Macbook screen issue revisited

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by cardreader, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. cardreader, Jun 16, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011

    cardreader macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    #1
    I used the wrong search terms on this problem. I should have included "flickering" in the string of terms. That opened up a whole can of worms. It seems this problem started in '07 with the MacBooks and there are hundreds if not thousands of posts that never seemed to be resolved. The optimist in me thought that apple would address this issue, but here it is June 2011 and I have found no info on the cause of this issue. You would think that one of those high paid techs from apple would isolate the problem by now. After all they have all of the test points!
    Then the pessimist in me took over and I have realized that apple is just letting the ball drop on this problem figuring that people would just buy another one or spend additional money trying to fix it. Apple makes billions selling these so why should they give a damn if they break. I feel lucky that mine lasted over two years. Many had the problem right away and even though those were under warranty their replacement ended up doing the same thing. Others went through the repair process from the local authorized dealer and the fix proved ineffective. Others who were out of warranty threw money at it never to get the problem resolved.
    So, I'm here to ask if anyone knows if this problem has been addressed by apple or not? Or has anyone independently figured this one out? I've used apple from the beginning and still have a pismo laptop that works and runs OSX fine. Let's see, I believe those were made in cupertino.
    If anyone is interested in a description this problem see my previous thread.
     
  2. Detrius macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    #2
    Older machines use fluorescent backlights instead of LED backlights, so flickering is a "normal" failure. The problem isn't that parts were replaced with new parts having the same issue. The problem is the wrong part got replaced. If the screen flickers, it's most likely either a bad inverter or a bad LCD. If the issue is intermittent, you could easily swap out the inverter, think it's been fixed, and then still have the issue come back because it was the LCD all along.

    You've seen fluorescent ceiling lights flicker. Well, fluorescent backlights can flicker too.
     
  3. cardreader thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    #3
    Hello Detrius Wow, you're a mac technician. Thanks for the response. Is what you are saying the actual mac fix to this situation? So many have replaced the inverter and found that the problem persisted and have even gone so far as to replace the mother board only to find that the issue was still there. After all of the research I have done I have never heard this explanation before. So, you would recommend replacing the whole LCD first, even before the inverter? That makes sense, since I'm seeing a lot of the problems continue after the inverter replacement. How do I make sure that I'm not getting the fluorescence LCD as compared to the one that works. What model numbers were affected? What did they use instead of the fluorescent?
    This is good news for me since my MB has been down for a couple of weeks.
    One final question. Where would you think would be the best place to get the new one, direct from apple? Thanks again for your help on this.
     
  4. Detrius macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    #4
    There are four parts in the backlight chain. The logic board supplies DC power along the inverter cable to the inverter, which supplies AC power to the fluorescent backlight, which is part of the LCD. Any of these could theoretically be the cause of a backlight problem.

    I've only seen the logic board be the cause of backlight issues in instances of spill damage. When the inverter cable fails, it tends to be due to friction in the hinge, and often the symptom is that the backlight goes in and out depending on movement of the screen. The inverter tends to cause either complete failure or flickering. The same is true of the LCD itself.

    I wouldn't say to replace the LCD first because it's more likely to be the inverter, but it's still pretty common that the LCD itself is the cause of backlight issues. What I'm saying about it "being the LCD all along" is that technicians are people, too, and most of them aren't particularly bright. If you have a half-dozen technicians, probably two of them have an excellent grasp of what's really going on in any situation while the others have the steps memorized and rely on the first two techs to help them out when they run into a sticky situation. So, one of these who memorized the steps may have swapped out the inverter because it's what fixed the issue the last time they came across it, but they may not have put much time into verifying that the issue was really gone. It's also entirely possible that replacing the inverter really did fix the issue, but the new one went bad. You can't really know what part is causing your issue until you've actually fixed the issue. You can say that something is highly likely to fix the problem, but there are always other variables. I'm not going to tell you that your LCD is the problem because I can't know that. (Also, you can't get an LCD for your machine that doesn't have a fluorescent backlight.)

    I don't recall off the top of my head what Apple officially says about this situation, but it doesn't really matter because sometimes they are wrong. e.g. their technician guide for the Mac Pro never says to consider bad RAM or a bad riser card for a machine that won't POST, but by far, those are the most likely causes.

    And, yes, I'm an actual Mac technician, and I do warranty work. I don't work for Apple. Here in these forums, I tend to look for the threads that have no responses because they tend to be the questions that stump everyone else. I've been a technician for a total of about three years (with a four year stint in the middle programming), and I have a CS degree. Unofficially, my job is nightmare control.
     
  5. cardreader thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    #5
    Nightmare control. I hear you on that one! Guess that makes you a bit of a social worker on top of everything else. Hey, thanks for helping me and others on this forum. A clear response is very refreshing.
    Looks like I'll be going with the least expensive thing first (the bulb) and then the inverter, although I intuitively think it is the inverter because the fluorescent gets the screen bright after everything warms up. Or, that might mean that it's the fluorescent itself. Anyway, I think I can handle it from here. Thanks again.
     
  6. Detrius macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2008
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    #6
    If you can find a way to do that and can find the proper part, go for it. It's not something I've ever done or known anyone to do, but I've heard it's theoretically possible.
     
  7. l.a.rossmann macrumors 65816

    l.a.rossmann

    Joined:
    May 15, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #7
    It's possible but it's really ghetto.
     

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