How I got a “new” MacBook Pro at no cost

[dropcap1]A[/dropcap1]bout two weeks ago, my old Macbook Pro (a 15 inch Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 Ghz unibody circa 2008) suddenly heaved signs of distress. The LCD screen showed color distortions on boot up.  The hard drive is warm to touch. Shutting down the unit and then restarting allowed me to boot and then log in. After about 4 cycles of restarting, my mac screen went blank and I couldn’t boot anymore, even if my hard drive is churning active! What the? All of a sudden?

I felt stunned. I was a firm believer Macs are indestructible breed of PCs. Thus, I never searched  for “bugs” on my model of Mac when I bought it. A universally stupid presumption!

I searched  the net  for a diagnosis to this kind of mac problem. An Apple article implied that a defective GPU packaging possibly toasted my MBP’s logic board.  The culprit is a batch of  NVIDIA 8600GM GPU soldered to the logic board of an MBP similar to and  manufactured at the same time as my MBP.

Allegedly, such “defective” GPU melts on average, warm temperatures  (other non-defective GPUs do not) and possibly short circuit the MBP’s logic board. If an MBP shows video distortion like what’s described in this article, manufactured around this year (late 2007-2008), and has this specific GPU, Apple offers an extended replacement program.

I called up Apple support (thru their toll free hotline) and the personnel instructed me to bring my MBP to the nearest apple authorized service provider (AASP). Should my MBP “pass” the diagnostic tests made by the techs at this AASP, my MBP would be repaired at no cost. Heaven knows how stringent these diagnostic criteria could be. But I don’t have any other choice either. The outlook of me shelling some 20-30K for logic board repairs is out of the equation.

The tech at this AASP performed a series of tests on my MBP as per instruction of Apple. His preliminary diagnosis was lethal, something that might not be just limited to my MBP’s GPU. It’s a logic board problem. Logic board repair or replacement outside of its warranty period is expensive, not to mention impractical. You might be better off buying a new, faster and higher valued mac than replace a an old MBP’s logic board. Worst, logic board replacement will not be covered by the GPU recall’s extended warranty or trade in. The GPU recall extended warranty and trade in program covers only up to 3 years from the date of purchase. My MBP is 4 years old. Bad news, but I’m not giving up just yet.

I called back the tech at AASP and explained  why the logic board possibly got affected. I’m no better techie than the tech at the AASP but you don’t need to be a genius to understand the logic behind this logic board problem.  If the GPU is soldered  to the logic board, and is defective , melts at high temperatures, chances are, it short circuited and destroyed the logic board too.

If this is the case, my MBP qualifies for Apple’s Extended Warranty program because the defective GPU toasted the logic board. The tech was helpful enough to refer back again my “case” to Apple. He gave case number and asked me to call Apple support and talk about my concern. After several discussions with Apple’s customer support and them interviewing me several times, plus the shuffling between me and the tech at AASP, Apple made me one surprising decision.

They’re going to make an exception in my case and replace my logic board with a new one. They’ll send a new logic board to the AASP and then the AASP will do the repairs, all at no cost to me.

I was speechless. Replacement at no cost. A new logic board meant an almost new MBP. Hence, I have a “new” Mac Book now. 🙂