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Artevino Level 1 Level 1

I know there are multiple discussions out there dealing with this problem, but I have yet to see one of them resolved.  I'm hoping someone out there has a real resolution to this problem, and would be willing to post it here.


I'm running an Intel Core i7 2.66 GHz MacBook Pro (video card: NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M), often with a Dell external monitor---either with the laptop clamshell open or closed;  however, this problem happens whether the monitor is connect or not, clamshell open or closed . . .


Seemingly at random, the screen (both screens if the external monitor is connected) goes black.  It can happen when very little software is running, and I am doing something as simple as just moving a Finder window from one location to another.  It also happens when I am working in Photoshop and other software.  There doesn't seem to be a specific task that brings on the black screen.  Even tho the screen is black, the computer is still audibly running, and the ONLY thing that brings it back is a hard shut down by holding down the power button for several seconds, and then pressing the power button again to start up.  I then get a automatic report generated to send to Apple (I've sent them about 100 by now).


I do not have "hot corners" activated, I have unchecked "Automatically adjust brightness as ambient light changes" in the display prefs, and I've unchecked "Automatic graphics switching" and "Automatically reduce brightness" in the energy saver prefs, since these were some of the suggestions I had read in previous posts.  None of this has made a difference.


I have spoken to Apple support, who suggested this could be a problem with over-heating.  I've installed iStat Pro to monitor the temps, but they don't seem out of whack at all.  I can go days without the screen going black at all, and then I can have a day where it happens several times.  I'm trying to avoid bringing the computer in to a technician because, inevitably, I won't be able to replicate the issue in the shop, and then I'll be paying $150/hr. for nothing.


Does anyone out there have a resolution for this problem?  I'd be eternally grateful for a post.  Thank you.

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
Reply by CMCSK on May 2, 2013 3:32 PM Helpful
MacBook Pro: Distorted video or no video issues .  The affected computers  were manufactured between approximately May 2007 and September 2008.  MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010): Intermittent black screen or loss of video.  Affected computers were manufactured between April 2010 and February 2011.   DIY resources - Do-It-Yourself Laptop Repair  Research YouTube's 'How To' video tutorials  FixYa         

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  • CMCSK Level 6 Level 6

    MacBook Pro: Distorted video or no video issues .  The affected computers  were manufactured between approximately May 2007 and September 2008.



    MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010): Intermittent black screen or loss of video.  Affected computers were manufactured between April 2010 and February 2011.



    DIY resources - Do-It-Yourself Laptop Repair


    Research YouTube's 'How To' video tutorials













  • Artevino Level 1 Level 1

    Thanks for the post.  Yes, I had tried the recommended video update as well, with no improvement.  It looks like I'll be bringing my computer in for service (a first for me in 15 years of owning Macs), but at least I can reference that post, so hopefully my Apple Care plan will cover the repair in full.  Thanks for your help.

  • Drooleo Level 1 Level 1

    I have the same issue on my macbook pro, which I often use an external monitor for. I've noticed the screen only goes black (and any audio playing starts to skip until I manually shut it down) when I'm navigating a webapge, never when I'm using a downloaded program. Although the screen goes black at almost any point, I find it most often happens when I make a video fullscreen.


    I took it to be repaired and the technicians couldn't duplicate the problem so they sent it back... So far nothing I've been able to do has remedied the problem, but it does seem to be very random (shutting down several times in one day, then not having any issue for a few weeks).


    The source of so much stress in my world, ugh.

  • Artevino Level 1 Level 1

    This is a post of my resolution to my initial quest for how to fix the random black screens I was experiencing with my MacBook Pro for the last year or more.  I ended up taking my MacBook to a certified repair technician, armed with a printout of the information from the link CMCSK was kind enough to post above:

    MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010): Intermittent black screen or loss of video


    The technician ran the required Apple diagnostics, and ended up replacing the logic board in my laptop.  Fortunately, I have the extended AppleCare plan, as I understand the part would otherwise cost approx. $850 to replace.


    I'm happy to report that I've successfully been able to run my laptop for several weeks, both with and without the external monitor (clamshell either open or closed), without any random black screens thus far.  Hopefully this post will be of some help to Drooleo and others who are experiencing a similar problem.

  • fernlo Level 1 Level 1

    I'm having the same problem. Has been there since I bought the machine new. Damned if I'm paying $850 for a new mainboard after having payed premium price for the machine in the first place. Local Apple reps could not replicate the fault while under warranty so they did nothing. I suggested that the mainboard might have a defect and they were not interested in covering the replacement costs.


    (My diagnosis was not an arbitrary one - I have a BS in Electronics and have been in hardware design for many years. I know a hardware fault when I see one. Particularly an intermittent/randomly manifesting one like this).


    We must have been the unlucky bunch that happened to buy machines with a defective batch of motherboards that marginally passed QA during manufacturing.


    Thought about selling the machine but I cannot do so without disclosing the fault to a prospective buyer. Which means I will get nothing for it. So I'll just keep it as a rather expensive reminder never to be fooled by Apple's slick marketing/product design again. Rather have an ugly computer that just works.


    This is the first & last Apple computer I'm ever buying.

  • venturakid Level 1 Level 1

    You need to take your computer into a Genius Bar at the Apple Store. The repair you're referencing is far less expensive than the numbers you quoted. Trust me on this.

  • fernlo Level 1 Level 1

    Thanks @venturakid. That's exactly what I did 2 plus years ago. The "genius" ran diagnostics on the machine that passed everything. I went home & put the Macbook in the cupboard.


    I now need to dev an application that needs to run on OSX. On Monday I took the machine back to the nearest Apple store and the guy there ran diagnostics. Apple must have updated the diags because this time they failed my display controller.


    The guy at the store is going to try for a warranty replcement of the mainboard even though it is now 3 years down the road and I don't have extended warranty. I have no way of proving that this problem has existed since I bought the machine. It just ****** me off to have to pay for a defect repair that has been with the product since day 1.


    I have upgraded to Mountain Lion and now the machine doesn't just blank the screen but it does a reboot. Even more fun!


    Hopefully there is recognition by Apple that some machines of mid2010 vintage slipped past QA and they can identify mine as being one of those by the serial number and they will honour the warranty on this basis.


    I'm not holding my breath though. Here in South Africa Apple does not have a subsidiary. It operates through a distributor. This distributor, I suspect, does not have full access to Apple's infrastructure for support etc. since they're not wholly owned and simply middle men.

  • Artevino Level 1 Level 1

    Thanks, venturakid.  Unfortunately, the closest Genius Bar to me is a 3-hour drive, as I imagine is the case for many others out there who don't live in major metropolitan areas.  I ended up calling three different Apple-certified repair technicians in my area, two of whom had told me the approximate cost to replace the logic board if it was not covered under the extended Apple Care protection plan.  Of course, I don't know the actual cost, because I do have the plan and the part was covered.  I was just relaying what I had been told by the repair technicians.


    fernlo, you are clearly frustrated by the same problems I was having.  And, you're right ... unfortunately, Apple does not have a diagnostic for this particular video problem---I literally sat with the repair technician while he worked through all of Apple's diagnostics on my laptop.  And, it's difficult, if not impossible, to re-create the issue while the computer is in for repair.  This is why it was helpful to bring a reference to the information from the link CMCSK provided above.  It shows that the random black screens are a 'known issue' by Apple for some of the MacBook Pros made within that timeframe.


    As for this being "the first & last Apple computer you're ever buying" ... suit yourself.  This was not the lesson I've taken away from having this issue, however.  Yes, it would be great if every high-tech device came off the assembly line in perfect working order.  Unfortunately, it's always a distinct possibility when buying ANYthing (esp. high-tech devices) that you may encounter a problem with it, or even worse, you might get a total lemon.  In my profession, I've heard a lot from others over the years about their various computer issues, with both Macs and PCs, both laptops and desktops.  There's just no way to know until you get the product and begin to use it.  I've been very fortunate in the last 15 years of owning Apple products---as I mentioned, this is the first time I've ever had to take one in for repairs, and, fortunately, it was also the first time I had chosen to buy the extended warranty.  Depending on the size of the investment in a purchase, and on the necessity for the product to be reliable at all times, an extended warranty is sometimes a wise investment.  "PC" or "Mac" has nothing to do with it.

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 Level 9

    The MacBook Pro 6,2 is the subject or a recall to evaluate whether there is a fatal Hardware flaw in the graphics subsystem.


    Take a printout of this article with you to hedge against the genius not being familiar with this program, and make a genius bar appointment. Do not leave until they have run the special VST test for this problem, which ends in a spectacular PASSED or FAILED screen. (The overnight bake test will NOT find this problem, they should run VST for you on the spot.)


    MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010): Intermittent black screen or loss of video


    If the result is FAILED but the genius is hesitant to replace the mainboard, ask the store manager to intervene on your behalf. Be polite and business like.




    If you are far from an Apple Store, contact Applecare by Phone or Fast Lane email and ask them for a courier-pack to send your Mac in for an evaluation under this specific recall program.

  • fernlo Level 1 Level 1

    Hey Artevino I admire your loyalty (no sarcasm, genuine admiration). Clearly you've had good experiences with the brand.


    The source of my frustration with Apple products is not exclusive to the Macbook.


    I bought a new iphone 4 which dropped 1 out of 4 calls consistently and had an abysmal battery capacity. I eventually replaced it with a phone made by a phone company - Nokia Lumia and the thing just works - all the time.


    My  iPad (1st generation) battery needed replacement after 3 months - purchased it new. I sold it and bought a Samsung Series 7 Windows 8 TabletPC.


    I have been in IT for 30 years and have had numerous computers over the years. I am being totally honest when I say that I have never had a hardware failure. Plenty of software issues (95% driver related) .I've come to expect hardware to just work. As far as I'm concerned extended warranties are for cars and washing machines. Devices with no moving parts should not require extended warranties. Electronic devices do not wear out.  I understand that spindle bearings in hard drives and CPU fans may wear out  and hard drives occasionally crash but in my mind replacing these is not expensive and it is an acceptable risk to not insure for these types of failures.

  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 9 Level 9

    iphone 4 which dropped 1 out of 4 calls consistently and had an abysmal battery capacity.

    That is a symptom of low cellular signal in your area, not of a defect in the phone.


    My  iPad (1st generation) battery needed replacement after 3 months

    ... and it was replaced under warranty. They made tens of millions of these devices, and yours had a problem. That is called a SAMPLE DEFECT.

    I say that I have never had a hardware failure

    Then you have been incredibly lucky. Devices are getting more complex all the time, and just like cars, things fail sometimes, and it is not a conspiracy.

  • fernlo Level 1 Level 1

    Hey Grant, thanks for the link. I'll be sure to use it if I get uphill from the Apple store. They did run the VST by the way and my macbook did show the spectacular Failed banner.


    wrt the low signal strength comment: we have arguably one of the most advanced GSM networks in the world and I get excellent signal strength and coverage. I no longer have a landline and I consistently get better than 3Mb/s throughput on my 3G router. The dropped call behaviour is common amongst South African iPhone 4 users regardless of their location. I'm not making this up.


    I don't believe that there is a conspiracy here! I have great admiration for Apple as a business. so much so that I gave them my money! Just disillusioned that the marketing is not backed up by the execution [in my experience].


    I guess then that I am statistically cursed in that every Apple product I've owned has had issues.


    Perhaps the Universe is trying to tell me something.

  • fernlo Level 1 Level 1

    Well things get more and more interesting as time goes by....


    So about 20 minutes ago my macbook alerted me that there was an EFI firmware update available for download. It downloaded and did its firmware update thing and now the computer is totally messed up.


    It boots successfully and It gets to the initial desktop etc. and within 2 minutes shuts down and reboots of its own accord. I log on, and it tells me that I shut the machine down because of a problem and do I want it to reopen the applications that were running (there were none!). I click cancel and it goes to the initial desktop and brings up a problem report.


    The report clearly says "GPU Panic" and shows the usual dump etc.


    Where this was a random occurrence before is now happening on every reboot. The machine is now totally unusable.


    Does anyone know if there is there any way to roll back to the previous firmware version?

  • fernlo Level 1 Level 1

    Feedback on my situation:


    today I got a call from the Apple Service centre to say the relacement Mainboard had arrived.

    Took MBP in and 1.5 hours later everything is working correctly!!! and ZERO COST!


    Wanted to say thanks to Artevino, Grant, venturakid etc. for your input. I would not have a working machine without your input and suggestions.

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