Apple's MacBook Pro graphics update offering mixed results

To address a black-screen bug that some MacBook owners have been experiencing, Apple issued a software video driver update; however, this has not fixed the issue in all circumstances.

Yesterday Apple released a software update to address problems where some of the MacBook Pro systems from mid 2010 were displaying black screens when waking from sleep or performing some graphics manipulation tasks. While this update has appeared to fix the problem for some users, for others the issue is still occurring.

Intial reports on the issue and observation of the problem happening under multiple operating systems pointed in the direction of a hardware problem being the root cause , but Apple's update was a software approach that updated the graphics drivers and aspects of the OpenCL framework.

Overall the update does appear to help some people who have had the problem, especially for those for whom black screens were occuring at the log-in window. However, the black screens still occur for others, as described by some Apple discussion posters:

User "kspes" writes:

Updated today, worked fine for a few hours, then baam! crash again.

User "bmoodyvid" writes:

I did the update and thought all was well...not! BSOD (black screen of death) during a presentation with FCP 7. What gives?

If you are still experiencing the black-screen issue even after installing the video update, you might consider running a general maintenance routine on your system. This update did install new drivers, and a general maintenance routine will clear hardware settings and system caches so you can ensure they're rebuilt off the current drivers and OS configuration.

If this does not help, then for now at least you should still be able to keep your system stable by installing the graphics card management utility gfxCardStatus, which will allow you to keep using one graphics card. Many people with the problem have found that if they use only the onboard (aka "internal" or "integrated") graphics card as opposed to the dedicated or discrete one, the system ends up being a lot more stable and reliable.

Despite Apple's update, it is still possible that the problem is rooted in hardware, with the update only better handling the problem under some circumstances.



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About the author

    Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.

     

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