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tastywheat

BSOD on a Macbook Pro?

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Hey Atomic, been a while.

 

I've hit an issue with my late 2011 17" Macbook Pro, and was wondering if anyone here had some advice.

 

Shortly after updating to 10.9.4 (which is likely coincidental), I experience a crash, where the screen froze and all input was unresponsive. Restarting resulted in the computer hanging on a grey screen after the Apple logo came and went. Trying to enter safe mode resulted in a blue screen with no writing, sometimes with black pinstripes. I reset the PRAM, entered recovery mode and fixed disk permissions, and everything was back to normal.

 

Another crash occurred a week later. Attempting the same remedy failed, where whenever I attempted to enter Recovery Mode, AHT or safe mode, a blue screen, sometimes with black pin stripes, would come up. After a number of attempts, recovery mode loaded properly. I repaired disk permissions, and it was back to normal. Both times there were a few things that were repaired, the only one I took note of was GPURestartReporter.

 

A few more days went past without issues, then I got some weird graphics artefacts while using Chrome yesterday. There was a digital mess, then my desktop came back with everything offset to the left, with the former left side of the screen wrapped round to the right hand side. Restarting presented the same issue after Chrome had opened/restarted. Quitting Chrome and restarting resolved the issue.

 

Later that night, the screen froze, and the start-up issues reoccurred. The previous solution is not working. Booting into Single User Mode works, and I was able to repair disk permissions using:

/usr/libexec/repair_packages --repair --standard-pkgs
Around the same number of issues from previous runs were repaired, but I'm not certain. However, this time, the issue was not resolved, which makes me wonder if disk permissions were the issue, or if it was just a coincidence.

 

AHT using the traditional 'D' on start up doesn't work, but 'option-D' does. The simple hardware test passes, extended hardware test throws up 4MEM/62/40000000 0x84a61098 at 19 mins 16 secs. A bit of Googling revealed that this is a ram issue. I'm using 3rd Party G.Skill ram specified for Mac use. I've reseated the ram, and tried every combination of modules and slots. All variations result in the same error, which suggests a faulty memory controller. However, I'm not sure if this is conclusive, as support forums are full of users getting similar errors with 3rd party ram, without experiencing any issues.

 

I think I've confirmed it's a hardware issue by attempting to boot Linux from a USB stick. Using 'ISO-2-USB EFI-Booter for Mac 0.01 beta' and 'Ubuntu 14.04 x64 MAC' it loads the RAMdisk, but hangs on the 'OK, fasten your seat belts now, we are booting the kernel' message.

 

While there's no indication that it's causing the issue, it's worth mentioning that I've swapped the DVD drive for an OptiBay HDD, to create a Fusion Drive with an additional SSD.

 

This is the first serious issue I've had with a Mac, and after previously owning two systems with zero problems, I became complacent about purchasing Apple Care. Shallow research suggests that a logic board replacement is going to cost me $1000+, and it's not something I can purchase the parts for and do myself, as Apple don't make them available to non-authorised dealers.

 

I'm fairly sure my machine is dead, but if anyone has any suggestions on what else I could try, I would be most grateful. Everything is backed up, so I haven't lost any work, but it's still a bit sad to have my primary machine fail after ~30 months of flawless use.

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Considering macs use x86 (x64) hardware now, can we rely on normal boot disks?

 

If so, memtest that sucker. Despite my first port of call ALWAYS being ram, my gut just says that permission errors and bad system files at the same time cant have much else in common with each other.

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Considering macs use x86 (x64) hardware now, can we rely on normal boot disks?

 

If so, memtest that sucker. Despite my first port of call ALWAYS being ram, my gut just says that permission errors and bad system files at the same time cant have much else in common with each other.

Unfortunately while the hardware is the same, Apple's EFI system means normal boot disks generally don't work. It looks like there might be some hacks to get memtest to run, so I'll give it a try, but it seems you need a working OSX system in order to be able to configure the EFI to boot it from USB, and my machine doesn't have a CD drive.

Edited by tastywheat

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I stand corrected. Memtest boots via USB without issue with a drive formatted on a Windows machine. Thanks for the suggestion MS, I'm running the test now.

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0 memory errors from Memtest. Further research suggests it might be a manufacturing fault related to the discrete graphics card, with thousands of other users experiencing the same:

 

http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/01/16/...-system-crashes

 

Bummer. Screenshot in that article match exactly what happened to mine, and the Apple support thread is flooded with users describing identical problems.

 

I've emailed JB Hifi with a statutory warranty claim, which will hinge on the 'expected lifetime' of the product. JB's guidelines suggest 2 years for laptops over $1000, but make it clear that "Alternative remedies may be available subject to individual circumstances for breaches of the Consumer Guarantees". I paid $2776, which might put it into a 'premium' category from the ACCC perspective. The ATO suggests that it should last at least 3 years. I'm expecting a shitfight...

Edited by tastywheat

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Shitfight averted. JB were actually very helpful, and while they did try to try to test my knowledge of the ACL (potentially fucking up by telling me I should go to Apple), eventually they agreed to check for the issue, and perform a repair if the manufacturing fault is confirmed.

Edited by tastywheat

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Nice!

How intriguing.

Ive often had the unpopular opinion of longer term product testing, using the public.

Sell near cost, to the first 100 customers of each store, then 3 months later, release the full bug free product. It'd work, it'd just cause consumer frustration for those that didnt understand WHY its being done.

 

keep us updated! I'd love to hear what the can\cant confirm and what their solution is.

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PM the serial if you want and I'll check for engineering notices.

Thanks for the offer mudjimba, PM sent.

Edited by tastywheat

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Radio silence unfortunately. I'll give them till the end of next week (4 weeks in total), then unfortunately I'll need to buy a new machine regardless. It was my work machine, and although I can't really afford it at the moment, it's getting to the point where I'm more disadvantaged through lost income than what it would have cost to have it professionally repaired at the beginning.

 

Lesson learned I guess, I'll be sure to get Apple Care next time - particularly if it's a work machine.

Edited by tastywheat

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I received a phone call today from a JB employee asking for ~$1260 in order to proceed with the repair. Apparently, there was no note that it was an ACL claim, and he didn't have the necessary authorisation to take it any further. I'll have to go into the store tomorrow to talk with the manager.

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Logic board fault was confirmed by repair agent, repair costs $1,298. The manager at the local JB Hi-Fi withdraw the previous offer to repair the problem, now stating the the item is too old, and therefore not their responsibility. He was courteous and professional about it, but from my perspective, it broke a previous promise JB Hi-F- had made to me, and was in violation of ACL. Of particular concern is that they had received the quote from the repair agent 18 days ago, but had not passed it onto to me until yesterday.

 

As calmly as I could, I confirmed that he understood the situation, and that I would be registering an ACCC complaint if the commitment was not honoured. He went back to the 2012 'Understanding Your Rights' document (which doesn't cover my purchase made in 2011), and argued there was no difference between the expected lifetime of a $1000 Acer laptop, and a $2776 Apple laptop, and reminded me it was my responsibility to purchase extended warranties. Fair point with the extended warranty, but there's legal precedent (S v W&N Ltd, 2010 link) that a laptop which fails after 2 years and 11 months is not of acceptable quality.

 

In their 'Understanding Your Rights' document, JB Hi-Fi ask customers to contact them to lodge a dispute over an ACL claim. I want this resolved as soon as possible, so I decided to give it a go before involving the ACCC. I put together a timeline, and stated my case as factually as I could, with documents to support each statement. I also notified them of my intention to claim compensation, due to lost productivity and income, based on ACCC guidelines.

 

Within 30 minutes of sending the email, I received a call from a regional manager. He made it clear that he needed to confirm the details with the store manager, and that this should not stop me from going to the ACCC if that was my intention, but that my email indicated that my experience had not met JB Hi-Fi expectations for customer service, and that he wanted to find a generous resolution to the problem as soon as possible. He provided a direct line to contact him on, and said he would call back this afternoon or tomorrow.

 

Not quite sure what that means, but maybe they'll replace the machine with something of equivalent specification? With a $1,298 repair cost, I guess it might work out cheaper for the business - especially if they can write the costs off on insurance, or pass them onto Apple. Either way, I just want something that functions ASAP, so I can catch up on work.

Edited by tastywheat

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Would you be happy with a $1300 replacement? I'm not familiar enough with the mac range to know if you'd get something comparable to what you have, or if that'd end up being the option of a big discount on purchasing a new device that was up to spec.

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I use the machine for CFD analysis (aerodynamic modelling), which needs a discrete graphics card to accelerate computation using OpenCL. It's possible the new Iris Pro integrated graphics (found in 13" Retina Macbooks) would be comparable, but I would need to check this out before accepting one as replacement. So $1,300, at retail prices, would probably not be enough to purchase a machine I would be happy with.

 

However, under ACL, they have a responsibility to replace it with a machine of equivalent specifications if the issue is 'major'. If no equivalent exists, then they need to provide something that exceeds the faulty product's specifications. There is a chance that this may require them to replace it with old stock of the recently outdated 15" Retina Macbook Pro. This would obviously have a retail value higher than $1,300. However, the $1,300 repair costs represent cash they would need to pay the 3rd party repair agent, which might be more complicated to manage than writing off stock. Additionally, they will need to cover my compensation claim (which ACL entitles me to) while the machine is being repaired. Getting rid of old stock, and immediately writing it off as a warranty replacement to Apple, might prove cheaper and simpler than the repair option.

 

I had no intention to claim compensation, or to ask for a replacement. I just wanted Apple to take responsibility for a manufacturing fault, and the only way I could do that under Australian law is through the retailer. ACL specifies that it should actually be my choice between repair, replacement, or even a refund if it was determined to be a 'major' fault. 'Major' is defined as something that cannot be repaired, though this is sometimes interpreted differently for latent manufacturing faults, where repairing the system with refurbished parts (which JB specified would be used in the $1,300 repair) would not necessarily resolve the issue.

 

If JB had straight away told me it wasn't covered, I would have been more likely to forgo my rights as a consumer and purchased a new system. Instead, they offered to repair it, then after wasting ~4 weeks of my time, reneged on this promise. In my case, this lead directly to lost income. I'm now of the perspective that they've brought this on themselves, and I'm going to push for the best resolution I can negotiate under ACL.

Edited by tastywheat

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Simultaneous phone calls from the regional and store manager. Free repair is now back on the table, or they've offered a replacement. I've chosen to go with a replacement due to concerns over refurbished parts proposed for the repair.

 

From my perspective, there is no easy equivalent due to the 17" model being discontinued. I don't want to abuse my privileged position by demanding the latest high end 15" Retina (even if it might be within my rights). I've given them a few hours to search the system for old stock, with my requirements being a minimum of HD resolution screen, 2.3 GHz quad core i7, discrete graphics card, and 8GB of ram (main features of my old machine). Not quite sure what would be fair when it comes to storage. The old machine had a 750GB hard drive, which was needed for Windows and Linux virtual machines used for work. 128GB of SSD would probably not be enough, 256GB would be ok but might require me to carry an external drive, 512 would be great but not necessarily a fair exchange for JB.

 

While I'm obviously satisfied with the way things are looking, I have to wonder why the store manager reneged on the original promise of a repair. The regional manager agreed with me that it was a borderline case, but said he would like to keep me as a happy customer. Based on previous disputes and ATO guidelines, 3 years seems to be the consumer expectation for the effective lifespan of a laptop, so I do think this was covered under ACL. The 18 day communication delay for the diagnosis has probably contributed to their generosity, as they might have been able to argue that the fault was 'repairable', even if the repair cost was higher than the value of the laptop.

 

Everyone has been courteous and professional, so I think maybe the store manager has been bound by policy rather than an autonomous/independent interpretation of the ACL. He mentioned over the phone that he had been considering what would be a suitable replacement since denying my request for a repair, which indicates that he was anticipating this scenario.

 

If it wasn't for The Checkout, I most likely would have walked away empty handed. While it's not over yet, knowing my consumer rights has definitely allowed me to see through fairly obvious coercion that would have been intimidating to a version of me still ignorant of the ACL. When this is all over, I might put together a guide on how to short cut the process I've been through.

Edited by tastywheat

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Shitty that there's no direct replacement, but it sounds like you can get something you'll be happy enough with.

 

Was your preference for the old 17" the screen size or screen resolution?

 

Does a MBP have space for a second internal SSD? If you can't/don't want to split the cost of a 500GB ssd, maybe you can just take what you can get and buy/install a second.

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Actually, I'm not in the slightest bit disappointed that there is no direct replacement. My main reason for going with the 17" in the first place was for the screen resolution, and it was a pain to lug around at times. If anything, I'm concerned that it's not ethical of me to ask a retailer to replace a 2.5 year old product with a brand new version (despite ACL), when it was caused by an Apple manufacturing fault.

 

The new rMPBs have essentially no user upgradable parts, although there are 3rd party replacement SSDs emerging that you can install at the risk of voiding your warranty.

 

JB have been overwhelmingly generous. I'm typing this from a brand new late 2013 Retina Macbook Pro, with a 2.3Ghz i7, 16GB of ram, GT750M with 2GB of memory, and a 512GB flash drive. They've allowed me to purchase Apple Care on the new machine, which would cover it for the next 3 years. While the ACL warranty is 'reset' with the purchase, I've learned that for a machine that is absolutely necessary for my work, the instant turn around on repairs/replacements is probably worth it.

 

I need to sort out the machine first, but I'll add a guide to claiming items under ACL later tonight.

Edited by tastywheat

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Decided to go install the Yosemite Beta. Holy shit, this is a beautiful operating system. Functionally, not a lot of difference, but there's lots of small changes which add up to a more pleasant user experience.

 

I want to make the ACL post into something a bit more substantial, so I'll post it as a separate thread. Waiting to hear back from a university law professor I've emailed to verify some of my assumptions.

 

[edit] double post...

Edited by tastywheat

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I'm glad it's working out so well for you.

 

Personally, while you are within your rights to approach JB, I'd have gone direct to Apple. Apple or an Apple Authorised Repair place (in case someone is in a similar situation and reads this in the future). Apple are the only ones that can get the repair sorted, and they are more likely to replace your machine, and give you awesome, prompt support. No offense to JBHiFi, but their organisation doesn't specialise in awesome service experiences. They are all about the sales.

 

The fact they offered you an extended warranty which you didn't take, in no way invalidates any claims you may make under ACL. In fact, it's probably illegal of them to state or imply that it does.

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TB, the main reason I approached JB is that Apple have been actively ignoring the problem for other customers. Under ACL, I might have been able to get them to repair it, but this almost certainly would have used a logic board with the same problem. They wouldn't have had a legal obligation to replace it. However, I agree that they would have been prompt about it, and the customer service would have been far superior.

 

The 2007/2008 Nvida recall program was only initiated after a class-action lawsuit, and unfortunately, I'm assuming it's going to take something similar for Apple to act on this problem. There's already a change.org petition with over 10,000 signatures, and a recent reddit thread has attracted more than 3,000 comments in less than 3 days. I don't think there's any question over whether the problem is real, but it's difficult to judge how widespread it is. 10,000 is trivial compared to the ~5 million or so probably sold in 2011 with ATI graphics cards.

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As someone who's worked at an Apple Authorised Repair Centre, I can safely say that even if Apple won't publicly extend the warranty to 3 years, like they did in the 2007/2008 extended warranty, they will fix your problem.

As you say, the incidence of problems is low, a repair probably would have been fine, although Apple have often chosen to replace such machines, especially in a case where they are going through their stock of repair parts quickly. If the issue is as big as people claim, this is going to happen.

 

Getting 10,000 signatures doesn't mean there's 10,000 affected customers. They shift a lot of these units, and TBH, many of the people who will try and claim that they are effected by this issue, have a different problem, or a different model. I went through the 2008 issue, and loads of people brought in their "2008" machines, with "the same issue, the one with the graphics card". Some of them didn't even have the effected chipsets, and the problem was something else (like a cracked screen). One of the reasons the 2008 thing took so long to resolve, is that nVidia lied to apple (and their insurers) about the failure rates. For each claim on the 2008 extended warranty, we had to run a particular peice of software to dump out a file, and submit it to Apple, specifically so nVidia would honour the warranty repair. This was unheard of at the time.

 

Any perceived systematic failure of Apple hardware, generates crazily loud response. For some reason, people love jumping on board. I think in this case, Apple would have given certainly quicker service, and likely a similar outcome. If you go to an Apple Authorized Repairer, they will know whether this is a frequent issue, and they can tell you to complain loudly about the offer of repair, or not.

 

Like I said, you've already got a great result. But the media generates quite a negative view of Apple, when in my experience doing repairs for them, they really went the extra mile to make sure people got a great result. I haven't worked in that field since 2009 though, so maybe it's all got a lot worse in the intervening time?

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Any perceived systematic failure of Apple hardware, generates crazily loud response. For some reason, people love jumping on board.

 

...

 

Like I said, you've already got a great result. But the media generates quite a negative view of Apple, when in my experience doing repairs for them, they really went the extra mile to make sure people got a great result. I haven't worked in that field since 2009 though, so maybe it's all got a lot worse in the intervening time?

 

 

I completely agree that Apple are subject to unfair scrutiny, and for the most part, go above and beyond every other company in the business. I've experienced this first-hand with iPhone repairs, where they replaced a water damaged phone for a very reasonable out of warranty service fee. However, in this case, I've spoken to quite a few other people with the same problem. Apple have been taking a hard line on it, and generally attempting to charge people for repairs. They've also been redirecting people to the point of retail sale, a policy they specifically outline on their Australian page :

 

https://www.apple.com/au/legal/statutory-warranty/

 

The experience hasn't tarnished my appreciation for Apple products. My Macbook from 2006 is still working flawlessly, though I've recently needed to replace the battery after ~1500 cycles. I expect my new machine will last me at least 4 years.

 

The reason this problem is complicated is because it appears to be caused by a latent manufacturing defect, and failures are only recently starting to emerge in large numbers. The problem appears to be caused by the reduced fatigue strength of lead-free solder used in connecting the graphics IC to the logic board using a BGA surface mount pattern, which requires x-rays to verify connectivity. Increased thermal strain causes the solder to fracture, creating intermittent problems at first, but quickly degenerating into a permanent failure. Apple techs don't have the necessary equipment to specifically diagnose the problem, so while alleged Apple employees have claimed they're aware of the problem in online media, it's most likely an ad hoc diagnosis that isn't being reported to the higher ups.

Edited by tastywheat

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If you are a professional working with the hardware I can't understand how they will not take back your product. It is old but JB have a brand they need to maintain and they are a publicly listed company now so returns are just a tax concession aren't they for mutinationals to be offset against their company tax.

I have another good story about apple my mum bought a 4s from apple and had it for 6 months the speaker stopped working she went up to the apple store, they replaced it with a new phone, transferred all her data and installed the new OS on her phone on the spot. She rang ahead in the morning. Customer service 5 stars for that.

pump.

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Pump, JB eventually did the right thing, and I think my trouble was mostly as a result of going to a store that had recently opened, and were therefore still in the process or sorting out their systems.

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