MacBooks forum


MacBook Pro turns on but won't boot, CPU hot

by swbellah714 / March 9, 2012 7:11 AM PST

I have a 13 inch Macbook Pro, circa 2008, one of the 2GB Memory/250 GB HD, silver keyboard ones.

It has worked beautifully for me for the last 4 years, but recently I had my first (major) issue.

In the interest of full disclosure, my Magsafe adapter has seen better days, and my battery was at "Replace Now" status for some time. Coconut Battery had it at 20% of original capacity when I checked it about a week ago.

I used the Macbook on Wednesday evening with no issues, I closed the lid (I never put it in Sleep Mode or shut it down) like I always do, but when I opened up the next morning, it would not boot up.

By which I mean, I open the lid, the optical drive makes its normal twitching sound, but instead of the display coming on, nothing. I held down the power button and it turns off, and I can press the power button and it powers on (CD drive makes noise and fans turn on, light below trackpad also comes on), but the computer doesn't book up, there is no "chime" sound, and nothing on the screen. I hear no activity, other than the fans slowly whirring. The caps lock button does not light up when pressed, and neither does the Apple logo on the lid.

Thinking the battery was bad, I took it out and attempted to boot with just the MagSafe plugged in, with the same results..nothing. The battery will charge, but the computer just won't boot up.

In addition, if I leave the computer "on" (in this semi on mode), the CPU area on the bottom gets very hot, even if the lid is closed, even if it's turned upside down to let the bottom "breathe".

I have ordered a new battery, thinking that may be the issue. I've tried to reset the SMC (take out battery, hold down power button for 5 seconds, replace battery), with no change.

Since the computer is 4 years old, I don't have AppleCare or the luxury of taking it in for service without paying. I was hoping someone here could advise on a (hopefully) simple solution, or just tell me what could be wrong. Again, it was working fine one night, and then 8 hours later would not boot.

Thank you in advance.

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All Answers

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Sorry to say
by Jimmy Greystone / March 9, 2012 10:27 AM PST

Sorry to say, but this thing sounds like it's toast. At first I was hopeful there might be a small glimmer of hope in that it was one of the nVidia boards that you might have a shot at getting replaced free, but every time I've seen what you're describing, it's been new MLB to fix.

Still, you can hope you'll get lucky, and try each RAM module individually in each memory bank. There's always a possibility of the RAM having gone bad, and while it's a very distant hope, it's about all you've got at this point.

Since you don't have a whole lot to lose, you could probably take a look at the iFixit site for a guide on taking the thing apart. You could try disconnecting some of the internal bits and bobs, though there's really not much to disconnect on those besides the ODD and some sensor cables once the top case is off.

As long as there's no liquid damage or anything like that, the unit should be eligible for Apple's flat rate repair service. About $300, give or take, and they'll fix pretty much anything that's wrong. There are a few little catches, but barring liquid damage or drop damage, it's pretty unlikely you'll run into those. Apple's depot isn't actually run by Apple, it's a company called Flextronics, but they are required to meet Apple's standards. Like any place, sometimes your unit gets worked on by someone who's pretty green, but they have to warrant every unit for like 90 days, so you can at least get it fixed again for free.

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did you ever get this resolved?
by zacthomas / July 3, 2012 11:17 AM PDT

I've had the EXACT same issue happening with my macbook pro (same vintage). It's gone on for a few months; zero response for usually 3 days and then, suddenly, it'll just boot and run as good as ever until it's battery dies or gets shut down for some reason. I can't close the lid and I always leave it plugged in so it's become a desktop of sorts.
This started right after I put in a SSD and new RAM. I switched the RAM out but it continued. Annoying that it runs awesome for days on end and suddenly I'm computerless for three days.
I'm hoping you've got some good news for me! Thanks for any help.

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You think maybe you damaged something,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / July 4, 2012 12:06 AM PDT

when you installed the SSD?

Did you ever try putting the original drive back in?


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Anyone with any explanation or resolution to this?
by whoward2 / August 6, 2012 7:11 AM PDT

I've just found this post because the exact same thing has happened to my Core 2 Duo 17" MacBook Pro today, also about 4 years old. I've tried everything I've found on various forums to wake it or reboot it, but no joy. I can't even get it to run in target disk mode. The only thing that gets some kind of response is pressing Shift, Ctrl, Option and Power for 4 seconds.When I do this, the status light on the lid catch flashes rapidly and then goes out. The machine then won't power up at all. Pressing Shift, Ctrl, Option and Power for another 4 secs restores it to its former state.

Can anyone throw any light on what's responsible for this behaviour? Nothing has been done to this machine recently. I replaced the right fan about 3 months ago, but it's been running without issue since. I shut the lid as normal after finishing with it last night and this morning it was comatose.

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Fans and chips
by whoward2 / August 7, 2012 3:27 AM PDT

Not much to tell. Right fan was running slow and very noisily, even after blowing it clean. I live in a dusty environment so I didn't see it as exactly surprising. I ordered a new one through iFixit and replacement was straightforward. I cleaned the rest of the machine internally at that time. It's been running fine ever since.

I don't know whether it has the Nvidia chip and I can't remember the exact date of purchase. All this information is in the machine which is comatose ... The problems in the post you linked are different to mine. The MBP has never restarted itself. Mine are identical to those described above. The only glitch of note recently was an evening when the cursor started jumping about in sentences as I was typing them. A reboot cured this.

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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 7, 2012 3:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Fans and chips

I can't find an exact match. Some folk will only accept an exact match but the issue and root cause seems to revolve around that model and that chip. It looks like you get to take it in and let them fix it.

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by whoward2 / August 7, 2012 6:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Sometimes

I figured as much ... unless it spontaneously restarts itself after 3 days like it did for zacthomas above, but even then ...

Unfortunately the nearest Apple store is around 300km away Sad

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MAC Book Pro will not boot
by vicenza1776 / September 11, 2012 1:26 PM PDT

I have the same problem. I tried removing the battery - did not work. Tried the button trick while holding the power button - did not work. I am concerned mostly about my data. My kids use the mac all the time and our back up drive is rarely, if ever, connected. Is it possible to salvage the HD?

If anyone has found a fix to this problem, could you please help. This almost makes me want to back to using a PC.

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Yes. Your data is safe inside the HD
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / September 11, 2012 9:31 PM PDT

which can easily be removed and connected to another Mac and the data recovered.

The machines failure to boot is due to a hardware problem and not to a Hard Drive/Software problem.

When did PC's become infallible? Happy


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Any resolutions?
by melibelle / September 19, 2012 1:08 AM PDT

Anyone able to fix this problem? I also have a MBP 2008 and had this same problem. I had most thing backed up but not everything and I'm freaking! So wondering if any of you were able to fix this or if I'm screwed!

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About the backup.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 19, 2012 2:13 AM PDT
In reply to: Any resolutions?

For years I've used external drive cases and adapter cables to get at the files folk forgot. That part is solved.

As to machine repair, that's all over the map but Apple does fix, exchange and sell new laptops for when it's too far gone.

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hoping to aviod a new one
by melibelle / September 19, 2012 2:22 AM PDT
In reply to: About the backup.

Luckily I keep all my business files on externals... but there is a few things that I'd like to have so that's good to know.

I was asking if it was fixed by anyone because I was hoping hoping hoping to avoid buying a new laptop. it's just shy of 5 years old and it was going strong until this!

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Yes I've seen such fixed.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 19, 2012 5:25 AM PDT

The fixes I know of, don't apply to the next failure. From a dead PRAM battery (read ) to dead other parts to simple "zapping the PRAM" I can't diagnose which it is without having the machine and running it through the simple checkups.

My favorite find is when I look at the vents and heatsinks. That is, it can be ugly. Pictures follow.

Some owners tell me they were never told this can happen.

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Freeze it!
by imropie / November 27, 2012 9:43 PM PST

I have the same issue with my early 2008 MBP. A friend recently told me it was the HD not booting properly so I installed a new (larger) one but the problem remains. The thing I have discovered that always works is to bung it in the freezer for 5 minutes! Seriously - if you are desperate try it. Don't forget and leave it in for any longer though... and do it at your own risk but it works for me and means the thing starts up and I can then just put it to sleep until the next time I need to switch it off or re-boot.

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If something works after being in the freezer,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / November 28, 2012 4:39 AM PST
In reply to: Freeze it!

then you have a thermal problem which needs to be addressed.


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