2012-07-04

MacBook Pro Black Screen of Death BSOD



Update [2012-08-18]:

I am very pleased to say that in the end everything has finished very well for me. I am writing those words on a brand new Retina MacBook Pro that has been sent to me by Apple three days ago as a replacement for my 2010 MBP with graphics card problem.




This is how the story ended:

After all the troubles in an act of desperation I wrote a letter to Apple CEO. To my very positive surprise shortly after I was contacted by Apple Customer Support in response to this letter. My case has been reviewed again. I had to sent some data to Apple. After numerous telephone conversations I was granted a replacement new MacBook Pro. In my view this is the best solution. Apple asked me to send my old 2010 MBP to them just as it was in order to make technical inspection. This was a bit tricky since Mac saves lot's of user preferences in the system. I did my best to remove my personal data and logins, packed the MPB and sent it to Apple. At first I was given an option to have a current model MacBook Pro with specifications like my old one. But later I was kindly offered the Retina model that was a very nice surprise to me. I also got external USB SuperDrive and RAM upgrade to 16 GB. I am very pleased with the new Retina MacBook and the way it all ended. I regained my confidence in Apple, that I really wanted to happen. All of this took quite a long time. Problems with my Mac started in summer 2011 just after Lion install. I took it to service in April 2012. From then I had no functional computer. Now in the middle of August 2012 it is finally over.

On a final note: All this could be much simple would Apple provide extended guarantee for it's premium notebooks. Nowadays companies like HP and Lenovo introduce 2 to 3 years guarantee for their premium notebooks. Hoping Apple will follow.

But in the end: Well done Apple!




Original Post [2012-07-04]:


This is a story about my unpleasant experience with MacBook Pro (MBP) 15” Mid 2010 model as well as failure from Apple to solve this problem. This is my first Mac that I bought on a wave of enthusiasm to iPhone that begun for me in 2008. During the Vista times my Sony Windows XP laptop was getting slow so my decision was to go for Apple computer. I heard so much good about OSX platform as well as Apple quality products that I decided to get the top of the line laptop. It is 15” MBP with i7, 8 GB RAM, 500 GB SSD and high resolution screen. For the first year while using Snow Leopard everything was fine. I used it often as a media computer connected to my LCD TV with HDMI converter cable. The problems started after I upgraded to Lion. This is known as ‘Black Screen of Death’ or BSOD. Reason for the name is that computer freezes completely in what is called kernel panic. The screen suddenly turns black - that means there is no signal to the screen from the video card. The keyboard is still lit but any press on the keyboard does not affect the computer. If it was connected to audio system I could hear constantly repeated short last sound sequence. The only way to stop this is to press and hold the power button to reset the computer. After restart it would show the panic report that I used to copy for my records and send to Apple. The reason for this BSOD is an internal problem with NVIDIA graphics card. MBP has two graphics cards: one that is integrated into the Intel processor and called Integrated and other that is a separate NVIDIA graphics processor that is called Discrete. Computer has ability to switch from low power consuming but less powerful Integrated to Discrete automatically. Mostly during those moments of switching the BSODs would occur. Apple has acknowledged this problem in the recall program known as TS4088 http://support.apple.com/kb/TS4088 It is also discussed for a long time with lots of posts on Apple Discussion list https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3191083?start=2625&tstart=0 Conclusion from the above is that in order to solve this problem the MBP Logic Board (LB) must be replaced. The LB is an expensive and one of the most important parts of the computer with graphic processor soldered into it. However according to my sad experience Apple refuses to replace the LB under guarantee for those unfortunate MBPs that pass Apple video test - known as VST. This is the case with my MBP.

I bought it from Apple Online Store in Sweden in July 2010. In April 2012 I took it to Authorized Apple Service in Stockholm that has shown that VST test was OK. So I took it to another Authorized Apple Service that kept my MBP for four weeks doing all tests - that it has passed. Serviceman suggested that the problem is NVIDA graphics card but can not replace the Logic Board under Apple Guarantee as the tests are OK. He suggested replacing it for about (800 Euro). Since I know that some people have to replace their LB twice I decided to try again contact Apple Support. When I took my MBP back home from the service I could reproduce 6 times BSOD within one hour. I have recorded some crashes with my smartphone. Here YouTube links to videos: http://youtu.be/zL1zbQE3GGw and http://youtu.be/W2_tEJQLh30 and
http://youtu.be/h8BRZkW0OBs Of course I also have lots of BSOD crash reports. The problem is that my MBP does not fail VST therefore according to Apple it does not qualify for guarantee LB replacement. I contacted Apple Support via telephone. They asked me for more videos showing that it is not only Mission Control that crashes my MBP. I made another film with fatal failure - requiring reinstall of Lion: http://youtu.be/vihe-7jvezM After almost three months of negotiations I got final decision from Apple Support yesterday - My MacBook Pro does not qualify for guarantee LB replacement as it has passed the tests in the service. This is a big disappointment to me. When I follow Apple logic it means that problem with NVIDIA is much larger. It indicates that there are two groups of people with this problem. One that qualifies for TS4088 recall and the other like me that also have graphic processor failure but do not qualify for guarantee but still need an LB replacement. What is hard for me to understand is the resistance Apple treats this important TS4088 problem. This is my first MacBook Pro with i7, 8GB RAM and 500 MB SSD costing me over 4000 Euro. Later I even bought a top of the line MacBook Air for my wife. The so-called 'halo effect' from the iPhone, I guess. I really doubt now in the 'Legendary Apple Experience' - that so many talk and write about. Really a sad story for me. I am not going to invest in this machine anymore. I will use it on integrated Intel graphics using GfxCardStatus http://codykrieger.com/gfxCardStatus and start saving money for a new computer. This time it will not be Apple and I will not invest so much in it.