MacBook Pro 15″ & 17″ 2011 – Graphics card failures – New options January 2019

2011 MacBook Pro Graphics problems – The options as of 2019

So we here at MacUpgrades see about 20 of the MacBook Pro 2011 15” and 17” each and every week with the common GPU failure.
These issues occur due to a manufacturing defect within the GPU chips themselves.

Apple did eventually offer a ERA on this defect but only replaced failed boards with working ones with the same chipset. These units are all now beginning to fail as well.

Options

1. Reflow – A solution we have offered for many years. We remove the board, heat up the chip on a profile which will bring the machine back to life for a few months (some have lasted many years, but this is rare) Machine is fully functional at this time.

2. Replace the GPU – Not an option, simply because no good cards are made and as the fault is a manufacturing defect it will not last. There still are people selling this service for about £300 – it is not worth it. We see so many that have been replaced and its always the same fault. If you were lucky and didn’t get a pre reflowed chip, or a fake its still going to fail.

3. Reball the GPU – Worst option of the lot, costs more than a reflow and is yet the same thing. The fault is inside the GPU changing the balls does nothing other than incidentally reflowing the GPU whilst you are doing it.

4. Using software to disable the internal GPU, through altering the NVRAM (thanks to DosDude)

http://dosdude1.com/gpudisable/

This works pretty well. Does have full brightness control due to the mux being fully working. It can however fail if you do a NVRAM / PRAM reset and it OS upgrades may cause it to fail, which requires reapplying the fix.

5. A recent hardware development by DosDude bypassing the GPU with a hardware solution. (GMUX Bypass)

If you fancy doing it yourself here is the solution. Please read the whole post before starting.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/permanently-disable-2011-15-17-macbook-pro-dedicated-gpu-gmux-ic-bypass.2134019/

This involves soldering microwires to the GMUX chip so that the dedicated Nvidia GPU is permanently disabled. Correctly carried out this repair is permanent, cannot be overwritten with PRAM / NVRAM resets and is a good tested fix.

Upsides

Permanent hardware fix.
Battery life improved.
Never worry about software updates or PRAM resets.
No software to install or update.

There are some downsides.

No brightness control by default. The GMUX chip is responsible for brightness on the machine so bypassing the chip will result in the machines brightness being 100% all the time.
No external video output. (Thunderbolt does work but no video)
Time consuming to do.
Intensive tasks such as rendering will be considerably slower due to the absence of the chip.

We have performed this procedure on a number of machines with completely dead GPU’s and machines which have failed for reflow and even machines with burnt and deformed GPU’s. All work flawlessly.

See the link below for before / after shots.

After serious testing as outlined above we have decided to offer this as a professional service.
Costs for the service are £200 + Vat as it is a long fiddly job. But we feel that for those who wish to continue to use their 2011 MBP it is a good option for continued longevity.

The service is on our website here

6. Another recent development by CMIZAPPER.com (Firmware Bypass) 15” and 17”.

This method is essentially a combination of part of the NVRAM solution and a hardware fix with a chip which ensures that the NVRAM solution is never overwritten. This involves soldering a chip around the Bios / EFI chip on the motherboard. This makes the machine think it is a 13” MacBook Pro with only one GPU (the intel one).

This fix is NVRAM stable, so that once the chip is soldered in the fix will not be erased buy an NVRAM or PRAM reset or when doing an OS upgrade.

Upsides

Permanent hardware fix.
Battery life improved.
Never worry about software updates or PRAM resets.
No software to install or update.
Cheaper than the GMUX bypass.

There are some downsides.

No brightness control by default.
No external video output. (Thunderbolt does work but no video)
Intensive tasks such as rendering will be considerably slower due to the absence of the chip. However if you are doing video editing you should have moved to a newer machine some years ago.

Costs to do this are £130 + Vat which includes parts and labour.

The service is on our website here

We hope that this gives you an idea of the options and how we can help.