I have a MacBook Pro 15" (Early 2011) model which suddenly is not booting correctly.


  1. Apple logo and loading bar appear.
  2. Loading bar loads part way, freezes for a while.
  3. Screen flashes momentarily, then grey screen appears.
  4. Grey screen stays forever.

Attempted troubleshooting:

Safe mode: symptoms unchanged
Single-user mode: symptoms unchanged
Verbose mode: symptoms unchanged
Clear NVRAM: Apple logo and loading bar appears, freezes, and stays that way forever. After another reboot returns to original behavior.
Boot from USB memory (with MacOS Sierra install): boot menu appears, and allows me to select the USB memory stick for booting, after starting boot process from memory, returns to original behavior (note that I used same memory stick to load MacOS Sierra onto a Mac Mini with no problems)
Removed Hard Drive completely (and attempted to boot from USB memory): symptoms unchanged
Replaced internal memory: symptoms unchanged
Attempted boot with charger unplugged: symptoms unchanged


So, I'm thinking that, if it is not the

  1. Hard drive, or
  2. Memory, or
  3. Power Supply

...then it must be the motherboard that is bad. Before I make that definitive conclusion, I'm wondering if there are any other ideas that I might try?


On a side note that might be more relevant than I think, I noticed that this model is one of the models potentially implicated in the MacBook solder scandal (see https://www.apple.com/support/macbookpro-videoissues/ which lists the 15" Early 2011 model as one of the model lines with problems). The symptoms don't exactly match what is listed there. I haven't noticed any video problems (except for when I was changing out the memory: I got a couple of strange all-blue screens, but that could just be a result of poorly seated memory). However, is it possible that a failing video adapter could cause problems at boot time?

  • You said you booted in "Verbose Mode." Where did it hang? Can you take a picture? Also, have you tried running Apple Hardware Test (AHT). Hold the D key while booting from a powered off state with the AC adapter connected.
    – Allan
    Oct 25, 2016 at 17:01
  • Hi @Daniel, I have a similar problem, did you manage to fix it?
    – Cristian
    Jul 22, 2017 at 12:31
  • Can you boot on the original installation media? Sep 6, 2018 at 10:36

3 Answers 3


Try Resetting the SMC (if you haven't already, and see if that changes any of the mentioned behaviors)

  1. Shut down the Mac.
  2. Plug in the MagSafe or USB-C power adapter to a power source and to your Mac.
  3. Using the built-in keyboard, press Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the keyboard, then press the power button at the same time.
  4. Release all keys, then press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

The SMC or System Management Controller can require a reset and exhibit similar symptoms when malfunctioning. If this doesn't help, I can only suggest there may be hardware damage somewhere or possibly latent water damage side effects manifesting themselves.


This might be a hardware problem, especially with the hard drive. Hence, I suggest this procedure:

  1. Unscrew the bottom cover
  2. Carefully extract the hard drive
  3. Insert the hard drive in an SATA to USB converter
  4. Check the hard drive condition of the hard drive from a Windows PC, using HD Sentinel or HD Tune trial version. Check if there are warnings, especially "Reallocated sector counts", which would be an indicator of bad sectors.

If the are no warnings in the S.M.A.R.T. values, you can perform a more thorough scan of all sectors using HD Tune.

  • If there reallocated sector counts / bad sectors, tell it as comment to this message and don't insist with the drive as it can make a data recovery much more pricey if things worsen.
    – OuzoPower
    May 9, 2018 at 16:57

I'm having trouble remembering exactly which computer this was, but I am 99% sure it turned out to be a bad video card - one of the recalled models.

To make matters worse, the local Authorized Mac Resellers (this was in a country that does not have official Apple stores) refused to repair it, even under the recall notice, until finally the recall period had expired.

I think the local store eventually tried baking the motherboard, for a charge, which then resulted in more damage.

Anyway, as I've heard, Apple was just swapping out the bad parts with similar parts with the exact same fault that would eventually fail again. What a ****show.

  • Interesting that my description of reality gets downvoted. It was one of the MacBook Pro models with known bad solder problems with the nVidia video chip. Apple had an official recall for the issue, but it failed to close to the deadline and the shenanigans of local (overseas) "authorized" service centers prevented it from actually being serviced under the recall warranty.
    – Daniel
    Sep 5, 2019 at 9:58

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