I Feel like I’m Sitting on a Time Bomb

Apple’s 15″ Early 2011 MacBook Pros have some serious problems…

macbook pro 15 inch (2011)

I’ve been writing since 1997, but for the longest time I wrote on whatever laptop the office gave me.  After things started to get serious, I bought my own laptop – a Dell Latitude C610 – and was very happy for a very long time.  I purchased my first 15″ MacBook Pro in early 2006 (one of the first Intel-based MacBooks) and as Windows was my platform of choice at the time, used it as a Windows machine via Boot Camp. I finally made the full switch over to OS X in mid-2010, just before I bought a new, Early 2011 15″ MacBook Pro to replace the 13″ Late early 2009 Aluminum Unibody MacBook I had purchased.  The only way I run Windows on a Mac now is with Parallels Desktop for Mac.

I really like my Early 2011 MacBook Pro.  It’s sturdy.  It’s solid. It’s (generally) well built. It’s also end user upgradable… one of the last models of Apple’s professional laptop line to really be end user upgradable, too.

When I ordered it, I got it with the high-end processor, but minimal RAM and the smallest, slowest hard drive they had. The idea was that I could upgrade those components over the course of a few years, and bring extended value and life to what was then – and now – a very large purchase.  I also did NOT purchase Apple Care.  While it does provide you with a few key service upgrades – as well as the extended warranty period – the equipment is so well built, that I didn’t use it on either of the previous TWO MacBooks I had purchased; and thought, after buying the high end model, that I’d save myself $350 bucks.

Unfortunately, I feel like I’m sitting on a time bomb.

The notebook should last at LEAST another 5 or so years without breaking, provided I continue to baby it as I do. It’s in near mint condition, with only very minor wear, despite being upgraded from 4GB to 8GB, then 12GB and then finally 16GB of RAM.  I’ve also left the very slow, 5400RPM 500GB HDD behind for a couple different, faster (though smaller) SSD’s.

The big problem with the Early 2011 MacBook Pro, however is its built-in discrete AMD video card.  They’re failing.  In fact, there are stories all over the place about how the cards are taking notebooks out, out of nowhere.  The graphics boards are failing, making the computers unbootable. Those WITH Apple Care have been able to get the effected logic boards replaced and in most cases that’s fixed the issue; but with Apple’s 3yr Apple Care extended warranty deadline fast approaching, that may be an issue going forward, as it doesn’t always provide a permanent fix.

Some people have been able to “fix” the issue with
·    Restarting in Safe Mode
·    Resetting NVRAM/PRAM
·    Rebooting to single user mode and performing an fsck to check and repair corrupted files
·    Forcing the computer to use the Intel integrated graphics
·    Complete clean installs of OS X

Unfortunately, none of these have had any lasting success, either. Some work for a while.  Other methods initially resolve the problem, but it very quickly returns. Once you “wear out” your options, most systems become inoperable and unusable. I haven’t bumped into this yet; but it’s just a matter of time from what I’ve read in the HUGELY documented forums.

The fix is hit or miss; and there’s no standing order with Apple to replace the part.  Apple has yet to officially respond. As such, a petition has been started at Change.org. The document calls the graphics issue a “manufacturing defect;” and is addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Software Engineering SVP Craig Federighi. It requires 5000 signatures; and as of this writing, it still needed over 1500 signatures before it can be presented to Apple for some kind of response.

Again, while I don’t have the problem at this point, I feel like it’s just a matter of time before I will.  There’s too much documentation out there about this issue; and your MacBook can begin exhibiting symptoms regardless of how well you treat the device. It’s obvious that there is ample evidence that the issue is legitimate and needs to be addressed by Apple either via logic board replacement or complete device replacement. I spent almost $3000 on the PC not three years ago, and at that price point, with the computer’s high build quality reputation, it should last at least another 3-5 years without exhibiting any issues. It’s not unusual for Macs to last 8-10 years before NEEDING to be replaced.

When the average Windows PC costs about 1/6th of what this PC cost placing that level of expectation on the device isn’t unreasonable. I’m not rich or affluent. This was a business expense for me; and is the key to keeping my business going. I can’t drop $3 grand on a new computer on a whim, especially when the one I have should have at least 3-5 more years of value left in it.

I’d like to respectfully ask Mr. Cook and Mr. Federighi to do the right thing here and issue a recall on these, regardless of whether or not the original purchaser bought Apple Care with their Early 2011 MacBook Pro. This is a high-end piece of equipment; and I really do feel like I’m sitting on a time bomb that could go off at any moment, without warning.  At 6x the price of the average competing device, it’s not unreasonable to expect the product to last 6 to 8 years or more.

Are you a Mac?  Did you buy an Early 2011 MacBook Pro like I did?  Is yours giving you problems? Did you have the logic board in it replaced?  Did the problems return after you had it fixed? I’d love to hear from you. Please join me in the comment section below, and tell me about your experience.

Regardless of whether you participate in the discussion, below, please also remember to visit Change.org and sign the petition.

Related Posts:

The New Mac Pro Doesn’t do Windows 7

If you’re looking at running Windows 7 via Boot Camp, you’re not going to do it with the new Mac Pro.

I’ve heard (generally) nothing but praise from those Mac Pro users who have finally been able to get their hands on one of these highly anticipated and highly coveted computers from Cupertino’s Apple. Once received and setup, the newly redesigned Mac Pro is said to deliver top computing performance in a very small and chic package.

nowin7

One of the best things about any Intel based Mac is that it natively runs just about any desktop operating system you throw at it. With the right tools, you can likely make it triple-boot OS X, Linux AND Windows…though, not Windows 7.  Apple has surprisingly ended Windows 7 support on their newest, flagship desktop computer.  If users want to install Windows on their Mac Pro, it’s going to have to be a version of Windows 8.x or later.  Boot Camp drivers for their newer hardware won’t be Windows 7 compatible.

The change was originally discovered by Mac developer Twocanoes and later confirmed by Apple. Users who will be moving to the Mac Pro will either need to upgrade to Windows 8, migrate their Windows 7 based Boot Camp partition to a VM package like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, or will need to forego use of the Mac Pro and choose another Mac. Windows 8’s lack of popularity and low adoption rates have made Windows 7 a much more attractive choice in the enterprise where the touch based systems Windows 8 is really intended for, have generally not appeared.

Apple has chosen the Mac Pro as the first computer that will not support Windows 7. It’s logical to assume that future systems will also lack support for earlier versions of Windows.  Apple stopped supporting Windows XP and Windows Vista in 2011.

Apple’s discontinuation of Windows 7 Boot Camp support this early in the Windows 8 life cycle, at least in my mind, is a bit of a surprise. Windows 8 is vastly unpopular, even with traditional Microsoft supporters. I’m certain many consumer users will either stick with Windows 7 or wait until Windows 9 – currently codenamed Threshold – is released before making a decision to abandon Windows 7 for a more current version.  Enterprise OS lifecycles are usually, very elongated, and I don’t expect any IT department to leave Windows 7 behind – heck, many IT departments are just now migrating off Windows XP and on to Windows 7 – any time soon. The fact that Apple has discontinued support for Windows 7 and earlier just means they don’t want to deal with the OS mess that Microsoft let out of Redmond any longer than they absolutely have to.

Do you have a Mac that you run Windows on via Boot Camp? Does Apple’s discontinuation of Windows 7 support negatively impact you and the way you work with your Mac?  Can you move your Windows install to either Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion?  I’d love to know what you think of this interesting development. Why don’t you join me in the discussion, below and give me your thoughts?

Related Posts:

Apple Support for Boot Camp – You’re on Your Own

I am developing a very serious problem with Apple’s support position when it comes to Boot Camp and Windows – You’re on your own.  Really..??

I bought my first Mac in December of 2006. In fact, I bought my Mac at that time to BE a Windows machine, largely because the hardware was so wonderful. Boot Camp was still in beta at that point, and it wasn’t very well put together at the time. Many of the features provided by Mac drivers were not supported on the Boot Camp side. Quite frankly, it was a mess.

Today, Boot Camp 4.0 is solid, well put together; and it runs Windows 7, 32bit or 64bit without much need for heavy lifting from the end user, especially on Apple’s more current Mac models. Many people are using it to run Windows, either as a primary or secondary partition on their Macs, again, because the hardware is perhaps, the best in the industry.

Case in point, my mother has a Late 2009 15″ MacBook Pro. Her chosen OS is Windows, and she’s running Windows 7 32bit on a Boot Camp 4.0 partition on her Mac.  Its recently developed some booting issues, and as she has Apple Care I recommended that she take it to her local Apple Store for assistance in troubleshooting her problem.

The Genius at the Genius Bar refused to help her, stating that Apple doesn’t provide assistance with Windows.  This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this with either my parent’s Macs, my Mac or with other Apple Customer’s supported, under Apple Care Macs; and quite frankly, it’s WRONG.

Windows is a mess…however, there are really only so many different ways to run Windows on an Intel-powered Mac: via virtual machine (Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion) and Boot Camp.

Both Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion are Mac apps, and Apple will generally help you insure that you’ve got the apps setup right, and at least configured correctly so that your Mac has the best chance of running Windows correctly.  This is largely due to the fact that both Parallels Desktop and Fusion have most of their heavy lifting due by a Mac operating system.

The other way to run Windows on a Mac is natively through a Boot Camp partition, using Apple’s provided Boot Camp drivers for all of the included hardware.  While Windows may have some of the drivers in its driver cache, it doesn’t and won’t have all of them.  You’ll need Boot Camp for some of the hardware, like the Bluetooth radio, iSight web cam, keyboard backlight, etc.

I get that Apple doesn’t want to support Windows or troubleshoot all of the myriad problems that may crop up on any Mac running Windows. I TOTALLY get it; and I agree and don’t blame them…sort of.

Apple needs to alter their stance and provide installation and start-up support.  Most of the problems with Windows on Macs comes as either an installation issue or as a startup/driver based issue.  Anything else other than that is likely due to registry issues due to installed or uninstalled software.

I can see Apple declining to support the performance or other issues, post setup or startup. Windows isn’t their OS, and there’s too much a user can do to mess things up. It’s very easy to mess up a Windows installation, too.  However, for someone like my mother, a senior citizen who has little to no computer savvy, the guy at the Genius Bar should have at least confirmed for her that her hardware was fine, and that Windows could startup. All he did was boot the Mac side and send her on her way.  No other troubleshooting or diagnostics were done. My mother was in the store less than 30 minutes.

That…isn’t cool.

There’s no way that simply booting to the Mac side of the world could have determined that the hard drive wasn’t having issues, or that perhaps Boot Camp created the partition incorrectly.  I’m not infallible, perhaps the Boot Camp drivers weren’t installed correctly when I initially built the Windows partition…that’s likely not the case, but the Genius wouldn’t know that, and didn’t take the time to find out.

I don’t have a problem troubleshooting things long distance for any of my relatives, especially when they can send me their computer, but for an older, non-computer savvy customer with active Apple Care on their Mac…I expected a heck of a lot more; and you should too.

Boot Camp is a legitimate part of OS X.  Apple needs to stop treating it and its users like a red-haired step child and provide them with the same level of support they provide for all of their other paying customers.

I’m just sayin’…

Related Posts:

Stay in touch with Soft32

Soft32.com is a software free download website that provides:

121.218 programs and games that were downloaded 237.780.356 times by 402.775 members in our Soft32.com Community!

Get the latest software updates directly to your inbox

Find us on Facebook