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Problems with video in MacBook and their treatment. No image on MacBook. MacBook doesn't turn on.
Problems with video in MacBook and their treatment. No image on MacBook. MacBook doesn't turn on.

Problems with video on MacBook and their treatment

RU this article on russian

Our workshop often receives MacBooks with faulty graphics processors (also known as video cards, video accelerators, or video chips). Some problems can be solved through software - by adjusting or reinstalling the system. In most cases, however, intervention at the hardware level is required - component repair - replacing the chip on a soldering station.

In this article, we will discuss the following questions:

  • How is graphics structured?
  • Why does this graphics break?
  • How to reduce the risk of graphics adapter failure?
  • What are the signs of graphics malfunction?
  • Which models are most commonly affected by graphics accelerator problems?
  • How is the repair carried out?
  • How much does a typical Mac graphics repair cost?

How is the graphics system structured

The graphics system in a MacBook, like any other computer, is a functional unit responsible for processing and outputting graphical data, in other words, images on the screen.

Graphics are divided into two types:

  • Integrated
  • Discrete

Discrete graphics are more high-performance, which is achieved by soldering a separate specialized BGA microchip - a graphics processor (video chip) and video memory chips onto the board. Macs use video chips manufactured by Nvidia and Ati, and video memory is usually Samsung and Huinix.

Discrete graphics
Video chip Video memory
Integrated graphics of MacBook. MacBook doesn't turn on. Integrated graphics of MacBook. MacBook won't turn on.
Integrated graphics
Integrated graphics on the MacBook Air motherboard.

Integrated graphics has always been considered weaker, but Intel's recent achievements in the graphics characteristics of its processors are changing this perception.

Integrated graphics refers to a graphics system that is built into the processor or chipset. The chipset is a multifunctional BGA microchip that works in conjunction with the processor. In older generations of Macs with Core 2 Duo processors, Nvidia produced the chipset, which acted as the north and south bridge and video chip. In more recent models with Core i processors, the graphics core has moved into the processor, and Intel produces the chipset for these boards. It mainly functions as a hub and is an input-output device that coordinates with peripherals. In the latest mobile processors, such as Haswell, Intel has even eliminated the separate chipset, incorporating it into the processor. Video memory for integrated graphics is allocated from the computer's general RAM.

Advantages and disadvantages of integrated and discrete graphics

The main advantage of integrated graphics is lower power consumption and therefore longer battery life. Apple installs integrated graphics in all its modern laptops. In some models (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13), it is the only graphics system. In other, more powerful models (MacBook Pro 15/17), it works in tandem with discrete graphics. Switching occurs automatically, depending on the workload of graphics tasks. Discrete graphics, as the only option, were only installed in iMac, Mac Pro, and some Mac mini models.

How to determine video chip failure in MacBook?

Let's list the general signs of a video chip failure:

  • Distorted image
  • No image
  • Freezes or disrupts the image when switching graphics
  • The system does not boot: it only boots to a white screen

The signs of a faulty chipset are not so pronounced. Very rarely does a faulty chipset manifest as a picture disturbance. The following symptoms most often indicate a chipset malfunction:

  • No image on MacBook
  • Freezes during operation
  • he system does not boot/install
  • Does not turn on

In a repair shop, diagnosing a chip failure is very simple. You need to blow hot air onto the chip crystal (from a thermal soldering station), temperature 350-400 degrees, time 10 seconds. After this, in 90% of cases, the microchip temporarily restores its functionality.

Typical video malfunctions for different models

The tables below list Mac models, video card names, and chip markings. The chip failure for these Macs is a typical malfunction, which means that there is a high probability of breakdown.

(Note: The original text does not provide any tables)


Typical video chip malfunctions


video chip


MacBook Pro 15”

middle/end 2007, A1226 (MacBookPro 3,1)

NVIDIA GeForce 8600M


MacBook Pro 15”

middle/end 2008, A1260 (MacBookPro 4,1)

MacBook Pro 17”

middle/end 2007, A1229 (MacBookPro 3,1)

MacBook Pro 17”

start/end 2008, A1261 (MacBookPro 4,1)

MacBook Pro 15”

middle 2010, A1286 (MacBookPro 6,2)

NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M


MacBook Pro 17”

middle 2010, A1297 (MacBookPro 6,1)

MacBook Pro 15”

start 2011, A1286 (MacBookPro 8,2)

Ati Radeon HD 6490M


MacBook Pro 15”

middle/end2011, A1286 (MacBookPro 8,2)

Ati Radeon HD 6750M


MacBook Pro 17”

start 2011, A1297 (MacBookPro 8,3)

MacBook Pro 15”

end 2011, A1286 (MacBookPro 8,2)

Ati Radeon HD 6770M


MacBook Pro 17”

end 2011, A1297 (MacBookPro 8,3)

MacBook Pro 15”

middle 2012, A1286 (MacBookPro9,1)



MacBook Pro Retina 15” middle 2012, A1398 (MacBookPro 10,1)


Typical faults of chipsets


video chip


MacBook aluminum end 2008, A1278 (MacBook 5,1)

NVIDIA GeForce 9400M


MacBook unibody

end 2009, A1342 (MacBook 6,1)

MacBook Pro 13’’

middle 2009, A1278 (MacBookPro 5,5)

MacBook Pro 15”

end 2008, A1286 (MacBookPro 5,1)

MacBook Pro 15”

middle 2009, A1286 (MacBookPro 5,3)

MacBook Pro 17”

start/end 2010, A1297 (MacBookPro 5,2)

MacBook unibody

middle 2010, A1342 (MacBook 7,1)

NVIDIA GeForce 320M


MacBook Pro 13’’

middle 2010, A1278 (MacBookPro 7,1)

MacBook Air 13’’

end/middle 2009, A1304 (MacBookAir 2,1)

NVIDIA GeForce 9400M


MacBook Air 11’’

end 2010, A1370 (MacBookAir 3,1)

NVIDIA GeForce 320M


MacBook Air 13’’

end 2010, A1369 (MacBookAir 3,2)

NVIDIA GeForce 320M


MacBook Air 11’’

middle 2011, A1370 (MacBookAir 4,1)

Intel HD Graphics 3000



MacBook Air 13’’

middle 2011, A1369 (MacBookAir 4,2)

MacBook Air 11’’

middle 2012, A1465 (MacBookAir 5,1)

Intel HD Graphics 4000



MacBook Air 13’’

middle 2012, A1466 (MacBookAir 5,2)

Note: some models have typical malfunctions that resemble chip failure symptoms, but the cause is not in the chip itself, but in the circuitry. More details in our article: Replace the chip or not..?

How the repair process works

If your MacBook's video chip or chipset is broken, the only reliable and durable repair method is to replace the microchip using a soldering station. We emphasize that it is a replacement, as some services offer more budget solutions such as thermal shrinkage (heating the chip until the balls melt) or reballing (reinstalling the old chip: the chip is removed, the contact balls are restored, and it is hung back). But these methods are a waste of money. The old chip won't work for long. Why this is the case is a separate topic for a separate article.

The repair process is relatively simple but requires specialized equipment - an infrared soldering station and a qualified technician. Using the station, the faulty chip is removed and a new one is installed. We use a domestic soldering station, Termopro IR 650. This is the most popular station among professional repairers. It has an optimal price-quality ratio. It is much better than China's and much cheaper than the branded Ersa.

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