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Graphics Businesses Software Apple

Apple Admits Nvidia GPU Defect In Some MacBook Pros 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the theya-culpa dept.
bigwophh writes "The brouhaha over defective Nvidia mobile graphics chips keeps rolling along, even months after the initial headlines have faded. Despite Nvidia's promises that Apple's GeForce 8600M GT-based MacBook Pros had dodged the bullet and were immune from the defect, Apple now counters that it wasn't, in fact, so lucky. '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.' The units in question are the 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro notebooks with Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT GPUs, built between May 2007 and September 2008."
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Apple Admits Nvidia GPU Defect In Some MacBook Pros

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  • by 666999 (999666) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:21PM (#25340365)

    CoconutIdentityCard [coconut-flavour.com], an app that tells you when and where your Mac or iPod was manufactured, says my MBP was made between January and July 2007 in Shanghai. I wish it was more specific about the date, so I'd have a better idea if my machine is affected.

    At any rate, I've been having some repeated video issues with external monitors as of late; a CRT recognized as an LCD and only able to match internal LCD's resolutions, regardless of mirroring settings, and a BSON (nothingness) when disconnecting from DVI, necessitating a hard power-off. I was (and still kind of am) really hoping it wouldn't be affected, as I don't have a worthy backup machine to use while this is in the shop. It's a 15" 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo with the 256 MB GeForce 8600M GT.

    At least it's still within the included first-year AppleCare. It's possible this could be handled like the issue of the failing logic boards in iBooks, when Apple replaced the logic board if it was within a certain serial number range, regardless of warranty coverage. Hopefully all affected MacBook Pro owners will get the same treatment.

  • Re:Price Drop? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Auckerman (223266) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:39PM (#25340487)

    They have already dropped. I've seen 9 month old Macbook pros going for $500-600 on craigslist, which is unheard of for Macs.

  • happy (Score:2, Informative)

    by AnXa (936517) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @01:55PM (#25340591) Homepage Journal

    Now I'm more than happy I didn't buy MacBook Pro yet...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:45PM (#25340933)

    Yup, at least about the G84 and G86 chips being universally defective. There's a long thread [apple.com] on the Apple discussions forum full of people who experienced these failures. It got so long that people's browsers were timing out, so the moderators closed it and opened a follow-on thread [apple.com].... Somebody on the thread put together a spreadsheet on Google Docs [google.com] with almost three hundred affected machines.

    The failure symptom is that the internal display dies completely and the external display fails over to the integrated chipset. A check of video hardware shows that the video chip is an Intel chip because the NVIDIA chip is no longer detected.

    Assuming that only a small percentage of people who experienced this failure are listed on that spreadsheet, that represents a staggering number of component failures as a percentage of unit sales. Figure that Apple sold about 6 million notebooks (best guess) in that 1.5 years. I'd bet that only about 5% are MBP, which would be a total of 300k units (ballpark). That means that this one thread alone represents a failure rate of one unit out of every 1000 units sold. However, because most people don't even know about discussions.apple.com, much less seek out a particular thread and post in it, that estimate is probably way low....

    What scares me is that there is no clear evidence that NVIDIA has fixed the problem. Thus, there is no reason to believe that the replacement chips won't fail after another year once they're outside the warranty extension period.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @02:52PM (#25340969) Journal
    How long until those suckers are out of the distribution channel? I bought one and although I haven't had any problems yet, I did make sure to buy the three year extended warranty from Best Buy. At this point I'm just waiting until I am sure the newer version of the MBP is in the channel and then I'm going to return my defective one.
  • by Keldi (978805) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @03:14PM (#25341075)
    There's an easy way to diagnose this specific problem and prove it to the Apple techs. Boot the computer with sound on; you should hear Mac OSX start up. Hit Command-F5 (or Command-Fn-F5, depending on your settings.) That will turn on Voiceover. This will let you navigate without the screen, (although slowly and painfully). Go to System Preferences -> Sharing -> Screen Sharing, and turn on screen sharing, setting a password. Use TightVNC to connect to your MBP's IP address. You now have a screen. Go to About This Mac -> System Profiler. Check your graphics card. If it reports as an Intel GMA X3100, take a screenshot and print it. That's the rock-solid proof of a faulty GeForce 8600. Used this method to get mine replaced 2 days ago. I had Applecare, thank goodness; if you have one of these Macbooks and you've had it less than a year, GET APPLECARE. The chip WILL fail, and then you're out $1000 for a logic board replacement, as Apple has given no indication that they're going to extend the warranty for this issue.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11, 2008 @03:26PM (#25341117)

    FYI: You can tell what week your machine was manufactured by reading the serial number. They're in the format of:

    XXYYYZZZZZZ

    WW is the factory code
    YYY is the last number of the year, and the week of the year of manufacture.
    ZZZ is the portion that is incremented per-unit.

  • by parnold (119081) on Sunday October 12, 2008 @04:35AM (#25344301)

    (What happened with PA-semi?)

    Apple bought them. http://www.engadget.com/2008/04/23/apple-buys-chip-p-a-semi-chip-designer-intel-says-wha/ [engadget.com]

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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