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Summary:

Addressing what evidently is a common defect in the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT graphics processor units used in the May 2007 and Early 2008 revisions of the original MacBook Pro (remediation of which involves replacing the entire logic board), Apple has announced that it will lengthen coverage […]

Nvidia GPUs Possible

Addressing what evidently is a common defect in the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT graphics processor units used in the May 2007 and Early 2008 revisions of the original MacBook Pro (remediation of which involves replacing the entire logic board), Apple has announced that it will lengthen coverage of its extended service program for this defect for at least another year.

A revised announcement on the Apple Support web site reads:

In July 2008, NVIDIA publicly acknowledged a higher than normal failure rate for some of their graphics processors due to a packaging defect. At that same time, NVIDIA assured Apple that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected. However, after an Apple-led investigation, Apple has determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor may be affected. If the NVIDIA graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within three years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty.

Last January, I commended Apple and NVIDIA for stepping up and taking some responsibility for this defect, but contended that the two-year coverage in effect at the time almost certainly did not go far enough. It seemed likely that the problem would eventually afflict most examples of those MacBook Pro models if they were used long enough, and once repaired, owners could not be confident of the issue not repeating itself after the two-year extended service eligibility or even three years of maximum AppleCare extended warranty coverage.

Anyone buying a computer as expensive as a MacBook Pro should have reasonable expectation of it providing reliable service much longer than two, or even three, years. The Pismo PowerBook I’m typing this on is nearly nine years old and still going strong.

An extended service program, more along the lines of the seven-year one Apple implemented for PowerBook 5300 and 190 models back in 1996, after that model proved excessively prone to a constellation of hardware and software problems, would be more appropriate in addressing this GPU issue, which is arguably as bad or even worse than the PowerBook 5300 troubles.

Last month, Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer reported that owners of Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard laptops had pooled lawsuits against NVIDIA in an attempt to force the graphics chip maker to replace the allegedly flawed processors, and if granted class-action status, the case could involve millions of laptop computer owners, possibly influencing Apple’s decision to extend service coverage by 50 percent.

Here are the specific Apple products affected:

  • MacBook Pro 15-inch and 17-inch models with NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processors
  • MacBook Pro (17-Inch, 2.4GHz)
  • MacBook Pro (15-Inch, 2.4/2.2GHz)
  • MacBook Pro (Early 2008)

These computers were manufactured between approximately May 2007 and September 2008.

If you have one of the potentially affected machines, here’s what to look for:

  • Distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen
  • No video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on

If your MacBook Pro is exhibiting any of the symptoms described above, you are instructed take it to an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for evaluation, or call your local Apple Contact Center.

Apple is also issuing refunds to customers who may have paid for repairs related to this issue. Contact Apple support for details on the refund process.

  1. [...] of 2009, another batch of MacBooks began to falter on account of shoddy Nvidia hardware. Apple has extended their free repair offer on those laptops from two to three years after the date of purchase. From [...]

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  2. I had this happen to me not too long ago. I called Apple’s customer service line and they made me wipe my entire hard drive making me lose some important stuff since it was a while since I backed it up. I took it to a certified mac repair place and they said wiping the hard drive was unnecessary.

    Though all is fixed now. Just took 2 days for my laptop to get fixed and all is good now.

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  3. I had this happen to me too. Took the MBP to the repair centre and they told me that my MBP didn’t qualify. They ran a “special” hardware test behind closed doors and in the end just said “nay”.

    Which leads me to conclude that Apple’s test is not accurate and some customers will be left out standing in the rain.

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    1. try calling apple support and just be persistent they will transfer you to another person. Tell your long history with apple and how it doesn’t seem right over and over again and as long as you stick to it they make exceptions….squeaky wheel gets the greese!!!

      cheers

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  4. I wonder if this will extend the Applecare warranty by a year as it is an ADDITIONAL 2 year warranty. If they do extend it , will this be automatic as I am registered with Applecare on both my MBP machines……….

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  5. Charles Moore Monday, June 1, 2009

    Hi Martin;

    As I understand it, the extended service policy applies to The GeForce 8600M GPU issue only and is entirely separate from AppleCare coverage,which is not affected by the change in coverage. The extended service now covers that issue for three years regardless of whether the customer has purchased AppleCare coverage or not.

    CM

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  6. alexanderklar Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    Thank you for this article. My MBP’s graphics processor has died two times within the last 18 months. Both times my apple retailer had to exchange the logic board. I am glad to know now what the error was. Also thanks for the hint about the refunding program. I hope I qualify and thus have just sent a mail to Apple support stating my case.

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  7. Yes! My MBP’s processor has also died in the past and even though it was under warranty, it always scared me for the future.

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  8. Nope, Apple won’t give me a refund since my insurance covered the repair cost. I had to rent another MBP in order to work through the times of repair, but Apple won’t pay for rental fees. Now I just hope that Apple extends the warranty coverage for this case even more so I don’t have to live in fear that this happens again and again in the future.

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  9. Jonathan Jeon Saturday, June 20, 2009

    I also have LG R700 with Nvidia GeForce M 8600 GT+. I am launching a small claim lawsuit against the manufacturer (LG) next week. I had it repaired with Bios but the problem continues – this is unacceptable. The defect was known since early 2008 and neither LG/Apple/Nvidia did anything about it.

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