Posts Tagged ‘Apple Support’

RIP Vintage Macbook

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).

MacBook Video Card Repair Conclusion

In my last post, I wrote about how my 2011 MacBook Pro died, due to the common issue with the graphics card. I had been experiencing all the symptoms of weird lines (artifacts) across my screen, random restarts, and finally the inability to boot up the computer at all. That’s what led me to bite the bullet and call Apple, who authorized a local service place to replace my logic board for free.

The Repair

I will say, the whole process has been relatively smooth, and I’ve been impressed with Apple’s willingness to stand behind a 4-year-old computer (now). Exceed Technologies, where I took the MscBook was relatively knowledgable, and had done the repair before. I still knew more than they did about the issue, but they handle more than Macs, and they don’t need to know the cause to know how to replace a logic board, so why should they remember every detail of the issue the way I would. 

The repair was done fairly quickly. It took them a day to get to me (my only minor disappointment), a day to get the part,, and another day to do the repair and test it, do I could get it back the next day. I took it in on Thursday and got it back on Tuesday, so that was a bit faster than Apple’s estimated 5-7 days. And I didn’t have to drive two hours to take it in or wait for Apple to mail it back. For those of us living in the sticks, this is a great option!

Apple Support

Apple support during the whole process has also been fabulous, better than I would have imagined. Not only was I able to call and get this service authorized quickly, but the support tech, Sean (the supervisor of the woman I spoke with first), gave me his contact info and encouraged me to let him know if I decided to go to the Apple Store or have the repair done locally. So I emailed him to say I had gone to Exceed. He wrote back a couple of times to verify whether the repair had been initiated. I wrote when the repair had been completed, thanking him for his help, and he offered to help out more if a I had any related issues. As it turned out, I did, but that is for another post. Let’s just say for now that he was willing give a support call and even spend some time working on my computer to try to resolve an issue I was having with my trackpad after the repair.

The Aftermath

The repaired MacBook Pro appeared to be working well, when I got it back. The only issues I had other than the trackpad scrolling, were with passwords. I had asked the tech if I would need to authorize the computer on iTunes again, due to the new logic board, and he said I wouldn’t because he had put in my serial number when he set up the new logic board. That turned out to be true, but I did have to login with iCloud again to access my keychain, and before I realized this, Mail tried to connect to Google and didn’t have the password. I had to reset that, though once idealized the iCloud issue, my other mail accounts worked. I’ re had to login a few times to Google to get it all straightened out on all my devices. If I didn’t have so many email accounts, including two with Google, this would have been easier. And if I had taken the MacBook to an Apple Store, they probably would have helped me through that process (at least they did when I had an iPad replaced under warranty last year). But if Apple had mailed it back to me, I would have been in the same boat.

I expected to have to reset a few settings and passwords and such after a major repair. In fact since I wasn’t able to secure my computer before I took it in, since I couldn’t even start it anymore, I probably need to reset most of my sensitive passwords, anyway. I basically trust the technicians at Exceed, but I don’t know them personally, and you never know. And it’s good to change passwords now and then , so this will be a good incentive to do that again.

So the only real issue that I faced after the repair was  the fact that my trackpad wouldn’t scroll. That’s what I mentioned to Sean, asking if there was a simple fix or if I should take it back in to be looked at, and that’s what led to a service call and an eventual solution. But more on that in my next post, since it is arguably a different issue that resulted from the repair or the crash. But other people with the issue might get it another way. So I want to go into it in more detail separately.