Ageing MacBook Pro issues


#1

I have a late 2010 MacBook Pro - brief specs are 2.4GHz Core i7 (quad core), 16GB 1333MHz DDR3 RAM, AMD Radeon HD 6770M 1024 MD graphics. It had a 1TB hard drive that I replaced with a 1TB fusion drive about 12 months ago. The drive has 250-250GB free space.
I am running Mac OS X 10.10.5 (tried el Capitan and switched back).
I have been having some major issues with it recently which have left me pondering, do I fix it or replace it.
The issues are:

  • General lagginiess… i just isn’t as zippy as it used to be
  • Fans running almost constantly
  • I has started crashing recently (where the screen goes grey with text saying there has been an error and the entire computer must restart
  • I have a Thunderbolt display attached which the computer has just recently started losing track of - i.e. the screen goes black and all attached hard drives are disconnected. I have to unplug the screen and plug it back in to get it working again
  • It seems to be slowing down my network. Netflix shows (on my TV) are more frequently showing in low res and often the streaming stalls completely. Shutting down my MBP seems to resolve these issues suggesting it’s tying up network resources
  • It is very slow uploading data to the web. It recently took almost 2 hours to upload an 8.8mb file via FTP whereas the same file took under a minute on my iMac
  • Adobe apps (mainly Illustrator, Indesign and Bridge) frequently crash - 3 or 4 times every day!

The list goes on… these are just the main issues.

Is it worth getting it fixed? (the cost of which will obviously depend on what the problem is) or should I lash out on a new one.

Apart from all the problems I’m having, will a new one be better (i.e. faster)? On paper the specs don’t seem that much better - 2.8GHz vs 2.4GHz and a solid state drive vs a fusion drive… apart from that they seem to be the same (yeah… Retina display too but I’m 55 and my eyes aren’t really good enough to appreciate the difference - or read really tiny type).

Am I missing something here or are the newer Macs significantly faster despite the similar specs?

Help!!!


#2

Run Activity Monitor to see what’s using resources. Something is probably hogging CPU. Also, try EtreCheck. It’s a good, free diagnostic tool. I also use iStat Menus, which tells me at a glance what’s going on in this kind of situation. It could be as simple as something like the (totally redundant) Samsung Printer Monitor, that a colleague has, which is forever shitting itself and using 100% processor. Fans run up, machine slows down…

[quote]I has started crashing recently (where the screen goes grey with text saying there has been an error and the entire computer must restart
[/quote]

These days, kernel panics most often mean hardware. You can use MemTest (or one of many non-free tools) to check your memory. Various utilities are available to test your HDs.

If it’s something easily replaceable, like memory or an HD, then I would stick with what you have. Newer machines are improved in terms of power consumption and graphics performance, but that processor is still very powerful.

You might as well do all the usual software things too though - create another user account and see if the behaviour is any different. If yes, then I would reinstall everything from scratch. It’s always good to find out what’s wrong, but it’s very time consuming. Nuking from low orbit is much quicker and it will almost certainly speed things up anyway, especially if you haven’t done it before or for a while.

I would definitely put a big SSD in it if the Fusion Drive is causing problems though, and maybe even if it isn’t but you do identify and rectify the fault. They’re pretty cheap these days and they make a massive difference to everything.


#3

Thanks for the reply. A few comments on what you have to say…

“Run Activity Monitor to see what’s using resources.”

I’m doing that. Adobe Creative Cloud is responsible for a lot of the fan speed. There are a couple of apps - “AdobeResourceSynchroniser” and “CEPHtmlEngine” that, when I force quit them, the fans stop.
The fans can be running quite fast when there is as much as 95% of the CPU idle.

“then I would reinstall everything from scratch”

I spent half of Easter erasing the HD and reinstalling everything from latest available online versions - including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, MS Office 365 and more. I can think of more fun ways to spend Easter!

Sadly, it didn’t help.

I am fairly certain it’s a hardware issue and will try using some of the available tools to see if I can identify the problem(s).


#4

If you’ve done all that, then yes, I think you have some might have some hardware issues.

Good luck!


#5

If that machine has a 6770M, then your machine is a Late 2011.

Whenever I have one of these come into the shop I perform two procedures as standard - run a Video System Test and clean the heatsinks and fans. These machines have extremely tight tolerances in their cooling system and even small variations can cause problems. As a matter of fact, that model has a known defect in the graphics system. Have it tested by an Apple Store or Authorised Service Provider and if it fails diagnostics, Apple replaces the Logic Board for free regardless of warranty status. The repair program is active until later this year.

Some issues you have listed could potentially be related, in particular:

[quote=“davidg2020, post:1, topic:2090”]* General lagginiess… i just isn’t as zippy as it used to be

  • Fans running almost constantly
  • I has started crashing recently (where the screen goes grey with text saying there has been an error and the entire computer must restart
  • I have a Thunderbolt display attached which the computer has just recently started losing track of - i.e. the screen goes black and all attached hard drives are disconnected. I have to unplug the screen and plug it back in to get it working again
  • Adobe apps (mainly Illustrator, Indesign and Bridge) frequently crash - 3 or 4 times every day![/quote]

And could all be related to video system issues. Attached Thunderbolt displays use the dedicated GPU and this could explain the intermittent blacking out. Likewise the kernel panics / restarts and crashes in Adobe applications also raise some red flags.

I’d have it checked over to see if the GPU is failing first, especially considering that this is a free repair if it is determined to be the case. If that comes back good, then troubleshoot backwards from there.

The MacBook Pro (Early / Late 2011) is an extremely capable machine with a lot of horsepower under the hood. The Fusion Drive and 16GB memory expansions further extend its capabilities. If the machine is under performing or crashing, I wouldn’t consider this to be normal operation even when you take its age into account.


#6

Thanks for the response. I have actually had the logic board replaced under this scheme. It was only done last October… I’ll get it looked at again. Could be up for yet another (free) logic board!


#7

This repair program is like all Apple GPU repair programs. They just replace the logic board with the same era GPUs. I have had 3 boards die in multiple machines (i.e. more than one machine have the board replaced 3 times!) under this program… so it’s an unfortunately common reality to have it happen more than once…


#8

Yep… You’d think they’d learn… Seems a common issue that Apple use old stock to replace bad components during Repair Programs, rather than make new, non faulty ones… (ref 2006 eMac Repair Program)


#9

Unfortunately my MBP GPU problems have just surfaced and according the the Apple Store, my early 2011 MBP is now a legacy product and they no longer have old logic boards to replace the defunct one. On the bright side, diagnostics reveals that everything else is working perfectly. I rang authorised Apple service providers and they said that they can’t fix it either.

The fix I have for it at the moment is to just switch off the dedicated graphics card, which removes the ability to run an external monitor, amongst other things. Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to fix my macbook?


#10

So the official Apple policy is that any of their products 5 or 6 years old are not worth fixing. And I thought Apple sold a premium product. I wonder what the consumer advocate groups would have to say if this was a fridge or a car.


#11

Follow up from an older post (April 2016) - it did qualify for a replacement… the second one! So much for premium quality!


#12

Totally agree, but I think 5 years would more than cover any legal fight for the expected life of a modern electrical device…

12 months was way too low, and at least in Oz now as I understand it, Apple has corrected that.


#13

It depends on whether you’re talking about warranty coverage or the ability to repair the item (at the owner’s expense).

With regards to warranty coverage (where the manufacturer covers the cost of repairs) I think 3 years is adequate.

However, even beyond the warranty period, the manufacturer should have parts available for more than five years, if the owner wants to have the computer repaired at their own expense. Otherwise you are effectively limiting the useful lifespan of the computer to five years.

I’m well aware that, in terms of technology, five years is a very long time due to new items superseding older models but, if the computer is still fit for the purpose it was originally intended for, why should you be forced to replace it?


#14

Unfortunately this MacBook Pro is GPU Recall program is ended at few months ago.
Apple Australia also don’t have parts for this replacement anymore.


#15

I don’t see why Apple should keep parts for old computers beyond 5 years. The ATO provides a generous depreciation table that writes off computers over 3 years. If you get more years worth of use out of it, that’s great, but you simply cannot expect Apple to keep an unspecified volume of inventory of spare parts for your computer simply because of your personal perception of value.


#16

I’m sorry Matreya but I respectfully disagree. Other household appliance have much longer lifespans - see http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2009/03/by-the-numbers-how-long-will-your-appliances-last-it-depends/index.htm

Why should computers be any less? Just because the ATO has written of the value you should not need to throw it in the bin because you can’t get parts.

Unfortunately we seem to live in a disposable age where nobody fixes things any more.

We will just have to agree to disagree. (-:


#17

It’s an interesting list, @davidg2020, but there’s nothing on there comparable to a computer. Not even a television or DVD player or much at all that uses a similar level of tech.

Yes, I would expect 10 years out of my hot water service, or fridge (going on 16 years in fact, so TOUCH WOOD!). But computer? Yes, I USE my computers for more than 5 years. I’m typing this on a 2009 iMac that I only purchased about 3 years ago. I used my Twentieth Anniversary Mac for 8 years. But, I wouldn’t expect Apple to be able to repair it for me.

I’ve no idea how long car makers hold onto parts - if at all… But ultimately I think that’s the most comparable… When your 1979 Nissan 280ZX’s tail light gets smashed, don’t expect a dealer to be able to source a brand new one… It’s off to the wreckers.


#18

Absolutely agree. Nothing wrong with using your computer past it’s use by date, but the fast-paced nature of computer tech and economies of scale means that the reality is you’re going to be out of luck when something breaks in your obsolete machine.

Doesn’t make sense to continue building parts at a loss to your overall business.


#19

I say that 7 years for parts and 3 years of warranty should be standard. These machines are expensive. [quote=“davidg2020, post:16, topic:2090, full:true”]
I’m sorry Matreya but I respectfully disagree. Other household appliance have much longer lifespans - see http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2009/03/by-the-numbers-how-long-will-your-appliances-last-it-depends/index.htm

Why should computers be any less? Just because the ATO has written of the value you should not need to throw it in the bin because you can’t get parts.

Unfortunately we seem to live in a disposable age where nobody fixes things any more.

We will just have to agree to disagree. (-:
[/quote]

It is a shame. Apple can bang on about being environmentally friendly but at the end of the day the best way to do so is to built and support machines so they last a long time. No point arguing it on here, all anyone cares about is Apple’s profits.

yeah cause Apple is obviously so close to not making a profit.


#20

Apple should be good enough by now to be able to accurately predict failure rates and build a stockpile of spare parts during the model in question’s production period.