MacBook Pro 17" : Strange Fan Noise and Vertical Cyan Stripes on Screen

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by guru10at, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. guru10at macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2009
    I own a brand new unibody MacBook Pro 17 inch with maximum configuration (8 MB RAM, fastest CPU, 256 GB SSD, 10.5.6., latest software updates) delivered to me on March 4th.

    I am not a heavy user and just used it for Word processing and the like over the last days. Until this morning everything was fine - except a few cases during which my large Cinema Display shortly turned black (for less than a second) and turned on again, which was not a major issue for me.

    Today, while on a business trip and not using an external Display, I noticed a strange, not too loud, sound from the left upper corner of the notebooks casing (right above the left speaker). It sounded like a slightly imbalanced fan making vibrations at low frequency (like a fan blade repeatedly hitting some small object). Not loud but noticeable and different from before when due to the SSD the MBP was absolutely silent.

    The problem does not depend on CPU load. I just let the machine do a photo mosaic to increase CPU utilization. It appears another fan went on after some minutes to cool the notebook. It went noisier, which was not unexcpected.

    I just switched it off after 2 hours of working like this during which I noticed that the temperature of the upper left corner of the MBP slightly rose (but not to any temperature I would consider unusual for a Notbook casing; my old MBP was much hotter).

    After turning it on another 6 hours later I noticed that the sound was still there but a new problem appeared. All areas, that were supposed to be bright white (such as the text box in the web form on the MacRumors page I am currently entering this text in) appear not white but with a pattern of alternating white and cyan stripes. This is the case for OS X as well as Windows programs I run in Parallels. It even appears in the password field on the login screen.

    I also notice a white/cyan flickering of certain areas of the screen.

    The white/cyan issue is independent of which graphics processor I use (long battery life or high performance setting).

    And a PRAM refresh does not solve it.

    While writing this I just gently pressed (applying maybe 2 kilograms) on the upper left corner of the MBP casing (right above the left speaker, next to the power inlet). The cyan lines disappeared. But I still have the noise issue.
    From outside I can not see any physical damage at the MBP.

    Maybe something is loose in there. I had the MBP in the overhead compartment of a long haul flight cabin, but protected inside a protection sleeve inside a solid suitcase. It may have suffered some minor shocks but nothing too severe and nothing other notebooks of mine haven't suffered before.

    Anybody suffers or suffered from a similar problem before?
    What is the best way to fix it? How long would that take?
    I am travelling around the world more the less permanently and do not like to miss my MBP for too long?
  2. 11800506 macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2007
    Washington D.C. Area
    You issue sounds similar to the semi-common 17" Macbook Pro graphics issue which has come to light as an issue recently. There are a variety of threads on it. For example: This issue in particular is focused around different color lines that show up when the 9600m is heated up.

    Were you running it on the 9600m or the 9400m and did your screen look like this?

  3. latempete macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2008
    The OP has the problem on both graphics cards so it's probably a different issue. Also, the fact that pressing on the casing makes the lines go away does seem like a loose connection.

    As far as getting it fixed you actually have 2 choices since you only received the computer March 4th. Problems within the first 14 days of having your computer entitle you to a replacement. If you choose to have it replaced all you do is box it up with it's original accessories and send it back to Apple via FedEx. Apple will email you a link to a prepaid label. Once you drop your computer off at FedEx (or have them pick it up) and they scan it in Apple will order your replacement. Since it's a stock model it may be quicker this way than having it repaired.

    For a repair they will FedEx overnight you a box with a prepaid return label. You ship just your computer (no accessories) overnight back to them. I don't know how long repairs take.
  4. iLog.Genius macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    Right now there is great discussion whether it's a heating issue or something that can be done with a firmware update. Really up to you whether you want to return it or mail it in for repair (depending if you're still within the return period)
  5. guru10at thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2009
    How can a firmware update eliminate a vibrating noise, probably created by any rotating device (as I have a SSD and the DVD-Drive is on the other side, I suspect a fan in the noisy location)?

    Similar, yes. But indeed different. I had a pattern of uninterrupted vertical stripes alternatingly pixel by pixel either white or cyan. This pattern was limited to the white (RGB 255,255,255) areas of the screen.
    Outside this area I had visual effects closer to what you show in your photograph in the semi-transparent dropdown menus.

    I agree; it should be a basically mechanical problem. Interrestingly pressing the casing exactly at the location of the source of the vibrating noise eliminated the graphic output problems. Does anybody know, what exactly is installed in this location (upper left corner just above left speaker) of the Unibody 17" MBP? It must be a pretty sensitive item.


    One vague theory of mine is, that today hotel staff dropped my Aluminium Notebook Case (German Rimova with cushioned Notebook sleeve inside, enclosing the MBP in a way that makes it impossible to slide around) and the bearings of a cooling fan got damaged. I do not know, which type of fan is inside the MBP 17" and how heavy the impeller of the fan is, but in my life outside MaxRumors I have experienced similar issues with large scale industrial blowers (weighting several tons), which got imbalanced when dropped by cranes.
  6. sascha h-k macrumors 6502

    sascha h-k

    Apr 26, 2004
    vienna / austria
    send it back imediatly, you have only 2 weeks from 4th march to get a NEW !
  7. brave5213 macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2008
    New York
    Welcome to the Revision-A tester's club like me:(
    Your graphic issue is very common. Talk to apple for exchange as soon as possible .
  8. 0985463 Suspended

    Feb 23, 2009
    The Fans are maglev, and bearing and shaft do should not touch during operation - so that the sounds from the fan should mostly be that of the air against the impeller blades.

    Based on the hi-rez photo from ifixit at this url:, it appears that on the bottom of the main system board - the "upper left??" is one of the display connectors, as the attached multilead cable from it leads into the hinge assembly.

    Ok, I'm going to pull a Click & Clack (from the Car Talk radio show) diagnosis here that can't possibly be right:

    The connector I describe was/is faulty, or was knocked lose or damaged accidentally (perhaps a hypothetical drop or jarring by hotel staff), and a piece of it has been sucked into the nearby fan intake, thus causing your unusual noise.

    There is absolutely no chance that this is true, but if you eventually find out that it is, I'd be interested in knowning. :)
  9. B-Ryan macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2009

    I have the same problem (lines on the screen) and Apple is not offering that to me; they just want to take if for a week and repair it.
  10. guru10at thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2009
    I have now (it's finally getting light here in Japan) investigated the case further and inspected the casing of the MBP in direct sunlight (while I did it in the poor light of my hotel room before).

    It is mechanically damaged.

    My theory, that somebody dropped my suitcase, starts making a lot of sense.

    Unfortunately I do not have a camera with me, but let me explain the damage:
    The Unibody Aluminum Casing hit some hard edge exactly at the edge below the right pin of the mag-safe power connector. There is a sharp V-shaped cut, approximately 0,5 mm deep. This hit led to some very hard to spot deformation of the unibody aluminum part at the weakest nearby spot, which are the thin bridges of aluminium on top and bottom of the opening for the network connector. In this part the aluminum is vertically dislocated by 0,3 mm.

    I suspect, your explanation is close to what's really going on inside my MBP. I will bring it to an Apple authorized dealer when back home in Europe. They should have a look and tell me which parts need to be replaced.

    Unfortunately all I can blame Apple for is the - now proven - fact, that the unibody aluminum body has weak spots at the edges next to the larger openings for connectors. A sharp hit there yields permanent deformation.
    (I don't know whether the fan is noisy because of deformation or some broken plastic parts that went inside. I'll however report, as soon as somebody has looked inside.)

    Thank you, everybody, for your valuable advice.
  11. skip73 macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2008
  12. volcom883 macrumors regular


    Sep 29, 2008
    hi, i just got my 17". quick question: is it normal that when i go on the image of the map keeps flickering?
  13. sascha h-k macrumors 6502

    sascha h-k

    Apr 26, 2004
    vienna / austria
    with every apple product you have 2 weeks money back ...
  14. skip73 macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2008
    True but I don't want to exchange for another with the same problem. I just hope it can be fixed by a firmware/driver update.

    I really like my 17" otherwise, I prefer it to my 15" Uni MBP.

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