How do I know if my GPU has died? (urgent repair question!!)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by musicjohnny, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. musicjohnny macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    #1
    Hey everybody, today the screen on my 17inch 2.4ghz Macbook pro went dead while I was using it. I then attempted to plug it in to an external monitor which also displayed no output. I know that the computer is on and it seems to be functioning properly except for no video output (I was able to play a song off iTunes after clicking around for a bit...I know...I've got skills :) My first thought was that the video card had died, so I did some checking online and discovered that my particular Macbook is one of the ones with the faulty Nvidia GPU in it which is more prone to failure than normal ones and that Apple will fix this problem for free so I took it in to my local apple store to see what their opinion was.

    Now comes the bad part: I spoke to a genius rep and he took it to the back to do some tests and returned with my mac 10 minutes later and said that it wasn't the video card because he could "see a screen flicker" when he turned it on. I asked him to show me and he proceeds to show me what is in fact not a screen flicker but simply the backlight of the LCD screen turning on....
    He then said that I'd have to pay $325 for them to send it to their repair place in Texas (I'm in Georgia) for them to fix whatever the problem is.
    I didn't quite trust him and was especially skeptical after he said the backlight turning on was a "screen flicker" so I decided to come on here and to ask you all for advice before proceeding.
    What do you all think the problem might be and is there any way for me to actually test and see if it is the GPU or not?
    I'm an audio engineer and do all my editing on this laptop so I really need to get it fixed asap so any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. MrCheeto macrumors 68030

    MrCheeto

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    #2
    Turn on your computer and let it boot fully.

    Hold the display up to a bright light source. If your backlight is dead, you will be able to make out items on the display.

    The best way to do this is to hold a flashlight up to the Apple logo on the back of the display, and you will see images on the screen.
     
  3. musicjohnny thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 7, 2010
    #3
    Thanks for the quick reply! Let me clarify a bit: I'm sure the backlight IS working because the Apple logo on the back side of the screen glows, I can see the backlight lights at the bottom of the display being on, and I can see the light behind the screen change brightness as I press the backlight level keys on the keyboard....
    The problem is the graphics themselves do not appear...not even faintly. Nor do they appear when I plug an external monitor in.
    That's why I was thinking GPU problem in the first place.
     
  4. djasterix macrumors 6502a

    djasterix

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    Paradise City
  5. MrCheeto macrumors 68030

    MrCheeto

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    Nov 2, 2008
    #5
    WTF?!

    If your Apple is lighting and the noob at the Apple Store says the backlight it out, you are hereby obligated to march into that Apple Store and viciously slap that knave in his stupid face.

    Sounds like a graphics issue to me. Can't be sure. Call Apple and cry like a mother.
     
  6. musicjohnny thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 7, 2010
    #6
    Haha maybe I should have slapped the knave, but he didn't say the backlight was out, what he was saying was that he thought he saw the screen flicker (like the actual graphics come on the screen for a split second) as he booted up the computer. What he seemed to not realize was that the "flicker" he saw was NOT the graphics coming on for a second, it was the screen's backlight coming on.
    Simply put, he thought the backlight coming on was actually the graphics being momentarily displayed.
    Definitely slapworthy though!
     
  7. musicjohnny thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 7, 2010
    #7
    It has the Nvidia GenForce 8600M GT with 256mb of GDDR3 SDRAM.
    That IS the one that Apple admitted was failing at a much higher rate than the others...
     
  8. McGiord macrumors 601

    McGiord

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    Location:
    Dark Castle
    #8
    Get a phone call from :apple: support from their website. Ask for an appointment at another apple store if you can. If yo are stuck with this genius, ask for another one, or the store manager. Get the reference from apple website about the faulty video before calling/going there again. When on the phone use the same words as on the apple docs, so they see that the defective product came from their factories.
    It is impressive how many defective MacBooks are out there.
     
  9. dsprimal macrumors 6502a

    dsprimal

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    Mar 27, 2010
    #9
    genius lol. i love this forum cause im learning about things i may encounter in the future!! :D
     
  10. musicjohnny thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    #10
    I think that's exactly what I'll do. All the signs point to the defective GPU so I'll just go in there armed with all the info on it that they might need/ask for and try to get it taken care of!
    Thanks everybody and I'll report back when I know something!
     
  11. djasterix macrumors 6502a

    djasterix

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    Paradise City
    #11
    Go to another store or make an appointment with a AASP, they usually are more open..
     
  12. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    #12
    Walk back into the store (MBP in hand) and plug your machine into one of their obligatory 30-inch displays on display (lol). When it doesn't work (because of the dead gpu) ask the genius to make up a good excuse and while he's at it fix your computer.
     
  13. colonelsanders macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    SLC, Utah
    #13
    Have you done the standard troubleshooting techniques?
    1) Shutdown, remove power source, remove battery. Let sit. Put battery back in, connect power source and restart

    2) Reset Pram

    3) Use Hardware test boot DVD? Insert DVD restart while holding down (command, D? i think).

    Chances are 1 & 3 won't work but 2 has solved many a random problem.
    _________

    Having said the above let me also ask did your MBP exhibit any warning signs before the screen died? ie artifacts, colored lines (out of place, lol) or odd repeated patterns? I'm asking because that's what happened to my MBP C2D 2.2 8600 128 before the graphics card died. This is what it looked like when it did die....DEAD MBP SR C2D 2.2 8600 128. Ohh yeah and i was at a trade show doing a demo for a client. Always good timing, right? lol

    The rest of the advice I've read on this thread is spot on.
    Make an appointment, go back to the Apple Store, print out the following url, tell them you would like to have your graphics card tested, if it can't be tested then ask them to replace the graphics card per the warranty. They should replace the card or if the store manager is feeling good, offer you a new laptop. If they fix your graphics card and it works then make haste to EBAY, craigslist, or your classifieds of choice and SELL that MBP! The replacement 8600 will fail again... it's just a matter of time.

    I hope you have your data backed up! Document everything you do and everything the Apple techs tell you. Paper trails help when talking to store managers about giving you a replacement MBP.
     
  14. iSpoody 1243 macrumors 6502

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    Jun 29, 2008
    Location:
    Australia
    #14
    i can't believe they call them apple 'geniuses'.
     
  15. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #15
    Just slap a "Caution: Brain Farts, Keep Away from Open Flames" bumper sticker on them.
     
  16. MacAficionado macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2002
    Location:
    An awesome place
    #16
    Relax

    Take your computer back and if the Genius still does not know what may be going on, kindly point him in the direction of this link:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2377

    He should know what to do or ask. They still have to confirm this is the same issue, but likely it will be. You don't have to be rude, you may have just gotten a n00b. Or he may have run the test and determined it was not the issue described in the link above.

    Cheers
     
  17. fluffyx macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2007
    #17
    I'm surprised they didn't run the "NVIDIA Graphics Processor Test (GPT)".

    This is a very polite diagnostic tool that says one of two things:
    • Hello, your graphics processor has failed. Free repair—hooray!
    • Sorry, your graphics processor is not at fault.

    Every Apple-Authorized Service Provider has this test, and so does every Genius Bar. It's not meant to be up to opinion to determine whether your graphics chip is defective, it's thoroughly testable.

    That being said, in most cases where the graphics chip has failed, no backlight appears. Yours may still qualify for this program.

    Write back and let us know how it goes!
     
  18. musicjohnny thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    #18
    Thanks for the tips! I did try all those methods and sadly nothing seemed to happen :(
    thankfully I've got all my data backed up so I'm good on that department!
    And as for warning signs, for the past month there have been occasional "screen flashes" where the screen would sort of flicker once for just a split second...almost to the point where at first I thought I'd just blinked or something and imagined it! That's been the only thing though, other then that it just went straight to black when I was checking my email. Is that tyical of a gpu failure?
     
  19. musicjohnny thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    #19
    Thanks for the advice! I'm not sure if he ran that test or not...
    But you're saying that typically the backlight goes away as a result of gpu failure? Cause mine is still on...
    Also in your experience does gpu failure happen suddenly (like on mine I was just checking mail and it suddenly went blank) or are their typically symptoms before it dies? Lastly, if it's not the gpu, what else could make the display and the external display output just stop working? Any sort of connections I could check myself?
    Thanks a lot for the tips!
     
  20. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #20
    This is why I never go to an Apple store.

    I've had had 70% of my Macbook replaced no questions asked at my local AASP. I'm recommending everyone to head to them.
     
  21. musicjohnny thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 7, 2010
    #21
    That might be the way to go! Anybody know a good and inexpensive AASP around Atlanta?
     
  22. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #22
    If you're under warranty they'll welcome you with open arms.

    http://www.apple.com/buy/locator/service/

    The scanned my barcode and only noted the problems I described to them. I got my MacBook back two days later with a new logic board, larger hard drive, and a new upper case.
     
  23. colonelsanders macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    SLC, Utah
    #23
    I've read many different reports about what happens before it dies. Some have seen flickering, some random lines, some have just shut off and others do weird patterns. If your seeing the problem with the screen as well as the external display but the CPU can boot up and you can run itunes then I can't imagine it's anything else. The blacklight is indicative of power making it to the screen not necessary that the card has or has not failed.

    The connection that you're thinking about wouldn't effect both the internal and external display. There is a ribbon that goes to the internal display from the graphics card and the DVI output connection is soldered to the daughter board. I don't know of any cable or connection that they have in common.(besides the entire GPU).

    The Nvidia hardware test that was referred to earlier would give them a definite answer. The test is run by booting your machine from a special USB drive and the software automatically tests your hardware. The problem is that if your screen isn't working at all I don't know how they'll be able to see the results of the hardware test. - <b>Ask them to run this test in front of you!</b> If they can't run the test because there is no graphics card to drive the screen then you should respectfully request that they replace the graphics card to help eliminate possible causal variables.

    If you want i can try to dig up a couple of the old threads that go on about the 8600 issues. They might provide some insight, but they are HUGE threads.
     
  24. musicjohnny thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    #24
    Hey thanks for the response! The only problem is that the link you gave me just goes to the store locator (where you type in your zip code to search for stores) and doesn't have any store names...
    What's the name of the store you're referring to?
     
  25. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #25
    I'm in Indiana so any stores that I suggest would be quite out of the way. I was able to find a few locations by searching Atlanta, GA. I don't know your ZIP code though. You should try it out again.
     

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