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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

Macbook Pro A1150 Freezing Constantly


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jsm_33

 
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I have a Macbook Pro Intel Core Duo with 2GB of ram and a brand new 320GB HDD installed. I am running Snow Leopard and I am currently updated. The problem did not start after an update. It just randomly started. The problem that I am having is that the laptop is constantly freezing. I replaced the hdd because I thought perhaps it was a dying hdd but that did not fix the issue. I replaced the ram with (apple) ram thinking that perhaps one or both of my sticks were bad. This did not solve the problem either. I replaced the HDD cable inside because I thought perhaps it was the connection that had gone bad but that did not fix it either. I have run disk utility from the start-up and that did not fix anything. I also have re-installed many time to see if that would fix it. I have formatted by writing 0's and also a straight format and neither fixed the issue. I have run tech tool pro on it and found no errors on any of the devices. I have reset the PRAM/VRAM and the SMS but neither have helped. I also disabled the SMS through terminal and that did not fix the issue. I am out of ideas for how to fix the freezes.

Let me explain what I mean by a freeze. When I am on the computer I can move around and almost every 2 to 3 minutes open a program that will cause the spinning rainbow to appear and although I can still move the mouse and the dock will pop up if I move over it, nothing happens. I cannot do a force quit and have to wait patiently for it to stop circling or if it never does stop I have to hold the power button down to shut it down.

Does anyone have any ideas what could be causing the constant freezing? The odd part is that with an external usb HDD I have no issues whatsoever. It never freezes and if it does I can force quit the application that has stalled. I do not know what that means but it seems that the connection from the internal HDD to the Logic Board is faulty and I don't know how to make it work correctly. I have checked and re-checked all connections internally and they seem sound. Ideas?
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chscag

 
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You've certainly done extensive trouble shooting, more than most folks would have. It does seem like (from your description) that the problem is with the internal hard drive. I'm assuming that the freezing occurs with every drive that you've tried? The fact that the external drive works OK pretty much points to something going on between the hard drive plug in connection and the molex cable connection on the logic board.

Have you had the machine apart to check where the hard drive cable plugs into the logic board via the molex connector I referred to? If you have, and the connections seem OK (no broken prongs, etc) then it's possible the cable itself might be faulty.

To get an idea of where everything is located on the logic board and what the cable looks like, go to iFixit: The free repair manual and refer to the tear down instructions for your model machine.

Let us know.

Regards.
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I got to ask but have tried the original drive or a different internal drive.
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jsm_33

 
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Yes it does appear that something is wrong with the connection between the hard drive and the cable to the logic board. I replaced the cable with a new one and it did not solve the problem. I also have tried other hard drives and that did not help either. All of the connections look good as far as I can tell but it seems like I am missing something. You are correct that the obvious solution would be the hard drive or the cable to the logic board. Is it possible that the logic board is bad? The odd thing is that it works great with the external. The other odd thing is that sometimes the hard drive will disappear which leads me to the connection once again. I think that it has to be the connection that is causing the freezes. However, I am not sure how to mend the situation. I think that the computer will start up from the hard drive and then the connection will lose sight of the hard drive and this causes the freezing. Thoughts?
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This is a tough one. Normally I would agree that it could be the logic board that's acting up - intermittent connection. However, the fact that you can attach an external hard drive and the system works OK, makes me wonder how the logic board could be at fault. Of course it could be that the internal drive connection to the board is the only thing affected; but that would be unusual.

My next question: Is the machine still under any warranty? Such as Apple care? (I'm thinking it's not since you worked on it yourself.) If it is, take it on in and let the genius bar deal with it. My guess is that they will swap out the logic board.

Let us know.

Regards.
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jsm_33

 
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The Macbook is from 2006 and it no longer has a warranty. I took it apart again today hoping that I would see something out of the ordinary. There was nothing noticeably wrong with it. I did make sure that when I closed everything back up that it was put together correctly. I was hoping that perhaps the top case had been put on incorrectly and was applying pressure to the cable or affecting it in someway to cause a fault in the connection.

I did take it to the Genius Bar but I was unsatisfied with them. They did not even look at it and simply told me that the hard drive was bad. I tried to let them know that the hard drive was fine and did not make any strange clicking noises and that you could hear it start up fine every time the computer started but they did not seem interested in my information. I decided to do as they said and I went and bought a brand new hard drive but it had the same issue as mine.

The only thing that has seemed to limit the amount of freezes is disabling the SMS through terminal. I have not had any freezes in the last 10 minutes and that is a record . Is it possible that the SMS has malfunctioned and turns the hard drive off randomly?

I figured that it was a long shot for the logic board to only have a malfunction with the hard drive connection but I have seen stranger things happen and I am sure you have as well. Thanks for all of the help.
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You might be on to something by turning off the sudden motion sensor. Let's see if that holds up. I'm a bit doubtful that the SMS could cause the freezing, but in all my years of electronic repair and especially working with computers of all venue, I have seen some strange maladies.

Keep us posted.

Regards.
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Okay, officially turning off the SMS does nothing to solve my problem. I turned it back on and it appears to be working just as well as it was when it was off. Unfortunately, the computer still freezes pretty regularly. It seems that for a few minutes the computer loses connectivity with the hard drive or the hard drive does not communicate with the computer.

I guess the best option is to buy a new hard drive and see if that will fix the issue. I don't see why it would because it did not before. Who knows?
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I guess you may as well try another hard drive. Make sure you buy it from a store that accepts returns. The only other thing I can think to do is swap out the logic board and IMO that would be too expensive a project. May as well buy another machine.

Let us know.

Regards.
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The last thing that I have wanted to do is replace the logic board because of how much it costs to replace it. I love mac but they are so expensive that I have not wanted to have to buy a new one. I keep thinking that the logic board is fine and it is something with the hard drive and/or hard drive connection. Everything is starting to lead me toward a malfunction existing on the logic board for processing the information to and from the hard drive; leading to the freezing.
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I took the cover off of the macbook pro and with it off the computer starts up and runs great. It never freezes. I have the keyboard cable still connected, otherwise it won't power up but I have not had it freeze yet. It seems that something is getting pinched or squished underneath the top? Any ideas what I could do to prevent it from being pinched? I don't have a clue what is causing it but I know that with the top off it works great.
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Examine it carefully. Look to see that the cable from the HDD to the logic board is not somehow being pinched off or pressed. Try re-orienting all the cables between to make sure.

Regards.
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I think that I finally figured out the freezing and lost hdd. I took the entire laptop apart with the use of ifixit.com and I flipped the logic board upside down. I noticed a small amount of build-up on the bottom side of the logic board, close to the hdd cable connection. Using rubbing alcohol and an aerosol can I was able to remove the goop and let the logic board dry. I put it completely back together and now everything seems to be in perfect working condition. Sometimes it feels good to have a lot of common sense and understanding of how things work. lol If any of you are having the same problems perhaps this can be of use to you. Thanks for all of the help.
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You're a brave guy! Not too many folks would take things apart all the way to a bare logic board.... I'm certainly glad to hear that this one is resolved. I am wondering though just what that "goop" was on the bottom side of the board? Sounds like it was causing an intermittent connection along a trace.

Anyway, have fun and return often.

Regards.
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jsm_33

 
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I have no idea what the goop was but it definitely was causing a problem. Where I was sitting I figured that taking it down to the logic board was my last option. Now I have a working laptop and I am proud to own my mac. I have not had any issues for almost 24 hours. I can almost say that the issue is resolved.
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