Anyone found a reputable board repair house for replacing GPUs on early 2011 MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by serr, May 26, 2017.

  1. serr macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2010
    Has anyone found a reputable after market board repair house for replacing GPUs on the early 2011 MBP logic board? (This defective chip also found its way into a few late 2011 and mid 2012 models.)

    Ebay of course is full of straight up scams. That same pic of the surface mount machine in all the ads and some joker baking logic boards in his kitchen oven. Which sometimes then work for another month before failing and now being further damaged and unworkable.

    Can anyone recommend anyone?
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Well the GPUs are part of the Logic Board with loads of awkward microcircuitry and soldering, so they're not individually replaceable. The failures are due to a mixture of the thermal compound used and the GPUs themselves.

    I did laugh at "some joker baking them in the oven", but 15 minutes at 170C does often eek a few months' worth out of them. Seems to work with graphics cards for some reason, though far from an ideal or long term solution of course.

    I'm tiptoeing around the fact that these GPUs are inherently faulty. There's no real reliable fix for them and certainly nothing which offers any shred of permanency. It'll be cheaper in the long run for both your wallet and your sanity to consider the 2011s a write off.
  3. duffyanneal macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2008
    One of the failure modes of the GPUs was the solder connections between the BGA chip and mobo becoming disconnected. This obviously shouldn't happen because soldering creates a molecular bond, but in this instance this failed. So the oven fix actually heated up the mobo until all of the solder connections became liquid and repaired all the broken connections. Unfortunately, this was not a long term fix because the solder just failed again. A longterm fix would involve removing the GPU and replacing all the bad solder with good solder. FYI, the oven trick isn't actually too far removed from how factories manufacture these types of boards.
  4. serr, May 26, 2017
    Last edited: May 26, 2017

    serr thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2010
    That doesn't sound right. Do you mean that figuratively? Older logic boards were standard PC boards with surface mounted GPUs. This current generation of board looks like the same technology. Your comment suggests that the board itself is a chip that also has PC board construction for the other components. I don't believe that's correct.

    I want to hurt the guys selling machines like this on Ebay. :(

    Now this is just good common sense advice! No argument there.
    Just looking for an opportunity should there actually be a sane one.

    Is there an actual consensus that this was a solder formula mistake and not a defective chip that overheats (and THAT is what goes beyond what the solder connections can handle)?

    The obvious followup question to the solder theory would be "Well why don't the other components have solder failures then?" Fair question at least?

    These are still their current flagship machines. (A few Macbooks with some newer specs but no "pro" config machines like these to replace the 2011/12 batch. Nothing at all in 17".) They should be in service for the next 10 years if it wasn't for this issue. Seems like an opportunity calling right?
  5. ZapNZs macrumors 68020


    Jan 23, 2017
    I asked this same question as I wanted to get a full reball with leaded solder, but didn't find many references :(
  6. serr thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2010
    I thought the actual root cause of the solder connections breaking was the PC board itself getting warped from the defective chip overheating. Not a heat sink failure either. The chip having a hot spot on the underside that gets too hot in spite of the heat sink on top of it doing its job. The board warps from the heat and twists and breaks the solder joints.

    The over baked boards continue to warp (and the crude oven treatment escalates that) and they fail again in a month.

    Ultimately, having a date code or lot number to sort for on 2012 boards would be the ideal solution. Said boards can upgrade the 2011 models too.

    But is there a board house out there that can deal with the warped boards and successfully attach new GPU chips that will actually go on to run for the next 15 years? That's the request.

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6 May 26, 2017