Macbook Pro (early 2008) won't boot, then booted, now won't boot again.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ruyen, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. ruyen macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2013
    Hey all,
    My GF's Macbook Pro (Early 2008, non-unibody I believe) "died" earlier this year without notice or a cause for why, then last week I fixed it (months later), and now it won't boot again.

    It stopped booting, with the only signs of life are:
    The annoying boot sound that you hear right-away, like a winding sound. "Weeeeah woooo"
    A fan turns on immediately after the sound.
    The front light (on the open button) is solid.
    The battery will light up and show how much juice is left.
    The only thing to do from here is to hold down the power for 10 seconds.

    Don't worry, my story gets more interesting...

    Now, I had another computer and my GF didn't need her macbook seriously for a while, so I didn't research the problem or how to fix it, until last week. Perusing the various help forums and communities, I came across the reset SMC suggestion, so I decided to try a few things on Apple's SMC reset page.

    I tried a couple things, including taking the battery out, and LOW AND BEHOLD: IT CAME ON, like nothing happened! The screen was fine, the performance was fine, it updated (to the new Safari and iTunes, as an example) fine, and it restarted fine multiple times. One of the main reasons I wanted to get it working was to save some family pictures we had saved, so I started uploading the images to an image cloud site. I'm sending them at full-res so it takes a while and I go to sleep around 2 am so I'm not too late into the office in the morn. When I wake up, I go to check the image upload progress and the laptop is Off. I figure it just went into standby after finishing, so I hit the power button...

    And it doesn't boot again. It's back to the same issue as before. I try doing what I did last time, then resetting the SMC, but nothing has worked this time.

    Any ideas? It's out of warranty of course, which is why I'm here.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Romanesq macrumors 6502a


    Jun 16, 2003
    that card

    Have to say this could be the GPU. The card was the kiss of death for many on the early 2008 (4,1) some several times over. Apple said they would take care of the issue but got real cranky about living up to it late into the three year mark.

    I'm not 100% but the initial symptoms you describe are exactly what happened with many folks. Booting with no startup just hearing the whurrrr sound with the fans spinning, light on front and nothing else.

    Apple had a dumb Nvidia test which only worked if you could boot up your machine. So they denied me the support they promised when we all bought these death in waiting machines. But I heated the bootless machine up in a blanket upside down and then took photos of it back in with the machine showing the new date and time with the machine data when I could magically boot it up again.

    They couldn't explain how I pulled it off. Two different Apple Stores in NYC denied the replacement of the GPU card. Eventually, I was able to get Apple directly to look at the machine without paying a $300 fee in advance.

    It came back showing a massive failure of the GPU. The depot in Texas not only fixed the GPU with a replacement logic board. They corrected a wire for a faulty camera too.

    Sadly, that four year warranty period is over. If it is the card, only a replacement logic board will do. :(
  3. ruyen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2013
    Thanks for the reply. I was hoping it wasn't something so drastic considering it booted and worked fine for a day, and that I haven't seen any visual errors to indicate a screen or gfx chip failing. I also fear the worst if I take it in to the Mac shop without serious knowledge of what's wrong and an estimate on how hard it would be for them to fix it. Never had to deal with Apple customer service, but I'm expecting the worst.

    Would you say your guess on the problem would still be the culprit considering I "fixed" it for a day after trying some of the SMC reset suggestions?
  4. bds120 macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2013
    Well, since I am fairly new to mac and have a 2008, I went through and did everything I possible could to ensure mine would work for as long as it possibly could.

    What I would recommend is taking out the logic board(actually pretty simple, just take your time and remove it.


    Throw that bad boy in the oven for 7.5 minutes at 375 degrees F. I actually have not had to do this but I prepared myself for if I do have to one day.

    And afterwards, I would recommend applying some new thermal paste(I used Arctic MX-4). That would probably get you back up and running. You will probably have to order the paste I used but you can pick up Arctic Silver 5 from basically everywhere.
  5. teleromeo macrumors 65816


    Dec 2, 2006
    kidnapped by aliens
    Can you tell us what's the reason to do so ?
  6. bds120 macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2013
    The reason is to re-melt the solder used for GPU. Looks like the early 08s dealt with an issue of the gpu becoming so hot that it would melt the solder used to keep the connections. So a lot of folks removed the logic board and placed it on 4 little aluminum foil balls in the center of the oven and let it cook literally.

    I would say once that is fixed, I would look at reapplying new paste and then maybe increasing the fan speed a tad using smcfancontrol just to better help keep it cool.

    I prefer the MX-4 because it is carbon based and could be used on the CPU and GPU and it cures immediately basically.
  7. Romanesq macrumors 6502a


    Jun 16, 2003
    Not a fan

    Not a fan of this bake the whole logic board approach. At the height of the 2008 (4,1) epidemic when they were crashing left and right people were doing all kinds of crazy things to try to deal with this bad solder GPU problem.

    The main problem is that the baking approach was high risk and low return. Most of the applications when they worked were pitifully short term for the risk. Many people would report the "solution" worked for a week or less than a month.

    There are folks who do this work with real machines that can focus on the correct area, heat it properly and then reset the chip. It's not as expensive in many cases as a new logic board or a used one if you find it on ebay.

    Wrap the machine in a blanket with the fans and machine started up in its boingless wonder. When it gets really hot in an hour or two, you can take it out and flip it back right side up and hit the power key.

    If it starts up, you'll know it's the same disease which affected so many others.
    There are some good options and some less good but I think your logic board doesn't need an oven. :cool:
  8. bobcan macrumors 6502a


    Jan 8, 2007
    Sunny but Cold.. Canada
    I must ask, what exactly did you DO to Fix it..?? I suspect, as with other replies, it is likely an intermittent problem, and quite possibly a Logic Board issue, but may well be caused by a Cold Solder problem as mentioned as well.. Either way, if you are NOT a Technical Person, it is not the place to be poking around guessing, unless you have way more time than money!! :confused:
  9. bds120 macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2013

    Nice idea right there. That is basically the same technique many folks did for the xbox 360 when they were getting that ring of death. Friend of mine did exactly what you stated and xbox worked like a charm.
  10. Romanesq macrumors 6502a


    Jun 16, 2003
    Low cost repair is widely available on this logic board. Folks are doing it on Ebay for as low as $50 and one looks good for only $100.

    You can just take off the battery and power outlet and send it in.
    That's dirt cheap and far better than the high risk, low reward logic board bake off. :rolleyes:
  11. triplelucky macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2012
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Put it in a slightly greased pan and bake in a preheated oven for 30 min at 375 degrees or until the top is golden brown.

    Wait. Sorry that is for muffins. Please disregard. :)
  12. ruyen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2013
    Hey Bob. In the rest of my first post, below the initial summary paragraph, I mention the things I tried and what seemed to make it boot once (SMC reset).

    Another development to add to the odd story, I got it to boot again with another suggestion, but again only once. While still looking and trying solutions, I came across one that temporarily helped again. The suggestion was to:

    1. Unplug the MagSafe
    2. Let the battery drain down until it dies
    3. Recharge it completely
    4. Try starting it again

    This worked but, again, only once. I recovered more family pictures and files, then restarted... and it won't boot again. No start sound, only some spinning fan, the light on the lid button, and the MagSafe light. Trying this drain and recharge solution didn't work a second time.

    Anyone make any sense of this?

    As for my tech skills, I wouldn't say I'm advanced but I have taken apart laptops for cleaning and minor service, and I've "saved" my xbox from the red ring of death by taking it apart, overheating the gpu, replacing the clamps, paste, and memory heat-sinks. But all this work didn't fix it in the long term and the RRoD came back. So I'm hesitant to cook my board in the oven because I doubt it will be a long term solution, if it will solve the problem in the first place.

    You guys obviously know better about the logic board symptoms, but to me this seems like a power issue since the SMC reset and drain/recharge suggestions worked, if only temporarily.

    Am I wrong here? Is this definitely the logic board? If so, what are my options, both through Apple or another route? Adding to the repair limitations, I live in Europe so won't have US eBay or companies as options.

  13. ruyen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2013
    Does it for sure sound like the logic board and, if so, can someone be so kind to point me to a good guide for taking it apart the right way where there's nothing left on the board that can be cooked?

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