A growing number of MacBook owners have been experiencing a failure of their graphics card, leaving the screen nearly unusable. And despite these numerous complaints and their similarity to past issues that were remedied by Apple, the tech giant has so far refused to offer any help to affected users.
As reported in the forums of Apple Insider, the affected models are MacBook Pro units from 2011. These are 15 and 17-inch models that have an AMD discrete graphics card. Basically, whenever the MacBook Pro switches from the integrated Intel 3000 graphics chip to the far more powerful AMD GPU, the screen will go anywhere from distorted to completely blank.
Here’s an image from a user in an Apple support thread:
That’s, well, short of ideal. The support thread this came from, which was started in February 2013, is now approaching 8,000 responses. There are others, as well.
Apple Insider believes that it is possible that the reports are now accelerating. The reason this is coming to a head now is that even those who purchased 3-year AppleCare warranty plans are now almost all out of warranty.
While an unusable machine after three years of ownership isn’t an outrageous manufacturing defect, it certainly goes against Apple’s reputation. I recall being sold on a MacBook at an Apple Store with the sales rep explaining that cheaper Windows machines will last 2-3 years while Macs will last twice as long and rarely, if ever, become expensive paperweights.
That this is occurring to 15 and 17-inch MacBook Pros is particularly problematic because these are really expensive computers. Some people dealing with this have invested nearly $3,000 into the machine.
At this point, Apple is not covering this in the way they have with some other big defects that have caused recalls in the past. People are being directed to third-party services for repairs by Apple representatives who have experience with the problem. Because the graphics card is soldered to the motherboard, the entire motherboard has to be replaced; this would cost around $500.
Perhaps enough reports will come up that Apple will implement a recall or something similar. For now, some of their highest paying customers will likely take their business elsewhere.
A Change.org petition has been created about the matter has now reached over 9,000 of the 10,00 signatures required to meet its goal.
Featured image by Bart Naus (Flickr). Please note that this is not an actual capture of the described problem, but an example of how a poorly rendered screen would look.