Apple Extends MacBook Pro NVIDIA GeForce Service Policy to Three Years

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 (s aapl) 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 (s nvda) 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 (s dell) and Hewlett-Packard (s hpq) 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.