This is a follow-up to a series of posts about my 2011 MacBook Pro 15″ that went through the video card replacement program back in June 2015. At the time, I was very happy with Apple for (finally) stepping up to the plate and fixing the issue for free. They replaced my logic board when my computer died due to a known issue.
So yesterday, when the same computer (that my wife is now using when she wants to be away from her desktop) started to have the same issues, I didn’t want to believe it had the same problem. The issue — the computer goes through the full startup routine, then ends with a blank (gray or white) screen. So I went through a few rounds of trouble-shooting, repaired the hard drive, and tried to start in every mode I could think of: Safe Mode (no good), Repair Mode (same), starting from external drives (same issue after startup). I even tried resetting NVRAM and the SMC. Nothing worked, though in Target Disk mode, I was able to get some recent files off the drive and run Disk First Aid. I had also been able to do this in Single user Mode. And I could start in Verbose mode, but it still wouldn’t ever get to my desktop.
So after exhausting all other possibilities that I could find (so far), I determined it was not the hard drive and was probably the video card on the logic board — especially since sometimes it would start up, get to the blank screen, and then cycle through a few restarts before ending with the blank screen. This was all the behavior associated with the video card issue, which I confirmed when those old posts and comments appeared in my searches about the issue we’re having.
That led to this morning’s chat with Apple Support. The agent read my description and looked up the repair/replacement options. Regina told me that my computer was not eligible for any replacement programs, and that it is now considered a vintage model, since it’s been over 5 years since any parts were made for it.
Frankly, I wasn’t too surprised. The computer is over 6 years old, and though I’d like it to last longer (I have older Apple laptops that still start up on the rare occasion I decide to use one for a task). But since it had been repaired for free once already, it was a long shot to expect Apple to do that again. There are a couple more options I might try before giving up on this laptop. Fortunately, it’s not my main computer anymore, so I have the luxury of doing that.
So what’s the upshot of this experience? Well, if you’re running an old 2011 MacBook Pro that was repaired under the video card program, you might be running on borrowed time. And if you get a free repair, I guess it means you might have gotten a repaired part that has the same issue as your previous part. In my case, I got another 2.5 years out of the computer, which was long enough for me to grow out of it and replace it as my main computer. But nothing lasts for ever. Now my “vintage” computer is a vintage piece of metal that won’t do much. I’ll keep it around long enough to make sure I have everything I need off the hard drive, then either trade it in for parts or salvage a few parts off it and then recycle it (after wiping the hard drive, which I may remove before recycling).