I have the exact same problem. It first started with the extreme horizontal shift, and then I could not restart (would stall on light blue / white screen after showing a "low res" Apple logo with horizontal stripes through it.
I could not boot into safe mode either - this would result in going to a purple screen with vertical strips.
I was going to try a complete reinstall when I luckily was able to boot in and then I installed gfxCardStatus and now have it set to Integrated Only...we will see how long this lasts.
I can confirm, I have the same exact MacBook 15" as the OP.
Same issues. As long as the system selects - Integrated Graphics, I can boot okay.
Plugin my Thunderbolt display, the switch happens and gray or blue screen. Run an app which requires Discrete - freeze.
I do have OWC 16GB of RAM plus their SSD and data doubler (with original HD).
How many of you have similar configs? SSD Profile load times issue? As commented on above by another poster?
I checked here http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1237 and I am running SMC 1.7. Wish I could downgrade that to 1.6 just to check.
I purchased my MacBook on August 20, 2011 - so I'm 20 months into it. Seems it should last longer.
I've tried to boot from various other externals, with Snow Leopard on it to see if my problem Apple's problem is a software issue. Unfortunately, I can't force the Integrated Graphics to start up with the external boot. No success yet in checking that.
When I use gfxCardStatus app to choose "Integrated Grahpics" only, my system freezes.
$500.00+ to get the same problem back again as describe by another poster above seems like no fix at all.
Driving the Thunderbolt display with this laptop was a bad idea, Apple claims it was built to handle it, it was not.
I'm on hold, maybe I'll take it to my local MacMall and get a diagnosis. I've heard that Apple won't repair my machine in it's current config (OWC RAM, SSD, removed Optical drive, etc.) Just wondering if I have make it stock again?
This problem just started - yesterday.
Without the battery being charged, I plugged in the Thunderbolt display and gfxCard Status indicates "Discrete Graphics" (AMD 6750M). Macbook screen itself is disorted like OP image, but 27" TB display seems likes its working.
Very confused now as I thought the AMD 6750M was bad.
I'll launch a video intensive app after I post this to see what happens.
Also have any of you installed Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve and thus with the install package installed a NVIDIA driver called CUDA into the system preferences? I removed that last week before this started. Bad move?
I did increase my fan speeds to 3500 rpm each using istat.
I've had luck doing the following:
1. Make sure you MacBook is cool to the touch.
2. Unplug everything: Power, USB, TB (Make sure you're not charging the battery!)
3. Start-up and immediately reset the PRAM - http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1379
I reset PRAM 4-5 times, over and over again. If you keep getting the light pink Apple logo and light blue lines keep resetting the PRAM.
If during this process you hear the fans spin up, your starting to over heat. Let it cool down .
If you get it to boot, immediately go look at your startup apps, most likely one of the startup apps/daemon's is causing the Discrete Graphics to kick in at boot. When you're on battery power, boot should be into integrated graphics. Something is preventing this. Also look in your "Energy Saver" for Automatic graphics switching" I keep mine checked.
Also check here to make sure your running the right SMC http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1237
I've also Fixed Permissions frequently as I've had GPU crashreporter permissions wrong.
Consider installing this: http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/25230/istat-menus
You can control you fans with this app. I'm currently running left fan at 4000rpm right at 2000rpm. My GPU is about 137F
And this: http://gfx.io
BTW, when did you buy your machine, use Thunderbolt Display at all?
Lastly, before I stripped out my startup apps, I had trouble too. Keep trying.
I have the exact same problem. Early 2011 17". I handed it in for repairs (out of warranty) and got a new logic board. Reinstalled OSX and the problem was back. It's clearly a problem with this specific model, and not the individual machines.
Look here:http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/21/is-your-new-macbook-pro-freezing-up-youre-not-t he-only-one/and here: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2011/03/latest-macbook-pros-suffering-from-gpu-rela ted-freezes/
Plenty of reports that the patches back then didn't fix it.
Count me as another one though my problems seemed to start one week ago (late March 2013) after firing up Google Earth for the first time in ages.
I pulled out 4gb of DaneElec Ram leaving 8gb of Crucial. I thought that had helped but certain apps (the ones that use the GFX card) still cause problems. It's not entirely consistent.
I do have a Samsung SSD and my DVD was replaced a long time ago with a 750gb HDD. This machine has been seriously pimped.
Have you tried the Apple Hardware Test ("alt" + "d" after starting)?
I did the advanced test, but there couldn't be found any problems and all seems to be okay (note: the background wasn't pure grey or white, but rather the horizontal-stripes-pattern http://db.tt/zc356Wjk)
In the last few weeks I've completely erased and reinstalled the SSD and/or OS X 10.8.3 (I also cloned the OS partition onto a Firewire HD and I also installed OS X freshly on it - and most of the time it looked something like this http://db.tt/Dkie2Wn4 or this http://db.tt/82Uvhcom), but in conclusion nothing helped.
First I always thought that now it works fine again (I was even able to switch to switch between graphics cards or run some video intensive programs), but after some restarts the problems started apearing again.
Now I have to start (and hard reset) the Macbook Pro up to 100 times until the normal Bootscreen shows up.
I'm always able to start into the singel-user mode, but running fsck doesn't improve or even change the situation - after restarting (or continuing the boot routine) the horizontal stripes (or it freezes again).
I can start from the recovery partition, but this would leed to a blue screen with some vertical lines and sometime it shut's itself down after a couple of minutes.
At the moment I'm also not able to just run the integrated graphics card by using gfxCardStatus, because next the display would turn black/dark (along with fast spinning fans) - only a hard reset would cause something! And also as soon as soon as the "kernel_task" starts running at 100% CPU-usage (it could be caused by certain websites or f. ex. a video or picture preview in the Finder), I can save all documents and files because sooner or later the system is going to freeze!
I also called Apple Care and asked them wheather a firmware downgrade is possible, but they just told me that I have to bring it to a service provider (currently I'm traveling through New Zealand, so that's no option for me at the moment) and they could flash the old firmware again (it's not shure that if it would solve the problem).
It's suspicios that all the problems occured after nearly 13 months after buying it... I would be really upset and frustrated if I didn't get Apple Care! Nevertheless it is really awfull that such a pricy device has such serious problems!
I've always used matched pairs. I use OWC 8GB pairs, install two weeks after I bought this machine in 2011. I still very much have this problam, had it yesterday. After cool down, unplug and PRAM reset, 10 or so restarts put me back into normal integrated graphics mode and I was able to start up.
I don't believe this is a RAM issue, not with my machine.
I suspect heat or a software/fireware issue, maybe SSD related? Not sure.
Once I get my machine to boot I can plug it into my 27" TB Display and it will switch to "Discrete Graphics" and work normally for a ramdom period of time, maybe even 24 hours.
I'm a heavy Logic Pro user which luckly, doesn't seem to freeze the graphics card, however I'm having to hit the Save keystroke, every change just in case.
QUESTION for any one with early 2011 on this thread.
Are you running Snow Leopard and are experiecning this problem?
Looks like a few of us are having some bad luck, now that includes me.. My mid 2011 Macbook Pro 8.2 with the AMD Radeon HD6750 1024mb GPU has just given up on me. External monitor dropped out and on re-boot could only get it to work in safe or verbose mode, without the external screen plugged in. This was becuase in those modes it was switching back to the Intel side of the GPU, but as soon as I'd load a program that required it switching to the AMD side of the gpu, or plugging in the external monitor (basically engaging it to switch) it would just freeze or the screen would just go black. So I've taken it into our Apple service agent who's kindly given me a $1500.00 NZD quote for a failed logic board ($1100 for the logic board itself), at which point I dam near had a mild heart attack. So I've contacted Apple and had a coidial, but very frank conversation, that for a laptop less than 2 year olds that cost nearly $4000 to have a catostrophic failure like this is not good enough. I am going to give Apple the chance to come to the party on this and am happy to keep you all updated. If they don't, New Zealand has a very good commerce commission which takes a dim view on products that aren't fit for purpose even when outside of warranty periods. So there we have it, the ball is in Apples court and I hope they do something with it, if not I'll be exploring other avenues.
Yesterday I gave my MacBook Pro to a local indipendent repair house (I'm in Israel). They said they would replace just the graphics card and I will get my machine back this morning. Local cost $100. I'll see how that goes.
I know Apple should pay, but here in Israel the local service agent is useless.