Update: Apple finally owned up to the problem and is offering free repairs starting Feb 20, 2015.
As everyone was starting to queue up for the sale of iPhone 6 today, I was trying to get my macbook working again at the Genius bar. I had been facing problems with a garbled display since the last couple of days which then turned into a critical problem rendering my computer unable to start up. It would show the apple logo and the loading animation but then get stuck with a gray screen.
I am not sure how everyone’s experience at the Apple store has been but I have always had a terrible time explaining any of my problems to the “geniuses” out there. It takes a lot of patience to listen to the condescending way they would talk to you (“You seem to be having a problem with the logic board – you know, the brain of the computer”). I don’t know if they are trained to talk like that to anyone not wearing a blue t-shirt or is it their everyday experiences that make them act like that.
Turns out that early 2011 version of the macbooks with ATI graphics cards came with a manufacturing defect that Apple is refusing to own up to. There are several threads on popular sites and on Apple’s discussion forums that talk about it. In fact, there has been a class action lawsuit has also been filed against Apple against this issue. You can also support the change.org petition and sign your name along with 15,000 supporters there:
— Gaurav Trivedi (@trivedigaurav) September 22, 2014
In case you have been facing the same issue and are looking to buy some more time to get a final backup and move your stuff etc… Moving the graphics driver to a temporary directory helped me with that. Here‘s the StackExchange answer that you could make use of. And if you own a Macbook Pro from 2011 and haven’t faced this problem yet, please do bookmark the link for you would eventually need it anytime you do any graphics intensive work.
1. Zach Clawson has compiled a list of actions that you could possibly take if you are facing a similar problem – https://people.cam.cornell.edu/~zc227/extras/early2011mbp_graphics.html.
2. I had written this post as a rant after a rather disappointing visit to the Apple Store. I have edited some portions since then for providing a more objective view.
3. Add bug report screenshot:
I have filed a bug report for this issue as well to make sure that it is in their system (which they later updated to be a duplicate of another issue – see picture).