- Macbook Pro 2011 Ports
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This article outlines your real world options to correct a faulty GPU graphics card on a MacBook Pro 2011. The AMD Graphics card for most MacBook Pro's manufactured in 2011 are known to have issues after 5-7 years of use. First, let’s understand the expected behavior of a failingtofailed MacBook Pro 2011 AMD 6750 or 6770GPU graphics card.
*Your MacBook Pro begins to run hotter,fans spinningat higher speeds, the CPU begins to spike randomly in any application you have opened according to activity monitor.
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*Your first kernelpanic happens. Your MacBook Pro 2011 reboots itself and displays a crash report at the next login. Below is an example repot line:
*You begin using your MacBook Pro 2011 again only to experience another kernel panic and several more thereafter. At this point, you begin to notice distorted video on startup includingparallellines across the screen. In some cases, your MacBook Pro 2011 will no longer boot past the Apple logo.
You just confirmed your MacBook Pro 2011 is suffering from the widely known GPU issue.Apple acknowledge the issue many years ago and offered free replacement program, however many users believed Apple was just “refreshing the MacBook Pro 2011 logic board, and the issue would resurface again 5-7 years later”. Apple ceased the replacement program beginning in 2017. See Apple’s official statement below.
The following models are no longer eligible for this program: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011), MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011), MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011) and MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011).
First – Force Attempt to Disable the Faulty AMD GPU
This method will write a value into NVRAM to not use the faulty AMD GPU and only use , however this method will not power off the GPU. This means, the GPU will still run with your MacBook Pro on and overheat, forcing your computer to shutdown. In addition, this method is known to cause confusion between your MacBook GPU units while working in the OS and will still cause kernel panics.
This method is NOT recommended as a permanent fix for your MacBook Pro 2011.
This method will help you gain access to your MacBook Pro 2011 to pull off files and perform Time Machine Backups before you won’t be able to post boot. In our experience, this method gave us around 3 hours of time to operate normally in our OS before the MacBook stopped booting altogether.
- Reset your MacBook Pro SMC and NVRAM/PRAM.
- Shutdown your MacBook Pro. Boot into Single User Mode by holding down Command + S and power on.
- Once you single mode has loaded, hit enter a few times to get to localhost:/ root# prompt.
- Type the following commands in order below. The first command disables the faulty AMD GPU from loading at start. The second command output boot logs as the MacBook Pro boots up.
Anytime you want to revert the above commands, reset your Mac NVRAM/PRAM outlined above.
As your MacBook Pro reboots, you will see verbose boot logs appearing. You should no longer see distorted video as well. Your MacBook Pro should post a boot and allow you to login.
* At this point Immediately begin to backup your files. *
You can use SMC Fan control to pump up your fan speed to maximum power to help keep the MacBook cool. You’ll notice the GPU Intel HD Graphics 3000 512MB only appear in about this Mac after you made the NVRAM change.
Once you have successfully backed up any files you need, we highly recommend to shutdown your MacBook Pro and no longer use it at this point. The MacBook Pro will eventually stop posting a boot once the GPU chip decides to crap out completely.
Second – Get The Faulty GPU Replaced
If you truly want to save your vintage MacBook Pro 2011 (or in our case the fastest MacBook Pro 17” ever) you need to replace the GPU on your logic board with a 2nd generation AMD chip that was manufactured after 2017. These chips do not go bad. There’s guides online that show you how to do this and you can pick up the newer GPU for around $35. If you don’t want the hassle of disassembling your MacBook Pro, soldering, and crossing your fingers you did it right, we HIGHLY recommend this professional and efficient eBay service offering MacBook Pro 2011 repair which will replace the faulty GPU with a 2nd generation AMD GPU – making your MacBook Pro 2011 last forever!
The eBay listing - here. Most repairs and replacements are under $200 and include shipping!
In summary, these are your BEST options for reviving your MacBook Pro 2011. Other guides online state you can permanently disable power to the faulty GPU, but none we followed worked. Keep in mind that even if you kill the power to the faulty GPU, it also disables your external display port, since the AMD GPU is wired to that. Your video performance for graphics and gaming will also suffer. The INTEL graphic chip is not a performance chip, whatsoever.
The 17” MacBook Pro Late 2011 is one of the fastest MacBook Pro’s Apple released (see the fastest MacBook pro 17” here) and is the last 17” model manufactured. These machine are still highly sought after online. The GPU repair on eBay is well worth the money down the road to preserve this vintage machine.
So you, like many others, have a 2011 MacBook Pro with video issues. This is normally lines on screen, stripes on screen, sometimes even black screen or blank screen.
We have bad news and good news.
The bad news, your GPU is failing. There is a widely known defect in the Radeon GPUs on these MacBook Pro models. You are not going to be able to fix the GPU. You can extend its life for a few weeks with a reflow, or attempt to replace the GPU. Replacing the GPU is very dangerous (brick warning), and you are just putting another defective unit on your board. The final option is to replace the logic board. This is insanely expensive, and again, just putting defective parts into service.
Onto the good news. With the removal of an EFI variable and 1 resistor, the GPU will be completely disabled, and you will never have to worry about it again.
But wait, why would you disable your GPU, you need that thing right?
The 2011 MacBook Pro actually has 2 very capable GPUs inside. 1 is the AMD Radeon, and the other is an Intel GPU. If you know anything about Intel GPU (and CPU), you know they are extremely reliable. So utilizing the Intel GPU means your GPU is going to live longer than you will.
A few other fun facts about this modification:
Cooling- Your MacBook Pro will run cooler. The Radeon normally pumps out a ton of waste heat. Now your Radeon is not powered on. No waste heat.
Even better, now you have 2 fans and 2 heatsink pipes dedicated to cooling the Intel GPU/CPU only.
Less fan noise – Since you now have 2 passive cooling systems working on one chip, your fans will run less, and quieter.
Linux Support – Getting Linux running on this MacBook Pro is a nightmare. Normally involves complicated boot arguments to bypass the AMD Radeon GPU. Guess what, now that it is not there anymore, Ubuntu Linux (and others) boot up natively with no modifications what so ever.
Battery Life – Now that you don’t have several watts of power turning into waste heat, you now have improved battery life.
No need to modify KEXTs – KEXTs or Kernel Extensions are the Drivers of the OS X world. As far as the OS knows, the AMD chip is not even there. It will not attempt to load the KEXT for it. Why would it, right?
OK, lets get into this MacBook Pro GPU Modification.
::We have prepared a vastly simplified automated utility to perform this modification. It is a fully bootable disk image that includes a script that will run all the terminal steps with one simple command. It also includes a GUI (point and click) program to create the bootable USB Drive::
If you prefer to perform this manually, see the steps below. Macbook pro won't let me download because security services.Show Manual Steps
The first thing you will need to do is make a small modification to the EFI.
The instructions below use Arch Linux and a strict Terminal environment.
::Note from the developer: There is a known issue with performing this Mod on High Sierra. Apple changed the way the backlight is controlled on High Sierra, and upon waking from sleep the backlight will not turn on. After much research and logic board probing the issue has been identified as a Pulse Width Modulated signal to the backlight controller not being started. An additional Hardware Mod is required for High Sierra. This mod is explained in the steps below. ::
You can permanently disable discrete graphics card following next steps:
1. Prepare a Bootable USB pendrive with a non GUI Linux
1.1 Download ArchLinux ISO
- You need a working computer for that and a spare CD/DVD/USB drive.
- Download the latest Arch Linux ISO image.
- Then you could either simply burn this ISO to CD/DVD (which later could be either inserted to MBP’s SuperDrive or External DVD Drive connected to MBP by two USB cables) or create a bootable USB.
1.2 Creating the bootable USB with the .iso
- First, you need to identify the USB device.
- Open /Applications/Utilities/Terminal in MacOS and list all storage devices:
diskutil listYour USB device will appear as something like
/dev/disk2 (external, physical). Verify that this is the device you want to erase by checking its name and size and then use its identifier for the commands below instead of
- A USB device is normally auto-mounted in macOS, and you have to unmount (not eject) it before block-writing to it with dd:
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/diskX
- Now copy the ISO image file to the device. The dd command is similar to its Linux counterpart, but notice the ‘r’ before ‘disk’ for raw mode which makes the transfer much faster:
sudo dd if=path/to/arch.iso of=/dev/rdiskX bs=1mAfter completion, macOS may complain that “The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer”. Select ‘Ignore’. The USB device will be bootable.
2. Use Linux to change EFI vars
2.1 Boot to it
- Insert this CD/DVD/USB to Macbook Pro, hold Option key (alt) while booting.
- Choose “EFI boot” (that is your bootable installation media).
- When the menu shows, press “e” key to edit the GRUB options of the Arch Linux archiso x86_64 UEFI CD menu entry while it is selected at the main screen, add
nomodesetto the end of this line and press Enter.
- If everything is done correctly, you will find yourself at the Linux console! (It takes some time so be patient and wait for the prompt)
2.2 Clear existing EFI vars
Looks like efivarfs filesystem is mounted by default! So you can already
cd /sys/firmware/efi/efivars and
ls to explore this directory and see if there is a
gpu-power-prefs-.. variable (where … is UUID of this variable).
- If there is such a variable, its better to remove it with rm.
- If you are getting the “operation not permitted” message while attempting to
rm, it means that efivarfs has been mounted as read-only and you need to remount it with read-write permissions and try again:
mount -t efivarfs rw /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/
- If this also fails (you still can’t erase the file), use
chattrcommand to disable file immutability and then erase the file:
chattr -i 'gpu-power-prefs-…”
2.3 Create a new gpu-power-prefs-… file
2.4 Add immutability to the gpu-power-prefs-… file
chattr command is supposed to lock a file to make it accessible only by “superuser” – and so that, while booting, your EFI will have no chance to screw up your gpu-power-prefs-… variable under any circumstances
Macbook Pro 2011 Ports
2.5 Unmount efivars and reboot
Change to the root directory to unmount efivars:
Guarantees that your EFI variables are flushed to efivarfs filesystem. Please unmount it safely before rebooting.
On this reboot it is essential that you boot once into safe mode (hold Shift throughout boot), and then choose shutdown(not restart) from the menu.
Do this safe boot with the R8911 resistor in place. Without this SAFE BOOT, the next steps may not work.
Do no more boots until you complete the next steps.
Macbook Pro 2011 Model
The safe boot clears OS level GPU preferences, that may interfere with the following process.
This will now cause your MacBook Pro to stop switching to the Radeon automatically, but it will still draw power, create heat, and be visible to the OS.Show Hardware Modification Steps
In some cases the software modification (automated or manual) is not enough to guarantee a stable and fast MacBook Pro. Due to the way the AMD GPU fails, it can cause some issues if still powered on. This will show as very slow boots, crashes, video glitches.
We discovered that simply removing 1 resistor will resolve this.
The resistor can also be replaced with a switch, in case you need to turn your radeon back on for any reason.
The placement of this resistor varies between logic board models.
The resistor in question is R8911 on the 17″ MBP and R8911 on the 15″ MBP
a 1 Ohm resistor that provides a current path to the ISL6263C DC to DC Converter.
This resistor controls power to the Voltage Regulator that provides the Core Voltage to the Radeon GPU. Simply put, no core voltage, no GPU.
You will find the resistor just to the right of a cooling fan (in the above orientation). It will be near the ISL Voltage converter chip. This is the chip we will be disabling. (see image for your model)
Just remove it. The preferred method is a professional reflow station, but an iron and a steady hand will get you where you need to be. If you used flux to remove it (not needed), make sure you clean up with a little Alcohol or other suitable solvent.
That is basically it. Next time you boot up you will notice your GPU defect issue is gone, and you will no longer see the AMD GPU as installed hardware.
A small warning: This mod will not survive a NVRAM reset. For this (and other security related) reasons, it is recommended that you set an EFI Password. This will make it impossible to accidentally reset your NVRAM. Just don’t ever forget this password.
In the event that a NVRAM reset removes the EFI mod, contact us via email for a recovery procedure. We have a reliable procedure that takes seconds and works 100% of the time.
ADDITIONAL STEP FOR HIGH SIERRA
High Sierra requires an additional hardware mod. This jumper wire is different between 15″ and 17″, both are shown below. Without this mod, your screen WILL NOT turn on after going to sleep. On the 15″ we just need to put a small jumper wire (enamel wire) between PIN 2 of R9704 and PIN 1 of C9711. Logic board does not need to be removed for this step. Only bottom cover removed.
Possibly easier Jump for the 15″. Chose one jumper method, do not install both.
On the 17″ we will jump between a test point and R9202.
Download Software For Macbook Pro
Free Downloads For Macbook Pro
If you find yourself uncomfortable doing this mod, please contact us and we will be happy to perform this modification for you. Our current rate is $85 (excluding return shipping). Turn around time depends on shipping speeds, but modification will be performed within 48 hours of receiving your MacBook Pro.