About a month ago I bought myself a refurbished black MacBook from the Apple Online Store. Apart from a slight mark on the screen which isn’t noticeable in use it was in fantastic condition. I’ve been using it for the past month without any problems, and it’s been a fabulous machine.
Until Saturday. On Saturday evening, the machine suddenly shutdown. No error message, no kernel panic, it just turned itself off. Hmmmmm… I turned it back on and about 30 minutes later it shutdown again.
Turning to the web I found that I’m not alone. From what I’ve read this problem has been around for a while, and tends to occur when the machine is about a month old, though some people have suffered the problem within days of purchase.
It would appear that the problem is caused by an automatic CPU shutdown due to overheating. I can reproduce the problem by heavily loading both cores by entering “yes > /dev/null &” a couple of times in Terminal and waiting a minute.
The shutdown happens when the machine is heavily loaded and also when the machine is cool, for example after being asleep, and is then given a task which raises the workload rapidly.
The problem happens on battery or main power, it will even happen while running the extended Hardware Diagnostic from the installation DVD, which shows that it’s not an OS or other software problem.
The problem has got worse since Saturday, yesterday the machine shutdown 15 times. I’ve reset the PRAM (power on with Option-Cmd-P-R held down until the machine has chimed 3 or 4 times), reset the PMU (unplug, remove battery, hold power button down for 15 seconds), re-seated the RAM and none of them have helped.
The machine has had the SMC Firmware applied which fixes the fan “mooing” but it didn’t help with this problem.
This morning I called Apple technical Support and after explaining the tests I’d tried etc, the guy agreed that the machine needed a repair. Unfortunately their ticketing system was down so he couldn’t arrange it and I’d have to call back, but he did give me an “Offline” call reference. I called back a few hours later but the young lady who I spoke to could find no information about my previous call and the call reference couldn’t be found. So I went through the whole explanation again. She again agreed that the machine needs a repair and I was put through to a product specialist to arrange the Mail-In repair.
They’re sending a box for the machine which should reach me tomorrow.
From what I’ve read the repair tends to be either a Main Logic Board replacement which sometimes works, or a replacement of both the heat-sink and something called a “lollipop”. My machine is a “Week 21” machine (5th and 6th digits of serial number), but the problem has been reported for most manufacture weeks.
The one workaround that I’ve found is to turn the machine on by holding down the power button until the machine makes a loud, long beep. That starts the machine with the CPU locked to 1GHz (half the maximum speed) which seems to prevent the thermal shutdown until the machine is switched off again.
To give some idea of the scale of the problem, here’s a small sample of the articles relating to this problem:-
- The Apple Blog – Random Acts of Shut Down.
- The UberGeeks – Macbook woes continue, with random shut downs.
- MacNN Forums – Macbook Sudden Shutdown.
- Ars Technica – Infinite Loop: Users report MacBooks and MacBook Pros randomly shutting down.
- MacBook Random Shutdown.
- Moving at the Speed of Creativity – Macbook random shutdown problems.
- The Apple Files – MacBook Random Shut Down.
- Apple Support Discussions – Random turn off : Please post your log.
There are loads more reports, and the comments on some of the articles indicate that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people suffering from this problem.
[…] On top of all that, my laptop has developed “RDS” (Random Shut Down) and has been sent for repair. […]
Apple have finally acknowledged the issue with MacBooks in this Knowledgebase article – MacBook: Shuts down intermittently, telling owners suffering from the problem to contact AppleCare.
My MacBook has been at the repair centre since Friday 1st, almost a week later it’s still sitting at “Diagnosing Product”.
Got the MacBook back today.
The repair note says that they replaced the heat sink and the top case. I also belive that they have replaced the main logic board as the MAC address of the built-in Ethernet interface has changed. Interestingly, the MAC address of the wireless Airport interface is the same, so I guess that’s on a removable module or reprogrammable.
The machine runs much cooler most of the time, currently at 32C, where before it would have been in the 50-60C region. Loading the processor as before doesn’t not cause a shutdown, and the temperature will not go above 57C.
Looks like they’ve fixed it! Fingers crossed.
suffering macbook random shutdown exactly as described, after Apple tech support could offer no advice i went to an apple authorised repair engineer who tested the macbook for hours and found no issues before charging me Â£130 for having a firmware update which is ‘software’ and not covered by the applecare i purchased.
My MacBook also had the same problem but only 2 years after the purchase – my warranty does not cover anymore. So they tell me to get a new laptop.
I was wondering if I can try the “pressing-down-15-seconds-until-a-loud-sound” trick often, then I can use the laptop (!) without it shutting down on my face. Do you know if that trick still works after frequent use?? does it do harm to the computer?
The trick should work repeatedly without any harm, it’s using a mode of the computer which, if anything, is putting less stress on the machine than it normally suffers as it’s running at a slower speed.