Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

Late-2011 MacBook Pro doesn’t boot

PurpleRose

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 23, 2020
2
5
Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself by asking for help. I was introduced here by B S Magnet because I was told you folks are a community around PowerPC/early Intel-based Macs that are no longer supported by Apple. I know the MacBook I currently have is notorious for its finicky GPU, but with the help of a couple Dosdude1 videos, I was able to disable the GPU and get Catalina running on it. Unfortunately, it stopped booting until a couple of months ago, after which it ran very slowly even after reseting the DRAM and going into recovery mode (even recovery mode’s GUI was sluggish to navigate through and reformatting/resetting the system didn’t improve performance at all).

I looked for other options to see what would run better and so for a time, I tried to see how well it would work with Ubuntu. With B S Magnet’s and other’s help, I found out my system has a 32-bit EFI and following a video from Demonic Sweaters, installed an older version of Ubuntu and then upgraded it to a later version (18). My mac was much more responsive than before and

Things worked fine for a bit as I updated individual drivers (audio, video, wi-fi and so on). But it was after one recent update and a reboot that the system stopped booting again. I tried getting into recovery, reseated the ram/battery, even tried different down the CMD + Option key combinations like CMD + R and even holding down Option before plugging in the magsafe connector and powering on. I only get the white indicator LED, the sound of the DVD drive powering on and a blank screen. No dong like it used to do even with Ubuntu installed.

So, to make a long story short, I have a late-2011 Macbook which has its battery/OS replaced due to sluggish performance with Catalina and even Mojave. It worked but after an update within Ubuntu, it is unable to boot even with the recovery key operations. I have considered cutting my losses and either sending it in to a friend, recycling it, or auctioning it off on Ebay with the replacement battery and power brick included. Are there other options I should consider before I do any of those things?
 
  • Like
Reactions: B S Magnet

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,629
15,588
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself by asking for help. I was introduced here by B S Magnet because I was told you folks are a community around PowerPC/early Intel-based Macs that are no longer supported by Apple. I know the MacBook I currently have is notorious for its finicky GPU, but with the help of a couple Dosdude1 videos, I was able to disable the GPU and get Catalina running on it. Unfortunately, it stopped booting until a couple of months ago, after which it ran very slowly even after reseting the DRAM and going into recovery mode (even recovery mode’s GUI was sluggish to navigate through and reformatting/resetting the system didn’t improve performance at all).

I looked for other options to see what would run better and so for a time, I tried to see how well it would work with Ubuntu. With B S Magnet’s and other’s help, I found out my system has a 32-bit EFI and following a video from Demonic Sweaters, installed an older version of Ubuntu and then upgraded it to a later version (18). My mac was much more responsive than before and

Things worked fine for a bit as I updated individual drivers (audio, video, wi-fi and so on). But it was after one recent update and a reboot that the system stopped booting again. I tried getting into recovery, reseated the ram/battery, even tried different down the CMD + Option key combinations like CMD + R and even holding down Option before plugging in the magsafe connector and powering on. I only get the white indicator LED, the sound of the DVD drive powering on and a blank screen. No dong like it used to do even with Ubuntu installed.

So, to make a long story short, I have a late-2011 Macbook which has its battery/OS replaced due to sluggish performance with Catalina and even Mojave. It worked but after an update within Ubuntu, it is unable to boot even with the recovery key operations. I have considered cutting my losses and either sending it in to a friend, recycling it, or auctioning it off on Ebay with the replacement battery and power brick included. Are there other options I should consider before I do any of those things?
Are you confident that your drive (HD/SSD) isn't failing?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Amethyst1
Comment

christiann

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2020
250
68
Laguna Beach, California
Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself by asking for help. I was introduced here by B S Magnet because I was told you folks are a community around PowerPC/early Intel-based Macs that are no longer supported by Apple. I know the MacBook I currently have is notorious for its finicky GPU, but with the help of a couple Dosdude1 videos, I was able to disable the GPU and get Catalina running on it. Unfortunately, it stopped booting until a couple of months ago, after which it ran very slowly even after reseting the DRAM and going into recovery mode (even recovery mode’s GUI was sluggish to navigate through and reformatting/resetting the system didn’t improve performance at all).

I looked for other options to see what would run better and so for a time, I tried to see how well it would work with Ubuntu. With B S Magnet’s and other’s help, I found out my system has a 32-bit EFI and following a video from Demonic Sweaters, installed an older version of Ubuntu and then upgraded it to a later version (18). My mac was much more responsive than before and

Things worked fine for a bit as I updated individual drivers (audio, video, wi-fi and so on). But it was after one recent update and a reboot that the system stopped booting again. I tried getting into recovery, reseated the ram/battery, even tried different down the CMD + Option key combinations like CMD + R and even holding down Option before plugging in the magsafe connector and powering on. I only get the white indicator LED, the sound of the DVD drive powering on and a blank screen. No dong like it used to do even with Ubuntu installed.

So, to make a long story short, I have a late-2011 Macbook which has its battery/OS replaced due to sluggish performance with Catalina and even Mojave. It worked but after an update within Ubuntu, it is unable to boot even with the recovery key operations. I have considered cutting my losses and either sending it in to a friend, recycling it, or auctioning it off on Ebay with the replacement battery and power brick included. Are there other options I should consider before I do any of those things?

What screen size? And btw you posted this in the PowerPC thread (for pre intel Macs)
 
Comment

Hughmac

macrumors demi-god
Feb 4, 2012
4,369
17,457
Kent, UK
What screen size? And btw you posted this in the PowerPC thread (for pre intel Macs)
OP was advised to post here because it would be more likely to receive help, rather than be told to buy a new machine ;)

@PurpleRose I agree with @eyoungren that hard drive failure is possibly not far off, so back up what you can asap.

Cheers :)

Hugh
 
Comment

Project Alice

macrumors 65816
Jul 13, 2008
1,272
992
Post Falls, ID
Nope - 64-bit. :)
Definitely 64 bit. Only 2006 and some early 2007 Macs had 32bit EFI.

That also sounds a lot like a drive failure to me. Just because it says it isn’t failing (SMART report) doesn’t mean it isn’t. Personally I’ve only had SMART report a failed drive to me one time, and I’ve had a lot more drives than one fail.
Sata SSDs are cheap now. Couldn’t be a better time to pick one up.

Can you boot off a USB or FW disk?
 
Comment

WhoNet

macrumors newbie
Dec 3, 2011
29
13
Perth, Western Australia
Why not go back High Sierra. It is still supported by Apple. I had a security update and Safari a
month ago. Such a shame with 2011 MacBook Pro and the dodge graphic cards. Mine is ok at
the moment. The last great 17 inch .
 
Comment

PurpleRose

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 23, 2020
2
5
First, thanks everyone for the responses, and yeah, I was directed to come here. So sorry if I’m out of place, but I appreciate people’s feedback.

Just to let people know, this is a 15-inch late 2011 Macbook. Are those in particular cursed, or were people just curious?

It hadn’t occured to me that my SATA drive could be a problem, so I’m going to look into replacing that. I may also try High Sierra again since it was mentioned to have had an update. Good to know.
 
Comment

TheShortTimer

macrumors 6502a
Mar 27, 2017
559
816
London, UK
I was directed to come here. So sorry if I’m out of place, but I appreciate people’s feedback.

You were directed to come here, which means you're definitely not out of place. :)

It hadn’t occured to me that my SATA drive could be a problem, so I’m going to look into replacing that. I may also try High Sierra again since it was mentioned to have had an update. Good to know.

Do you have a spare drive at hand that you can swap over for testing purposes? That would confirm for you immediately that the HDD is the culprit and I agree with @Project Alice regarding the (un)reliability of SMART warnings: when the HDD in my MB 5,2 was at the verge of death, Disk Utility was still reporting that the SMART status was normal. :D
 
Comment

556fmjoe

macrumors 68020
Apr 19, 2014
2,084
2,053
I agree with the others; this sounds a lot like a disk failure. Fortunately there are tons of options for SSDs out there which would be much better than the disk it originally came with.

One other possibility is that the SATA cable is failing, but I'd start with the drive first.
 
Comment

B S Magnet

macrumors 6502a
Dec 5, 2018
635
720
no don’t read my status message
Yes, I definitely advised @PurpleRose to come over here for input! :)

I wasn’t aware of the HDD being a possibility for failure in this circumstance, but it does seem entirely plausible given the sluggish response as things got worse, up and to the point of no boot at all.

I don’t have a lot more to add here which hasn’t already been posited. Taking out the drive and checking it via a SATA-to-USB adapter (or a SATA enclosure) on another computer, to see if it shows up as a mounted volume, might be one path.

If, say, after swapping the drive for another the MBP (provided the swapped-in drive has at least 10.6.8 or higher installed on it) still doesn’t see anything and continues to behave as it has (blank screen upon boot), I concur that it could be the SATA cable going out (the 13" unibody models are notorious for this, and I’ve been through two bad cables in the time I’ve had mine). I’m not sure if checking the SATA bus is part of the POST check or not.
 
Comment

eyoungren

macrumors Core
Aug 31, 2011
22,629
15,588
ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
I long ago learned just to rely on what I perceived as 'signs' that a HD is going bad. This was before the SMART period. I think SMART is useful, but I believe the problem with it is more one of sensitivity than reliability. I think the threshold on which it reports failure is probably set too high.

That said, I've had some SMART apps constantly warning me about impending doom when I knew the drive was okay. I'm not exactly sure about how the 'signs' I learned of a bad HD apply to SSDs, but it would seem to me that an SSD that has gone bad wouldn't be something happening over a long period of time (some HDs can take an awful long time to die).

I once had the displeasure of having to work with a faulty system until I could reinstall the OS. All because the Catalogue B-Tree was bad and I didn't have DiskWarrior at the time (which could have fixed it).
 
Comment

B S Magnet

macrumors 6502a
Dec 5, 2018
635
720
no don’t read my status message
I long ago learned just to rely on what I perceived as 'signs' that a HD is going bad. This was before the SMART period. I think SMART is useful, but I believe the problem with it is more one of sensitivity than reliability. I think the threshold on which it reports failure is probably set too high.

That said, I've had some SMART apps constantly warning me about impending doom when I knew the drive was okay. I'm not exactly sure about how the 'signs' I learned of a bad HD apply to SSDs, but it would seem to me that an SSD that has gone bad wouldn't be something happening over a long period of time (some HDs can take an awful long time to die).

I once had the displeasure of having to work with a faulty system until I could reinstall the OS. All because the Catalogue B-Tree was bad and I didn't have DiskWarrior at the time (which could have fixed it).

I’ve had one SSD failure. When it happened, it behaved the first time like a corrupt drive in need of restoration from a backup. A month later, it flat-out stopped responding and the SSD wafer is as good as permanently inaccessible.

This was an Apple SSD on a 5yo MacBook Pro, curiously.
 
Comment

556fmjoe

macrumors 68020
Apr 19, 2014
2,084
2,053
I’ve had one SSD failure. When it happened, it behaved the first time like a corrupt drive in need of restoration from a backup. A month later, it flat-out stopped responding and the SSD wafer is as good as permanently inaccessible.

This was an Apple SSD on a 5yo MacBook Pro, curiously.

We have SSDs fail at work quite a bit and this is exactly what happens. Lots of bad block errors during writes is the most common sign.
 
  • Like
Reactions: B S Magnet
Comment

christiann

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2020
250
68
Laguna Beach, California
Ohh okay. Yeah, your EFI is definetly not 32bit. Even though that model is cursed and gonna fail one day, sounds like a hard drive failure. You should invest in a non-risky MBP, maybe a rMBP (ex. 2015) or a unibody (2012) instead of a new SSD/HDD.

Good luck, christian
 
Last edited:
Comment

christiann

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2020
250
68
Laguna Beach, California
rMBPs are not without issues either (eg staingate, dGPU problems on 2012s) and forego upgradeability and ports.

A 2012 classic MBP is a solid choice too.

2015 rMBPs are actually good. The last Unibody MBPs from 2012 are the best actually. Last true upgradability, BT 4.0, Continuity, can run Big Sur, and the 15” 2012 are the best ever. And cheaper than a rMBP. Good call -christian
 
Comment

556fmjoe

macrumors 68020
Apr 19, 2014
2,084
2,053
Ohh okay. Yeah, your EFI is definetly not 32bit. Even though that model is cursed and gonna fail one day, sounds like a hard drive failure. You should invest in a non-risky MBP, maybe a rMBP instead of a new SSD/HDD.

Good luck, christian

It's probably not going to be a problem considering the OP is using the integrated graphics only. It made it 9 years after all.
 
Comment

christiann

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2020
250
68
Laguna Beach, California
It's probably not going to be a problem considering the OP is using the integrated graphics only. It made it 9 years after all.

oh, now looking back I do see that. did OP use the kext method or an app like Gfxcardstatus? Good idea to run on the integrated only. PS. On my early 2011 15” I ran Windows 10 and it was fine but I think it wasn’t able to find drivers for the Radeon so it just ran off my integrated.
 
Comment

TheShortTimer

macrumors 6502a
Mar 27, 2017
559
816
London, UK
The last Unibody MBPs from 2012 are the best actually. Last true upgradability, BT 4.0, Continuity, can run Big Sur, and the 15” 2012 are the best ever. And cheaper than a rMBP. Good call -christian

That's the only Mac that I ever purchased brand new and I bought it just after Apple had announced their discontinuation because I knew that their direction with hardware was not compatible with what I need from a Mac.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Amethyst1
Comment

B S Magnet

macrumors 6502a
Dec 5, 2018
635
720
no don’t read my status message
2015 rMBPs are actually good. The last Unibody MBPs from 2012 are the best actually. Last true upgradability, BT 4.0, Continuity, can run Big Sur, and the 15” 2012 are the best ever. And cheaper than a rMBP. Good call -christian

My 2015 rMBP has stain gate and the SSD failed.

The late 2011 15/17-inch MBPs, when using integrated GPU, run pretty solidly. They also came with the option of an anti-glare display and the ability to run 10.6.8 (and, thus, Rosetta).
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.