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nmonkee Level 1 Level 1
I purchased a MacBook Pro with an ATI Radeon X1600 GPU in 2006. Several weeks ago the GPU failed and I was advised that a replacement logic board was needed and this would cost upwards of £500 by various Apple authorised repair centres that I contacted.

The system is not worth £500 in working condition.

It appears that I am not the only one that has found this issue, long after the warranty on the system had expired. In addition a number of people have began on online petition to raise awareness of the situation.

Several months ago a more recent MacBook Pro (circa 2008) with an NVIDIA GPU failed and I was able to have the logic board replaced for free as this was a known fault, even though my system was out of warranty.

I was very annoyed to find that the hardware defect in ATI GPU's has not resulted in the same replacement program. I therefore had to pay an engineer to attempt to fix the system through a component level repair, which failed. My 4 year old system that cost me a lot of money is now dead.

I expected a lot more longevity from this system, and I am sorely disappointed. I am feeling a little ripped off.

I am the current of owner of a iPhone 4 (2010), MacBook Pro 13" (2010), iMac (2010), iPhone 3G (2008), MacBook Pro 15" (2008) and one dead MacBook Pro 15" (2006).

As you can see I have spent a lot of money on Apple products and accessories, My very first purchase has now died due to ATI GPU failure and I have already replaced a logic board on a 2008 system due to an NVIDIA GPU failure.

I have never hesitated to recommend Apple products before, until now!

I'd like Apple to acknowledge this issue and offer customers with the faulty hardware replacement logic boards, I'd expect Apple to recover this cost from ATI who manufactured the faulty hardware.

I hope that this post serves to raise awareness of the issue and prompts an appropriate response.

Thanks for reading.


Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • OrangeMarlin Level 5 Level 5
    No one from Apple reads these boards, so you're kind of complaining to Apple users.

    Though I am sympathetic to your issue, there's little that we can do. I always buy the AppleCare package for my MacBook Pro's, because there is just a little more to go wrong on a laptop.

    You might find a cheaper logic board on eBay or some other place. It could be a fun do-it-yourself project. Or even better, call Apple and politely ask to have the issue decided by someone more important. But unless the ATI Radeon issue is widespread (and I have no clue if it is), you're not going to get far.
  • nmonkee Level 1 Level 1
    The faulty ATI GPU is in a 4 year old MBP. So out of warranty and apple care would have also expired had I bought it. At £150 GBP for what is effectively two years warranty, I would have still faced the same situation, but be out of pocket by an additional £150 GBP

    My attempts at locating a logic board for a cheaper price have failed. The cheapest I can find is approx. £350/£400 GBP. I'm also not that trusting of the sellers or web sites where the logic board could be found. As the quoted price from a reputable repair centre I'd rather have them do it for more and receive a 1 year warranty on the work carried out. That money is much more better spent on a new system, though.

    I tried to post several URL's that pointed to locations on the web were this topic has been discussed; however every post resulted in an error stating that I had included content that was not allowed. Perhaps because I included a link to a popular Mac defect web site?!?

    There is also an online petition and a solicitor that is looking to prepare a law suit, so there are definitely a number of people affected by this, probably not as many as the NVIDIA issue though. Hence my post, I am simply looking to raise awareness and hoped that if someone found this post, they could try and make some noise as well.

    Again thanks for taking the time to read and reply.


  • Distant Future Level 1 Level 1
    Hi Dave,

    I have the exact same problem as you and just found out a workaround in the second comment on this blog:

    *Natim 2009-11-21 at 7:48 AM UTC*
    *In order to still use your computer, one of the thing you can do is remove the ATIRadeon Drivers.*
    *What I did is to save it on my external Hard Drive in order to be able to replace it later.*
    *The GPU is simply desactivate and all the job is done by the Dual Core.*
    *Of course it is not so good as expected and HD movies lag to much but at least you can use your computer and wait for Apple and AMD to find something and change it for free.*

    *Here is the list of the file to delete :*
    *– /System/Library/Extensions/ATIRadeonX1000.kext*
    *– /System/Library/Extensions/ATIRadeonX1000GA.plugin*
    *– /System/Library/Extensions/ATIRadeonX1000GLDriver.bundle*
    *– /System/Library/Extensions/ATIRadeonX1000VADriver.bundle*
    *– /System/Library/Extensions/ATIRadeonX2000.kext*
    *– /System/Library/Extensions/ATIRadeonX2000GA.plugin*
    *– /System/Library/Extensions/ATIRadeonX2000GLDriver.bundle*
    *– /System/Library/Extensions/ATIRadeonX2000VADriver.bundle*

    I followed these instructions, restarted then emptied the trash & havent had any freezing pixels since. However I cannot watch videos in VLC or quick time, the screen saver looks very shaky. What I can do though is use photoshop, write code, surf the web and have basic functionality that I need without the screen freezing or going blank.

    I wish I had a better fix for you, I admit this really is a compromise but the best option I have found. I would rather have a macbook pro with reliable but limited functionality than endure the freezes & crashes of the last few months.
  • Ian Cheong Level 1 Level 1
    Check this thread and see if the software fix I posted works for you.....

    The software vs hardware diagnostic test is a safeboot.
  • Ian Cheong Level 1 Level 1
  • michalk Level 1 Level 1
    Ok, here's the solution for the problem:

    When you hear the beep sound while system is starting press and hold "shift" key and wait until you will see progress bar under apple logo (grey screen). You will boot in safe user mode. Now most of the troubles is caused by Snow Leopard Graphic Update and Snow Leopard Combo update ver. 10.6.4. So we need to get rid of those. You system should load correctly in "safe mode" as will not use your graphic card at all. You're able then to install basic Snow Leopard to get rid of ATI problem and update manually up to 10.6.2 ver. I haven't tested 10.6.3 yet. So you'll get magic mouse support. Pop in install CD of Snow Leopard and follow instruction. System will be installed replacing updates so after installation you should be on basic snow leopard version. If you wish you can erase HD completely and do the same. Although I prefer to do this first as if it's still broken and not replaced by the dvd will give screen problems on the installer and you cannot do anything. So repair first then reinstall clean if you wish. Thats the solution. I was at the genius bar yesterday they only suggest new GPU and board, come on it's easy to repar, just don't update to 10.6.4 and Snow Leopard Graphic Update and you're good to go.
  • evolipel Level 1 Level 1
    Your instructions basically work because you're deleting the ATI display drivers, so OS X defaults to no hardware acceleration. In the very long "display anomalies" thread to which you linked, this seems to be related as a pretty common solution.

    This is not a solution IMO. It's basically telling your computer not to use the built-in video card for much more than a frame buffer. Why is this a bad thing? Well, while it eliminates the anomalies and inevitable freezing, it also makes your computer unusable for anything requiring hardware acceleration (which is a lot of things these days, including 3d games and HD video playback, though the latter can still work albeit more slowly).

    You claim that the problem is due to bugs in the ATI driver, but there are two issues with that theory: 1. the problem also happens under Windows via Boot Camp, using several different versions of ATI's Catalyst drivers that support the R500 family (which the X1600 is a member of); and 2. these sorts of anomalies tend to be usually indicative of hardware failure. For example, the nvidia 8800 series famously had similar issues (more and more graphical anomalies followed by eventual lock-ups), which were ultimately caused by hardware failure relating from many heat cycles.

    In this case, the thing that seems closest to the truth to me came in a forum post over at the WoW forums (see the last post, by member "Flloyd"):

    Flloyd's post

    (Linking to the Google cache because the original seems to have been deleted.)

    Quoting the relevant part here:
    "There has been a lot of discussion an Apple forums and other forums about these issues with the Core Duo (not Core 2 Duo) version 1.1 MBPs with the x1600 GPU. The general consensus is that it is definitely a hardware problem and someone mentioned that Apple knows internally that it is an issue with the solder connection between BGA packages and the main board. These machines came out right around when manufacturers were just starting to become ROHS compliant, (the standard that forbids the use of solder containing lead in electronics,) and so it is not surprising to me, (having dealt with some similar issues from the point of view of the manufacturer at work,) that these problems are happening. The lead-free solder is much more brittle than the old kind and solder joints that crack after many thermal cycles are a common problem that everyone trying to use the lead-free solder has had to confront. That being said, Apple still needs to fix this, because anyone who bought one of these would have had no expectation of this kind of failure and many would have bought something else if they knew this was a possibility."

    Thus, the little BGA solder balls become worse over time, and when heated enough (i.e. when the GPU load becomes great enough for long enough, which is when people usually report the problems to occur at first), may start to get a bad connection to the logic board, as a result of thermal expansion or lower conductivity or a combination of things.

    Now, I'm not 100% sure that this is the answer, but it seems most plausible to me. The other common explanation for this is that the thermal paste is applied unevenly on the GPU, or that the thermal paste gets old. However, while people report getting fewer anomalies after re-applying thermal paste, the problems usually stick around and once again start to get worse over time. My theory here is that while re-applying thermal paste helps with lowering GPU temps and lowering the frequency of the symptoms, it doesn't solve the underlying issue. You can get the same effect (lower GPU temps) by downloading and using the Fan Control preference pane or downloading and using the smcFanControl application to increase fan speed. Like re-applying thermal paste, this would decrease GPU temps (and thus incidence of graphical anomalies and eventual lock-ups), but not eliminate the problem.

    It's sad that Apple doesn't (and likely won't) acknowledge this problem as a hardware defect. As far as I know, the issue manifests itself only after several years of use, which is when warranty (even AppleCare) has run out. Those who are lucky enough to have had the Macbook under warranty when symptoms first appeared just had their logic boards replaced for free, and later reported the same problems appearing after a few years with the new logic boards (which predictably contained the same hardware flaw). As I've said before, I'm not 100% confident in this particular explanation, but I am 100% confident that it's a hardware issue.

    So nowadays, people generally have the choice of either buying a new laptop or forking over $300-600 for a new or used logic board to extend the life of the Macbook for a few more years, which would inevitably fail again. There is hope though: the aforementioned nvidia cards (the GeForce 8800 series) with the hardware flaw were eventually recalled and replaced for free, but a lot of people have reported resurrecting their dead cards using this unorthodox method:

    The same method also worked for people with different failing cards (even built-in laptop GPUs, such as we are talking about here), and not just the GeForce 8800 series. I might try this out in a week or so and see if it works for me and report back. I just don't know if it's worth it -- this is my primary work laptop and I can't afford to have to mess around with getting a new one in the middle of the school year if it dies in the process. Not to mention the fact that while the problem certainly is annoying, since I have to save my work every few minutes in anticipation of the computer locking up, it's certainly not critical.

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  • Ian Cheong Level 1 Level 1
    My instructions work because I am able to delete all the corrupted system resources caused by the software driver bug. Apple has acknowledged the ATI driver bug as a previosuly known bug in response to my bug report. Bug reporting is proprietary and no status reports are available.

    It just happens that deleting the ATI display driver prevents the bug from resurfacing. (Apple Hardware Test has never found a hardware problem on my system.)

    After I clean out my system and install clean ATI drivers, it will run fine for a few days until the driver corruption spreads and small graphics glitches appear, which will eventually lead to severe problems. Without the ATIRadeonX1000 driver, my system runs without crashing despite temps to 84 degreesC caused by Flash hogging CPU. Up more than 30 days now.

    I'm not happy, but a lot of apps are reasonably stable even ones which are graphics intensive. I prefer living without ATI drivers to doing prolonged system maintenance every few days.
  • stham01 Level 1 Level 1
    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for all your posts on this question. I too have a 2006 MBP with a Radeon x1600 chip, it behaved beautifully until this past November, when it started crashing. In my case the screen would just go black, the keyboard backlight came on full, and the fan started racing. No hardware faults found, a trip to the Computer Loft (Boston's Mac gurus) left me $200 poorer but didn't solve the problem. I have suspected graphics/thermal issues and file corruption but didn't know what to do -- have followed your suggestion, "disabling" the x1600 kext and cleaning out the preferences, and the system has been running for 6 hours now. We'll see.

    Question -- is there a downside to not having the x1000 kext available? And does the update/combo fix the problem?

    thanks, all best,
  • evolipel Level 1 Level 1
    ...or they work because you're deleting the friggin drivers. There. No more explanation necessary; your computer is just not using the GPU for anything, including storing and compositing textures. Your GPU can't screw any textures up because it's just not being used to store the textures.

    Did you completely miss the part where I said that the exact same issues exist under WinXP/Win7 (the latter being 64-bit, in case you're wondering)? With different version of the drivers? Other laptops (such as my friend's Acer Aspire 5672) with the mobility X1600 chip work flawlessly with the exact same drivers. It's the same exact chip and the same exact drivers. And they work fine. Surely any driver bug would surface on laptops with the identical chip using the exact same drivers?

    I've reinstalled the whole thing before multiple times; the anomalies and hang-ups happen randomly, though they happen more frequently when the GPU is hotter. At one point it happened exactly after I reinstalled OS X, presumably after "fresh drivers" were installed.

    Also, how does a driver "corrupt itself"? What does it store on the hard drive besides the kernel extension blobs and preferences in some form? If either gets altered, the kernel would probably reject the driver, or if the kernel is completely inept, the driver would segfault rather than fail more gracefully.

    In response to stham01, the downside to not having display drivers is not having 3d or video playback acceleration. That means slower videos (though usually this isn't very noticeable) and very choppy 3D apps or 3D apps with very poor graphics. This also means no desktop effects, but it doesn't sound like you miss them.
  • Ian Cheong Level 1 Level 1
    Corrupted PRAM/prefs caused by corrupt kexts will pervade all software running on top of PRAM, whatever OS, and has done at any temperature when the corruption has spread far enough.

    Reinstallation will not reverse corrupted PRAM. I have seen bugs in my machine when booted from install DVD when PRAM is dirty.

    Non-Apple hardware and windows software has different drivers.

    Regardless of whether the issue is a GPU solder fault or a ATI driver fault, affected machines running a full OS with GPU will regularly hang.

    Long term temperature logs on my machine show no substantial changes in GPU temperature related to crashing. CPU runs 15degC cooler on a safebooted 10.6.5. This corroborative evidence is evidence of a software problem.
  • imzeek2u Level 1 Level 1
    After reading other posts which showed no improvement with the recent 10.6.6 update, I tested a downgrade from 10.6.5 back to 10.5.3 last night, after zeroing the drive and resetting SMC and zapping PRAM. I chose this OS, because it was the last version of OS I ran before the problems began for me. With 10.6.x, I'd get a gray screen just after the kexts loaded and the system would be frozen. With 10.5.3, I experienced a wild pattern of graphics anomalies just after the kexts load and the system would also be unusable. We decided to head to a mall today which is an hour away that has an Apple Store, so I scheduled a Genius appointment. After discussing the matter's background briefly with a Genius, he attempted a regular boot and witnessed the gray screen freeze just after the kexts load before login. I shared that a Safe Boot will bypass the kexts and allow access to the system. I also pointed out that the GPU failure artifacts are present even after the safe boot and he witnessed and documented the anomalies present by the cursor (rows of horizontal lines). He then attempted a Netboot from a full OS which froze before the Window Manager, just like I experienced; showing that my OS install's integrity was not suspect. He then booted into EFI-based diagnostics via Netboot that circumvents the kexts and allows comprehensive diagnostics. The only error that was posted in his diagnostics was the right fan, but there was no evidence of GPU failure in the test itself. We both acknowledged the pitfalls of some failures with Apple's Hardware Tests. He, as well as the other Geniuses have all witnessed circumstances where a failure is present but not evident in Apple's provided hardware tests. As a prior consultant and service provider myself, we shared some related personal experiences which were similar in this regard. After documenting the experience in detail at my request (including these specific thread references), he offered me the flat rate repair of $310 with a 90-day warranty on the replacement of the logic board, fan and lcd (which had some minor signs of wear). I told him of my concerns that others who have opted for the repair had the problem resurface shortly down the road - indicating that the refurbished parts used in the repairs have not had the issue resolved. He assured me that if such a situation occurs, we would simply have to return to an Apple Store (even after the 90 day warranty period) to discuss the matter - which would already be documented; and they would work to make the situation right. He also said that should Apple decide to initiate some sort of repair extension for this in the near future, that we would be able to get reimbursed for our $310 flat rate repair charge. So I'd recommend that EVEN IF YOU OPT NOT TO GET YOUR SYSTEM REPAIRED, please get it diagnosed at an Apple Store, if possible. According to the Apple Genius who helped me today, the results of the EFI-based diagnostics and the written report of the Genius are automatically sent to Apple Engineering for review. If this is really a widespread occurrence (as it would appear) and you seriously wish to receive some sort of reparation for this failure, I can think of no better way to make your case. I'll report back once I receive the repaired system and have a chance to assess the returned system and performance. Thanks again to everyone who has contributed to these threads.
  • Brett Ellis Level 1 Level 1
    Looking forward to hearing the progress on this matter. I also have this model and experience the same problems. I had a lot of issues from the very beginning with that computer. Previously, I've had to replace the logic board, LCD screen, fans, and hard disk. But the same problem has resurfaced now with the logic board now that the regular and extended applecare warranty has expired. Next time I'm in the USA I'll bring the computer in again, I just don't want to pay more money for a machine that continues to fail and I'm taking my chances again with another RevA laptop (macbook air 11") and not not sure I could ever go back to that clunky, heavy, burning hot, and loud machine that was my 15" macbook pro.
  • Paul Melzer Level 1 Level 1

    My early 2007 MBP is just commencing with a herringbone screen and computer freeze (image above). Is this something that I could expect the Apple Store to replace/fix?
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