New white nVidia Macbook owners: check here to see if you have a defective LCD!

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by nikhilc, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. nikhilc macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2006
    Hey folks,

    Short version:
    If you have an Early 2009 white Macbook (with the nVidia 9400M integrated video), you may have a defective LCD. I'm collecting serial numbers to establish a pattern of which notebooks have the defective LCD and which are usable. Please post the first 5 characters of your serial number, which model LCD you have, and if you notice lines/pinstriping (see below for how to find out all three of these easily).

    Build Week : LCD Model : Lines present
    03 : 9C5F : No
    03 : 9C5F : No
    04 : 9C5F : No
    04 : 9C5F : No
    08 : 9C5B : Yes
    08 : 9C5B : Yes
    11 : 9C5B : Yes
    12 : 9C5B : Yes
    13 : 9C5B : Yes
    13 : 9C5B : Yes
    15 : 9C5B : Yes
    The fun stuff:
    I recently picked up an Early 2009 white Macbook after owning a Late 2006 Macbook for the past two years. The performance has been great, but the LCD is another story.

    I noticed faint horizontal lines on the LCD when viewed at a normal 90 degree angle, typically where solid light colors are displayed. The effect is similar to pinstripes, and appears regardless of color profiling, calibration, OS, application, displaying 2D or 3D graphics modes, full screen video, or if booted from the hard drive or install DVD. Menus are a good example - faint lines where there are none on the Late '06 version, or on two 2007 Macbooks I'd initially checked side by side. If watching videos or playing games, any solid light colored region would exhibit the same issue - sky/clouds are a good example. From past experience, this looked like banding due to poor dithering in the LCD itself.

    Example image: These menus should be translucent and uniform. The defective LCDs render the menu with pinstripes and bands:

    Thinking this was a single bad LCD, I proceeded to check 22 other 2009 white Macbooks on display at Apple stores and other retailers. Approximately half of the notebooks exhibited the exact issue, while others had the same clean display as I'd had on my original system.

    Several past threads mention issues with Samsung LCDs - sure enough, this notebook and all that display the pinstriping have a display model of 9C5B (associated with Samsung). The notebooks that had clean displays without the pinstriping have a display model of 9C5F (associated with LG).


    After pointing out the pinstriping to the lead genius at a local Apple store, he immediately noticed the issue as well and agreed that it was not normal (he described it as something that would drive him crazy. My sentiments exactly). Out of the 5 white Macbooks on display at the store, 3 had the issue and 2 were usable. After further digging, he discovered that Apple engineering is aware of the issue and states that no hardware should be replaced. As the system was new, he offered to exchange the notebook, with the caveat that if the replacement had the same LCD, they wouldn't be able to exchange the notebook again. The other option given was to pay for upgrading to the Unibody Macbook which doesn't appear to have the same issue (at least, not to the same degree).

    Having originally purchased the notebook at Microcenter, I returned to the same store and pointed out the issue to the Microcenter sales rep. Kudos to Microcenter, their support is fantastic - he offered to check several more systems prior to my leaving the store. We proceeded to open and check 3 other Macbooks hoping to find one that was usable - all had the same LCD, and same issue (all from build weeks 12 and 13).

    The goal:
    Collect as many date codes from serial numbers as possible and determine which weeks shipped with defective LCDs. Personally I would like to increase my chances of exchanging this notebook for one with a usable LCD, and if you're looking to purchase, you may want to avoid particular build weeks. The build week from the serial number is the only identifier that can be checked without opening the box and starting up the system to check the LCD directly.

    How to check your serial number/build week and LCD model:
    • Serial#: Launch System Profiler. In "Hardware Overview", pull the first 5 characters of the serial number. For example: W8913 (W8 = Shanghai, 9 = 2009, 13 = Week 13)
    • LCD model: System Preferences -> Displays -> Color -> Open Profile -> #13 'mmod' -> Model. For example: 00009C5B

    How to detect the lines:
    The default Leopard wallpaper is great for detecting this issue - set this wallpaper (System Preferences -> Desktop -> Nature -> Aurora). Pull down the Finder menu. If you don't notice anything, tilt the screen back and the lines will be more prominent (but is perfectly visible at standard viewing angles).

    What it looks like:

    The "Aurora" default wallpaper has severe banding with the 9C5B LCD:

    The pinstriping is more apparent here where the background has light, solid colors:

    Macro shot - if functioning properly, the LCD should display this entire menu without lines. The top half of this image is fine, the lower half has lines running through it. The graphic below this menu has a region of light solid color underneath "Show Original" and "Add to Sidebar":

    What you can do:
    Please post your system information here so we can get a good idea of which weeks are affected. If your LCD is displaying the same issues, please contact Applecare and open a support case, or work with your local Apple store to see if you can locate a notebook with a usable LCD.

    Ultimately, this is unacceptable given the typical quality standards for Apple products if the issue is widespread. Hopefully with enough information we can get some changes made to the replacement policy to recognize this as the defect that it is, rather than something that is "functioning normally".

    Thanks all!

  2. hndn macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2009
    Thank you for this informative thread. I also purchased mine at Micro Center, did they exchange another one for you?
  3. tayloralmond macrumors 6502

    Mar 26, 2009
    Michigan, USA
    My WhiteBook is W8912 and appears to be unaffected by this error in manufacturing.
  4. bchreng macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    I'm a little confused here. I bought my whitebook from Microcenter as well and the aurora background looks fine to me. The menus, however, do have the pin striping effect. I thought that was how the menus were supposed to look?

    I thought the menus in OSX were supposed to have tiny little horizontal lines like in this screenshot here (random Google search)


    Deep down inside, I'm hoping that mine is affected by the error and that my local Apple store would offer me an upgrade to the unibody macbook. :)
  5. acurafan macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2008
    typing from my purchased on 1/09 white book with no display issues.
  6. molala macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2008
    Cambridge, UK
    Is Apple still using 9C5B Samsung screens? Yes, that would give that problem. If you search for 9C5B here, you will find 1-year-old (even older) threads about the Macbook LCD screens and dithering problems (stripes, dots, etc.). I was hoping they stopped using those for the Nvidia white books.
  7. bobriot macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2007
    Reminds me of the early Aqua theme, perhaps it's an Apple retro step?
  8. hndn macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2009
    So, Micro Center purchases, any suggestion of what to do? I got mine at Tustin, CA. Has this issue brought up at this location yet? Which sales rep did you talk to? At least they'll know what I am talking about when I bring mine in.
  9. nikhilc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2006
    @hhdn: Microcenter offered to exchange it, but the 3 others that we checked from their stock had the Samsung screen and the same issue, so there wasn't any point in doing the exchange. Which LCD do you have on yours? (System Preferences -> Displays -> Color -> Open Profile -> #13 'mmod' -> Model. For example: 00009C5B)

    @tayloralmond - that's good to hear, I checked a week 12 and the copy I saw had the Samsung LCD. Which LCD model is in yours?

    @bchreng - The OS should be displaying a single color for the menus (the screenshot you linked is for a previous Mac OS). The menus do not look like this when connected an external DLP projector over DVI, 24" CRT monitor over VGA, or 22" LCD monitor over DVI, so it's the onboard LCD. The menus are a convenient example, but pretty much any light colored area shows the same thing. Unless the entire internet is now using pinstripes, I'd say it's a hardware problem : )

    @acurafan - good to hear! Could you post the first 5 characters of your serial number and which LCD model is on yours?
  10. iVoid macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2007
    W8313 here.

    As for the lines, I did see really, really faint lines in some menus. It depended on the background a lot since the menus are slightly transparent.

    If I had a white window behind them, then no problem. A color pattern of some kind and I can see some lines. Mostly with blue areas.
  11. bchreng macrumors 65816


    Jul 26, 2005
    Oh I see. I can't say that I've noticed those lines on backgrounds or pictures. My eyes aren't as good as they used to be so I've only really noticed those lines on the menus and assumed that's how they were supposed to appear. I would've connected it to my monitor but I don't have the necessary adapter.

    I guess I'll take a trip to the Apple store next week and ask politely if I can upgrade to a unibody. :)
  12. hndn macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2009
    I have Samsung, manufacture on 11th week of 09.
  13. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    the banding looks a little like what I saw on my old macbook air. hmmm...
  14. gigadigit macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2009
    I bought mine from Tustin also. I already sent in the rebate info and registered the computer. Can we get an upgrade?

  15. hndn macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2009
    According to the other post mentioned that they only have samsung in stock, I wish we'll get an upgrade, honestly, I love the unibody, except for the trackpad (I enjoy it better on the whitebook) :D
    Are you gonna be yours in? Please let me know.
    By the way, how do you know the unibody LCD panel is a non-defective manufacture, or is Samsung also applied?
  16. swish919 macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2009

    OK, so I'm in the same boat, bought mine from Tustin, CA... however, it's been past the 7 day return/exchange period (9 days to be exact). You think they'll let me return or exchange it still? Always felt something was a little off with the images and now that I know, it's even worse than not knowing. I don't mind shelling out the difference for the unibody if that's the only resolution. I also sent in my rebate already too. Thoughts anyone?

    You guys think I should try and ask Microcenter to address this? or do you guys think the Apple Stores would help (especially if I wouldn't mind just upgrading/ paying to upgrade to the unibody)? TIA.
  17. freestyle macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2009
    my info:

    Got the same issue, but looks perfectly fine in white BG.
    Anyway I got it from Micro Center in Tustin as well, already sent the rebate but I'm still on my 5th day...
    Just curious, is this LCD issue a serious problem..?
    I'm still a newbie, not exactly sure what to do next :(
  18. nikhilc thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2006
    The quest for a functional display continues. After finding that the entire stock at Microcenter likely had the same LCD, I followed up through an Apple store and exchanged the system. The original was a week 13, the replacement is a week 15.

    Sadly, the replacement uses the same Samsung LCD and displays the exact same issue. At this point the options left are to follow up with Applecare via phone, or sell this notebook and pick up an aluminum Macbook. I've even been considering seeing if a local Apple store will swap the LCD with a display model that is in good shape.

    If you are seeing the same issue, please post! If the issue is widespread, it'll only be through customer feedback that Apple will recognize and fix the problem.
  19. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...going to have to go to the PX and check out the display model as I was just looking at a whitebook again last night...
  20. gigadigit macrumors member

    Apr 24, 2009
    I've the follwing:
    mfgr: 00000610
    mfgr date: C054c480

    It seems to be okay though. I don't see the lines.

  21. molala macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2008
    Cambridge, UK
    If it bothers you, then it's a problem. There's nothing broken with the Mac or the LCD, it's just a lower quality LCD. Some people are perfectly happy with this (some never notice/find out).

    I had the same problem with the last revision black MacBook I bought last October. Apple Store here in the UK replaced the LCD (at first with another Samsung that had the same problem, but the second time I got an LG screen the 9C5F), took 3 weeks in total. Luckily, the Nvidia white books at the Apple Store all had LG screens so they could see the difference clearly.

  22. swish919 macrumors newbie

    Apr 24, 2009
    Which apple store helped you and who was the mgr? I brought mine to one and they would not give me any options but to service it.... I wouldn't even mind paying the diff and getting the unibody than getting stuck with this issue .tia .
  23. SloopJohnB macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2009
    My macbook has a 00009C5B screen (samsung) and was manufactured on 14th week (serial number W8914). I do have the lines but only when I'm using a dark desktop background. I think I won't replace it because it seems a widespread problem due to apple's choice of panel. For what I've seen in this thread all macbooks with samsung panels have this issue, only the LG ones are safe. Since there's no way of knowing which panel you have (lg or samsung) without opening the box, what we can do is complain to apple directly. For me personally, this isn't such a big problem, better then having blurs or weird dots like some macbooks had in the past, these were the ones that needed replacement because it was a flaw in the single unit not in the panel's model (like our case).
    20 inch alu imac's poor display has been around since 07 with thousands of people complaining but still apple uses THE SAME display on the newer imacs.
    How can we bring this to apple effectively and make them take action??
  24. panzer06 macrumors 68030


    Sep 23, 2006
    Seems this problem is widespread...

    I have the Samsung display and I can see the difference between my external monitors connected to my 09 Mini and this new White MB, however, I'm not sure how annoying it is. Had I not seen this post I may not have even noticed.

    This unit is less than a week old and is setup with all my programs, HD, & RAM upgraded. Now that IO know about this, I fired up iTunes and played one of the HD TV shows I own. Definitely flatter, more washed out display.

    My question is, will I really get anything better if Apple replaces the display? Sounds like most just got the same screen. I primarily use this connected to an external monitor but I really don't like spending good money on an inferior product.

    I've tried calibrating the display and it's improved but by no means as good as the external displays. Should I expect it to be?


  25. DarkSinner macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2009
    hello, i 'm newcomer here :)
    my new early 2009 macbook white ( built in 14th week and bought in Singapore ) has a 9C5B Samsung LCD but i really could hardly discover the pinstring when setting the Aurora wallpaper. maybe later when coming home I will try to change the wallpaper.
    But now what i am wondering is that : all of you have the serial number starting with a letter , whereas my macbook serial number starts with a number : 45914 ? Using the serial number decoded provided online also indicated that they didn't know where my macbook was built. I 'm really scared that my macbook is refurbished one or even a counterfeit ? I bought this at a Apple Premium Reseller but who knows what they may do ?
    anybody knows anything about this please share with me
    thanks a lot :)

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