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Apple investigating gaming, browser graphics errors

updated 05:15 pm EST, Wed November 26, 2008

MacBook graphics errors

Apple is investigating two different graphics issues relating to MacBooks, posters in the company's support forums say. The first is limited to unibody MacBook Pros, but involves a hard lockup during various games, in which the screen goes black, audio loops and no cursor control is possible. The problem affects both Mac and Windows games, and appears to be unrelated to a specific title, since crashes have occurred in games like Call of Duty 4, World of Warcraft and Company of Heroes.

Customer speculation suggests that the trouble may lie with drivers or cooling, leading to a situation in which a Mac overheats. This is supported by some mildly successful troubleshooting efforts, which have involved installing alternate NVIDIA drivers and a utility for manually controlling fan speed. Other Pro owners have reported having to swap out their logic boards however, or getting a replacement system.

The second problem affects both Pro and basic unibody MacBooks, and entails wave distortions in web browsers as well as HD video. The error is said to be particularly unusual in that it affects only Mac OS X and not Windows, and has a parallel with NVIDIA-based iMacs, but no Apple computer with Intel or AMD graphics.

It is thought that the cause could again be related to NVIDIA drivers, but also the WebKit engine, used in browsers such as Safari. Non-WebKit browsers such as Opera appear to be unaffected by the distortions.

by MacNN Staff



  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    My guess... that it's more of an Nvidia issue than an Apple-only or Apple-specific issue.

    Why I think so is b/c I've had bad experiences with Nforce chipsets in the past on PC notebooks (specifically the 6600), and issues like those described seemed to happen on occasion (especially the fan!).

    Law of First Revision -- Never buy the first of anything!

  1. panjandrum

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Overheating video chipset

    Overheating video chipsets in a Mac? Who would have thought!

    This has been a common problem recently. We have seen it across a number of models, including the Mac Pro (which one would think had sufficient cooling, apparently doesn't in some cases), and with both ATI and Nvidia chipsets. It is very annoying that these companies have so obviously not performed proper product testing on their chipsets, and that Apple has just passed these problems on to their consumers instead of properly testing the parts they are using.

  1. miyazakifan

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You would think that they would have fixed this kind of thing by now . . .

    I had to just replace my logic board on my early 2008 MacBook Pro because of the defective Nvidia 8600GT graphics processor. Haven't Nvidia & Apple learned anything from this? I think these chips had about a 100% failure rate.

    This doesn't bode well for Apple. I've owned a 2nd generation iMac, a PowerMac 6500, an LC III and a Mac SE - never had any problems like this before. Somebody's really slipping up . . .

  1. pt123

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Sounds like a familiar problem - the Macbook had heat related random shutdown syndrome problems.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    an nVidia issue????

    An nVidia issue rather than an Apple-specific issue???? What are you smoking? If a restaurant gives you food poisoning, it doesn't matter who sold them the chicken, they're the ones who served it to you, period. What is this, defend Apple at any cost?

  1. imagine engine

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Replaceable GPU

    Why doesn't Apple work with NVIDIA to allow an easy to replace graphics card for the MacBook and MacBook Pro logic boards? This way Apple wouldn't need to take out the entire logic board thus lowering the amount of time spent replacing defective parts such the faulty GPU. This would also provide the option for Apple to sell other GPU solutions (ie: Quadro FX 3700M) to their customers wanting to upgrade their current system. NVIDIA already has this technology so all it takes is Apple to work it into their logic board design.

    As for the current issue with the NVIDIA GPU used in the MacBook line it's unfortunate. Compared to ATI, NVIDIA has a long standing history of quality products and drivers used by both gamers and the film industry. It's surprising to hear that they are having issue with this GPU. If they had offered interchangeable graphics then the MacBook could of used the 9XXX series instead of the current 8XXX series.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Unibody MacBook too

    The overheating and lockups (sans black screen) are occuring on my unibody 2.4Ghz MacBook, too, during gaming, including playing World of Warcraft. My workaround has involved overclocking the internal fan, which has resolved the issue temporarily. Disappointing...

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