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Black screen at boot, no startup sound, indicator goes to idle.

7499 Views 7 Replies Latest reply: Apr 3, 2011 7:30 AM by tjk RSS
kareldc2 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Mar 31, 2011 6:50 AM

I hooked up my iphone to my macbook pro 4.1 to charge when the macbook was in idle mode. The computer woke up shortly like usual and went back to sleep, I didn't open the lid.

When I opened it a bit later he would come out of idle mode but the screen kept black, no backlit led's went on, dead silent. The indicator in the front stopped flashing as is would in idle mode but was a lot more faint then usual. I had to force it to shut down by holding the power button.

Now it doesn't boot anymore, no startup sound, just a blank screen. The indicator at the lid lights up and immodestly dims down like it would be in idle mode. I did all the memory resets but nothing helped. Opened up the computer and disconnected the pram battery to force it to reset but nothing...

In the store they immediately said the problem was the motherboard and it would have to be replaced.

However, I had this problem before. I work on a separate monitor most of the time and keep the lid closed and plugged in usb devices before that would make the computer behave this way, only a few times though. Usually the problem would solve itself over time by rebooting or by plugging in my external monitor. However it doesn't seem to help this time.

The thing is that I have a difficult time believing that my motherboard should be replaced. I read about other people having the same issue when plugging in different kinds of usb devices when their computer was in idle mode. But didn't read of any solutions.

It's like the computer is stuck in idle mode when I try to reboot or something...

Anyone any thoughts?

Macbook Pro 4,1, Mac OS X (10.5.7)
  • tjk Level 7 Level 7 (24,130 points)
    Hi Karel,

    You are correct that connecting/disconnecting some USB devices can cause issues. It is also possible that this issue is not related to that in any way, even though it has similar symptoms.

    Did you make sure it was completely shut down when you held down the power button?

    I'm not sure which resets you've tried, but do an SMC Reset.

    You may also want to try troubleshooting the RAM. Shut down. Disconnect power adapter and remove battery. If the RAM you have installed is not the RAM provided by Apple, remove that RAM and install the Apple-supplied RAM. If you don't have the Apple-supplied RAM, or you already have the Apple-supplied RAM installed, remove one module, try booting, move that module to the other slot, try booting, repeat with other module.

    If neither RAM module works in either slot, then there are almost certainly other hardware issues (usually the logic board, which covers a plethora of possibilities; unfortunately, the fix for almost any LB issue is to replace the entire LB), as the odds of both RAM modules and/or both slots being faulty are extremely low (but possible).

    When you brought it to the Apple Store, did they check for the NVIDIA issue?
  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (29,575 points)
    I work on a separate monitor most of the time and keep the lid closed...

    That can run up internal temperatures. A lot of heat escapes through the keyboard when the display is open. As MBPs with the 3,1 and 4,1 model identifier suffer from a heat-related failure of the NVIDEA 8600M GT chipset, it is imperative to do everything possible to keep temps down, including avoiding "clamshell" mode.

    The thing is that I have a difficult time believing that my motherboard should be replaced...

    Were you talking to a Apple Store, an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP), or a third-party repair shop? The NVIDEA failure is covered by a Repair Extension Program (REP), but you need to avoid a third-party shop to get proper service if this is the problem. Please see:

    The repair is a new logic board and would be at no cost to you for up to four years for date of purchase. The computer must fail on a specific piece of test equipment that Apple Stores and AASPs should have. Third-party shops will not have the proper tester.

    From reports around here, it has been more difficult for people outside North America to get service on this REP even from some AASPs, so a real Apple Store would be well worth the drive. Print out the Apple article I linked and take it with you.
    PowerMac G4 MDD 1.25G SP;, Mac OS X (10.5.8), MacBookPro Late2007 2.2G 15" (10.6.7); PowerBook G4 1Ghz 17" (10.4.11)
  • tjk Level 7 Level 7 (24,130 points)
    kareldc2 wrote:
    The guys in the computer store checked the serial number and they said it could be the nvidia graphic issue (it had the faulty graphics chip). But then they tried to zap the PRAM but it didn't do anything, (the compter should reboot right?) so they immediately said it was the logic board.

    There have been a variety of reports on this. Some people have had the experience you had, no boot means no NVIDIA issue. Others have had more "industrious" or "resourceful" helpers at the "genius" bar who have been more persistent and ended up with the NVIDIA diagnosis.

    However they also told me the computer was very hot, unusual hot. I didn't do anything but reboot before heading down there, but to me the temperature was normal (normally hot, 55-60°c, 130-140°f) it always had been that way in summer time it would get 65-75°c when just sitting on my desk not doing anything. Do you know if the nvidia issue involves any overheating?

    Not sure if it's the chicken or the egg, but certainly some people have reported a connection between heat and the issue.

    And that this would have caused my LB to have failed?

    Yes, heat is the enemy of all electronics.

    My girlfriend just bought a simple macbook and it doesn't heat up at all, its incredibly cool, you can actually use it on your lap...

    Understood, but still not recommended.

    I'll try to remove the ram and see what happens.

    I would.

    Also, let the machine cool down completely at some point before trying to boot it. Heating/cooling causes expansion/contraction and may result in breaking or recreating a connection. (I've read stories about people doing all kinds of temp related things, from putting LB in oven to whole MBP in fridge or freezer, with the full spectrum of results. I can't say I'd recommend any of that, until/unless I was at the point that disabling the machine potentially beyond any reasonable repair didn't really matter to me.)
  • tjk Level 7 Level 7 (24,130 points)
    kareldc2 wrote:
    Here is a guy who ended up baking the entire logic board in order to meld the cracked soldered connections underneath the chip!

    Note that this method may also reflow other connections not related to the GPU . . . .

    Other people heat up the GPU with a heatgun to only target one specific part of the logic board, a process called "reflowing".

    To focus on the GPU would be my suggestion.

    My guess is that I'm going to bake the motherboard, hoping to get the thing working again. Then I'm heading back to the apple store hoping to get the NVIDIA diagnose so they will replace the entire motherboard...

    Some thoughts: baking the whole board may reflow a connection other than the GPU, thus it could have been a logic board issue, not the GPU, and the GPU is the catalyst for coverage under the repair program. It would not "prove" that the GPU was the issue. It might also leave "evidence" that the board was baked (darkening in certain areas) and could actually create further damage. If I were to attempt some sort of repair, in expectation of further help from Apple, I would stick to the GPU (how handy are you with a soldering iron?). Because, if baking works, there is no "proof" that the cause was the GPU, it could have been almost anything. If reflowing just the GPU resolves the issue, then the argument can at least be made that it was a GPU issue. And I say "the argument can at least be made" because if you're successful, the GPU/LB/MBP is going to function properly. If it functions properly odds are very strong that no test is going to identify a fault. In most cases the GPU either works or it doesn't. If it works in your case, there's nothing to fix under the repair program. Kind of a catch-22, unless you're able to convince someone that your repair proves the issue and they're willing to cover the official repair (LB replacement) for you. I suspect that will be a difficult task, with patience, pleasantry (not anger), logic and reasoning as your best tools. Video of the actual repair, or at least detailed documentation with pictures, together with printouts of other people's similar experiences, might also prove useful, but in the end, it will be Apple's decision to make. Good luck to you.

    Message was edited by: tjk


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