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Bad Nvidia GPU Show Up in MacBook Pros

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 12 comments

Hardly late breaking news regarding the defective Nvidia mobile chips in MacBook Pros. Nvidia originally assured Apple that its Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT based MacBook Pros had narrowly averted the defect – Apple now counters back saying it was actually not so lucky.

"In July 2008, Nvidia publicly acknowledged a higher than normal failure rate for some of their graphics processors due to a packaging defect. At that same time, Nvidia assured Apple that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected. However, after an Apple-led investigation, Apple has determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor may be affected. If the Nvidia graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within two years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty."

Units that are potentially affected are 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro notebooks containing Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT GPUs built within a rather large time-frame window, between May 2007 and September 2008. Apple has advised that customers should look for “distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen” or “no video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on.” Although these issues could also be caused due to other issues that are non-related, Apple is instructing those who believe they are affected by the actual issue to take their notebooks to Apple stores or authorized service providers. Apple has also stated that they will reimburse those customers that have already paid for repairs related to this specific issue.

As HotHardware had reported back in August, it was becoming quite apparent from the flood of comments on Apple’s own user forums that MacBook Pros were in fact suffering from the same problems as notebooks from other manufacturers using Nvidia mobile GPUs. It is not known at this time if the same issue for Apple was more difficult to deal with, or if Apple just spent more time with due diligence.

Nvidia had publicly admitted back on July 2nd of this year that “certain notebook configurations with GPUs and MCPs manufactured with a certain die/packaging material set are failing in the field at higher than normal rates.”. As a result of this the company had announced that it would “take a one-time charge from US150 million to US$200 million against cost of revenue for the second quarter to cover anticipated warranty, repair, return, replacement and other costs and expenses arising from a weak die/packaging material set in certain version of its previous generation GPU and MCP products used in notebook systems.”

For the record, on October 14th (Next Tuesday), Apple will be holding a media event titled “ The spotlight turns to notebooks .” Apple is expected to announce new notebook models. Rumors and speculation point to less expensive notebook models (sub $800 range) and new MacBook Pros with more advanced GPUs either from ATI or Nvidia that are capable of running modern 3D games. ATI or Nvidia? Guess we will just have to wait and see.

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  • 3 Hide
    razor512 , October 10, 2008 11:22 PM
    I wonder what happens to the users data after they send it into apple to be replaced?
  • 5 Hide
    kyeana , October 10, 2008 11:28 PM
    owned!
  • 3 Hide
    LoboBrancoTimido , October 11, 2008 12:02 AM
    That must hurt somebody, not me for sure!
  • 5 Hide
    computerninja7823 , October 11, 2008 12:31 AM
    lol thats funny...mac just got hit...
  • 1 Hide
    dieseldre2k , October 11, 2008 12:40 AM
    mac isnt the only one to get hit. obviously nividia loses even more credibility with both apple and the consumer
  • 0 Hide
    Houndsteeth , October 11, 2008 12:51 AM
    This affects several notebook models, not just Apple. Apple is just learning the hard way that when you start using commidty hardware, you get bitten hard just like all the other integrators out there. Glad to see they decided to take the high road on this and have left the door open for their customers to get repairs for free and reimburse those customers who already paid for theirs. It's more than what most other manufacturers will do.
  • 3 Hide
    nukemaster , October 11, 2008 2:27 AM
    kami3kIt's not like apple sued a school or anything....

    LOL

    On the upside at least they are taking care of the problem.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 11, 2008 4:28 AM
    I have a 256mb Geforce 8600GT on my desktop. It also seems to have the bug! It is a PNY Verto brand. quote from part of the article:

    “distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_display ” or “no video on the computer screen (or external display) even though the computer is on

    After playing Unreal Tournament III for an extended period of time (a couple hrs or so) the screen will start to scramble. Even when i exit the game the distortion is still present. I've tried UNDERclocking the card to see if that helps and no luck. I wonder if this is tied to the constant errors I used to get that caused games to lock up and freeze... I forget the exact error message but it had something to do with the vga divice has stopped responded error.

    and not being able to apply AA above 4x is still a problem. and as far as AF goes, no matter what i set, i really don't see any difference.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 11, 2008 8:46 AM
    I have been plagued by the same issues described in the Apple release.

    But I have a GS7900 on my desktop.

    I can't help to think that maybe, just maybe, NVIDIA might hide the extent of the issue. If this turns out to be true, rest assured that my next card will not be NVIDIA.

    What troubles me, is that the communication policy they applied with APPLE, just reinforced the suspicion.

    Off course, APPLE might also want to get away with more than this specific NIVIDA issue, everything seems possible nowadays.
  • 0 Hide
    caskachan , October 11, 2008 9:33 AM
    Gateway Pcs Sold here in mexico with the MCP 6100 Nvidia 430 IGP comonly known as Gf6100 Am2 socket suffer from the defect, as a WHOLE shipment of pcs fail to properly function whenever 3d acceleration comes in use, Several drivers versions where tried and all is narrowed down to the Nvidia IGP sams club has been refunding money for these specific pc's and is selling them as business only (not for gaming)
  • 0 Hide
    jerreece , October 11, 2008 5:58 PM
    This doesn't bode well for nVidia. Not only is ATI beating them out for their latest generation of cards, but now they're facing this issue. :( 

    I've always been an nVidia fan (not fanboy), but of late they've been a little disappointing. Considering their 9 series cards really aren't much more than their 8 series cards.
  • 0 Hide
    vladtepes , October 12, 2008 3:53 AM
    Too bad for Apple, you should have gone for ATI as usual