Occasionally when I open my new (April 2011) Macbook Pro I'm greeted by an unusable system with a garbled display. Most often I have to force a reboot (hold down power button for 10+ seconds), but occasionally it will fix itself if I close the lid and re-open it.

  • What is the problem, or what should I look at to find the problem?
  • Are there other things I could try to wake this laptop from this state?
  • I can't reliably reproduce the problem, so it doesn't seem that taking it to the genius bar is going to yield useful results, but tell me if I'm making a bad assumption here and I should take it back.

Garbled display output

System info:

  • MacBookPro8,3
  • ATI Radeon HD 6750M
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • If anything else is relevant, let me know and I'll post it. It's a standard 17" MBP, though I've added memory (notably this problem did occur prior to adding memory as well)
  • Have you run the latest updates? There was specifically one in the latest batch to address video issues. It may help?
    – robzolkos
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 22:18
  • @RobZolkos Yes, I remember when that one came through, and I was hoping it might fix it. It doesn't seem to have worked, though.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 23:43
  • Firmware updates need to be run manually, they are only downloaded by software update. You can find them in Utilities. Commented May 27, 2011 at 2:05
  • @Lyken Looking at the system profiler, I have the latest firmware (compare to SMC version here: support.apple.com/kb/DL1381 ) and I do recall that software update performed this for me - it went through the whole reboot, grey screen with progress bar, etc process. Is there another firmware I should be worried about?
    – Adam Davis
    Commented May 27, 2011 at 2:39
  • No there isn't that I know of. If everything is up to date, the next logical step is a visit to an apple authorised repairer. Commented May 27, 2011 at 2:52

3 Answers 3


It was bad memory. I had upgraded to 8GB, but at some point suspected the memory for some other problem, so put the original Apple 4GB back in. Both problems went away (tested for 3 months) so I ditched the 8GB and got 16GB of higher quality memory that more closely matched the timing specifications of the original Apple memory.

So far, after two months, I haven't seen this or the other issue yet. So in this case it was bad (or wrong) memory.

  • 1
    Fascinating. I think in your shoes, if Apple had told me it was the RAM I wouldn't've believed them. Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 16:10
  • @StevenFisher Yeah, I ran that 8GB configuration for 9 months with a problem 2-3 times a month, not often at all. Just right on the edge of flakiness. I was inclined not to believe it, but I had to do something about it, and I knew I couldn't take it back to apple with nonstandard memory in it and expect them to help, so I dropped the old memory back in and viola. Memory used to be so simple...
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 16:12
  • I had different problems with a 15" Macbook Pro which went away when I finally removed my modules. The screen issues did occur too, but rarely.
    – Coyote
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 12:06

Definitely take it to an Apple Store if you have one close by. Even if you can't reproduce it right then and there, show them the photo above. It might be a hardware problem (loose connection, faulty graphics chip, etc.), so you'll want to get it looked at by a professional.


I know that's an old post but i would like to share this [1] video I've just uploaded about an old Macbook Pro Late 2011 which is suffering same or similar glitch. While disassembling the screen I noticed touching a sensor on the display electronic board "fixed" the issue.

In the video, what' i'm touching is the cable which connects the screen to the display logic board. So the issue seems to be in the wire or the socket which interconnects the screen to the display logic board located on the bottom of the screen.

Just in case it helps someone to identify the issue.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlmsRSH_Azk

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