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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  • wurizen - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    the reason why I love my Dell-conspiracy theory is that I kind of wish Apple would move the production of the MBP's away from the same plant as Dell. Maybe, as if by magic, these manufacturing defects will stop happening??????
  • varun_g - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    any updates if they will extend the same to 13" macbook pro from 2011?
  • eanazag - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    From the facts - I would blame Apple engineering or manufacturing as opposed to AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. We could all guess that this is a result of the aggressive form factors. It can also occur from cabling or wire routing. We don't have the details.

    I have had issues with Dell hardware and Dell never came out and offered repair after the fact, nor offered reimbursement for the repairs that it cost me. If I have no warranty, Dell don't care. For many of us that have worked on computers for a living or for family and friends we have come across issues that seem to be epidemic with a given model and the manufacturer does no repair. I can think of two off the top of my head. Dell had a crappy power button that was embedded in the laptop display hinge. The power button would fall out or break when the hinge would separate over time. I saw the laptop twice for the same issue. I worked on a Toshiba that the hinge for the display that broke the base where it screws in. When looking for replacement frames I found newer models with advertised stronger hinge screw mounts. Evidently they new to fix it but no repair program. I had a Dell laptop with a 3 year warranty and the dGPU in it went bad. After 3 attempted repairs I had the same issue so they gave me a newer model. That new model eventually had the GPU go bad in it. I bought a new replacement from Dell to install after the warranty was expired and it went bad also. It was a Nvidia Geforce 4200 GO or something. No Dell repair program.

    I understand people are quick to want to beat up Apple here. Apple is making a commitment to taking care of their customers. I believe this is what is necessary to take care of customers for a high end brand. Is this a repair program or a recall program? I think since safety is not the issue here it is a repair program.

    What's with the animosity towards Anandtech? I miss Anand too. Plus I'm not all that excited about the Purch purchase. If you want to complain, the ad pixel sizes have been growing. Look at the top where Staples ad is. Move that ish. I miss the Daily tech feed too.
  • kuroi - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Certainly a step in the right direction, though I've had 3 logic board replacements in less than a year. While it will be nice to have my initial repair cost refunded, nothing short of replacement of the machine will resolve the issue. Am I to believe after 3 LB repairs my machine is now truly fixed ?

    Add to that list a main battery replacement after 2 years and a replacement power adapter whose plastic housing disintegrated after 2 years. Truly disheartening :-(

    How is this repair different from the previous three I've already had ? What happens if my machine fails again in another year, then what ? Anyone who has had two or more logic board failures should be given the option of having their machine replaced.
  • MasterRee - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    I would suggest that if you have had three main logic board repairs performed within a year by an Apple store, then you should tell them just that ask for a replacement unit. If you are still within the warranty (limited warranty or Apple Care), then I think you will be quite happy with the resolution.
  • Valis - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    My brother has had 2x MBP (different years that has just stopped working), first was video/GPU I think as I swapped out the system board for an enormous amount of money (bought it used on ebay), 2nd one is just slow when running on battery, not when using wall hugger device (pun intended). I told him, never again an Apple computer.
  • PatrickA - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    I think apple must have missed some serial numbers.. I have an early 15" 2011 MacBook pro which has the same exact video issues as shown on the many webpages describing the issue. Yet apple does not include the serial number of my computer.. I AM NEVER GOING TO WASTE MY MONEY ON ANOTHER PIECE OF APPLE PRODUCT....TOO MANY WORMS IN IT FOR MY WALLET TO ENDURE.
  • dmunsie - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    I would take it into an Apple store then. Even if it's not in the range of serial numbers, if it's showing the symptoms, there is a good chance they'll fix it for you now.
  • pauljosaph - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    Apple has also provided users with a list of issues which will help them know if they are eligible. These include random restarts, no video on screen and flickering images on the screen.

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