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New MacBook Pro faced with NVIDIA defect?

updated 10:15 am EST, Tue December 9, 2008

MacBook Pro NVIDIA Risk

Apple's latest-generation MacBook Pro systems may face the same material defect in their dedicated graphics hardware as encountered by earlier models, according to an investigation by the Inquirer. A dissection of the GeForce 9600M chip shows the part using the same non-eutectic (higher melting point) soldered contact bumps as the GeForce 8600M, suggesting the graphics hardware is prone to the same long-term heat damage risk as the GeForce 8400M and 8600M series chips, producing the blank screens and other video errors that have triggered recalls of previous MacBook Pro revisions as well as wider-still recalls by Dell, HP and others.

The integrated GeForce 9400M chipset, which is used across all of Apple's new MacBooks as well as a handful of newer Windows systems, is shown to use proper eutectic (low melting point) bumps and so shouldn't be prone to the same issues. The related 9300M and the low-end 6400 lineup should also be reliable.

It's unclear whether the issue affects all MacBook Pros, though the sample used to reach the findings was a retail example from just after the official launch in mid-October. Numerous reports have surfaced in Apple's support forums of screens going black in graphics-intensive games and of excessive heat in other conditions, though NVIDIA is already understood to be transitioning over to the true eutectic bumps for all its video hardware.

The discovery contradicts statements by NVIDIA investor relations head Michael Hara, who told the investigators in October that the 9600M was using the newer material. Presented with the newer findings, he now says the particular material mix is different and thus that the dedicated part still shouldn't be prone to the same failures as the earlier 8M hardware, though he doesn't explicitly deny the use of non-eutectic content.

If consistent, the revelation would suggest continued problems for NVIDIA, which posted a $120 million loss earlier this year related specifically to the graphics defects and which has been repeatedly pushed to acknowledge that more of its video chipsets have been affected by the choice of non-eutectic material. At first, the company only acknowledged that a small number of HP notebooks were affected.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999



    When will laptop manufacturers learn that ATI is better than NVIDIA at the present time? These two gpu manufacturers switch places every few years in who is top dog and who is lacking behind. Toshiba learned from their mistakes and are selling mostly ATI cards with their laptops. I hope Apple, Dell and HP wakeup and smell the coffee and dump nvidia until they fix their bugs.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    I don't know, is the new MacBook Pro faced with an NVIDIA defect?

  1. cmdahler

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2005


    No real surprise

    This just goes along with the general trend of Apple products over the last few years. I have learned through personal experience and from the multitude of stories similar to this one covering just about every product in Apple's line that one should never buy a new Apple product until at least 6 months into the product cycle. This will allow Apple to iron out whatever serious bugs (there will always be at least one that will make it into the news outlets) plague the new product due to an apparent lack of product quality control/testing. Unfortunately, this is not isolated to one product, but seems to be a consistent trend across every product Apple produces these days. Sad, really.

  1. moofpup

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2007


    If it's true...

    If it's true, it's totally unacceptable given the previous generation MacBook Pro. However, this article maybe jumping the gun. The Inquirer doesn't have the most reliable track record or the most trustworthy!

  1. mathuetax

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2003


    Solder material

    I guess I'll take a wait and see attitude. The Inquirer isn't the best place to get electronics manufacturing data. In any case, Apple would cover the issue if it came about.


    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2004


    I have one… 

    We bought 2 MacBook Pro ( 1 Macbook unibody) and one MBP is definitely way hotter than the other. While gaming or doing graphics stuff the whole left part of the notebook is getting hotter. Even the COD4 Test which we have conducted pushed the coretemperature in th 2.8 one to 108°C... (istat), while the 2.53 gone only up to 85°C with a small pike at 90°C… I never had a notebook running so hot. And my last one as a 2.4 C2D 17" with the dreaded 8600GT. The new unibody MacBook 13… which is completely flawless. But the MBP with 2.8… is just running even hot when surfing websites. It is a competely different setting though if I swithc over to the 9400m… it has definitely to do something with the 9600M in it. That are my findings. I have also contacted Apple as I am not willing to cope with a defective part… which is running hot and shortening the lifetime of the computer AND being extremely unpleasant to work with… (HOT!) I use most of the time now my 13 Macbook Unibody… Besides: This IS already an exchange model, as the first one had a bent chassis… and went right back.sighThe Curse of the early adopter, huh?martin

  1. ff11

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2004


    Only two options

    Make every component of the laptop yourself, or use other manufacturers. Apple is simply not capable of doing the former, it would take too many resources for any one company to take on such a project, so they use parts from the top manufactureres.

    No one will deny the fact that NVIDIA is one of the two top manufacturers of consumer graphics cards. In this case they made a huge mistake and tried to cover it up, and Apple (as well as many other manufacturers MAY have gotten burnt. I stress may, because as far as I know not even one Mac has turned up with this defect to date (so the QC is not so bad after all).

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