MacBook Pro 2011 owners complain of 'hard freeze' problems

MacBook Pro 2011 owners complain of 'hard freeze' problems

Summary: Two threads have emerged on Apple's support forum which seem to suggest that some MacBook Pro 2011 units are overheating and locking up in a 'hard freeze.'


Two threads have emerged on Apple's support forum which seem to suggest that some MacBook Pro 2011 units are overheating and locking up in a 'hard freeze.'

In one of the threads, the first post from March 1st outlines the problems that some owners are facing:

Overheat? The fans revved and suddenly I could use nothing but the cursor. Had to hold down the power switch to kill all and then re-power & startup. I wasn't doing anything unusual, but I had 7 apps open and was amid an auto-backup to TimeMachine.

Just a little disillusioned and concerned, wondering if anyone else there has experienced a hard freeze like this.

Other complaints followed, such as this one:

I have had the same thing several times with my 15" 2011 2.2GHz model. Each time it was when the system was under load and the fans start running high and then there is a first I thought it was connected to VMware running but I have now had it without VMware going at all. I will try to get a series of actions that can reliably reproduce the problem and the get the Apple Store to have a look. For me, at least, it seems pretty common and I hope it can be fixed because I didn't switch to Mac to keep rebooting 3 or 4 times a day.

And this one:

Great. I'm having the exact same issue. It happens when rendering video in Imovie. The fan comes on and everything freezes. I can do nothing but a hard reset. Now I'm wondering if I should return this $2000 item and wait until all the bugs are fixed.

Complaints that Apple notebooks run hot and noisy are quite commonplace, but the reports of crashes are a different matter. According to some on the support forum, Apple is telling those suffering from the 'hard freeze' that their system is faulty and they need a replacement. However, the downside is that some who claim to have received a replacement system are still suffering from problems.

Some claim that a temporary solution to this problem is to download a third-party utility called gfxCardStatus and switch to integrated graphics only until a replacement machine can be sought.

Are these issues down to Apple's sloppy application on thermal paste on the new machines?

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Mobility

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  • RE: MacBook Pro 2011 owners complain of 'hard freeze' problems

    This is most probably overheating due to TurboBoost that goes upto 3.4Ghz while running several applications simultaneously or running a CPU/GPU intensive application! When you switch off the GPU and use the integrated graphics without freezes, this is most probably the issue.
    • Apparently it's an issue with a hack called iStats...

      Apparently it's an issue with a hack called iStats, and removing the smcFanControl.kext solves the problem.
      • Aha, I knew this couldn't be Apple's fault

        Why can't people just use Apple products the way Apple meant for them to be used?
      • RE: I knew this couldn't be Appl's faukt


        Ok Ed... I am beginning to think you either on something or trying to be sarcastic because I find it hard to believe that anyone can be that naive.

        If you are serious then you are in need of a wake up call. Did you even read the blog with the sample complaints/issues. All it took was for the computer to be under heavy load. So based on your statement you are implying that Apple only wants you to use their computers under light loads and not for anything that could be CPU or GPU intensive.

        Why don't you go take a hot shower and come back when you are sober.
      • RE: MacBook Pro 2011 owners complain of 'hard freeze' problems

        iStat and smfancontrol is not the same thing or related... you have conflicting info there. Mine has frozen up a few times under heavy loads, even without either of those installed...

        I can prevent it ever from locking up though by installing smcFanControl and cranking the fans up manually to 5500rpm when pushing the machine hard. I think Apple may just have something faulty with a combo of the fan speed control, and the auto switching GPUs
  • It's the thermal paste

    The GPU is locking up because Apple's manufacturers are sloppily applying thermal paste
    • So you're absolutely sure that


      the AMD Radeon GPU has nothing to do with this?
      • RE: So you are absolutely sure


        Are you absolutely sure that Apple's case design and assembly process has nothing to do with this? No one ever claimed a higher end GPU would run super cool. It is the OEM that needs to make sure it has adequate cooling.

        So it could be a heat issue with the CPU or GPU. I doubt it is the silicon that is the issue though.
      • Yes, I am quite sure


        The aluminum unibody chassis for the newer MacBook Pros is an excellent heat sink and thermal mass. The thermal paste issue is very old news.

        Because of the small number of people having issues, this is not a symptomatic issue that any reasonable person would expect from an assembly process or design flaw. That is, of course, unless that person just wants to claim that.

        It may have more to do with where the computer was used, what the room temperature was and what type of surface the notebook (yes notebook as the MBP is not a laptop) was placed on. If the surface was an insulator with poor thermal conductivity, like a blanket, then it may well have over heated. The design takes into account that airflow or other thermal conductor/convection is provided to ensure that the heat from the CPU/GPU has a place to go.

        If you don't believe me, place a thick blanket over and around your computer and run some very calculation intensive routines for a few hours.
      • RE: I am quite sure


        I agree that some people may not use their notebook in proper place like on a bed or somewhere that the cooling vents may be blocked. But don't you think there is even small chance that it could be a design flaw of the shiny aluminum case? I mean since the CPU and GPU are internal it could be a bit cramped in there.
      • RE: MacBook Pro 2011 owners complain of 'hard freeze' problems

        @jacarter3, I disagree, my acer lived on my futon for months running, and while it did get hot it never locked up or shut down, or rebooted, and I only spent 400 bucks on that, you would think for the price you pay for a MBP that you would get a bit more quality than what I got out of an Acer laptop, and the thermal paste issue has caused Macs to overheat in the past, apple has even admitted it, so I am not sure why you are so quick to throw out that concept.. and as for the where the computer was used hypothesis I am going to have to call BS on that too, I seriously doubt that anyone was using their MBP in a room above 90 degrees, and even if they were, I would sure hope that it could stand up to that, other wise I would have to say that Apple has made an error in its design...

        @bobiroc, by OEM I hope you mean apple, because AMD simply sells the chips, and since apple controls the HW in its ecosystem, then they are the ones who put everything together, and should be the ones responsible for making sure it has adequate cooling, not AMD...
      • RE: By OEM you mean Apple


        Yes that is exactly what I meant. Just like other OEMs/Brands do. They buy the chips or parts from other makers and put it into their systems. So they are responsible for making sure it is cooled properly.

        This kind of reminds me of when companies like Alienware were trying to cram desktop(non-mobile) Pentium 4 processors into laptops to make a faster laptop and they were basically frying themselves due to heat.
      • I am glad you bought an Acer, WTH are you doing commenting here?


        Further, I guess you're not bright enough to understand heat transfer. Thermal paste increases the thermal conductivity between the chip and a heat sink. What do you think happens once the heat sink gets hot?

        Your POS Acer has side vents. So did my VAIO. My MacBook Pro has vents too. They're in the back and vent below the screen when it is open. If I place the MBP on a pillow or lose blanket, there is no air flow. At that point, the amount of thermal paste is entirely irrelevant.

        I am quick to point out that this has happened to a very small set of users. If there was a systematic issue, as you insist, then it would be prevalent and probably happen to some one like me that owns 2 MacBook Pros and a MacBook.

        I have seen the inside of both my MBPs. They are way better built than you PC apologist would love to have everyone believe. This includes the connectors for sub-assemblies, the solid mount of CPU and GPU, all the way to the shock mounts for the hard drive.

        Why do you insist that it's due to an old problem that was corrected years ago? What a mentality: "hey add some paste and that'll fix her right up!" Wanna buy some MS stock?
      • Message has been deleted.

      • RE: MacBook Pro 2011 owners complain of 'hard freeze' problems

        Hey edtimes

        "There is a reason why Apple has tens of billions of dollars in the bank and Acer doesn't. That makes me happy."

        There could be several reasons that Apple has all that cash like overcharging for their products to people who then post that it makes them happy. I hope you own stock in Apple or that statement says a lot about you.

        If you need to post at least add to the conversation.

        The overheating only occurs when the machine is stressed, so don't stress it or buy a machine that can take it.
  • Are these MBP based on the Intel Core i5 or i7 chipset?

    I have the Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.8GHz and have never had this sort of problem?
    • Yeah, I don't think there is a problem at all

      Just more of the usual anti-Apple FUD.
      • RE: MacBook Pro 2011 owners complain of 'hard freeze' problems

        @edtimes <br><br>Or maybe you are just not willing to accept that Apple is not perfect? Didn't they have a similar issue with their newer iMacs last year with the GPU overheating crammed into the iMac case design. I believe the solution was a firmware update to lower the clock speed of the GPU. <br><br>While apple generally makes decent quality products I feel that sometimes that more effort is put into making the Apple product look pretty than into functionality.

        I say this as I am using my (work supplied) MacBook that only has 2 USB ports that are so close together I cannot possbily use them both at one time for many devices.
      • So you have made your agenda clear


        You don't like Macs. Boo hoo hoo...

        I have never had a problem attaching my MagSafe adapter, network cable, Firewire 800 connector, 2 USB devices and audio jacks all AT THE SAME TIME.

        If you're having a hard time, most $7 USB portable hubs will work and even come with an extender.

        Apple isn't perfect. No one is. Why don't you save your complaints for your employer?
      • RE: MacBook Pro 2011 owners complain of 'hard freeze' problems

        <i>I say this as I am using my (work supplied) MacBook that only has 2 USB ports that are so close together I cannot possbily use them both at one time for many devices.</i>

        What devices are you trying to plug in? I often have my cellphone charging using one USB Port and my iPod Touch charging in the other. What devices are you using that are so wide as to block access to the other port? Also what size Macbook (Pro?) are you using?

        Could this be an issue with certain Macbook Pros? Yes, as they are made by human beings, and thus are not perfect. Is this a common issue? Too early to tell.