Annotations (in parentheses):
Code:
cd /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/ (press return) chattr -i gpu-power-pre (no space, press tab to autocomplete, then press Return)(removes immutable parameter) rm gpu-power-pre (no space, press tab to autocomplete, press Return)(deletes old variable file) printf "\x07\x00\x00\x00\x01\x00\x00\x00" > gpu-power-prefs-fa4ce28d- b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9 (press Return)(writes new variable file) chattr +i gpu-power-pre (no space, press tab to autocomplete)(add immutable parameter) cd / (press Return)(cannot unmount efivars volume while inside, so return to root) umount /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/ (press Return)(force flush changes to disk) reboot (press Return)
Note: if your screen is unreadable, you can do all the above steps blind. Using either hack method. Just watch the timing between some steps. Unfortunately you cannot edit EFI variables from another Mac via Target Disk Mode. The variables are stored in your MBP's NVRAM, so you can only reach them locally.

Stabilize the OS

As the boot proceeds, the OS takes over, loading graphics drivers as it pleases. This causes failures later in the boot process.

If you have another Mac, use Target Disk Mode to access your sick MBP. If your MBP is the only thing available, you can try booting while on battery. The OS *should* be smart enough to use integrated graphics on battery. Unless you have told it to use Discrete GPU all the time. Otherwise you can boot a few times until it freezes each time. Then boot again. After a few tries, macOS will realize something is wrong and will boot without optional extensions. Like fancy graphics drivers.

You will encounter permissions issues during the next steps. You can tell Finder to ignore permissions on this volume (if booted from another volume). If you lack another boot option, you need to disable System Integrity Protection first. If you have not done that before, boot into the Recovery partition. Go to Utilities in the menu, and give the magic disable-SIP command: csrutil disable (press Return, then reboot). This may undo the gpu-power-prefs hack - if so, you will have to reapply it before proceeding. Also do the following steps from an Administrator account.

Go to /System/Library/ and create a new folder called Extensions (disabled). Then move all the AMD extensions from Extensions to Extensions (disabled). If you have a sick MBP with nVidia discrete chip, move the nVidia kexts instead. Double check after to make sure the kexts are gone from Extensions. That they were not copied by mistake. You may have to hold the command key during the drag, so Finder will move instead of copy.

Optional: on 2011 systems, the driver AMDRadeonX3000.kext is the only one that has to be removed to prevent boot failure. You can try removing only that one. This may be a useful tip if you use an eGPU box with a Radeon card, discussed later.

Stable Operation

With the EFI boot variable hacked, and the AMD extensions removed (or nVidia extensions), you can finally boot normally. It is still a good idea to install gfxCardStatus and set Integrated-Only in the menu. As an extra safety net.

Things that can undo your hacks

Beware updates. OS point updates (or full OS installs) always replace the graphics drivers. So you will have fresh copies in your /System/Extensions/ folder. Security updates may or may not replace graphics drivers. Check during or after every update, to see if you must remove the drivers again.

A PRAM reset changes the EFI gpu-power-prefs variable back to default. A full OS install (or full version upgrade) might do so too. Use of the Recovery partition may do so. Keep the hack instructions (and optional bootable flash drive) on hand. Especially if you are away from home.

It is prudent to partition your drive, so you have a 2nd (smaller) bootable partition. Install the OS (or clone) to the extra partition. Apply hacks to both. If one becomes unusable, you can boot into the other to fix things up. If you are super paranoid, arrange a third partition for extra safety.

General Boot Hangs

After applying the needed hacks. If boot hangs at the Apple logo (no progress bar) but the boot screen image is otherwise clear. These solutions worked for me.

• Your MBP may have lost track of the selected boot partition for no obvious reason. Which should not matter, but between hacks and a bad GPU, apparently does. Option-boot into main or backup system. Select your main partition in Startup Disk. If it is already selected, select the backup volume. Close Startup Disk. Re-open it, and re-select your main partition.

Close Startup Disk. Wait until it actually closes - the selection has not taken until then. Reboot.

• You may have a bad kextcache. Boot into your backup volume, or use Target Disk Mode. Change modification date on one of the Extensions folders via Terminal: sudo touch /library/extensions/ (authenticate, then try booting again).

If you lack an alternate boot partition (or alternate Mac for TDM), force-shutdown. Then try again. Repeat a few times, until macOS boots in super-safe mode without graphics drivers. After such a boot, it should ignore the kextcache and boot honestly. But touch one of the Extensions folders anyway for safety before you reboot.

• High Sierra and Mojave may save bad kextcaches when SIP (System Integrity Protection) is disabled. Then try to use them, even if you've touched the Extensions folder. You can boot into recovery and re-enable SIP, which should solve the bad-kextcache problem. Beware that using Recovery may reset your EFI hack, so re-apply if needed.

Alternatively, go to /System/Library/PrelinkedKernels/ and make a copy of a known-good kextcache. ie - one created with SIP enabled, or the one that comes in the most recent OS or security update. From another bootable partition, you can trash the corrupted kextcache, duplicate the known-good copy, and rename it to become the new kextcache. Afterwards, the HS or Moj system will boot normally. You may have to repeat these steps on each subsequent boot with SIP disabled.
( Last edited by reader50; Aug 21, 2019 at 08:39 PM. )
     
reader50  (op)
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Sep 3, 2018, 12:45 AM
 
External Monitors

External monitors are a problem. When you plug a monitor or adapter into the Thunderbolt port, it tries to use the discrete GPU. No workaround has been found. It will either activate (crash!), or nothing will happen with the drivers missing. If you need to use external monitor(s), there are two solutions available.

Simple solution: use a DisplayLink USB video adapter

Search for "USB video adapter" on Newegg, Amazon, etc., then make sure they use a DisplayLink chip. Get the latest drivers directly from DisplayLink. Basic adapters cost $25-50 on Newegg, depending on features and sales. I've used both this one (inexpensive, 2K capable, no integrated audio) and this one (4K capable, outputs audio through the HDMI).

You can add up to two monitors via USB under macOS. Beware that macOS HS 10.13.4 through 10.13.6 have caused driver problems, currently limiting things to a single external monitor via AirPlay. This is fixed in Mojave.

Negatives: USB video adapters work off whatever GPU you're currently using. They continuously copy data from a virtual display buffer to the adapter. Your integrated GPU will have to handle the external monitor in addition to the internal. Plus the CPU must do continual copying to the adapter. Result: your power usage and fans will ramp up.

The effect is minor for mousing around on the desktop or using most apps. But for video playback, your fans will get going. You may have to reduce resolutions on both screens to hush the fans some. Games are likely to be worse.

Also, there are a few incompatibilities with USB displays. Both in apps and the OS. Later OS versions have been gradually fixing them. DisplayLink has a support section with the current dope.

Involved solution: use an eGPU

Add an eGPU box that will take your spare graphics card. Or buy a box with GPU already included. If you have an old Thunderbolt 1 or 2 box, try with a graphics card the box can power. But most older thunderbolt boxes do not offer enough power for a serious graphics card. egpu.io maintains a grid of eGPU boxes they are aware of, with numerous specs and links. Pay attention to "GPU max power" and "Max GPU len" specs - those are the most likely to cause incompatibilities.

All modern eGPU boxes are Thunderbolt-3, while all MBPs affected by the GPU problem have T1 or T2 ports. So buy Apple's Thunderbolt 1/2 to T3/USB-C adapter: search for "MMEL2AM/A" on eBay. They cost about $40. Add a Thunderbolt 1 or 2 cable if you don't have one (T1 and T2 use the same cables, so it does not matter what they are called). Running a GPU over Thunderbolt 1 or 2 will cause a 10-30% graphics performance penalty. But even older desktop graphics cards will still run circles around integrated graphics.

If your external GPU is a Radeon, you will need the AMD drivers after all. Try only disabling the driver AMDRadeonX3000.kext, which accelerates the discrete GPU in 2011 systems, along with other Radeons too old to work as eGPUs. You almost certainly do not need this driver.

Beware that an eGPU box adds its own fans. But at least your MBP will run cool again, and you can replace fans with quieter ones.

Beware that a lot of older graphics cards (especially Radeons) will not be recognized as eGPUs. Even if you have a spare lying around, you may have to buy a newer one. My old Radeon 5870 will *not* work in an eGPU box, not under macOS HS anyway. Currently Radeon HD 7xxx and later cards all appear to work.

nVidia cards may be less fussy about eGPU use - I have not seen as many warnings. nVidia GTX 6xx, 7xx and later have been reported to work. Earlier cards may work too. However, Apple has not provided nVidia drivers beyond the GTX 7xx series, so GTX 9xx cards and later require nVidia's web drivers. GTX 7xx do not require the web drivers, but perform better with them. Exception: GTX 780 (6 GB) requires the web drivers. Regular 3GB 780 cards do not.

Note: there are no Mojave or Catalina web drivers for later-series nVidia cards. GTX 6xx and 7xx cards work (5xx might also), along with the original Titan and Titan Black. GTX 9xx, 10xx, 16xx, and 20xx cards definitely do not work. Nor the later Titans. Later Radeons are supported in Mojave/Catalina, except Navi (RX 5700 at present). Mac Navi drivers are not out yet.

Since Apple disabled eGPU access over Thunderbolt 1 and 2 systems from 10.13.4 onwards, you will need to apply a software hack to restore function. I use purge-wrangler, courtesy of the fine folks on the egpu.io boards. It got my Radeon 7970 working, using the AMD and AMD-legacy options. I have not tested with any other cards. note: install any required drivers first, so purge-wrangler can patch them as needed.

Normal PC video cards do not offer boot screens - the screen comes on late in the boot process. Actual Mac video cards offer boot screens, but many older ones do not work as eGPUs under High Sierra. If you have money to burn, you can buy a card from MacVidCards. They develop custom firmwares that provide boot screens. The boot selector is visible. They are currently rolling out their v2 EFI firmware, which offers full eGPU compatibility. Best to email them before buying, to confirm a particular card has the newer firmware. Prices are high to cover their firmware development.

Note that since your notebook screen will show a boot screen anyway, you do not need an eGPU boot screen. Unless you insist on booting with the lid closed. The premium-priced MacVidCards seem more aimed at headless Macs. Like the Mac Pro or Mac Mini. Most people will get a better deal using an off-the-shelf PC card. Before buying one, you can check the egpu.io Build Guides. Make sure your card has been successfully used with a Mac.

A plus for the eGPU solution: your eGPU box will work with any later Mac you buy. And you can always buy later graphics cards, just like you can with a real Mac Pro. ie - the cheesegraters, not the trash can.

Other thoughts

Working around the video problem to keep your notebook alive can take a lot of time. It sure would have saved me time if I'd had these instructions in one place.

Your time is worth something. Keeping a notebook alive can be worth it as a fun project. Or sticking it to Apple for not giving us a permanent fix. Or to save money on a notebook only used occasionally.

But if your time is tight, or you are not comfortable tinkering, or if this is your main computer. There will be many setbacks when things break. Seriously, if your MBP must work, get one that is not sick.

I have kept mine working because:
• Later models lack internal drive bays.
• Battery changes are not easy in later MBPs.
• Later 15" models with discrete GPUs may have the same design flaw.
• My MBP only gets occasional use.
• It would be a shame to pitch an otherwise fine notebook.
• Solving this was moderately fun, I sometimes enjoy tinkering.
( Last edited by reader50; Sep 26, 2019 at 01:13 PM. )
     
subego
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Sep 3, 2018, 01:39 AM
 
Wow. Fantastic!

     
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Sep 3, 2018, 05:03 AM
 
Thank you for this, it is good to have these summaries.

Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
If you own a 15" or 17" MBP with discrete graphics chip, you may presently experience graphics issues. And/or crashing. And/or boot failure. This has been covered in Mac news articles before. I've been bitten, so I feel like writing it up in one place. Along with solutions.

Models

Does not affect: 13" MBP.
Does not affect: 15" 2010 or earlier.
Does not affect: 17" 2010 or earlier.
Affects: 15" MBP 2011 - (early) 2013.
Affects: 17" MBP 2011.
Does not affect: 15" (late) 2013 - 2015 base models without discrete GPU: late 2013 (2.0 GHz), mid 2014 (2.2 GHz), mid 2015 (2.2 GHz)
Unclear: 15" (late) 2013 and later with discrete GPU.
I would like to add that this also affects iMacs. My Late 2009 iMac failed for this reason - cracking solder balls due to removal of lead. It is fairly common for the 2009-2011 models.

Root Causes
The European RoHS directive bans lead from consumer electronics. Lead/tin solder is used to attach electronic components to circuit boards. This began affecting us with the 2011 MBPs. Computers sold in the EU needed to use lead-free solder.
Actually this isn't true. RoHS directive compliance is part of what I do at work, and lead in high-temperature solder is one of the allowed exemptions (exemption 7a). Apple switched to lead-free solder because they wanted to be lead free, and they did so before the RoHS directive kicked in. If you want to blame us for the way new MBPs go into hibernate sleep after six hours, then I'll take the blame for that, but the lead-free solder is all Cupertino.

I can well believe Apple blaming the RoHS directive when it all went pear-shaped, though.

The Problem

With dynamic GPU switching, discreet GPUs regularly heat up (sometimes approaching 90C), then cool down as they turn off. Lead-free solder is more brittle than standard solder. Constant thermal expansion/contraction causes microfractures. Eventually these grow to real cracks, affecting one or more connections to the discreet GPUs.
This, or the connections to the video RAM, which was the failure for me.

If a thicker case were used, it would allow a socketed GPU. The thermal stress of switching would apply to the pin/socket interface, rather than the logic board solder connections. This has not been done.
This isn't really doable. The standard for discrete mobile GPUs is something called MXM, where the GPU is connected to the motherboard by a modified PCIe connector. If you do this - as Apple did in iMacs before 2012 - you still have to solder the GPU to the tiny circuit board that goes into the MXM. Furthermore, you have to solder the video RAM.

If standard solder were used for models sold outside the EU, those models would be unaffected. This has not been done.
As stated above, it could be done for Europe as well.

Further refinement of lead-free solder may eliminate the thermal fracture problem. This is the most desirable solution. It is unclear to me if this has been achieved. 15" MBPs from late-2013 onwards have not been added to the Repair Program page. This may mean stable lead-free solder has been achieved. Or it may mean Apple is handling later failures quietly. Insufficient data. Has anyone with a later model experienced the failure? Post a reply if you have.
Speaking in the general, this is mostly a solved problem. I also haven't heard any issues with iMacs from 2012 on, despite them having much worse thermals, so I think Apple has found a better solder.

There is also another thing that Apple could have done. Apple had, for all of these models, a fan profile that let the GPU get all the way up to 90C before running the fan on high, and then let it cool down quickly under high airflow. If Apple had either used a more conservative fan profile so the max temperature was set to say 80C, or worked to let the GPU cool down more slowly, that would have reduced the frequency of cracking balls.

You can try applying a heat gun to the discreet GPU to "reflow" the solder connections underneath. This is more likely to kill your MBP than succeed. Even if it does work, it's temporary. It doesn't address the design flaw, so it only resets the failure clock. No one's gotten more than a few months before the failure returned. Don't do this unless you're ready to throw the MBP out and/or have a gambling addiction.
Note that there are all sorts of semi-sketchy shops that do this as well, usually using a temperature-controlled oven, which gives you a higher chance of it working.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Sep 3, 2018, 05:37 AM
 
Thanks for the RoHS info. I had to piece together the root cause answers from basic clues. All the news items I'd read skipped over the real causes. Like we were not smart enough for the adult explanation. I'll update the posts presently. It took half a day to write, then edit endlessly as I thought of more details. Or tidied up text. Past time for bed here.

I see no reason why GPUs cannot be socketed. CPUs still are, and they are certainly hot, high-frequency parts. Some anyway. GPUs might only be offered in BGA packages today, but someone would just need to order up some in a pin package. Apple has managed to order non-standard chip versions before, and I doubt they're the only ones.

btw, I forgot to mention in the post. MacVidCards is finally proceeding with MXM cards for iMacs. Mostly to make older iMacs Mojave-compatible. No sales ETA yet, but if you still have your iMac, it may live again. If you can do without a boot screen, some PC MXM cards should work without flashing.
     
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Sep 3, 2018, 10:15 AM
 
It's a great work to summarize all of it! If we still had a front page, this should be on it.

There are a lot of companies who want to be lead-free despite there being allowed exemptions. Lead is a super-nasty substance if gets hot enough to vaporize, and that is not a liability they want. I also think that some of the early replacement solders overpromised on what they could deliver.

It may be possible to make a socketed version of a GPU, but I imagine that the use-case for it is minimal, and it still doesn't solve the video RAM soldering. I don't think anyone took a known risk that solder balls would crack - I think they trusted the promises of their supplier that it would work, and then it didn't.

I still have the old iMac, it was a great machine, and I was considering getting a DisplayPort transceiver board so I could use it as an external display. I have, however, pulled both the HDD and the after-the-fact assembled SSD. The SSD may have died since. The HDD is not in use, and I think I still have it, so I could probably get it working again. There just isn't a pressing need to do so.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Sep 6, 2018, 04:52 PM
 
Gah, it may be done. Every time I think it is, it gets edited again to add some info. Or tidy some text, fix advice, or add formatting. We're probably 100 edits in.
     
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Aug 21, 2019, 04:41 PM
 
DosDude is developing a hardware fix, that permanently disables the discrete GPU in 2011 MacBook Pros. His DeMux solution reprograms the FPGA chip that controls graphics switching. The revised firmware cuts off the discrete graphics chip - the system doesn't see it at all.

As this is done on the hardware level, it applies to all OS versions. Even Linux or Windows. And it persists across boots and OS installs. So it replaces the hacks above. Note: running an external monitor still requires the workarounds above: either a DisplayLink USB adapter, or an eGPU.

You need a copy of 64-bit Windows (can be downloaded for free), must buy an FPGA programmer (about $22) + buy a flashing key from DosDude ($20 each) to flash a MBP once. When he updates his firmware, he provides fresh flash keys to existing owners.

Alternatively there is a mail-in service for $60 + shipping. Contact him in advance to set it up, and to determine the shipping.

DeMux has some limitations at present:

• Does not support display dimming. Your MBP screen will be stuck at 100% brightness. Expected to be fixed in a later release.
• Requires temperature-controlled soldering. Leads have to be temp-soldered to your logic board to enable the flash. He's working on a no-solder solution, and shows off a prototype in a YouTube video. DO NOT try soldering with a plain soldering iron - you'll ruin the solder pads on your logic board. Preventing this fix from ever working.

Watch his page for updates, and I'll post them here.
( Last edited by reader50; Sep 26, 2019 at 01:07 PM. )
     
   
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