Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

Retromac2008

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 9, 2015
209
36
I have the legendary Macbook pro 15 "2011 TOP configuration: (4000$)
i7 + 6750M

csm_IMG_5840_Kopie_07_295a63bd0b.jpg



It is known that the gpu tends to break over the years
- Some say that keeping temperatures low can avoid the problem
- Others say that the problem is inevitable because it is the cycles of increase and decrease of temperature that make the gpu desolder

Are there any users who have had this problem over the years?

My 2011 MacBook pro is new, straight out of the box, with zero battery cycles.

How long can I expect to use it without problems? Does it usually last at least 1 year without getting burned?

How can I extend his life?


Thanks in advance ! :)











btw I love using macs from 2011, they are the last generation before the release of the Retina model and the last year of life of the beautiful MBP 17 - they are historic and surprisingly performing products still today
 
  • Like
Reactions: Queen6

Queen6

macrumors G4
Who knows my own 15" 2011 is closing on a decade of age and heavy use. I limit the dGPU and enforce the iGPU, high temperature and rapid cycling of the dGPU does definitely increase the likelihood of premature failure. Would I buy one new in box today, likely not with my M1 MBP running rings around the 2011 and far more productive.

I'll likely retain the 2011 15" until it fails then off to the aluminium shredder LOL

Q-6
 
Last edited:

Queen6

macrumors G4
it is true, in fact it is very rare to find a Macbook with exactly 10 years still in the new box :)
it's a bit of a waste to use it :)
Rather think is more the waste to just keep it in a box, as ultimately the battery will give up. I far prefer that my own 2011 15" was used heavily professionally, passed round the family, picked up a few scratches & dents, has never been clean installed and remains 100% stock yet runs better today than when I first opened the box in 2011 which in some respects is a testament to Apple.

Admittedly it still runs hotter than hades and the dGPU remains fragile, however it no longer throttles likely thx to firmware updates. I still use it occasionally and like it more as it has this history of being abused and surviving. Before returning to me it sat for well over a year in a box with a dead battery and even that has recovered to mostly being "good" taking several days to clean and repair the OS to one that actually worked LOL...

All said and done I do think that the now "classic" MBP was designed and manufactured to a higher standard than the 2012 rMBP. I also have one and it has most certainly not faired so well, the Logic Board is still good, however; the feet detached, display gasket tuned to goo, display incurred burn in & failed, the display hinge has lost much of it's tension, keyboard polished up horribly...

Q-6
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Vlad Soare

leman

macrumors Core
Oct 14, 2008
19,360
19,433
Difficult to say. Even if it was factory sealed, 10 years is a very long time for a computer. The GPU should be the least of your issues for now. For one, your battery is probably completely deteriorated. More importantly though, capacitors go bad even if unused and I’m told 10 years is just enough for the damage to accumulate. So yeah, I dint think that machine has much life left in it anyway.
 

Queen6

macrumors G4
Difficult to say. Even if it was factory sealed, 10 years is a very long time for a computer. The GPU should be the least of your issues for now. For one, your battery is probably completely deteriorated. More importantly though, capacitors go bad even if unused and I’m told 10 years is just enough for the damage to accumulate. So yeah, I dint think that machine has much life left in it anyway.
The bigger issue is the operating system, as the applications that can effectively control dGPU switching were written for this specific 15"/17" design of MacBook Pro. So the issue is that if you advance too far with macOS the application will no longer be able to control the dGPU and if you opt for an older release of OS X it wont be supported by Apple.

My own 2011 15" is on 10.13, if memory serves is as far as you can go without loosing manual control of the dGPU via 3rd party application.

Q-6
 

Queen6

macrumors G4
10.13 yes :)
I would recommend gSwitch as this app allows manual control of the 2011 15" MBP GPU's and works on macOS 10.13.6 :)

Install gSwitch, from the Menu Bar select Integrated Only. gSwitch does not enforce the Intel iGPU. The application works by instantaneously switching the system back to the iGPU. Note, with any external display plugged in the Mac will use the AMD dGPU, nor can any application override this by Apple's design.

I also used the pmset Terminal commands to alter the 2011's sleep behaviour. By default the OS has differing sleep states; Sleep & Deep Sleep (standby & hibernation). After one hour of inactivity the system will drop from standby to hibernation. This is generally not of any issue, however it does result in a cold boot of the system and by default triggers the dGPU. I reset the 2011's timer for hibernation to 4 hours, again to prevent triggering and associated heating of the dGPU more than is necessary.

What kills the 2011 15"/17" Mac's is the rapid heating & cooling (thermal cycling) of the AMD Radeon dGPU inducing premature thermal fatigue as AMD's manufacturing process was flawed at the time of production. The issue was exacerbated by Apple's poor cooling solution which is why they were hit so hard by this failure mechanism.

Raising the rear of the MBP will improve the cooling as this increases the air gap to the desk surface and or a passive aluminium stand to wick away heat, this also slightly increases the convection effect. Manually overriding the fans can help, equally don't expect miracles. I'll have look as there is also a mechanism to completely disable the AMD dGPU via Terminal. I've not tried on my own 2011 MBP, again you have to match the commands exactly to the OS version. IF Apple was to push an update all bets are off as to what may happen, likely just a reset to default values. My own rational is that my own 2011 MBP has survived this long with the dGPU active that deactivating it may be more trouble than it's worth, as there are drawbacks.

If memory serves there was some talk of AMD resolving the issue, although likely too little, too late for Apple with them opting for Nvidia with the 2012 unibody & Retina 15" MBP. So some of the Late 2011 15" MBP's may be potentially more robust.

My own is a 2.4 Late 2011, I know for a fact that it's was used heavily by myself and once in my daughters hand she saw it a gaming platform LOL. Yet the dGPU survived, when I used it professionally I was mindful ensuring good airflow and increasing fans speed. That all said if you push these 2011's hard they will get very hot irrespective of user intervention as the cooling system is far from optimal.

You might also want to look at limiting the battery charge to say 60%-80% as sourcing a known good replacement battery for a Mac of this vintage is very much a hit & miss affair. Again you'll need to source an app that best matches the version of macOS. You should also use/exercise the battery now that it's activated, CoconutBattery is a good tool for monitoring the condition of the battery.

As for longevity who knows, it could fail in a matter of a few months or it could run without issue for a decade more :) The problem will be is that ultimately Apple will discontinue support for macOS 10.13. Then it's either sourcing new SW that can effectively control the 2011's GPU's with a newer version of macOS or resorting to a third party solution for security. In all transparency I've not looked into solutions for macOS beyond 10.13 High Sierra.

My stock 15" 2011 has survived very well given near a decade of use. Baring picking up a dent in the right palm rest, even the Super Drive still runs well and now region free :) equally I wouldn't trust the 2011 MBP for anything of importance for obvious reasons.
Screen Shot 2021-04-30 at 12.41.56.png
Q-6
 
Last edited:

Queen6

macrumors G4
@Retromac2008 You could also investigate undervolting the CPU as the cooling system is shared with the AMD dGPU, however again you will need to match the application to the HW & SW version. Apple has subsequently locked this CPU feature on later Mac's and unsure if macOS 10.13.6 will allow such modification.

I also rather strongly suspect that Apple has already reduced the CPU core voltage as my 2011 MBP did throttle heavily when I was using it for work purpose from new up to OS X 10.10, yet now on macOS 10.13.6 and several firmware updates later it now holds a solid 3.1GHz across all cores under full load. Previously it would struggle to hold 2.5GHz with a reduction in CPU core voltage being the most obvious reason.

Q-6
 
Last edited:

Retromac2008

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 9, 2015
209
36
@Retromac2008 You could also investigate undervolting the CPU as the cooling system is shared with the AMD dGPU, however again you will need to match the application to the HW & SW version. Apple has subsequently locked this CPU feature on later Mac's and unsure if macOS 10.13.6 will allow such modification.

I also rather strongly suspect that Apple has already reduced the CPU core voltage as my 2011 MBP did throttle heavily when I was using it for work purpose from new up to OS X 10.10, yet now on macOS 10.13.6 and several firmware updates later it now holds a solid 3.1GHz across all cores under full load. Previously it would struggle to hold 2.5GHz with a reduction in CPU core voltage being the most obvious reason.

Q-6
thanks to your suggestion I downloaded Volta, it seems a very useful program!
 

Queen6

macrumors G4
thanks to your suggestion I downloaded Volta, it seems a very useful program!
Volta can help to reduce the CPU power demand and thermals. If the CPU can maintain maximum frequency under full load stock the gains will be limited IMO although every little helps :)

Volta however will not resolve the underlying issue with the AMD Radeon dGPU which is the real concern and point of premature failure with gSwitch being the most practical solution.

Q-6
 
Last edited:

Queen6

macrumors G4
@Retromac2008 A rather canned reply from back in the day;
I still have a stock 2011 15" MBP in the house so feel I am reasonably well versed; key as others have stated is to keep the GPU as cool as reasonably practicable, equally much will be dependent on your usage/workflow. There are some practical things that can be done to help;

Being an owner & user of the 15" MacBook Pro forever; Over the years the 15" has frequently struggled with its thermals, especially when an external display is connected as the dGPU switches by default, internal temperatures soar, equally there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the systems temperature;

  1. Elevate the rear, aluminium passive coolers generally work best (I use RainDesign's mStand)
  2. Increase base fan RPM to 3K or as much as you are comfortable with (MacsFanControl or SMC Fan Control)
  3. Limit the dGPU's usage with gSwitch or gfxCardStatus (need to verify model & OS compatibility)
  4. Swap out Chrome for Chrome Canary as it`s generally more optimised for OS X and will extend battery run time, reduce thermals (not validated for many a year and I use Safari)
  5. Swap out VLC for Movist as again it's a reduced load on CPU/GPU
  6. Uninstall or block Flash (irrelevant now)
  7. Install an ad blocker AdGuard or Wipr works well
  8. Powered coolers are very much a "mixed bag" when it comes to Mac portables, you need one that has a high capacity (100 CFM minimum) and preferably a large single fan, this can help to keep the 15" internal fans below 4K which for many is good enough as often it's this point and beyond where the fans become intrusive. Don't expect a powered cooler to impact internal temperature, beyond a couple of degrees.
  9. Older notebooks can benefit from cleaning of the cooling system (compressed air cans can damage fans, I use a USB rechargeable blower)
  10. Retina's can benefit from cleaning of the cooling system, as the heat syncs are far smaller and loose efficiency faster, due to build-up of dust (special drive required to open the notebooks base plate)
  11. Replacing the thermal paste has been hit & miss over the years, some with very positive results, some with no improvement at all over stock or worse. Personally I would only do this on a Mac Portable that I can confirm was definitely running considerably hotter than stock. Above all you need to research, as not all TIM is equal, nor suitable for notebook's.
  12. If your MBP has a discrete GPU, it will fire up when an external display is connected as default, temperatures will rise rapidly
  13. Consider a specific vertical stand when using a MPB in "Clamshell" mode allowing for greater circulation of air. Some recommend inverting the MBP in the stand with the exhaust at the top & intake at the bottom (Retina's)
The key to a cooler quieter life with a 15" MacBook Pro is multiple incremental changes that do add up to reduce thermals. From my experience over the years if you're going to push a 15"/16" MBP hard the fans are going to max out fast, with associated temperature & noise. If you're using it with a moderate load life can be made far more tolerable. For the most part your MBP runs hot as that's how Apple designed it, the trade-off for form over, function, thin & light...

The old adage still applies; it's easier to keep the notebook cool, than cool-down an already overly hot & heat-soaked chassis.

This thread may also spread some illumination; Macbook pro late 2011 not starting after GPU failure... There's also links into further threads related to the 15"/17" 2011 etc.

Q-6
 
Last edited:

Queen6

macrumors G4
it is true, in fact it is very rare to find a Macbook with exactly 10 years still in the new box :)
it's a bit of a waste to use it :)
Nah you should hit it hard and see what it can do. My 2011 has delivered from day one to day 4049. They are clearly not all the same, TBH I think the very opposite as sitting in a box for over 10 years is a waste. These machines were designed to be used and used hard...

Q-6
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.