Apple’s new 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops are reportedly freezing when put under a heavy load, according to numerous reports, as well as user comments on the Apple Discussion board. The problem, which appears to be widespread, has persisted for at least some users even after an update from Apple.
The new 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros feature Intel’s speedy new Sandy Bridge Core i7 quad-core CPUs, available up to 2.3GHz, along with AMD Radeo HD graphics processors (GPU), with up to 1GB of dedicated video memory.
The first public report of the issue appeared on an Apple.com discussion thread entitled “MacBook Pro 2011 17″ hard freeze,” started on March 1, less than a week after Apple unveiled their new MacBook Pro lineup on February 24.
User Rensoom, who started the thread, says that he “wasn’t doing anything unusual,” but admits that he “had 7 apps open and was amid an auto-backup to TimeMachine.” This resulted in a “hard freeze.”
Since then, the thread has ballooned to 65 pages (at the time of this writing) with users complaining that their pricey new notebooks crashed when performing any GPU-intensive tasks, like running video games or iMovie.
According to user ND381, the problem occurred when running CPU-heavy processes along with programs that caused graphics processing to shift from the new Sandy Bridge processor to the descrete AMD Radeon graphics processor. One user, Chullo, was able to duplicate the problem at his local Apple Store, and cause all 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro display models to freeze, “much to the surprise of the genius helping me,” he wrote.
After reports of the problem became more widely known, Apple released a Mac OS X 10.6.7 update, which included a number of updates and fixes, including improved “graphics stability.” Unfortunately for MacBook Pro users, the freezing issue has persisted for some users, even after the update.
In fact, some say the problem has actually gotten worse, as a similar issue now seems to occur simply when running iTunes. We have yet to hear whether Apple has additional plans to address the issue.