Disabling Nvidia

Posted by Thoughts and Ramblings on Saturday, November 23, 2013

I have a MacBook Pro made in 2010 which is among the models which received faulty Nvidia chips. After this was discovered, Apple decided to extend the warrantee for the chips to 3 years. Instead of proactively replacing the faulty chips, they required that the machine exhibit the problem before they would consider replacement.

So, like clockwork, my computer’s Nvidia chip fails after the 3 years. It results in kernel panics in the GPU driver about once a week. Searching for this yields numerous similar results all stemming from the graphics card asserting its manufacturing flaw. Finally, since my computer is now more than 3 years old, Apple will not fix it without payment of several hundred dollars.

So, do I have to contend with a machine that kernel panics every week or so? Certainly not. Even Windows wouldn’t blue screen that often a decade ago and it’s far better now than it was then. There’s another solution: Download and run gfxCardStatus (http://gfx.io/) and switch it to the integrated graphics card only. This has to be redone on every login, but that’s a small price to pay.

I’ve been running with this machine for nearly a month now like this and no kernel panic yet. I did have to reboot because authd went crazy and stopped displaying all authorization dialogs, but I doubt if that’s due to the machine being locked into the Intel graphics card only; it’s more likely a bug in Mavericks.

Going to the future, whenever I get around to replacing this machine, it is extremely tempting to make sure I never buy one with an Nvidia chip again. Since Intel’s graphics cards have improved so much as of late, this is now a viable possibility.

Anyone else out there with similar experiences?

Legacy Comments:

Christopher - Apr 9, 2015

Yup. I’ve got the identical machine with the same behaviour. I didn’t even find out about the recall until after the term ended so I ended up in the same boat too. I couldn’t go ten minutes between panics and forced restarts. What’s worse is that I do a lot of video editing that would greatly benefit from having the discreet GPU. Tough luck there. That said, the gfxCardStatus utility was a godsend. It really does make the computer useable though notably slower. I think Apple learned a very hard lesson: they’ve stopped using graphics switching completely in favour of all-Intel chips. I’m glad future generations will never have to contend with this flaw because I’d never be able to explain the work around to a novice user.