Widespread 2011 MacBook Pro failures continue: Class action lawsuit to be heard by judge in April

“Reports of failing MacBook Pros have been flooding in since 2013, with many owners of 2011 models with AMD graphics suffering from system crashes and hardware problems that have been described as ‘critical,'” Ashleigh Allsopp reports for Macworld UK.

“Since first publishing this story, we’ve had more than 660 readers get in touch to let us know that they’re experiencing the same issue,” Allsopp reports. “The huge thread on Apple’s Support Communities has now been viewed more than 3.6 million times and has more than 11,500 replies.”

“At the end of October 2014 Apple was hit with a class action lawsuit about the defect in a California federal court,” Allsopp reports. “The lawsuit claims that the defect in the 2011 MacBook Pro comes from the lead-free solder that’s used to connect one of the processing chips to the main circuit board in the computer. According to the complaint, the frequent changes in temperature that occur while using the MacBook Pro cause the lead-free solder to crack, which in turn causes the graphics issues as described above.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Shouldn’t they be suing the European Union, not Apple?

Related articles:
Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards – January 9, 2015
Apple hit with class action lawsuit over 2011 MacBook Pro defect – October 28, 2014

31 Comments

  1. I don’t know anything about the merits of this particular case, but what I do know is that Apple is worth so much money that all they have to do is blink at the wrong moment to get sued by somebody.

    1. The big issue seems to be getting TOO HOT. All electronics cycle in temperature. But if your parts get too hot, then many things can go wrong. Solder is only one of them. I have heard of people who baked their boards and got another year out of them (remelting the solder to get the connection back). Sadly this is not a recommended fix.

      I would strongly suggest Apple look at better cooling air flows. I worked on a MacBook Air (recent) and noticed that it had VENTILATION slits in the sides. This would allow better air into the unit and getting to the fan which would allow better airflow over the heat exchanger, better cooling.

      But it can be a serious issue. I had a MacBook that had the motherboard replaced. ??? cooling???

      ??

    2. The merits of this case are solid. A pervasive design defect has created widespread failures in the 2011 MacBook Pro. My son has one of those bricks at home. Apple needs to do the right thing for this failed laptop, but for whatever reason, they refuse.

  2. Bring back the dam* lead-based solder! No kid is going to lick the insides of a MacBook. (Kids licking/eating cracking paint was the rationale for getting rid of lead-free paint–but this is obviously NOT like that.) A reasonable environmental concern gets carried to a ridiculous extreme, and not for the first time.

    1. Lead in electronic components is not a problem. But when electronic components are deposited in a landfill, the lead in those components can eventually make it’s way into drinking water. I, for one, do not want to drink water with lead contamination. Lead, even at very low levels, causes neurological damage in children. So in a way, this is like kids licking cracking paint. Doesn’t matter whether they get lead from paint or contaminated drinking water, but damage will still be done.

      1. Most people I know never chuck out their old Mac gear.
        Instead it gets ebay’d as spares or is stored in the shed or garage along with all the other Apple gear that has become out of date or broken. Good design, even when broken is hard to just chuck in the dustbin

      2. Sparkles,
        You, for one, do not need to worry about drinking water with lead contamination as a result of lead in landfill. Landfills in the US are heavily regulated and have thick, puncture-resistant lining that prevents leakage. Independent studies (such as by Timothy Townsend at the University of Florida) at actual landfills have found that there is no evidence of risk. There might be an issue at less-regulated landfills in the third world, but I don’t think enough studies have been done to know. What I care about is that Macs work. BTW, don’t believe all the scare-mongering from organizations that raise money from frightening the public (i.e., typical NGO’s); rely on real scientific studies instead.

    2. It’s more complicated than that, Karen. A lot of recycled electronic parts end up in third world countries where depressingly large numbers of devastatingly poor kids live among piles of discarded electronics. The lead DOES leach into the ground they play on and the groundwater they drink.
      On the other side of the coin, most lead used in electronics comes from recycled lead (e.g., car batteries). Replacing lead with tin means more tin mining, which is also bad for the environment – just in different countries.
      As with many things in life, there is no simple answer.

    3. Karen, its not the lead based solder, its the proper cooling of the HOT components, the CPU and the GPU, both of which can get VERY hot during heavy use.

      If there is not enough air getting into the unit, the fan cannot move enough air to cool the heat exchanger (hot air out back) ..

      Just saying.

      1. Don’t forget all the lead acid batteries the Coast Guard dropped in the rivers all over the USSA over the years (an dare beginning to retrieve) or the lead weights we used to bite onto our fishing lines back in the day. Or the old school drinking fountains that contained lead. Or the car radiators or the buried telecom cables encased in lead. Leaching in microelectronic recycling landfills? Get over it and get it recycled. What about the spent lead bullets all over the world from world wars and sustained “conflicts”? Turn that lead into gold.

      1. I would say “strongly linked” instead of “directly attributed,” but your point is otherwise a good one. The link is very strong and coincides on a temporal basis as well as by region: national, state, city, and even areas within a city. Go read about the link between environmental lead (primarily form leaded gasoline) and increased violent crime. After reading about it, I strongly suspect that the significant drop in crime throughout the U.S. in the 90’s was due to environmental laws.

  3. I bought one of these MacBook Pros (15″ Early 2011) on Ebay and it arrived with this issue. Even when I could get it booted up, it wouldn’t work for more than 5 minutes before the screen went garbled and it locked up. Luckily it was just barely still covered by AppleCare and Apple fixed it for free. I’m dreading the day the issue resurfaces, because it looks like they replace the boards with identical ones that have the same problem. Apple needs to make good on this. It’s an engineering defect, plain and simple.

    1. This is clearly a problem. I don’t understand why Apple, with such an excellent reputation for customer service, is dragging its heels on this.
      It’s a rare fail and Apple needs to fix it.

    2. You are exactly right sir. Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before your logic board fails again. My son has his board replaced at his own expense, and the second one failed 10 months later. This is a completely failed laptop line…Apple needs to swallow hard and replace all of them at no expense to the owners. It’s the right thing to do.

  4. The “bring back lead solder” argument makes no sense.

    The 2012-2015 Macbook Pros also have lead-free solder, and they don’t break down like this. The 2011 Macbook Pro’s design flaw is that the logic board overheats to the point of melting its solder. Every solder has thermal limits, and the 2011 Macbook Pro’s logic board regularly exceeds these limits.

    It’s been said many times before over the decades, but it still bears repeating: lead is an exceedingly dangerous and deadly substance for humans. There is no “safe” quantity of lead for the body – even small quantities mess with blood, organ, and brain functionality. The body cannot metabolize it, and nature cannot decompose it. Lead poisoning manifests itself in causing criminal insanity and death.

    Putting lead in consumer products is an anti-human argument. Anyone telling you otherwise is horribly misinformed or trying to sell lead.

    1. Human, not melting the solder but high heat cool high heat cool etc causes stress cracks to appear in the solder, causing intermit failures.

      Proper cooling (air flow) allows the heat exchanger to move heat away from the unit out the back.

  5. The 2006 20″ iMac CoreDuo 2 GHz I bought new had this same issue. Was fixed by AppleCare and then went out again a year later.

    Have had the same issue with two other CoreDuo iMacs with the ATI X1600 graphics card.

    There was a threatened class action lawsuit that apparently went nowhere.

    1. The only real fix for this 2011 MacBook Pro is to melt them down and give the hundreds of thousands of unhappy owners of bricks a new model. Apple does not want to admit fault and lay out that much money.

      They are going to take a major customer satisfaction hit on their stubbornness. As a stockholder, this makes me unhappy. I would prefer Apple do the right thing.

  6. Not everything Apple makes is infallibly designed. Some designes are better than others.

    That said, whether or not a particular product was poorly designed to the point where customers should be compensated for it has to be determined in court, unless the company decides to do so voluntarily.

    These days, the main beneficiaries of most class action law suits are the attorneys. We need a better system.

    As a footnote, I had an iMac that booted up with a peculiar yellow and blue dot pattern all over the display. I had about a month left on my Apple Care. Nearly everything inside was replaced. It still had the problem. Apple gave me a new Mac, the current model (not just a replacement for what I had), with better components than my original Mac. As the rep said, we have to at least equal the specs of your defective equipment. The new Mac had an additional 90 days of Apple Care on top of my original warranty. Nothing lasts forever, so I now ALWAYS buy the Apple Care plan for every piece of equipment I own.

    For me, Apple has always been more than reasonable in supporting their hardware. I don’t know of any company who is their equal.

  7. I have mixed feelings about this. My MBP15″ 2011 had the problem and I had to pay $300 for a new logic board. It’s clearly a known issue and a flaw in design. The EU decision may have been misguided, but to comply with the law, better design was needed. Having logic boards blow frequently wasn’t the answer.

    On the other hand, I only spent $300 repairing my MBP and it’s still running like a champ.

    So would I have made the same decision in 2011 knowing what I know now… ABSOLUTELY!!!

    1. The same thing happened to me; my 2011 15″ MBP is running fine now too.

      One of the concerns though, (as sirjimithy mentions above) is that Apple is apparently replacing the boards with identical boards that could potentially have the same issue.

    2. You are extremely lucky so far. My son’s 2011 MBP’s logic board was replaced for $300 at his expense and that board failed about 10 months later. He’s a starving college graduate, no way he can afford another $2,000 computer that is hailed by Apple as the best of the best.

  8. I’ve changed my board twice so far and board number 3 drops out enough now to loose precious time on time sensitive jobs. Applecare just finished and I’m looking at $730 to fix it. 17″ MBP 2011
    This is one lawsuit I hope apple looses. Very Sad ! Thanks for keeping us up to date on this MDN.

    1. I hope they lose too. It’s not fair to my son who paid over $2,000 for his 2011 MBP, who then watched it fail less than two years later, then at his own cost replaced the logic board, and then that board failed 10 months after that. Apple computers should be better than that, and last far longer.

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