Is it possible??...a long-term "solution" for 2011 dGPU failure that defaults the system to the iGPU

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ZapNZs, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. ZapNZs macrumors 68020

    ZapNZs

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2017
    #1
    The 15-inch 2011 MacBook Pro is something that Apple and AMD both probably wish to put behind them. However, for those that own the computers, doing so isn't quite as easy, because they are aware that they have a fully functional computer, minus one part, and that the system itself ironically happens to have two of these parts.


    The Problem
    As you already know, the 15-inch and 17-inch 2011 MacBook Pros have a design flaw in the discrete-GPU design/implementation, which eventually results in discrete-GPU failure. To a lesser extent, this also affects the 2012/13 15s.

    While the computer is capable of functioning with its integrated-GPU, the MacBook Pro with a dGPU boots with the dGPU enabled by default. When the faulty dGPU goes kaput, this eventually makes the computer completely inoperable, because it cannot complete the startup procedure.


    The Solution & Its Limitations
    Apple did a great thing by accepting responsibility (many companies would not have.) However, as you likely know, this program has ended. And while the program has ended, the problems have not.

    The actual design issue itself was never really fixed. The repair entailed a new or refurbished logic board replacement with the same faulty design as before (IIRC Apple eventually made some minor modifications, but these boards still fail.) Consequently, because the Repair Program did not fix the underlying cause, even computers that have been serviced under the Repair Program are failing.


    Where It Stands Now
    As it stands, many people are left with a computer they spent $3,000 on, in perfect working order, except for a dead dGPU, while they still have a perfectly capable iGPU. Apple has since dedicated the 2011 as a "vintage" system, and so an owner can no longer even purchase a logic board out-of-pocket. While the 2011-15/17 is a pretty old design, it is still faster than most new mainstream laptops being sold in 2017.

    Individual efforts to kill the dGPU on startup (ranging from deleting the dGPU driver to hacking the EFI) has had mixed success at best.


    A Possible Long-Term "Solution"?????
    Is there any reason that Apple could not release an EFI and/or OS update that permanently disables the dGPU so that the computer starts with (and only ever runs) the iGPU? In other words, is this possible?
    (Based on my own reading, I believe it is, but want to be sure before going any further.)

    Also based on my reading, I've deduced that this would have at least two specific implications:
    1. External monitors would not work
    2. The performance of graphic-intensive Apps would (obviously) be slower
    However, a crude solution beats no solution, so slower performance and no external display capability is still much better than a computer that does not work at all.


    How could Apple financially justify this if they do not wish to pay for the dev costs?
    Charge $5 for each computer that gets the update, so development costs of this update are recouped.
    (Given how many 2011s have problems, they would probably turn a profit.)
     
  2. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030

    iamMacPerson

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    #2
    I'd say shim it, run that utility that blocks the dGPU from kicking in and use iStat Menus to control the fans and check the temps. The main problem is heat, that's what kills it.

    Source: Previous 2011 15" 6750m owner.
     
  3. Zwopple macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    #3
    This would be nice but it wouldn't help anyone that can't get past the boot screen.

    @iamMacPerson that utility helps but it doesn't solve the root issue, the issue isn't heat but rather the solder used in the GPU balls is crap and it cracks/splinters/grows defects and once it glitches you're computer freezes.

    I'm looking at potentially paying about ~$300 to get the GPU re-balled with lead solder that *should* be a permanent fix to the crappy solder used by Apple.
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #4
    Apple now considers these units to be vintage hardware and I predict that they'll never do anything more to "fix" the issue, be it hardware-wise or software-wise.

    Any "solution" -- such as the one postulated above -- is going to have to come from a "third party" developer...
     
  5. Wrong Turn macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2013
    #5
    If you had an issue with the GPU, why didn't you turn it in for service considering the extended warranty that was active up to December 31st last year?
     
  6. ZapNZs, Feb 19, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017

    ZapNZs thread starter macrumors 68020

    ZapNZs

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2017
    #6
    That does not work for a failed GPU, because the dGPU starts at a lower level than any of those Apps run at (it appears to start with the EFI, although Apple Support has not been able to tell me definitively). The only way to get the computer to boot with integrated that I know of is to overheat the computer and immediately restart it after the thermal shutdown (something that Apple Support is indeed already aware of.)



    Getting the system to boot to do the upgrade would take a relatively crude method (forced overheating), but it is doable.

    Then, the fix would presumably modify the EFI so that the computer always boots with integrated. I assume that Apple could modify their EFI the same way that Windows Users would modify EFI/BIOS (by booting into the BIOS menu) to tell the computer which GPU the computer starts with, and then removing any drivers for the AMD dGPU so that the computer thinks it only has an iGPU.



    That's not the question I am asking. But my GPU issue happened 10 days after the program ended, FYI.



    Do you know of third party developers that have modified Apple's EFI? (which obviously means bypassing the lock) (Efforts with rEFIt have had mixed outcomes)
     
  7. MBPro17 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2016
    #7

    I have a late-2011 that has not gone vintage yet. My tentative plan, price permitting, is to purchase at my own expense one final logic board from Apple right before they go vintage and put it on the shelf. (I already replaced two at their expense.) It should buy me at least 2 more years.
     
  8. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030

    iamMacPerson

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    #8
    TBF Apple really doesn't have a choice as to what solder it uses when it comes to selling the computers in Europe. No point in making two logic boards. That 'crappy solder' is used in all Macs, iPhone, iPads, and other devices. While it is coming unsoldered, the reason is the heat. Apple terribly underestimated the heat, had a woefully underprepared heat pipe design, and that causes extra heat to linger around for too long and cause these issues. If this was just a solder issue, people who had the computer repaired at a later date wouldn't still be having the same problem. The bad solder would have been weeded out of the supply chain. This is another shining example of Apple's form over function, and probably also the reason the modern 2016 model is woefully underpowered versus comparable PCs: thinness is more important then power or proper heat distribution.

    Trust me, I feel and know your frustration. I had eight logic boards replaced on my 2011 in a year, was called a liar by Apple Store managers and had my account flag. I had to pay to 'upgrade' to a cheaper computer that shouldn't have had these problems. That computer was later included in the same REP, 2012 rMBP 15", and I had another five logic boards in a year.

    Unless you find an AASP willing to break the rules, Apple will not sell parts directly to the end user and Apple requires a part to be returned. People come up on these parts usually because a Service Provider stocked up on parts before they hit vintage or obsolete status. They will then sell or dump old over stock when they reach a point where no one has these machines anymore.
     
  9. venom600 macrumors 6502a

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    Los Angeles, CA
    #9
    If he got it fixed on 12/31, it could very well have broken again by now. This isn't a one time situation. It will fail again, it's just a matter of how fast.
     
  10. Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    Utah
    #10
    That doesn't follow at all. The 2016 dGPU is as powerful relative to PC alternatives as in the past. They probably simply underestimated the effects of the heat in earlier models.
     
  11. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030

    iamMacPerson

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    #11
    I meant price to performance. The new model is actually slower in some tests then the model it replaced, both real world and benchmarks have shown that. I know EverythingApplePro compared a spec'd out 2016 to a spec'd out 2015 and the 2015 won in FCPX. The 2015 was also cheaper. I think Apple had a chance to put in a way faster GPU if they kept the same body of the previous model, but instead opted to make the computer slimmer and sacrifice on power.
     
  12. Sanpete, Feb 19, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017

    Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    #12
    The tests I've seen show the 2016 smokes the 2015 in broad dGPU benchmarks, FCPX, and Premiere. I'd be interesting in seeing the contrary result you refer to. The new dGPU is much faster than what it replaced, and it also drives more UHD monitors than the PC alternatives. There was no need for Apple's purposes for one that matches the speed of those in PCs, no more than in past years.

    As for price, the base model 2016 15" with 512 GB is $100 more than the comparably equipped 2015. Considering the addition of the touch bar and Touch ID, among many other improvements, that's more than fair.
     
  13. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030

    iamMacPerson

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    #13
    At 8:55.

    I'd also like to see the benchmarks you are referencing. I'm sure this years baseline model is faster then last years due to the second GPU and SSDs, however it seems comparing apples to apples, this year's maxed out model is actually slower then the comparable of last years, and at a higher price tag. Now, CPU growth has stagnated thanks to Intel, I'm not talking about that. GPUs have made monumental advances YOY and the card Apple went with is, well, adequate. Not very Pro for their Pro notebook.

    As far as price, I stand corrected. $100 is very reasonable comparing the features of new vs old. I was comparing the entry level price, which is higher, however for a reason (dGPU namely). My point on terrible performance per dollar still stands.
     
  14. Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    #14
    The benchmark and exporting the video talks about rely on the CPU, not the dGPU. (If Joe Reviewer doesn't know that, he should be in some other business. If he does know, then he's intentionally misleading people.) For editing tasks that do involve the dGPU, the new machines are quite a bit faster, both because of faster processors and because they throttle less. Start at 3:50:



    Also here at about 2:30:



    You can also compare the Geekbench 4 GPU benchmarks, or Cinebench OpenGL.
     
  15. xanderx007 macrumors regular

    xanderx007

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    #15

    This is possibly that solution
    you are asking for. It's simple and elegant rather than crude, to which a non-programmer and non-techie individual can easily parrot the steps to do the fix, without having to disassemble the unit. I've done the fix, and so far my MBP's back to running smoothly (the thread starter, brainshutdown has had it for a year). It doesn't turn off the dGPU, but, ignores it with a software fix. I've managed to implement it in basically just one try.
     

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