This week Apple has announced that they are initiating a new repair extension program for the MacBook Pro, in order to address video corruption and stability problems with certain models. The program offers extended repair service for the 15” and 17” 2011 MacBook Pros, along with the 2012 and Early 2013 15” Retina MacBook Pros.

Under the terms of the program, covered laptops that are experiencing video issues such as display corruption, system crashes, or other glitches will be eligible for free repairs through Apple. Furthermore all affected systems are eligible regardless of warranty status, making this a true extension in every sense of the word as the bulk of the systems this program covers are past their extended warranty expiration dates. Meanwhile in order to compensate any users who have already suffered from the issue, Apple is also offering reimbursements to those customers who have already paid for repairs.

MacBook Pro Display Corruption (Image Courtesy 9to5Mac)

The MacBook Pro repair program comes less than 2 years after Apple’s last repair program, which in 2013 saw Apple offering free video card replacements and repairs for the mid-2011 27” iMac. And given the similarities between the problems in the MacBook Pro and the iMac, this has raised a few eyebrows. While the 2011 iMac and MacBook Pros use different GPUs, both systems use GPUs from AMD’s Radeon HD 6000M series, with the iMac using the higher-end 6970M while the MacBook Pros used the 6490M, 6750M, and 6770M GPUs.

However throwing a wrench into any common thread between these systems, the last of the MacBook Pros covered by the repair program, the first generation 15” Retina MacBook Pros, used NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 650M instead. There is also the matter of differences in construction – iMacs used MXM cards, MacBook Pros use GPUs soldered on to the logic board – and even differences in operation. Namely, while the iMac used its dGPU exclusively the MacBook Pros all used switchable graphics, which means that the MacBook Pros are often being driven by their iGPU rather than their dGPU.


Early 2011 15" MacBook Pro: CPU & GPU Cooling; the GPU is the topmost chip (Image Courtesy iFixit)

Consequently while we first suspected that this is a common issue revolving around the Radeon HD 6000M series – and certainly we can’t rule that out – there seems to be more that’s going on here than a common failure in one line of GPUs. This could include Apple opting to address multiple modes of failure under a single repair program, or even just pure coincidence. At the same time we haven’t seen a widespread repair program issued by other OEMs for any of these GPUs, which may mean that Apple is the only OEM being seriously affected, unlike NVIDIA’s bumpgate which saw repair programs from a number of OEMs.

For that reason I find myself wondering whether another factor such as cooling has been playing a role here. Although these Apple devices all use different coolers, one common element in Apple’s iMac and Retina MacBook Pro designs has been the comapny's aggressiveness in controlling the thickness of those devices, leading to them pushing the envelope on cooling relatively high TDP processors in tight spaces.

In any case, the full details of the program, including the affected models and repair instructions, are available over at Apple’s website.

Source: 9to5Mac

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  • Valis - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    It's now, that years of selling this overpriced intel-standard component crud that they can finance a RMA on these without losing too much money. :P
  • solipsism - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    LOL Now Apple gets a free pass by the media. That's fucking rich. This is a well-worn issue with Macs so AT noted now that Apple has finally done something about it. No fanboyism in the manner in way they pointed this out to readers.

    BTW, where were you on the SuperFish article? My guess is if Apple was doing that in Mac OS X, not Lenovo, this thread would be much longer and major media outlets would be talking about it. This all has to do with mindshare, and Lenovo has nothing compared to Apple, which is why Apple gets attacked over every little thing compared to their constituants.
  • DarkStryke - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Welcome to post-Anand, Anandtech.
  • WaltC - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Nothing evil about it...Anand's interests and expertise had been devolving for years before he sold the site. It started about the time he got interested in gpus (and began moving away from motherboards.) I don't think he really understood gpus to any degree--or much wanted to understand them, imo. It's difficult to believe that anyone who cares about technology would be the slightest bit interested in Apple products--as the company simply repackages what other companies manufacture, more or less, and is certainly much more of a Dell competitor than it is a Microsoft competitor. Apple is a 'parts consortium', and is a company designed for people who'd rather not take the time to pick & choose their components. Of course, I'm someone who loathes laptops--don't care who makes them--and has built his own desktops since 1995. Laptops are trouble, period. Just take a look at any game forum you choose--by far the most problems are reported by laptop owners. Yes, I'm prejudiced--but it comes from experience...;)
  • Daniel Egger - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    > It's difficult to believe that anyone who cares about technology would be the slightest bit interested in Apple products

    That's nonsense. Apple had been driving the driving the whole industry for decades with their inventions and highest demands in the sourced components, on some of them they even secured exclusivity for a few months (CPUs, Thunderbolt, ...). Anyone who wanted to have only the best of the best had to go Apple for many years unless they wanted to compromise.

    Unfortunately they really dropped the ball a few years ago with their laptop lineup: I mean there was the magsafe, unibody, the ultrabook form factor, SSD cards, retina displays, thunderbolt and that's pretty much the end of the story.
  • RT81 - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    It depends on what you mean by "caring about technology". If you mean from a tinkerer's perspective, maybe, but not necessarily. If you mean from the perspective of harnessing technology into seamless, finished product and seeing what you can accomplish with it, certainly not. These two perspectives are mutually exclusive, either.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    "Of course, I'm someone who loathes laptops"

    Nobody cares
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Just so it's noted, this is no different than our treatment of the 2011 iMac. Though we're a bit less befuddled since this is a laptop with a soldered-on GPU instead of a quasi-desktop with an MXM card.

    Unfortunately the only other people who do know what's up (AMD and NVIDIA) are going to be as silent as Apple on the matter. So it's difficult to get any additional information about the problem. In the meantime we only comment on matters in which we can offer a reasonable degree of insight.
  • Samus - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Wow, aren't you late for bingo night?
  • Colin1497 - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Considering that the problems were covered by Ars Technica in 2011 and that there's a class action lawsuit against Apple over the problem, I personally find it SHOCKING that Apple is addressing this in 2015. Reading comments on the Ars Technica article, there are a ton of people who have paid Apple to have their machines repaired over the past 4 years or just dumped the machines completely.

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