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Firstly, some background information for the problem:

My girlfriend's Macbook Pro had an issue that was annoying, but not fatal. Roughly once a day (but sometimes not for a few days, and sometimes twice or more in one day) the laptop would suddenly freeze and turn itself off. It would sometimes immediately restart itself, and sometimes remain dead until the power was turned back on. Either way, if it was turned back on very soon after the crash, it would more often than not die half way through start-up. If we waited ten or twenty minutes to turn it back on it was usually fine. This never resulted in any lost data and there were no other signs of a problem during normal functioning, so it was never more than a mild inconvenience, until last night that is.

Yesterday, we were trying to fix this or at least understand the problem. We ran an Apple hardware check by holding D during startup, which found nothing. To help eliminate software issues, we updated it to the latest version of OS X. The update went well, and for half a day it was running Yosemite with no noticeable problems. Then, in the evening, the usual crash happened again. However, now the computer does not turn back on. Upon booting, the startup sound plays, and then the Apple logo appears along with a progress bar - much like the progress bar that appeared during the Yosemite installation - which reaches around half completion before going to a blank white screen and turning off after a few minutes. If the laptop is plugged into mains power, it keeps restarting itself over and over again and failing each time. If it is running on battery power, it just dies once and waits to be turned back on.

Being unable to fully start up the computer any more, we don't have access to all the information that might come in handy. I'll list some details that might have some chance of helpful, but I might not remember everything all at once so please do not hesitate to ask questions or for clarification on anything unclear.

-It's a Late 2011, 15-inch Macbook Pro (4GB of RAM, probably the 2.2GHz processor)

-The frequent crashes often happened while playing video files, and (we think) it only happened when using Airplay to mirror the screen through Apple TV. It has happened using two different video playback programs.

-As mentioned in the text, Apple Hardware Check found nothing before. Now, we cannot seem to access Apple Hardware Check - only the OSX-update-like progress bar of doom. We also can't seem to access safe mode with it.

-We tried resetting PRAM, after it wouldn't start up any more. It didn't change anything.

-The last, fatal crash, after which it will not start up any more, happened during Airplay as usual, but also while updating the software on an iPhone through iTunes. The iPhone also died, but was fine after being plugged into another computer with iTunes and following through with the update there.

It was obviously somewhat stupid to not get this problem fixed while it was only an inconvenience, but it was not reproducible at that stage, so our hopes of having someone fix it were low. Now we're trying to get as much information as possible about what could be causing this and how we might be able to go about fixing it. Any help and/or information towards fixing this issue, or advising me on how to go about getting it fixed, is thus appreciated.

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Apple has an extended guarantee program for that: https://www.apple.com/support/macbookpro-videoissues/

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This happened a few times to one of the Macbook Pros at my office (Same model). It started shutting down before the Yosemite update though so I'm not sure if it's the same problem.

What got things working again, albeit temporarily, was reseating the RAM and then plugging the power adapter in. The machine then started up on its own and properly booted into OS X Yosemite.

From what I've read in other places, this may be a problem with the GPU switching in Yosemite but for right now, this fix is a tried and true method for what you're describing.

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This is a clear case of GPU failure. As your MBP is Late 2011 model, it has a faulty GPU. I have also one with that defect. Almost all the Early and Late 2011 15" MBP have the same problem. Even Apple refused to acknowledge it and there is a lawsuit against Apple in US. If you live there, then you are lucky.

There is a temporary fix. Download gfxCardStatus app and use it to switch to Intel HD 3000. Do not run any AMD GPU invoking apps.

There is no solution to this issue. Even if you swap the logic board at your nearest Apple Store, you will get the same 2011 model logic board which is faulty. It will go down within few months. You can read about the widespread issue below.

https://bgr.com/2015/01/16/2011-macbook-pro-class-action-suit-apple/ http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/suddenly-bunch-early-2011-macbook-pro-owners-running-video-problems/ http://www.cultofmac.com/262861/early-2011-macbook-pros-dropping-like-flies-heat-issues-blame/ http://macdailynews.com/2015/01/30/widespread-2011-macbook-pro-failures-continue-class-action-lawsuit-to-be-heard-by-judge-in-april/

  • 99% of the replaced boards do not recur. – frank ankersly Jun 1 '16 at 2:37
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Had EXACTLY the same problem with my Early 2011 Macbook Pro. Kept trying to startup when on external power and made it to about halfway of the progress bar, then stopped and started again. Did nothing when on battery only.

For me it was the battery. Before all this happened a full charge would take me only half an hour so I knew it was bad already. Take out the battery and try starting up without it. If it starts then you know it's the battery.

Running without battery will run the CPU on reduces speed though. 0.8 GHZ in stead of 2.2 (measured with Intel Power Gadget), because it needs the battery to give extra power on peak moments so Apple (actually Intel) reduces the speed when there's no battery detected.

Now waiting for the battery replacement to arrive, but I'm assuming it will run normally with the new battery. If it doesn't I'll edit this answer.

EDIT: So, (2nd!!) battery replacement arrived and now my macbook is as good as new. I first ordered a non-original battery. While it worked at kept its charge my macbook kept running on 0.8 GHZ in stead of the 2.2. Then ordered an original replacement and now it's back to 2.2 GHZ.

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