Are the video cards integrated on the main logic board in the Macbook Retina?

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Hi
I have a mid-2012 15" Macbook Pro Retina and the nVidia video card does'nt work most of the time.

It looks like a loose connection problem, because it works, but when I move my computer it reboots and only the integrated card works.

I talked to an authorised technician and he said that both video cards are "combined" on the main logic board, in this model.

I only wanted to confirm this information since that in this case it wouldn't be a loose contact problem and I'd have to replace the whole thing which costs the price of a new Macbook Air.

Thanks
 

pigoo3

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Yes…the video card/video hardware on Apple laptops is integrated into the logic board (not a part that can be easily replaced with a replacement part).

My understanding is…Apple (and many other computer manufacturers)…use lead-free solder…and lead free solder is not as "robust" as solder with lead in it. Over time it develop's cracks…and components fail. Video hardware (probably due to the heat generated)…seems to be a component that is affected most often.

Lead-Free Reliability Issues and Test Methods >> Evaluation Engineering

Even in the European Union (where environmental contamination issues are big concerns)…and where law makers actually pass strong laws to protect the environment. They still allow exceptions to laws to allow groups like the military and products in high reliability applications…can still use traditional (and more robust) tin-lead solder in their electronics:

Was Lead-Free Solder Worth the Effort?

Probably more info than you wanted to know!;)

I'll give you a more relevant computer example. I have a Early 2009 24" iMac that does have a "discrete" video card that is replaceable. I think that it is having video problems (maybe due to the lead-free solder issue). The big problem is…the replacement video card part that I need…can cost 50%-75% of the total value of the iMac.

So my point is…even if the video card part of your computer was replaceable…the part could be so expensive that it wouldn't be worth doing it. And since (in reality) the video part in this computer is not replaceable. Replacing the whole logic board is another solution…but in many cases can be even MORE expensive.

Believe it or not…there are some HIGH RISK DIY solutions…but these are HIGH RISK (could completely damage things). Which are called "reflow" methods. This is where the attempt is to "reflow" the lead-free solder. This can be done in at least three ways:

1. Stick the whole logic board in a home kitchen oven (get to the correct temp)…and the logic board is "baked & cooled" for the correct amount of time. HIGH RISK!!!
2. The video card on the logic board is VERY VERY carefully heated with a butane torch to reflow the video card solder. But again…this is VERY HIGH risk. And the possibility of damaging surrounding components is VERY HIGH!!! Especially if someone has not done it before.

3. There is a way that professionally trained folks use professional equipment to do things/repair. But this can be pretty expensive as well.

And beyond this…there are video card/video hardware problems that are NOT related to lead-free solder. Which nothing but a replacement video card or replacement logic board will repair/cure.

Again…probably more info than you wanted/needed to know!;)

- Nick
 
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Thanks for all the info, Nick!

I'm not going to replace, if that's the case. I'll probably won't try to reflow it too.

I could pay the guy to take a look and check what's the problem, $65.

So my question is: are there any chances that this could be solved without having to replace anything. Could it be a software problem? I'm sure it isn't but ...
 

chscag

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Nick: Was it you who posted the video about the guy from Hawaii with the Altoid can and a butane torch? That guy knew what he was doing repairing a video card from an older 24" iMac.
 

pigoo3

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Nick: Was it you who posted the video about the guy from Hawaii with the Altoid can and a butane torch? That guy knew what he was doing repairing a video card from an older 24" iMac.

Yes that was me Charlie.:)

As you probably recall from the video...he was working with a removable video card from the iMac (which I think would be easier to deal with trying the butane torch method)...versus trying to do it on a logic board with a non-removable video card (possible damage to surrounding components). But even then...the video chip on the card was surrounded by the vram chips (and other electronic "odds & ends") that could get damaged with the flame.

The dude in the video was also very careful to remind folks that the flame needed to be constantly moving (don't leave in one spot too long)...or stuff could get damaged. He was also doing things "free-hand". What I mean is...in many of the videos I've watched doing the "oven bake method". The oven is set to a specific temperature...and the logic board is "baked" for a specific amount of minutes. So this method is somewhat "scientific". The guy in the video was just "eye-balling" things (guessing at time & temp).

Finally he was holding the video card in one hand (on top of the Altoids box)...and heating it with the butane torch in his other hand. One other thing many of the video's mention is...the video or logic board being baked needs to be kept as perfectly level as possible. Otherwise the melted solder will run/flow where you don't want it to..and then one big mess!!!

So this guy was holding things in his hand...and had to be:

- very careful to keep it level
- at the same time heating with the torch
- keep the torch moving
- at the same time thinking about the total heating time & temp

Thus something he was probably pretty good at (a bit of an art)...since he probably did it a lot of times (experience). But I bet that he destroyed some when he was first learning how to do it!;)

- Nick
 

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