Monday, February 20, 2012

How 1¢, a torx screwdriver, and some gumption saved me $400-$600 (Macbook Pro repair)

 So, I shot a music video for an awesome artist with a famous guest appearance on my new Canon SX40 in 1080p full HD (will post when fully edited).

So far, I have mainly been using the camera for photo's, and have been greatly pleased with it.
Editing photos with PS, Lightroom and Aperture have been great on my HP or Toshiba hackintosh, even iFrame format movies.

1080p though? Not a chance :( ... The HP has an unlocked Nvidia ion card but a single Atom processor, the HackShiba is dual core duo but only Intel x1600 graphics...

What to do? I didn't want to tell him he needed a new editor, and what editor wants to sit at someone else's equipment for 12 hours straight?

About a year ago a mentor and friend of mine gave me a 17" Macbook Pro with a bad case of graphic card failure (ATI), which unlike the same problem in Nvidia Mac's doesn't come with a free repair (Nvidia, not Apple, picks up the cost).

Apple would, however, replace the whole Motherboard for a "flat" fee of $400. Third parties wanted $700 and up for a new logic board.  Newer than mine Macbook Pro's are going for about $600 on Craigslist.

The picture above is how the screen looks after I removed the Ati kexts or when started in safemode (safemode has no sound,wifi or qe/cl though).

A regular start led to "the white screen of death".

I had gotten the thing to work intermittently a few times fsck'ing the #3LL out of it in single user mode, but that was unreliable.

So here's what I did, and I'm sitting here typing this to you now on the MBP.......

You need a small phillips and a T6 Torx screwdriver, patience, steady hands and a little prayer doesn't hurt either. The offending Ati chip was missing a bunch of thermal paste, and a little loose from the board I theorized.
After seeing some guy on youtube, with the same Laptop and problem take a heat gun and reflow the chip in his kitchen, I strongly considered this... The lack of a heat gun and concern about rendering the MBP completely useless if a mistake were to happen stopped me though.

I could still use the thing as a server and play music on it if nothing else!

So, I :

1.) Took a penny, washed all dirt off in alcohol, let it dry.

2.) Stuck it here (heads up for luck) --->

3.) Re-applied thermal paste to the chips....

4.) Buttoned her up and... voila! Nothing happened... Turned it on and the same problem... Stuck her in a corner and left her until...

5.) I turned it on again a few hours later to transfer a file and BAM! It's magic, tadaa! Once again, a simple solution for an expensive problem.

With the crossed swords of my SX40 on CHDK and this MBP, I come to slay the twin dragons of Winblows movie maker and poorly chosen slideshow music x)

Feel free to leave some comments on how you may have used some elbow grease to save yourself car or rent type money when the "experts" and lazy people told you to pay up, or how much fail big corporations have got when asking me to shell out my hard earned dough.
I'm from the SouthSide ;)

Chicago that is, and if you didn't know before......

I Remain,


  1. Congratulations! This is the best thing, Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.

  2. I hope it helps you! Have you tried it yourself?