MacBook Pro Suffers from Defective NVidia Chip

If you've been following me on Twitter, you may have heard that my MacBook Pro is dead in the water. It was working fine this morning but when got to the office and opened the lid, the screen remained black. I tired a hard reboot but no matter what I did it wouldn't come back on.

After a short meeting at the office, I headed back home to see if I could restore from a backup. (My latest backup is a few weeks old, so I was really hoping the drive itself was fine.) When I got home I took the laptop apart, removed the drive, and installed it in an external USB enclosure to check if it was OK. Much to my relief, when I plugged it into a spare Mac Mini the drive showed up fine. I quickly rsync'ed the original drive with my backup drive to make sure I had an up-to-date copy. With a 320GB drive and only 6GB free, the backup took some time.

While waiting for the backup to finish, I did some research to see if anyone else had this blank screen problem. I quickly discovered that I was most definitely not alone. Thousands of people have experienced this same issue. (I vaguely remembered hearing news about this issue, but didn't pay attention.) The Apple Support article on this problem describes the symptoms:

In July 2008, NVIDIA publicly acknowledged a higher than normal failure rate for some of their graphics processors due to a packaging defect. At that same time, NVIDIA assured Apple that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected. However, after an Apple-led investigation, Apple has determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor may be affected. If the NVIDIA graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within two years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty.

So I brought the laptop to the local Apple store and, after running some tests, the technician confirmed the problem was indeed the NVidia chipset. My MBP is 6 months past the 1 year warranty, which means only 6 months remain before Apple would make me pay $1,200+ for this repair. I'm just happy it happened sooner rather than later and that I don't have to pay a dime, even if it does mean trying to survive without it for a few days.

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  1. I’m getting a $1200 repair done for free, even though my MacBook Pro is 6 months past the warranty and even though Apple has no obligation to fix it (it’s actually NVidia’s problem, not Apple’s).

    So to answer your question, I LOVE APPLE’S. 🙂

  2. No it is Apple’s problem. They released the computer, so they deal with the issues inside of it. They should be using ATI.

  3. I just want to thank you so much for this article. I have been searching for the longest for a record of this issue because I am led to believe that the symptoms that my MacBook Pro is suffering from match this issue. Further more, it was purchased within the time period indicated and it has the NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT graphics processor.

    I called tonight to verify this and they are going to take my computer by mail to verify my claims. I am hoping to God that my computer matches the issues above. Otherwise, it’s possible I’ll be paying the cost of a new MacBook Pro, as mine is beyond it’s 1 year warranty. And yes, I failed to purchase an Apple Care Protection Plan. Either way, lesson learned.

    So thanks again! I am so grateful for having seen your article!!