Apple offers MacBook Pro Nvidia graphics repair

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Apple has posted details of a new service program for MacBook Pro laptops affected by a flaw involving Nvidia graphics chips. It’s also offering to reimburse customers who have already paid for a fix.

Over the summer Nvidia acknowledged a problem in the package of some of its graphics chips that caused a higher-than-normal rate of failure. The company took a $200 million charge against earnings to cover warranty costs associated with the problem; Nvidia’s stock took a big hit over the news, and more recently the company has been faced with a lawsuit alleging securities violations over the way it handled the issue.

In a technical bulletin posted to its Web site, Apple says that Nvidia “assured Apple that Mac computers with these graphics processors were not affected,” but Apple later found that some MacBook Pros with Nvidia’s GeForce 8600 GT graphics processor may, in fact, be affected.

The symptoms include distorted or scrambled video on the computer screen, and no video on the computer screen or external display even though the MacBook Pro is powered on.

Possibly affected systems include 17-inch, 2.4GHz MacBook Pros, 15-inch, 2.4 and 2.2GHz MacBook Pros, and MacBook Pros manufactured in early 2008, all with Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics chips. All such systems were made between May 2007 and September 2008.

“NVIDIA has worked diligently with Apple, as we have done with all of our customers and partners, to analyze notebooks and determine the cause of such problems,” said Nvidia Director of PR and Events Derek Perez.

“Our analysis shows that a failure in an Apple MacBook Pro notebook is remote. However, Apple, like other OEMs, decides on their own how to handle their warranty and repair programs, based upon their own quality standards. Regardless, we stand by our products, thus the reason why we set aside such a large reserve, and we have and will continue to work closely with Apple and their customers,” said Perez.

To determine which graphics chip is in your MacBook Pro, you can select “About this Mac” from the Apple menu, click on the “More Info” button and select the Graphics/Displays tab — System Profiler will indicate what chipset model your MacBook Pro has.

In some cases, MacBook Pro users with this issue may have had to pay for a repair themselves — Apple is offering to reimburse customers in that situation. Visit the Web page above for more details.

Editor’s note: Updated 10/10/08 3:02 PM ET with comment from Nvidia.

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