2011 MacBook Pro Owners Report GPU Failures and System Crashes
It appears a number of early-2011 MacBook Pro models that have discrete AMD GPUs are experiencing issues involving system crashes and hardware failures, with reports of problems escalating in recent weeks. According to a 157-page thread on the Apple Support Communities forum, an increasing number of owners of early- to late-2011 MacBook Pros with discrete graphics cards are seeing what is being reported as hardware-related system crashes. Furthermore, the problem appears to be getting worse.
The forum thread which dates back to February 2013 has a steady stream of posts all citing issues with the discrete graphics card. There appear to be a growing number of posts to the discussion as well. A majority of cases first see signs of the problem during graphics-intensive operations such as viewing high-definition videos or running heavy computing tasks. Displayed graphics become striated in some cases, while other uses have seen their screens go blank unexpectedly. Some users mentioned a reboot temporarily resolves the issue but the problems almost always return after a short period of time.
Following the onset of graphical glitches, many users see their machine reboot to a blue or gray screen. For this type of issue, the Cupertino California company suggests that restarting an affected Mac in Safe Mode or resetting NVRAM/PRAM will solve the problem. IN severe cases, a clean install of OS X is recommended. As noted by forum posts, these methods and more were attempted but didn’t resolve the issue.
The cause of the reported glitches is unknown at this time, though some users have speculated that heat is to blame for aggressive degradation of the discrete GPU. Some users were able to find a solution in inhibiting automatic graphics switching to the more powerful AMD card through specialized software. Other users however didn’t see success with the stopgap and were forced to replace their MacBook’s logic board. There have been some owners who were able to take their machine in to Apple for a logic board swap, the operation is quite pricey without an extended AppleCare warranty.
The cause of the reported glitches is unknown at this time. We’ll have to see if Apple responds to the issue and how they end up handling it.