If you have a 2011 MacBook Pro that is wonking out like it was haunted by a Japanese ghost, you’re not the only one. It appears that a massive number of early-2011 MacBook Pro owners with AMD graphics are having issues with system crashes and hardware problems, with failure rates reaching a critical mass in recent weeks.
According to an enormous, 157-page thread on the Apple Support Communities, a number of early-2011 MacBook Pro owners began having problems with the AMD discrete graphics cards inside their laptops. The troubles began appear to have begun in February 2013, but activity in the support thread has really escalated over the last few weeks.
The problem seems to first exhibit itself during graphics-intensive tasks like playing games or high-definition video, or running the CPU hot. The display ends up distorting, or going entirely blank, and while reboots make the problems go away for a short period of time, they almost always return later. After the graphical glitches start, things get worse, with many users reporting inevitable gray and blue screens of death.
It’s a bad situation, and frankly, the issue seems obvious: It’s a heating issue, to which Macs have always been susceptible. It seems, however, that early-2011 MacBook Pros are particularly prone to this issue. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done about it, unless Apple institutes a replacement program: The only way to fix the issue right now is to swap the logic board on your machine, which is an extremely expensive upgrade.
We’re keeping an eye on this, and if Apple responds to the issue, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, if you’re affected, know that you aren’t alone.