$10,000 later, an Apple Store Genius diagnoses a $0 MacBook Pro problem

Ben Lovejoy for 9to5Mac:

What appeared to be a major MacBook Pro problem resulting in $10,000’s worth of warranty work finally turned out to be a ridiculously simple fix taking seconds and costing nothing at all.

Photographer and developer Greg Benz tells the story.

My laptop “failed” again for the 4th time today. The first 2 motherboard replacements seemed odd, but I was given a completely new laptop from Apple on the 3rd failure. Just like before, the screen was pure black after clicking the power button and there was a slight fan sound. The only other indication that anything was alive was that the machine would still make an audible chime when plugging in power and the capslock key light could be toggled off and on. So after losing about 2 weeks of my time, >$10,000 in Apple warranty repairs (2 logic boards, new cables, and a complete replacement of a >$7000 computer), troubleshooting input from several Apple Geniuses, level 1 and 2 tech support from Apple Corporate, diagnostic tests at the Apple Store, and diagnostic tests twice at Apple’s repair facility in Texas; what was the root issue?

You’re not going to believe it:

The screen brightness was turned all the way down (not merely dim, but off).

The MacBook Pro problem didn’t, in fact, exist.

MacDailyNews Take: Why didn’t Benz tell the Apple tech or realize himself that he often turns down the screen brightness to zero and that might be the issue, saving $10,000 in unnecessary warranty work?

The MacBook Pro didn’t have a problem, but its OS did. Obviously, Apple should set the display brightness settings to some level (even just 10%) on startup then turn them back to the user’s previous setting once logged in.


  1. Every motherboard replacement should have resolved the problem. The laptop replacement should have resolved the problem. All of the people that dealt with the problem are incompetent.
    Dead display. Connect an external monitor and see the results.

    This is a ridiculous ‘doh’ moment.

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