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But with no sign of kernel panic in the console. The screen just turns black all of a sudden, but the backlight stays on. After up to 10 seconds, it shuts down completely. People I talked to over Apple chat were convinced it was a battery problem, but the battery drains normally, and the problem appears with or without the power cable connected. They had me reset NVRAM and SMC, still no change. I booted into a linux distro from an external drive and used it for more than 12 hours without any interruption. Although not definitive, this strongly suggests that this might be a software problem rather than an hardware problem. If so, how could I pinpoint a problem that doesn't show up in the console? I'm using 10.11.6.

Edit: I should also add that this happens in irregular intervals. It can be as frequent as once in 20 minutes, or as sporadic as every 5 hours.

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Go into recovery mode and reinstall MacOS. That sounds like a software issue. Give that a try, if the results are still the same, then you may have a bad drive.

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    This process will let you know if MacOS is the culprit. Other than that if it isnt MacOS then its hardware related. – Melvin Jefferson Jan 18 '18 at 20:50
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    Does it matter if I do a clean install or not? – sodiumnitrate Jan 19 '18 at 19:35
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    Also check to see if the hard drive is mounted in disk utility while in recovery mode. A disk that wont mount is a clear cut sign of a bad disk drive. – Melvin Jefferson Jan 19 '18 at 19:40
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    So I ended up doing a clean install. The hard drive showed up fine in disk utility, prior to wiping it. But anyway, the clean install didn't solve the problem at all. I installed 10.12.6, so now I can't see the entries in the console prior to reboot (apparently that's a sierra thing). – sodiumnitrate Jan 20 '18 at 5:26
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    Contact Apple support. They'll investigate further. It could be a kernel problem. Ultimately they'll probably send the info to the engineering team. – Melvin Jefferson Jan 20 '18 at 5:35

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