My main computer for the last 4 years has been a Macbook Pro 15’’ 2011. I’ve used it mostly for editing photos, coding, and some sporadical stitching of 360º panoramas for virtual tours. It has always worked perfectly and never had a problem, even considering that some of the tasks I used it for require high CPU usage.
However, one day last September (2014) it wouldn’t boot up. I sent it to the closest repair centre and they told me that the advanced GPU had died. For those who don’t know what this means, some Macbook Pro’s have two graphics cards: a “simple” card for the basic and normal use of the laptop and an “advanced” one for when you’re doing things like photo editing, 3D work or gaming.
The advanced card is integrated in the motherboard, so to fix it they had to swap the whole board for a new one. The cost of the repair was 620.13€, which I agreed to pay as I needed the laptop and didn’t want to buy a new one. They fixed it and sent the laptop back to me.
Less than one month later the computer started to fail again. This time the screen was doing weird things, and every time the advanced GPU was used the screen adopted a bright blue tint. I sent it back to the same technicians. The problem was the same again, however, this time I didn’t have to pay because the first repair had a 3 month warranty. What I imagined had happened is that they didn’t replace the board for a new one. I guess they just tried to fix the original one and put it back in my Mac. If this was the case, (again I’m just supposing it was), it could be understandable. Apple releases a new Macbook Pro every year, they stopped manufacturing the motherboards for the 2011 model a long time ago, so there may have been no stock available to replace the one inside my Mac. Anyway, I was happy because I had my laptop back again and could keep up with my work. I was a bit nervous though.
In February it failed AGAIN. Same story as the other two times before and again, I didn’t have to pay anything for the fix. If there was going to be a fix! I called Apple to make a complaint, obviously whatever they were doing wasn’t working and it was just a matter of time before the advanced card of the laptop would burn out again.
Just after I got the Mac back from the repair centre for a third time, Apple launched a Repair Extension Program to fix all the Macbook Pro’s which had this problem. They officially recognised there was a problem and offered to reimburse those users who had already paid for the repair, like me. They gave me my money back, so at least at this point I knew I hadn’t paid for something that would be likely to break again.
And as I expected, it did. A fourth time. Same failure.
I called Apple and this time they offered to replace my damaged laptop for a new one, a MacBook Pro 15’’ Retina 2014, which I’m using right now to write this post. The model I’ve been given also has 2 GPUs, so I’ll be able to make the most of it with Lightroom!
I have to admit I was very surprised that they gave me a replacement for my 4 year old laptop, where other companies would have just laughed at me if I had called them complaining about a similar problem. Although it’s also fair to say that it failed four times due to the same hardware problem in a space of only 8 months, as many MacBooks from 2011. It doesn’t matter if it’s Apple, Lemon or Avocado, that’s too many issues for an expensive computer which has supposedly been “fixed”.
Below a photo of the MacBook Pro 2011 just before been sent last time to Apple.
Some could say that tasks like image stitching take a lot of GPU which stresses the card, so this outcome would be predictable. I don’t agree. A high-end laptop like a MacBook Pro (like it or not) is expected to deal well with heavy processes over prolonged periods of time. Obviously, any hardware can fail, and the fact that a persistent failure is recognised by the company who built the computer and that they offer to replace it is something not very common.
Thank you Apple customer service and the technicians!
P.S. If you have a MacBook Pro with this problem I recommend you visit this website with lots of useful information about the issue.