I recently finished replacing the "lower half" (upper case, logic and I/O boards, battery, keyboard, and trackpad) of my mid-2012 retina pro (MacBook 10,1) with an early 2013 "lower half" that I bought. This was intended to be an easier way to replace the logic board, which had fallen to the GPU kernel panics that affect some Retina Pros of that vintage. I had also taken the opportunity to perform a clean install of Mojave, as my Mac had failed before Mojave's release. Unfortunately, I've been been having issues getting the computer to reliably boot into a usable state, which has made the install process far more painful than it should be.

In short, it appears that when the computer is about to finish booting up, the display sometimes stops updating while the rest of the system finishes the boot sequence. This happens regardless of the way I boot the computer, as it happens:

  • When trying to boot from a USB Mojave installer
  • When trying to boot using Internet Recovery
  • When trying to use the recovery partition after an install
  • During the install process, after the computer reboots prior to starting the post-install setup
  • When the Desktop is normally loaded
  • When booting into safe mode after an install

This lack of updating extends to putting the display to sleep and waking it up from sleep. The backlight remains on after the lid is closed, and even though the display turns off after an idle period, it will not turn back on after the computer wakes up.

The reason I know that the rest of the system appears to be working even though the screen isn't updating is because I can still interact with the computer via VoiceOver. I've reformatted the SSD and started the install process at least once via VoiceOver, and can do basic things like open Safari and navigate to various webpages.

At this point, I think I've successfully installed Mojave, but I'm still struggling with this issue. The problem is intermittent; I'll get a series of one or more boots in a row where the display freezes, then a series of one or more boots where macOS successfully boots to the Desktop. Then I'll reboot, and the cycle repeats. I haven't been able to detect any patterns so far, unfortunately.

I have yet to experiment with extended use after the computer boots successfully. I'll update the post as I learn more.

Is this another busted graphics card? If not, how can I convince my computer to boot reliably? I hope it isn't a busted logic board, but I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.

As a side note, I've gotten a few kernel panics during the install process when trying to set up user accounts, but the one time I got a panic report it didn't appear to be related to the GPU.

  • Plug into an external monitor - does it work? Also, for the next time, it's better to address one issue at a time - not do all in one shot. Fix the logic board issue and confirm it's resolved, then upgrade. This will help you avoid compounding a ton of smaller problems into one big, confusing one. – Allan Dec 17 '18 at 23:12
  • did you look into Console to see what is it doing – Ruskes Dec 17 '18 at 23:40
  • @Allan If the computer boots successfully, plugging in an external monitor appears to work, albeit sometimes with some flickering around color compression artifacts in the default desktop background. Unplugging is another story, though; I got what appeared to be hard freezes two of three times I unplugged a working monitor, and got a kernel panic the third. Unfortunately, I was stupid and didn't write down the full kernel panic message, but IIRC it was a CPU (page?) fault in the NVidia driver. – awksp Dec 18 '18 at 1:05
  • It sounds like you replaced your faulty GPU logic board with another faulty GPU logic board. I would next try AHT - Apple Hardware Test. Hold D while booting from a powered off state with the AC adapter attached. – Allan Dec 18 '18 at 1:06
  • @Allan I spoke too soon; I plugged in an external monitor after a successful boot, and the retina screen immediately started displaying highly distorted versions of the screen contents, flickering between those and what looks mostly like the actual screen contents. After a bit doing that, the screen went dark. This happened after another reboot, too. This resembles the behavior my old computer exhibited before its graphics chip failed, so I'm guessing it's indeed another defective logic board. Thanks for the idea to use an external monitor! I can't believe I didn't think of that earlier. – awksp Dec 18 '18 at 1:11

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