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Reader Comment: MacBook Pro running OSX 10.12 has finally had the discrete GPU die... used this machine almost continuously for 10 years

Reader Paul W writes:

My 17" MacBook Pro running OSX 10.12 has finally had the discrete GPU die for the final time. I used this laptop to drive 3 external monitors (1 x 27" imac as thunderbolt display, 1 x hdmi via owc thunderbolt 2 doc, 1 x usb->htmi connector). As well, it had 2 2TB SSD drives installed.

I used this machine almost continuously for 10 years and the death of the GPU is like having both my arms cut off.

Short term, I was able to disable the GPU via these instructions: (http://dosdude1.com/gpudisable/), so I can boot up and use the computer with the laptop display with the integrated graphics, but plugging in the Thunderbolt Dock causes the machine to reboot. Not unexpected as it is trying to use the dedicated GPU.

I'd say that getting 10 years out of that laptop with a known hardware design fault is still quite impressive, but going forward, it's going to be a little tough to choose.

I think I'm now down to two possible choices:

1/ upgrade the 2013 27" imac that I previously used as a display only to be an actual work machine (ram, ssd and possibly cpu). I'm even considering moving the main ssd from the 2011 mbp into the 2013 imac. I think I'll clone the drive and test to see whether it will boot properly.

2/ purchase a refurbished 2015 mbp from OWC. I currently have a refurbed 2015 mbp from OWC, but I've got it comfortably set up at home, and I don't want it to travel and risk damaging it anymore.

Buying a new MacBook Pro is out of the question. I am not thrilled with their unrepairable/un-upgradeable design approach, nor will I want OS newer than 10.14, 10.15 installed. Heck, 10.12 ran perfectly for me and allowed me to use my older creative suite software.

Anyway, just weighing my options at the moment.

Thanks again for all the info you share at macperformanceguide.com. The pain you share is the pain that we can choose to avoid.

MPG: when a macOS “upgrade” becomes a disincentive to the point of dissuading purchase of a new laptop, isn’t something really wrong with the evolution of macOS?

Maximilien Z writes:

You can do gpu reballing, it worked on my 17”, it is about “cooking” at a certain temperature the GPU. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gmny86gll-c

MPG: I have no way of evaluating whether the repair works most of the time, some of the time or rarely, and no time to look into competing claims—readers on on their own here. But maybe a repair shop willing to guarantee its results in writing could be worth a try.

There are other videos on the topic and how to try it yourself. Complete disassembly required in all cases and the idea is the same: get the solder “balls” off the GPU and mount, then use fresh solder.

Wolfgan O writes:

I just read your reader's email about his blown GPU in the 2011 (I assume) 17" MBP.
I have the same MBP and had the same problem twice. Reballing is not a long-term solution as the GPU has often been damaged.

I don't know where your reader is located. But there are companiess like Louis Rossman in NYC. https://www.rossmanngroup.com/

Louis also has a great Youtube channel where he teaches his technique:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl2mFZoRqjw_ELax4Yisf6w

These guys have the knowledge, the equipment and the parts to replace the GPU. And the price is reasonable if you want to keep using your Mac. I had the GPU replaced twice in my computer. First time was in 2015 and the 2nd time was in 2020.

So mine lasted for five years and when it blew for the 2nd time i had it repaired just because I had such a productive time with the it in the past years.

As a replacement, I would not only recommend the 15" MBP from 2015, but also the late 2013 and 2014 models.

If you are planning to install Mojave for example, then you are out of luck with the 2011 models with discrete GPU, as the afore mentioned “dosdude1” explains:
http://dosdude1.com/mojave/#known_issues

Just wanted to share these infos in hope they help others.

DIGLLOYD: good advice above, I’d think: lots of work in volved, might as well put in a brand-new GPU chip.

However and without disagreeing, I don’t understand how a damaged GPU can work correctly and then fail other than the idea of it being weak and subject to failure.

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