This week Apple has announced that they are initiating a new repair extension program for the MacBook Pro, in order to address video corruption and stability problems with certain models. The program offers extended repair service for the 15” and 17” 2011 MacBook Pros, along with the 2012 and Early 2013 15” Retina MacBook Pros.

Under the terms of the program, covered laptops that are experiencing video issues such as display corruption, system crashes, or other glitches will be eligible for free repairs through Apple. Furthermore all affected systems are eligible regardless of warranty status, making this a true extension in every sense of the word as the bulk of the systems this program covers are past their extended warranty expiration dates. Meanwhile in order to compensate any users who have already suffered from the issue, Apple is also offering reimbursements to those customers who have already paid for repairs.

MacBook Pro Display Corruption (Image Courtesy 9to5Mac)

The MacBook Pro repair program comes less than 2 years after Apple’s last repair program, which in 2013 saw Apple offering free video card replacements and repairs for the mid-2011 27” iMac. And given the similarities between the problems in the MacBook Pro and the iMac, this has raised a few eyebrows. While the 2011 iMac and MacBook Pros use different GPUs, both systems use GPUs from AMD’s Radeon HD 6000M series, with the iMac using the higher-end 6970M while the MacBook Pros used the 6490M, 6750M, and 6770M GPUs.

However throwing a wrench into any common thread between these systems, the last of the MacBook Pros covered by the repair program, the first generation 15” Retina MacBook Pros, used NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 650M instead. There is also the matter of differences in construction – iMacs used MXM cards, MacBook Pros use GPUs soldered on to the logic board – and even differences in operation. Namely, while the iMac used its dGPU exclusively the MacBook Pros all used switchable graphics, which means that the MacBook Pros are often being driven by their iGPU rather than their dGPU.


Early 2011 15" MacBook Pro: CPU & GPU Cooling; the GPU is the topmost chip (Image Courtesy iFixit)

Consequently while we first suspected that this is a common issue revolving around the Radeon HD 6000M series – and certainly we can’t rule that out – there seems to be more that’s going on here than a common failure in one line of GPUs. This could include Apple opting to address multiple modes of failure under a single repair program, or even just pure coincidence. At the same time we haven’t seen a widespread repair program issued by other OEMs for any of these GPUs, which may mean that Apple is the only OEM being seriously affected, unlike NVIDIA’s bumpgate which saw repair programs from a number of OEMs.

For that reason I find myself wondering whether another factor such as cooling has been playing a role here. Although these Apple devices all use different coolers, one common element in Apple’s iMac and Retina MacBook Pro designs has been the comapny's aggressiveness in controlling the thickness of those devices, leading to them pushing the envelope on cooling relatively high TDP processors in tight spaces.

In any case, the full details of the program, including the affected models and repair instructions, are available over at Apple’s website.

Source: 9to5Mac

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  • WinterCharm - Thursday, February 26, 2015 - link

    Typically, once a laptop is 5 years old, it's high time to upgrade.

    Also, I suspect it's because apple runs them at the edge of thermal limits. CPU and GPU often hits 95ºC on a macbook pro. A few years of that, and I can realistically see a higher fail rate.

    Of course, it doesn't help that they want thin laptops, too :P
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    It's a manufacturing or even a design defect. So it's possible that the same problem exists in more than one hardware generation.

    However no thanks go to Anandtech for not doing their journalistic duty and properly following through with this problem which is also why you don't have much other information than Apple provides... If it wasn't for the community and some greedy^Hcouraged law firms there likely wouldn't have been any action from Apple at all.

    An evil mind might even speculate that this is related to Anand moving over to Apple...
  • SpartyOn - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with the general perception of this post. This is a serious issue from a leading computer manufacturer that took years to announce a fix. This is essentially a RECALL and should be defined as such and filed with the FTC.

    This article does smack of bias because if this were Samsung, Dell, Nvidia, Lenovo, etc. you'd be all over them for a response and working to investigate further (see recent Nvidia GTX 970 articles on Anandtech). I understand that this post is meant to be more of an informative piece to alert Apple consumers to this RECALL, but I truly hope Anandtech will do some investigative journalism to get us some answers.

    Apple should not get a free pass from the media.
  • TiGr1982 - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Well, it's everywhere in North America - approximately one in two people exhibits irrational love to Apple (iven if it's a techie person) and is ready to forgive anything, if it's Apple. iHamsters.
    I personally live in North America for more than 5 years already, but I never understood or supported this special attitude towards Apple. Never will, probably.
  • Mondozai - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    It's nationalism, basically. Yeah, you have other NA-based companies like Dell/HP but they are iterative in their work. Apple is really the only world-class hardware tech company in the U.S. 'Murica has a lot of high-quality software companies but it has only one hardware company in the stratosphere and that's Apple.
  • TiGr1982 - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    TBH, some Dell/HP PC models are inferior to the ones of ASUS/Lenovo (especially casual consumer ones), so, with, Dell/HP, you have to research what you are buying. Dell/HP PCs are not exciting, really, so that, TBH, Apple does much better job with their Macs in terms of hardware level of executon (better bodies, screens etc).
  • Alexvrb - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    I think the new XPS 13 is quite nice (Anandtech has an article on it). Has some good display options too.
  • TiGr1982 - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Just to add, I've used Macs, iPads and iPhones of my work/study places, as well as my friends. However, I personally find nothing special in iDevices, and see no motivation in buying any of these.
    So, I'm not in this iHype camp.
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    It's NOT irrational. Having owned a MacBook Pro at the same time I went through two different PC's - each plagued with unresolved problems. I developed a certain fondness for my MacBook Pro - it was a dependable and trouble free. Even my new Six Core Haswell-E PC (hoping the third time would be the charm) has been off to a very rough start, I'm already on my third ASUS X-99 Motherboard and the last two BIOS updates would randomly drop DIMM modules...for no apparent reason.

    From my experience PC Hardware Problems waste TEN TIMES more productivity that performance issues on the Mac. That and Windows 8.1 is a BLAND experience at best - a mere "good enough for the kind of girls I hang out with" OS.
  • Black Obsidian - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Count yourself fortunate that your MBP wasn't affected by a hardware problem that Apple took 2-4 years to bother acknowledging, then.

    This isn't the first instance of Apple 'fessing up to problems years down the line, either. That's the thing that scares me away most about buying their hardware (aside from the loss of battery life and touchpad features I'd suffer by running Windows on it); at least if I end up with a defective machine or part from Dell/Asus/Lenovo/etc., I can count on the RMA process to get me a replacement in days or weeks, rather than years.

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