MBP boot issue - not covered on any forum I've read

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by DubplateDerek, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. DubplateDerek macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2013
    Hi All,

    Go easy on me! I'm not a Mac person, and everything you read here I've learned in the last couple of hours so my terminlogy may not be 100% correct. I am familiar with various Linux and Windows OSs and PC hardware however so it's not unfamiliar territory.

    I've got a strange boot problem with an MBP A1226 which a friend has asked me to look at. Unfortunately, they don't know the version of OSX it was on, though a bit of internet research tells me it was probably 10.6. They don't have the recovery discs...

    What happens is this :

    It turns on, I hear the chime, I see the Apple logo and then turning cog thingy, and then after about 10 seconds, there's a really brief flash of orange, and then the screen goes black, and stays black. Only holding the power button turns it off.

    The hard drive isn't really clicky like a dead hard drive, but I can hear it continue to operate even after the screen has gone black for a minute or two. Then everything seems to fall silent

    I have tried

    - Connecting a second display in case this is an issue with the GFX chip. Nothing ever appears on the second display.

    - booting up in safe mode. The same sequence happens, but it takes longer before the black screen comes up.

    - I've tried PRAM reset. The reset appeared to work, but the behaviour did not change.

    - Access startup manager. When I do this, I do see one disk, the disk from the MBP, but when I launch it I get the same behaviour.

    The last thing I found was instructions on how to set verbose logging on bootup. This is the very last screen before the screen goes black...

    Any ideas anyone?

  2. Ledgem macrumors 65832


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    If someone with more experience posts after me then defer to them, but if it's completely blacking out then it's not a hard drive problem. If it were, the screen would stay lit and you would get an unusual icon indicating that the system was having trouble finding the boot files (or, if the drive weren't fully dead/corrupt, there's a chance that it would freeze or get stuck).

    The model that you're working with has an nVidia 8600M GT as its graphics chip, which was associated with an unusually high failure rate. Combined with the age of the computer (5-6 years old), there's a good chance that the graphics chip is failing or has failed. Apple had originally created an extended warranty replacement specifically for graphics card issues related to this model, but they limited it to a period of four years from the date of the machine's purchase - this system is unlikely to be eligible for a free replacement.

    If it is the graphics card, some users have had luck with bringing their systems back by removing the mainboard and baking it in an oven for a few minutes. This thread has some discussion about that - some users have regained functionality for months by baking their boards, and one user even brought his system back twice using this trick. (Don't read all 126 pages - use the "search this thread" function for relevant parts.)

    I'd save the baking for a last resort, though, after you've tried other things and have ruled out other possible issues.
  3. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    You're right on the money, it's most likely a failed 8600GT which means a logic board replacement.

    I believe Apple will change it for their $300-something flat repair fee, since the extended warranty period on that card has ended 2 months ago.

    Bring it in to Apple, you might get lucky and get it swapped free still.
  4. DubplateDerek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2013
    Hi Snaky & Ledgem

    Thanks for your detailed replies. They are very comprehensive.

    One question though... I read in a couple of other places that when suffering from this fault with the Nvidia chip, you should still be able to plug in a second display via the DVI adapter and use the Mac this way. Wouldn't you agree with this?

    Anyway, I think the best plan is for the owner to go and try and persuade Apple to do an in warranty repair. If that doesn't work, we can try something more drastic. I am a keen cook, but I must admit I've never baked computer parts before :)

    Thanks for your input

  5. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    The machine will be well out of warranty - and:

    - The 8600m quality program has ended
    - The issue you're describing wouldn't fail the nvidia "test" anyway

    That doesn't look like your typical 8600m failure. If anything - it looks like a software/driver issue. Have you tried booting from another installation of OS X (i.e. another mac in target disk mode) or from your 10.6 CD?
  6. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    Failed graphics card makes little sense to me since you can see output to the display in the attached screenshot. If the graphics chip had failed, you wouldn't be seeing anything at all when booting in verbose mode ... just a black screen.

    My money is on it being related to one or more of the following:

    - PRAM/NVRAM battery is dead or dying (possible, given the age of that system ... it's a Macbook Pro 3,1 afterall.) Try a PRAM/NVRAM reset. You may have to reset SMC as well. Failing PRAM battery can cause all sorts of weird stuff to happen, which may affect SMC as well.
    - The hard drive is having issues. Also possible given that system's age. Try booting into safe mode and open disk utility and do a check/repair. Failing that, boot into AHT and test the hardware (extended test.)
  7. Ledgem macrumors 65832


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    I don't want to say that the advice is absolutely wrong, but it doesn't make sense to me. If the graphics card has failed, why would plugging in a secondary monitor allow you to see anything? It's the same graphics chip that's driving the internal display and the external display.

    If you use a secondary display and can see something while the primary display is blank, it would indicate a problem with the primary display rather than the graphics card - either a bad connection between the chipset and the monitor (severed wire), burned out monitor chipset, or possibly a failed monitor backlight (although you should still be able to lightly see the image if it's a backlight issue).
  8. DubplateDerek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2013
    Nope - I don't have another Mac unfortunately or the 10.6 disc

    I checked these out, thanks. Here's what I did :

    Tried PRAM reset (hold down opt, command, p & r before the grey screen / chime at boot up) and it did a quick reboot so the reset appeared to have worked, but no change in behaviour after that. Tried it again twice to make sure and still no change.

    Tried SMC reset (remove battery, hold power button for 5 seconds, replace battery and power on). No change in behaviour.

    Tried AHT (hold down D before the grey screen / chime at boot up), but the AHT doesn't start up; the behaviour is the same.

    I agree, but this is what I'd read. I don't have any experience of these machines and it's hard to sort the wheat from the chaff sometimes you know :)
  9. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    Well, it's a Macbook 3,1, which means it came with 2 install discs. Locate disc 2, pop it into the SuperDrive, and restart the system holding "D" down. when you hold the D key down to go into AHT, it's going to search the hard drive for AHT, and if it doesn't find it, should automatically check if it's on a disc in the SuperDrive (or vice versa, I can't remember which right now.)

    If your hard disk is having problems, depending on the nature of the problem, it may not be able to load AHT from that disk, but if Disc 2 is in the SuperDrive, it can hopefully boot AHT from that. If so, that should allow you to run a hardware test to see if the issue is hardware-related or not.

    At this point, it looks to me like your hard drive is having some serious problems.
  10. swerve147 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2013
    If at all possible try and get into target mode with another Mac so you can at least figure out if it's a hard drive or a graphics card problem. If you have an Apple Store nearby there shouldn't be any harm in at least asking if they can do this for you as a courtesy (i.e. free).

    BTW, just because you can see the BIOS loading up doesn't mean there isn't an imminent failure of the graphics card.
  11. Ledgem macrumors 65832


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    I'm still pretty doubtful that it's a hard drive problem. In my experience, if the hard drive is failing and/or the data is corrupt then the booting screen will stay up, either giving the symbol for being unable to find the OS or stuck frozen. That the screen is going black (preceded by an orange flash) during the booting sequence strongly indicates a hardware failure on the motherboard. It's debatable as to which component is involved, but figuring that out isn't all that important. Even if we deduce what specific part has failed, the resolution would be to get the entire chipset replaced.
  12. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    Sounds more like the graphic driver to me. If the graphics hardware had gone, you wouldn't get a perfect display until that point, and it likely wouldn't fail at exactly the same point every time.
  13. DubplateDerek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2013
    So, in case anyone's interested one month on!

    I was finally able to build a bootable USB stick to see whether or not HD failure was causing my issue.


    I booted from the USB stick and after 15 seconds, exactly the same problem happened. A brief flash of orange and then nothing. And you could see from the LED on the stick that all activity stopped too.

    So looks like it is off to the Apple shop for me...

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