Last week my Macbook Pro from 2012 suddenly had a display issue. I was working on something using my external monitor (through thunderbolt -> displayPort) when the screen showed some banding and the computer suddenly turned itself off..

strange banding

where startup ends: display shows black screen with no input

Here is a description of what it is currently doing when I turn it back on:

  • shows the normal apple start screen with progress bar
  • progress bar slowly moves across and then I get some strange banding in the top (see screenshot)
  • eventually the progress bar gets stuck about 75-80% of the way and the screen goes to just gray
  • and then it switches to being black

Now the screen stays lit up but I don't have a cursor or any way to control it.

I have tried to connect it to various monitors in this state (display port, DVI, etc) all through the thunderbolt display but nothing registers...

Here is a list of what I have tried so far:

  • resetting PRAM - keyboard combo works, PRAM resets as it boots again but no change
  • resetting SMC - keyboard combo works, computer resets but no change
  • target disk mode - this works, i have it in target disk mode now and am backing up files onto my macbook air. I also read a post about deleting the com.apple.loginWindow.plist preferences which I did but no change

Oddly I found that a lot of 'normal' startup key combinations are not working anymore, even though this used to when i had other issues on this.

Does not work:

  • holding down SHIFT to go into safe mode: does not work / no difference in startup
  • holding down D for diagnostics or V for verbose: does not work
  • holding down Control-R for recovery mode: does not work

I am making an appointment to at the apple store today after I finish the backup but I am wondering if anybody has any advice. Isn't it odd that these startup options don't work? Also the display lights up and displays the thunderbolt icon fine when it is in target disk mode so that seems like the display is working...

Thank you! - J

  • have you tried resetting the SMC? the normal things, thats the first thing I do before starting any diagnosis. – OzzieSpin Oct 31 '16 at 21:06
  • @OzzieSpin hey - yeah I did that a few times as mentioned above. must be something with the display hardware, prob will find out today – jjj Nov 1 '16 at 14:40
  • Could be a GPU though the same would happen when using the external display, I would say it's in between the GPU, and the screen – OzzieSpin Nov 1 '16 at 15:22
  • Have you tried reinstalling, installed newest updates etc. – OzzieSpin Nov 1 '16 at 15:23
  • Seems that the external GPU (GT 650M) is causing the problem. Try booting in single mode (cmd-s) and see if text mode works. Note that some notebooks from this year have issues like this and are covered under this program: apple.com/support/macbookpro-videoissues – mspasov Dec 4 '16 at 10:47

I suspect a video card issue (that band of "static" on the top pic usually means it's the video subsystem) though it could be cabling or the display itself.

You are on the right track though. A Genius Bar appointment will diagnose the issue.

  • I agree, seems like a hardware issue. – CJ Dana Oct 31 '16 at 21:44

I had the same problem on macOS Sierra. Everyone said that it must be a faulty graphics card, but for me it was not!

Instead, I found this solution worked:

  1. Install a previous OS (such as Yosemite)
  2. Remember not to reset the PRAM/NVRAM
  3. Upgrade to macOS Sierra (if you want)

Following this process worked for me!

Yes, turns out my MacBookPro was still covered so Apple fixed it for me without charge. Amazing!

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