In March 2012, I bought a new 15" MacBook Pro. It required 3 logic board replacements over the next 13 months, leading Apple to replace the unit with a new 15" MacBook Pro in April 2013. That computer required 6 logic board replacements (as well as various RAM, airport card, and fan replacements) over the next 20 months, leading Apple to replace that unit with yet another 15" MacBook Pro (the one I have now; specs below) in December 2014. Despite my best hopes, this computer recently required its first-ever logic board (and hard drive) replacement last month. All problems were diagnosed and all repairs were performed at Apple stores.

The astounding frequency with which my laptops have required logic board replacements has naturally made me wonder what, if anything, I am doing to damage them. Some potentially relevant pieces of information:

  • I keep multiple current backups of all my data, and whenever I get a new machine and/or hard drive replacement, I port all of my backed-up data to the new hard drive. Sometimes I've used Time Machine, sometimes Carbon Copy Cloner, sometimes manual drag-and-drop. In general, I install all applications anew from freshly downloaded .dmg/.iso files.

  • I use my laptop a LOT (I have a single machine for work + personal use), but I don't do anything too resource-intensive: very little gaming, no video editing, etc. The only exception is that I do some occasional statistical modeling in R, which always gets my fans going.

  • This may sound obvious, but just to head off a potential concern: I take care of my computer in the usual ways (always transport in a padded case, no liquid damage, etc.).

My question is: What factors could conceivably cause a string of logic board failures like this? To clarify, I am not asking anyone to solve my issue specifically; it's just that I don't even know what kinds of things to troubleshoot. (For example: As crazy as it sounds, is it possible that my files, which have – aside from me as the user – been the only constant across the three laptops, could somehow cause problems like this? Or is that outside the realm of possibility?) Any suggestions as to possible causes would be greatly appreciated.

Current computer specs:

  • 15" MBP (Retina, Mid-2014)
  • Processor: 2.8 GHz
  • Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
  • HDD: 1 TB SSD

closed as too broad by Allan, klanomath, Tetsujin, IconDaemon, Mark May 7 '16 at 13:23

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    I am voting to close this question as too broad because there is just too many variables to account for to even begin to answer this question. Without actually doing any PCB level diagnostics, it would be impossible for anyone to diagnose the problem based on your description. – Allan May 6 '16 at 0:03
  • That's fair, Allan, but as noted below, I was hoping someone could suggest a potential mechanism(s), not that someone would be able to solve my problem specifically (which I agree is impossible from the information I have). For example, I learned recently from an Apple Genius that hardware problems can lead to software problems – that's not something I knew, and I'm curious if (as crazy as it sounds) the reverse is true as well. Even having a sense of what kinds of factors could lead to this problem would be very useful for me, and possibly others. – Dan K. May 6 '16 at 4:30
  • Dan K. - My first thought would be to check the quality of the AC power these laptops' chargers are connected to. I'm assuming you've used the correct chargers for the laptops. If you're using the two-prong dingus on the power brick, replace it with the three-prong grounded cable that it came with. – IconDaemon May 6 '16 at 12:07
  • Thanks for the suggestion, @IconDaemon. I discovered last week that the power brick I've been using with my current laptop is 60W (not sure where my 85W brick went...!), but I'm pretty sure that my previous laptops used the correct power supplies. And yes, I always use the three-prong grounded cables. – Dan K. May 6 '16 at 18:28
  • One inexpensive test you can do is to ensure the correct hot, neutral and ground connections are being made at a wall plate. This little tester sits in my laptop bag with varied video dongles and USB thumb drives. When I need to plug in the power brick to charge in a location I've never been before, this device tells me if the socket is correctly wired. Remember to test BOTH sockets in a duplex jack. Internal damage, either mechanical or electrical, is usually invisible. – IconDaemon May 6 '16 at 20:34

I don't believe anyone can give a definitive answer. I would guess the Apple Tech Support folks would have indicated something by this time.

I personnaly have never heard of this level of repeated failures for a single person and/or device. But I have seen low levels of failures of Apple devices at a much lower, single instance level many times over the years. I have seen that I believe to be failure caused by "power spikes" on both the AC power ( very limited for Laptops ) and but more often thru other connected devices which the the like cause of the failure. Connections thru USB, ethernet - RJ45 cables can cause "logic board failure"/"logic board replacement" situations.

I would suspect it is not your computer itself but the ecosystem of things your device is connecting to that a leading to this level of repeated failure that is hard to figure out ( apparently ).

Can you paint the picture of your ecosystem of devices and home(s) of this device over the time period of failures?

  • Thanks for your reply, Terry. I agree that a definitive answer isn't likely; I’m just hoping for suggestions of possible mechanisms (like those you helpfully provided). My previous laptops had ethernet ports that I used to connect to the internet; my current laptop doesn’t. I only plug in USB drives for backing up/transferring files, and (since 2010) to sync an iPhone 4. I also connect to external projectors/displays. It's true that my current laptop is connected to a 65W (not 85W) power brick, but my other laptops had the appropriate power devices. Please let me know if more info is needed. – Dan K. May 5 '16 at 19:02

several additional questions which may direct some insight:

  1. do you know the reason for board failures? Were they graphics related (ie., video failure)? some of the 2012 and 2013 MBP systems were known to have specific GPU chip failures, which Apple hid from public knowledge fairly well.. That COULD account for some of your board failures.

2 have all these systems been used primarily at the same locations? Have you had power-related issues with other devices at these locations (fridge dying, dishwasher,etc)? if yes, then you need to have a time-delayed power meter put on your power line, to see if you're getting a lot of fluctuation issues or brownouts going on...

  • Thanks for your reply, Frank. My first laptop was a Late-2011 model; it experienced simultaneous airport card failures. My second laptop was a Mid-2012 model; it experienced 3-beeps-of-death problems and freezing accompanied by visual artifacts (bars on the screen – can't remember if horizontal or vertical) that led to RAM replacements. In answer to your other question, all three laptops were used at the same work location (different home locations), though my current computer has been in a different work location since August 2015. There have been no power-related issues with other devices. – Dan K. May 6 '16 at 4:45

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