Subcommander Development Blog

MacBook Pro NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT defect…?

with 4 comments

I had a lot to do at work the last couple of weeks that kept me from working on Subcommander. One “distraction” was  a subversion presentation. That’s done now and I thought I would find a few hours  this weekend to work on the Qt proxy model stuff again (see my last blog entry).

But… my MacBook Pro (15″: 2.2GHz) went dark on Friday. Or more exactly the display stayed dark after opening the lid. I retried it several times, close lid, open lid, dark again, sh*t :-(

first thought:


second thougt:

Puh, I did an update to my backup two days ago. At least nothing serious lost so far.  Just a few minor updates to the presentation.

third thought:

Let’s see, when did I buy it? 14 Month ago… no warranty anymore, no Apple Care. Why would I need it anyway? I never had some serious problems with hardware except a couple of dead hard drives (in the dark pc age ;) so far. That’s what are backups for. ARRRGGGGHHHH again.

… what now?

I could hear the disk and I could hear “bump” sounds when tapping on the keyboard. Maybe a broken display? Let’s try an external display. Hmm, dark too, no video.

Googling I found a link to this: “Distorted video or no video issues”. So there is a know issue with the MacBook Pro (MBP) video output. There is something wrong with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT chip.

Next I connected my MBP as an external drive (pressing T when turning it on) through firewire to my old PowerBook. It worked. Puh, the disk was ok, all data there :-)

I knew there was a reason I didn’t sell the PowerBook… ;-) and it still works surprisingly well for email and Internet, although it is dead slow in comparison to the MBP.

Yesterday I went to the Apple shop where I bought the MBP to see how I will get it fixed. Of course the display fired up when the guy started the MBP. That’s what we call “Vorführeffekt” in german, which means something like: It never works when someone’s watching!

After trying it again, the display kept dark and after some more research from his side he agreed that it looks like the known display issue. I took it back home to create a second backup and will hand it over tomorrow for repair.

Today I created a second backup, just in case. Interesting enough the display worked in the morning and I could directly run another backup.

In a forum entry someone suggested to enabled the remote access and connect to the MBP with a VNC client when the display keeps dark again to check ‘Graphics/Displays’ in the System Profiler.

If it correctly shows the 8600M GT chip the problem would be most certainly something else and not the known video issue. If it shows something else it should be the problem with the NVIDIA chip.

When the display worked in the morning I enabled the remote access. The System Profiler properly showed the 8600M GT chip.

Two hours ago it kept dark again. So I connected per VNC and started the System Profiler. Selecting ‘Graphics/Displays’ simply crashes System Profiler. So I guess that is another argument that it is indeed the magic 8600M GT issue.

At least I will get it fixed more or less for free. :-)

I don’t know yet how long it will take to get it back. Unfortunately there will be another few weeks without significant progress on subcommander. :(

Apple Care?

I wonder if I should consider Apple Care the next time? Is it worth it? I guess it is not possible to purchase it for a used MBP? And it adds another few hundred Euros (349€) to the price of the machine.


Written by hauner

Sunday, 1 March, 2009 at 17:31

Posted in Uncategorized

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4 Responses

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  1. Had exactly the same problem and went back to the shop!


    Wednesday, 29 July, 2009 at 01:54

  2. So, I have just gone through this exact same experience…Macbook pro 2.4ghz purchased during the questionable time period with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600 M GT… My Screen even re-appeared once I took it to the Apple service provider. I had it there for testing and they tell me it is not the chip but some other part on the logic board (which they cannot tell me). Mine is also now out of warranty and they are telling me I will have to pay $1300usd to have it fixed.

    I am currently taking it up with apple directly…

    any advice? was yours finally replaced?


    Wednesday, 8 July, 2009 at 15:53

    • Yes, they fixed my machine. I had no problem getting it fixed. Mine wasn’t the first one with that problem.

      The guy in the shop told my they had a software from Apple to check if a machine had a bad nvidia ship or not.

      There is an article at Apple mentioning an increased
      warrenty for machines with the broken graphic chip.

      But this won’t help, if your Apple sevice doesn’t think its the nvidia issue…. :( but that’s hard to believe with this typical screen behavior.


      Friday, 10 July, 2009 at 23:01

    • I’m having the same problem as you, Nathan, but I decided not to get it fixed. While I like the laptop, it just isn’t worth the $1,300 to get it fixed, and I have since bought a new Macbook Pro.


      Saturday, 18 July, 2009 at 07:45

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