I've bought few months ago a MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 13'. As a Linux geek, I'm really happy with this computer, and it usually works fine.

Unfortunately, three days ago, I wasn't able to restart it. It stucked without booting when I pressed the power button. I look on Apple website, and there was a procedure that describes how to reset the SMC, and I did that.

My computer restarted (yeah), but unfortunately, I had problems with the display backlight (cf pic). So I stop the computer, and did the SMC reset thing one more time. I experienced problem to restart , but for the moment all the backlights issues seem to be solved.


I'm now a little bit afraid about the reliability of this computer, and I have lots of question about this SMC I can't answer.

  • Why does that thing need to be reset? What is it exactly? As a geek, I like to know how my computer works :)
  • Can we reset it often without problems, or is there a limit on the number of time you can do it without harming the computer? I read differents advises ont he web saying 'go, on do it every week' or 'do it in last resort'.
  • If the restart problem still occurs, should I send the computer to the customer service for a global checkup?

Thank you for your help :)


  • That looks like it could be a hardware problem (with the backlight and screen). In the photo, the part at the bottom edge of the screen meets the black is kinda bumpy. Are you sure it's SMC? – Nathan Greenstein Apr 30 '11 at 0:48
  • I don't know… It's the first time I have one of this computer. It seemed the most probable thing to me. Are there some tools that allow me to check hardware status ? – Rob Apr 30 '11 at 0:52
  • @Rob there are (see this Apple Support article), but they probably won't catch something like this. The best way to tell for sure: compare your computer with another like it, or take it to the Apple store and ask them. – Nathan Greenstein Apr 30 '11 at 0:59
  • 1
    Yeah that looks like a failing monitor, I would also take it to the apple store or call the applecare number and have them set you up with a repair. – ConstantineK Apr 30 '11 at 1:08
  • @Rob no problem. The Apple Store will fix or replace it for free since it's a new computer. – Nathan Greenstein Apr 30 '11 at 2:40

normally the SMC (system management controller) should not have to be reset at all. However it is sometimes necessary when troubleshooting so when people say "last resort" that, they are simply saying is an uncommon problem. The SMC controls things like the fan in your mac and power flow (the reason macs are so much quieter than most computers). If this is not working properly and needs to be reset is is probably because of a hardware issue. Reseting it also does not hurt your computer. It simply turns the controller off and then turns it back on without affecting your hard drive, memory, etc. Finally if the problem does continuously reoccur you should go into customer service because it is probably a hardware problem and it is best to let them look at it.

  • good question tho – luca590 Apr 30 '11 at 1:09
  • OK, thank you... I think I'm gonna wait if everything is OK for a few days. Next time it fails, I'l try to make an appointment in an Apple store. – Rob Apr 30 '11 at 1:17
  • yeah thats probably the best solution simply because t shouldn't be failing (obviously), but its fairly uncommon to have to restart your SMC. Hopefully its only a one time problem so you dont have to take it back to them to look at it, but i apple has a good reputation for trust worth machines so i wouldnt yet base all of their products off this experience – luca590 Apr 30 '11 at 1:27

probably is a screen problem with some of led string backlight that doesn't work

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