NVIDIA Graphics Firmware Defect on ALL 2008 / 2009 MacBook Pro!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by SMGreenfield, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. SMGreenfield macrumors newbie

    SMGreenfield

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2008
    Location:
    Glendale, CA
    #1
    According to my discussion with Apple today, the long-standing flashing / scrolling graphics defect present in thousands of MacBook Pros includes ALL machines produced with the NVIDIA 8600GT chip, as well as the unibody MacBook Pros with the NVIDIA 9600MGT / 9400M chip.

    I first reported the problem a few days after getting my MacBook Pro 17" in March of 2008. That's nearly TEN MONTHS AGO!

    At first, it appeared this defect might be related to the defective NVIDIA chip problem. But I've had two motherboards swapped out, and the defect remains.

    The defect typically shows up AFTER users have woken from SLEEP mode when on battery. It is triggered for some users by a combination of Quartz-enabled applications and trackpad operations, such as two finger scrolling.

    There's a relatively easy way to see if this is the defect you're experiencing: Using the FREE "Quartz Debug" utility, available as part of Apple's Xcode download, select TOOLS > DISABLE QUARTZ EXTREME. The defects will go away, along with any speedy graphics performance you might have been enjoying. Once Quartz Extreme is disabled, try dragging a window with Quartz Compositing (like a Finder window) and you'll find it barely moves.

    Restarting your computer will typically correct the problem -- for a while.

    Hoping to find out if there was ANY MacBook Pro hardware immune to the problem, I queried AppleCare product specialists today, who consulted MacBook engineering. They indicated that ALL MacBook Pros from 2008 THROUGH 2009, including the new Unibody MacBook Pros, have this defect. They said the defect was related to the NVIDIA firmware, which was the same firmware used in the 8600GT, 9600MGT, and 9400M.

    Why some users are affected and other aren't has been a long-standing mystery.

    For a brief period, OS X 10.5.5 APPEARED to "correct" the bug, but for some users the bug did not go away. It has been universally reported (for example on Apple's Discussion boards) that 10.5.6 BROKE this particular "fix", causing thousands of users to suddenly see the defect again.

    In the end, I'm confident Apple will "get it right" -- they usually do. But ten months is an awfully long time to go with such a significant defect.

    Anyone else have any information on this issue?
     
  2. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

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    Sep 4, 2006
  3. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Location:
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    #4
    Didn't they just come out with an nvidia cards today? I noticed my cursor kept jumping when it was connected to an external monitor, and the geniuses either tried to blame either my monitor and/or my state of mental health.

    Applied the patch earlier, and voila (or is it voici, eh, screw it), the cursor quit doing it!
     
  4. SMGreenfield thread starter macrumors newbie

    SMGreenfield

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2008
    Location:
    Glendale, CA
    #5
    A clarification:

    This issue is NOT related to the defective NVIDIA chips produced last year.

    If this is old news to some, I post it because as recently as today a user added to their thread (here on MacRumors) inquiring about this very issue. In most case, I do not see any response which accurately described what is -- or is not -- the cause or solution to the problem.

    What's news to me is that this defect was NOT related to the NVIDIA manufacturing defect, and affected ALL MacBook Pros, including the Unibody MacBook Pros.

    I do not believe the NVIDIA graphics update has anything to do with this issue, but rather addresses a SEPARATE issue.
     
  5. Stang68 macrumors 6502a

    Stang68

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Location:
    USA
    #6
    This is happening to my new 15" unibody MBP, too. The screen flickers every few minutes. It is very annoying and I am worried it will have a lasting effect on my laptop.
     
  6. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Location:
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    #7
    Forgot to mention, applied the patch, and Safari seemed snappier! ;)
     
  7. MrZebra macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    #8
    We should all send feedback to apple about this. I did several times.
     
  8. ledzep37 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    #9
    File A Bug

    Since it appears that this is a software (or firmware) issue, everyone who is having trouble with this should file a bug report with all relevant information at:

    http://bugreport.apple.com (you will need a free ADC membership)
     
  9. Sherman90 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    #10
    Has anybody downloaded and installed the latest NVidia firmware update that's showing up in software update?

    I'm not sure what it's aiming to correct; I still notice some flickering.
     
  10. night drop macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    #11
    NVIDIA Graphics Firmware Problem

    Well, I received my Late 2008 Unibody (2.53 GHz, 4G RAM, 320GB) on Jan 17, I had no problems or complaints with anything until I tried playing a video game on my Windows XP partition. (Using the 9600 settings)

    I'm not a big gamer, but when I tried playing "Brothers in Arms Road to Hill 30" (on my Windows XP side) I was initially very impressed with the way it handled the graphics in default mode, everything was very clear and performed great with no lag until about 8 minutes into it when I got the black screen and stuck, cycling audio. I had to reboot, I tried decreasing all the settings until I got to the point where I'm looking at 840 X 480 screen resolution and all the settings are on low. This didn't help, it freezes up in a few minutes, on 3 occasions I've gotten the Blue Screen of Death.

    From reading posts on this forum and others I find that others are playing games that are theoretically much more strenuous on the GPU than what I'm attempting. So I went and tried an older game; Ghost Recon from 2001 whose minimum requirements ( 450 MHz proc, 128MB system RAM) are much less (I could play that with no problem on my old 2001 1.0GHz Toshiba Satellite with 512 of RAM and the stock Graphics chips-whatever that was) just to see how it would perform and I'm sorry to report that I've had the same issues.

    From the specs I don't see any reason why the MBP couldn't at least handle Ghost Recon.

    A lot of research on various forums, reveals that there are others having similar problems as me. There is one long thread on an INVIDIA forum that started in February when the 9600 was released, it is still going on with no definitive resolution.

    Over there they are talking about flashing BIOS, editing BIOS settings, reclocking and things like that which don't seem to fix everyone's problems. In any case I would hope there are simpler resolutions than those.

    I downloaded the NVIDIA driver update that was offered on the Apple site yesterday but that didn't help any. To reiterate I've had no other visual/graphics problems playing DVD's, YouTube or surfing the web, it is the the gaming part that kills it.

    Although I could probably live without gaming my concern is that I've got a bum chip that is destined to fail shortly. Should I take this into the shop or wait for some word from NVIDIA for some sort of firmware upgrade or similar assistance?

    Any insight is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Kevin
     
  11. darwinian macrumors 6502a

    darwinian

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Location:
    In R4, more or less
    #12
    I am trying to understand what the problem is. While I may try and reproduce the "contrived" example above, what should I be looking for in daily usage that would exhibit this problem?
     
  12. Warranty Voider macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2008
    Location:
    Maine, US
    #13
    I got my unibody MBP and immediately noticed the scrambled text and flickering flash animations. I went to the genius bar a couple weeks ago and complained, but he didn't believe me because I could replicate it. I went again two days ago and I still couldn't replicate it and what do ya know, it was the same genius who had remembered me from last time. I've called applecare 3 times now, and each time, they say that my NVIDIA chip isn't one of the "bad" ones in the previous gen MBP. Sometimes it's frustrating when you're smarter than the people trying to help you.
     
  13. winninganthem macrumors 6502a

    winninganthem

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    #14
    I've had all the issues you were talking about with my Penryn MBP.

    10.5.5 seemed to stop the Quartz issues, but they resurfaced with 10.5.6. I kept it on 10.5.6 and just decided to live with it. I kept the computer on for about 3 days straight, sleeping it at night, and for some reason, the problem disappeared. :eek::confused:

    I no longer have scrolling defects or white artifacts in Flash videos after waking from sleep. The machine has been running for 17 days now, and I have not encountered any issues since day 3.

    This is pretty weird, but for the time being, I consider myself lucky. In the meantime, I'm afraid that resetting will mess things up again, so I won't reset unless I absolutely need to. :p

    I wonder what will happen when I reset the system. I'll let you know the results.
     
  14. winninganthem macrumors 6502a

    winninganthem

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    #15
    A little update on my previous post:

    I just reset my system last night (after 22 days on with no graphics defects) and after reawakening it from sleep, the dreaded boxed artifacts and screen tearing while scrolling have returned.

    Maybe they'll go away again.

    Very weird.

    Update(30 minutes later):
    And... it's gone now. Weird. I'm happy it's gone, but this is weird lol.
     
  15. MrZebra macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    #16
    Exactly, this is the bug I'm experiencing as well on my penryn macbook pro.
    I hope that they'll eventually find a way to sort this out.
     
  16. Illinoisbmx macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    #17
    Is this a problem that is going to have a long term affect on my new computer, sorry I'm a mac newbie, just got it, love it. I haven't had any of these blinking effects or anything, and I bought my machine on Jan 6, this year. Thanks.
     
  17. winninganthem macrumors 6502a

    winninganthem

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    #18
    If you haven't experienced anything yet, then I wouldn't worry about it. Besides, Apple has already extended its warranty for bad video cards, so that's always a good thing.

    As for my system, the issue seems to be incredibly intermittent. One moment everything's fine, another moment there's glitches, but overall the system is still very usable. Eh, I'll just deal with it. Since all of this returned with 10.5.6, it's probably a software issue, so at the very least I don't need to be too worried about it being hardware failure.
     
  18. Illinoisbmx macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    #19
    Thanks for the reply, what you said sounds right to me.
     
  19. MBHockey macrumors 68040

    MBHockey

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Location:
    New York
    #20
    I'm still waiting for my 2007 MBP to show this behavior, but so far so good! I'm quite surprised that the problem still lingers in the new MBPs though...why weren't they able to iron this out? This is a pretty bad bug!
     
  20. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    近畿日本
  21. satrycon macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    Location:
    singapore
    #22
    funny thing...the re-sellers here refused to comment on the many reports of the 9400/9600 issues on the unibody MBP 15".. when i asked them if there might be a problem on the 17" nvidia cards as well and that's why shipping might be delayed ?

    BUT our in house engineer spoke to a friend of his at apple HQ se asia..and that guy verbally confirmed that they KNOW about this problem with the nvidia chips and are trying to find a solution and that's why the deliveries are delayed...so i tot id try canceling my order that i placed on the 29th of jan and the apple reseller says they cannot cancel cos its a customized model etc..i looked up returns policies on the apple Singapore site it says >22. Custom-Configured Product

    We are pleased to offer product that is custom-configured to your specifications, and we encourage you to review your order carefully.
    Since the product is built to your specifications, the order cannot be changed, modified or canceled once your order has been prepared for shipment.

    http://store.apple.com/Catalog/Singa...rrighttoreturn

    i fwded this to apple in se asia.. cos there is no way in **** that the 17" i ordered on the 29th of jan is ready for shipment .. and of course they ignored my email.

    WEIRD huh ?
     
  22. MrZebra macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
  23. philips macrumors regular

    philips

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Location:
    Baden-Württemberg, Germany
    #24
    Well, that's how many hardware problems manifest themselves. Normally such problems are already debugged in the lab - long before production starts.

    Yet, if due to whatever bug (mostly documentation defect) some wire cannot support required current or some filters are not sufficient, then you'd have such problems. Or some errors in firmware when applying some timing parameters.

    I'm software guy - can't go in details. Yet in my line of work - embedded/system developer - I have seen a number of such defects. They are also often influenced by environment, like temperature and humidity (change resistance and capacity), what can serve as an explanation why it sometimes works OK - sometimes not.
     
  24. MarkSTi04 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    Illinois Side of St. Louis, MO
    #25
    Is there a sensor on the unibody MBP for changing light to adjust the screen brightness automaticly? I don't remember reading about a feature like that. Is this associated with the above topic or a different one?
     

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