How-to: How to get around “Black Screen of Death” on dual-GPU MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 10:50
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

Ok, this could be useful.

Per the mighty Topher Kessler of CNET, a workaround has been found for MacBook users who noticed a pretty annoying black-screen bug on their systems, in which the computer would appear to be running but would not show any output on the display. To get around this issue, people were forced to restart their systems, losing any unsaved data.

The primary workaround for this problem was to use the third-party GPU manager utility gfxCardStatus to force the system to use only one of its available GPUs, to avoid the automatic switching between the graphics cards that was leading to the problem. While the increased use of the more powerful dedicated GPU drained the battery a little more, it did avoid the problem for many.

Take a gander here for the full article and if this has been driving you nuts, rest assured that it drove other MacBook Pro users up the wall as well.

Apple releases Thunderbolt Firmware Update 1.1 for mid-2012 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 08:32
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

This could come in handy.

Late Tuesday, Apple released its Thunderbolt Firmware Update 1.1, a 468 kilobyte download for the mid-2012 MacBook Pros that offers the following fixes and changes:

- Addresses an issue with MacBook Pro (mid-2012) and some Thunderbolt cables that may prevent bus-powered Thunderbolt devices from functioning properly.

The firmware update can be downloaded directly or located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires a mid-2012 MacBook Pro, running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Samsung reportedly ends flow of MacBook, iPad battery supplies

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Date: Monday, November 26th, 2012, 09:24
Category: Hardware, iPad, MacBook Pro, News

The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys continues.

Per the cool cats at The Mac Observer and China Business News, Apple has apparently turned to Amperex Technology Limited and Tianjin Lishen Battery for its laptop and iPad battery needs after Samsung reportedly stopped supplying the components. If true, it underscores the ongoing tension between the two companies over patent infringement claims.

This latest claim follows reports that Samsung stopped selling display parts and raised the cost for manufacturing Apple’s custom chips — both of which Samsung has denied. Apple has, however, moved away from working with Samsung on future custom processor designs and instead is using the electronics giant just as a manufacturing partner.

“Samsung’s agreement with Apple is limited to manufacturing the A6 processors,” a senior Samsung executive said in October. “Apple did all the design and we are just producing the chips on a foundry basis.”

Apple and Samsung have been fighting in courts around the world over claims they are using each other’s mobile device patents without proper licensing. Apple managed to win a major victory in August when a U.S. Federal Court ruled Samsung was infringing on a long list of patents and awarded the Cupertino-based company over US$1 billion in damages.

Apple has also reportedly been grooming Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to take over its processor manufacturing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

eBay begins Cyber Monday sale, offers $989 deal for mid-2012 13-inch MacBook Pro, other offers

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Date: Monday, November 26th, 2012, 09:38
Category: iPad, MacBook Pro, News, retail

Hey, a deal’s a deal.

Per AppleInsider, eBay, which is currently undergoing a rebranding itself to be in more direct competition with Amazon via a push towards more direct sales, is hosting a Cyber Monday sale offering 5% off iPads with Retina display and 18% off the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro (US$989), as well as significant discounts on other consumer electronics like cameras, game systems and more.

The US$989 price (US$210 savings) on the 2.5GHz 13″ MacBook Pro (MD101LL/A) is the lowest price that’s currently been published, and presents an exceptional value proposition for consumers in the market for a sub-US$1000 Apple notebook that still retains a CD/DVD optical drive.

Other notable deals include 5% off 16GB iPads with Retina display (US$474.99, 56% off, 42% off a new Canon T3i Digital SLR Camera with 2 Canon IS lenses 747.25 (US$551.75 savings), and 74% off a 32GB SanDisk SDHC TM Memory Card for US$17.99 (US$52 savings).

Meanwhile, retailers including Amazon, MacMall, B&H Photo, MacConnection and Best Buy have launched their own Cyber Monday sales with pricing on Macs and iPads similar to pricing seen on Black Friday. Additionally, MacMall continues to advocate inventory of the vast majority of Apple’s iPad mini product line (see chart), while Wal-Mart recently received all flavors of the AT&T iPad mini which its shipping out today.

For users looking for a new Mac with 3-years of AppleCare extended protection, B&H Photo’s Buy Together & Save (bundle prices, instructions) offer savings of up to US$450 with its Cyber Monday pricing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Some users complain of issues after MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0, Apple pulls software from web site

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Date: Friday, November 23rd, 2012, 08:17
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

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Sometimes it pays to wait a few days before installing a fairly hefty firmware update…

Per the Apple Core, a number of users have reported issues with the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0, which was recently offered for 2012 models. Worse, late last week, Apple pulled the support page about the update as well as the download link, indicating a recall on the software.

Some users report issues with video memory as well as with Keychain operation, while on the VMware Fusion Blog, a post warned that the update may cause virtual machines to stop working when a 3D application is run.

Users who have already applied this update and are affected by this issue can work-around it by disabling the “Accelerate 3D Graphics” option under Virtual Machine > Settings > Display.

In other news, Apple this week released a new update for Mountain Lion, OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.2 Supplemental Update 2.0, which may address some of the Keychain issues separately.

This update is recommended for all Mac systems introduced in 2012 and, fortunately, the issue appears to be a problem with Mountain Lion and not the hardware on the notebooks themselves.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve seen issues with your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro and the firmware update, please let us know in the comments.

Amazon.com offers discounted MacBook Air, MacBook Pro prices for Black Friday sale

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Date: Friday, November 23rd, 2012, 07:59
Category: MacBook Pro, News, retail

The savings have arrived.

Per AppleInsider, web retailer Amazon.com on Thursday cut pricing on Apple’s MacBook Air lineup and a handful of 13-inch MacBook Pros, yielding the best prices thus far on some models while matching pricing from rival retailers on others.

For MacBook Airs, Amazon has knocked US$100 off all models with the exception of the 1.80GHz 13″ MacBook Air, which it cut by US$174 to US$1,024.99 — the best price for this model thus far. The price cuts also yield the best deals on the 2.5GHz 13″ (4GB/500GB HDD) MacBook Pro US$1,034.99 (US$164.01 in savings) and 2.9GHz 13″ (8GB/750GB HDD) MacBook Pro US$1,349.99 (US$149.01 in savings). Both these prices will best Apple’s Black Friday sale. Amazon also pays some of the highest prices (in Amazon Gift Cards) if you sell them your old Mac (compare with other trade-in services).

So, if you don’t want to venture out there and have to use friends and relatives as shielding today, take a gander at what Amazon might have to offer.

Some 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro owners complain of graphical glitches following Retina EFI Update v1.0 installation

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Date: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012, 07:58
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

If you have a Retina Display, the last thing you want is graphical weirdness after an update.

According to AppleInsider and threads on the Apple discussion boards, a number of 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display owners are experiencing noticeable drops in graphics and processor performance after having updated their machines to the latest EFI (extensible firmware interface) version, such as drastically clipped frame rates when running graphics-intensive programs.

In this case, some 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro users noticed the performance drop immediately after installing Apple’s MacBook Pro Retina EFI Update v1.0, which was released in September. While it is unclear if the firmware is to blame, many owners feel the update has been detrimental to how the system handles heavy workloads.

The issue is most pronounced when waking a computer from sleep, playing a graphics-intensive game or operating Windows in Boot Camp. Under heavy load, the CPU, GPU, or both are being underclocked as core temperatures reach or exceed supposedly conservative thresholds.

In one specific case, a user’s Retina MacBook Pro’s GPU begins to throttle down the machine’s discrete GPU to 700MHz from 850MHz, at a reported temperature of 65 to 70 degrees Celsius. The GPU is pulled back further if the CPU temperature hits 80 degrees Celsius.

From this information, it can be speculated that the computer’s firmware may not be correctly communicating with the thermal sensors, the threshold presets may be conservatively low, or there is an error with systems management.

Processor manufacturer Intel has noted that the Tjunction maximum, or highest operating temperature specification, of the processors used in the Retina MacBook Pro is 105 degrees Celsius, a much higher threshold than where forum members are seeing throttles. This could mean the problem lies in how the thermal management system handles the data from the digital thermal sensor (DTS), which is integral in calculating a processor’s Tjunction.

It should be noted that Intel chips, like most modern CPUs, have built-in thermal shutdown capabilities to prevent permanent damage to the silicon.

According to the forum members, the Retina MacBook Pros operated without fault prior to EFI version 1.0. Some have found that resetting the SMC or flashing the PRAM solves the problem temporarily, however the fix is far from permanent and owners report a reoccurrence after the computer wakes from sleep.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0 for mid-2012 notebooks

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 07:27
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

It’s the firmware updates that really make a difference.

Late Friday, Apple released its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update 2.0, a firmware update for its June 2012 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks. The update, a 76.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This MacBook Air and MacBook Pro Update includes graphics performance and reliability enhancements and improves compatibility with some USB devices.

The update requires a Mac notebook introduced in June of 2012, Mac OS X 10.7.4 or higher and can be downloaded and installed via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

OWC Aura Pro fits into 13-inch MacBook Pro via included drive caddy

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 20:16
Category: hard drive, Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

This could be nifty.

According to an entry on the OWC blog, the OWC Aura Pro solid state drive fits just fine in Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s drive caddy (something new that wasn’t in the 15″ model), and so far everything seems to be running quite solidly.

Albeit there’s still a battery of tests to conduct, the drive seems to work well in the new notebook with no side effects.

Not a bad thing for an SSD unit that’s about US$200 cheaper than Apple’s drive, as mentioned by the mighty Jason over on the Apple Core

If you’ve tried the OWC Aura Pro in your brand new 13-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit teardown of 13-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro finds reconfigured battery layout, Samsung flash drive and soldered RAM

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 08:16
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

The long-awaited, mucho-lusted-after 13-inch MacBook Pro has arrived.

And dissected by the cool cats at iFixit.

During its investigation, the company found that Apple redesigned the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s battery to “cleverly” hide the solid-state drive underneath the device’s trackpad assembly, iFixit discovered in its disassembly of the new notebook. There’s even an empty space next to the SSD, which the repair site found to be “very un-Apple.”

The solutions provider attempted to fit a 9.5 millimeter Crucial solid-state drive into the space under the trackpad, but it couldn’t be closed. They suggested that a thinner 7-millimeter or 5-millimeter hard drive could fit in the space, which could allow upgrades for even greater capacity than Apple’s flash memory can allow.

The flash storage in the 13-inch MacBook Pro taken apart by iFixit is a Samsung MZ-DPC2560/0A2 unit rated at 3.3 volts and 2.39 amps with 256 gigabytes of storage.

The disassembly discovered that the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro has the same AirPort card as its 15-inch counterpart, while the heat sink has been slightly scaled down to fit into the smaller notebook. Apple has also once again used fans with asymmetrical blade spacing to reduce fan noise.

And like the 15-inch model, the RAM is surface-mount soldered to the logic board, meaning no upgrades are possible. Apple does not offer any more than 8 gigabytes of RAM on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The chips found on the system’s logic board are:
- Intel Core i5-3210M 2.5 GHz processor (Intel HD Graphics 4000 and Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz).

- Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM (8×4 Gb front and back for a total of 64 Gb or 8 GB).

- Intel BD82QS77 platform controller hub.

- Intel DSL3510L Thunderbolt controller.

- Texas Instruments Stellaris LM4FS1AH microcontroller with integrated ARM core.

- Hynix H5TC4G83MFR DDR3L SDRAM.

- SMSC USB2512B USB 2.0 Hub Controller.

- Cypress Semiconductor CY8C24794-24L programmable SoC.

- Maxim MAX15119 Apple-specific IMVP7 CPU/GPU power controller.

- Cirrus Audio 4206BCNZ audio controller.

- Texas Instruments TPS 51980.

Another strange inclusion found in the notebook is a flash memory chip on the trackpad board. The same feature is also found in the 15-inch model, but iFixit doesn’t know why a trackpad would require flash memory.

Where repairability was concerned, iFixit found that the 13-inch MacBook Pro is a slight improvement over the 15-inch model in terms of recyclability and repairability, specifically with relation to the removal of the device’s batteries. Still, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display could only earn a repairability score of 2 out of 10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.