My early 2011 MBP 15 stopped loading one day and is stuck on the grey screen when I start it up.

  • I have changed the hard drive with a formatted one (that I did on my Mac Pro) to the journaled file system
  • cleared the NVRAM reset SMC

  • tried booting from a restore USB I created with OSX on it (wouldn't load)

  • replaced the thermal past on the heat sink
  • tried to run in single user mode to diagnose firmware problems but now it won't boot into single user mode holding CommandS no matter what I do, it just keeps loading to the folder with the question mark (no operating system yet on the new hard drive)

I can get it to start the Internet restore except it gets to the point where the Apple logo comes up, with the spinning wheel below it, then the screen flashes black then grey and stays grey forever.

I have gone through every thread I can find on this and am now lost. The last idea is to reload the firmware but I haven't found exactly how to do that yet, or at least check it to see if it is corrupt. Any ideas on how I can get into single user mode? Any ideas as to what is going on?

  • You can boot to AHT from USB - DL links & instructions - github.com/upekkha/AppleHardwareTest
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 5, 2017 at 17:18
  • Can you boot in verbose mode? (Cmd-V). Watch the boot messages and see if you can determine where it's crashing.
    – Allan
    Dec 5, 2017 at 18:15
  • It won't boot into cmd+V but it did run the AHT. I get a battery error (4xxx/1/40000000). I know the battery is bad but I've read now that it might actually need a functioning battery for some extra power on start up. does that make sense? It didn't return any other errors but hopefully it just doesn't stop running the test when it finds a problem.
    – cp17
    Dec 6, 2017 at 0:55
  • Anecdotally [& the reason I know where the AHT page is ;) I spent 2 days ignoring the battery error & trying to figure out which other component was failing in my Mac.. 2 whole days :/ ...then I changed the battery & all the other random errors went away. [BTW, the test progress is not greatly informative - you can think the damn thing's hung, but if you can still move the cursor it's still running. Be patient - very patient. One test run took 16 hours.]
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 6, 2017 at 8:14

2 Answers 2


My iMac 2011 had grey screen hanging like yours - same exact issues. I also wiped out my hard drive, internet recovery would hang, turns out both RAM sticks in my iMac went bad at the same exact time. Replacing those fixed the issues for me.


I had this problem. My gpu was coming unsoldered from the board. I had someone reflow the chip, and it worked like a charm. Those models have two different video gpu's. It switches between the two depending on the needs. One of yours may be bad. Find a tech and ask if he can reflow the gpu chip. I got it done for 50 bucks.

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