Before M1 Macs, 15-inch Macbook Pros with dual graphics were prone to GPU issues that affected performance and usability. Symptoms include random shutdowns, GPU panics, distorted video, no sleep and a black screen. These problems primarily affected 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016 Macbook Pros.

The cause

Depending on the year and model of a Mac, there’s usually a different reason why GPU panics occur, though it’s most likely tied to the discrete graphics card. For instance, 15” Early 2013 Macbook Pros would have a black screen whenever the computer gets hot; keyboard backlighting and sound would work, but there would be no video. This would happen randomly when the computer switches to discrete graphics.

Apple had a free recall program to fix the issue and has since expired; however, they only temporarily fixed the problem by sticking a rubber piece under the U8900 V-core chip to push it in place. This chip was poorly soldered as it occasionally failed to provide power to the discrete graphics, thus causing GPU panics. For this specific year, the Nvidia GPU never fails and some electronic repair shops misdiagnose the problem. To permanently fix the issue, resolder the U8900 chip. If messing with hardware is not your cup of tea, continue reading.

GPU errors you might encounter will look like this.

  • panic(cpu 6 caller 0xffffff7fc05884d9): GPU Panic: mux-regs 3 0 a0 d9 9 8 severity 3 WS-ready 0 switch-state 13 IG FBs 0 EG FBs 0:0 power-state 0 3D idle HDA idle system-state 0 power-level 20:20 power-retry 0 connect-change 0 : NVRM[0/1:0:0]: Read Error 0x00640330: CFG 0xffffffff 0xffffffff 0xffffffff, BAR0 0xc0000000 0xffffffa0812b5000 0x0e7150a2, D0, P3/4

The Fix

Since most GPU panics are either caused by the discrete GPU or related to it, the only way to have a functioning computer is to use integrated graphics. This comes at a cost as the discrete GPU is used for external monitors and graphic-intensive apps. (There is a permanent way to disable discrete graphics through EFI or Linux, but the downside is sleep and brightness controls will be lost). Regardless, the method below is simple as it only forces the computer to use integrated graphics.

(If you have a Mac with an M1 chip, learn how to install Windows 11 here)

The command

To force your Macbook Pro to use only integrated graphics, use the command below.

  • sudo pmset -a gpuswitch 0

The next problem you will face is making sure the computer runs the command after rebooting. To set command on boot, follow the steps below.

  1. Open Automator (Search it if you can’t find it)
  2. Select application
  3. Go to search and type “Run Shell Script” (Or click it from Utilities>Run Shell Script)
  4. Double click on Run Shell Script
  5. Copy and paste this command {sudo pmset -a gpuswitch 0}
  6. Click the play button to test it.
  7. Since this command requires admin password, you will receive this error. “The action “Run Shell Script” encountered an error: “sudo: a terminal is required to read the password; either use the -S option to read from standard input or configure an askpass helper sudo: a password is required”
  8. To complete the process use this command “echo yourpassword | sudo -S pmset -a gpuswitch 0” Make sure to add your password as noted on the command.
  9. If you feel paranoid that your password is on terminal, you can clear the history regularly.

 

Install gfxCardStatus

To check if the command works, install gfxCardStatus to check if the Mac successfully switches to integrated on boot. Download gfxCardStatus here.
Note: gfxCardStatus also allows you to switch to either dedicated or integrated GPU, therefore use it simultaneously with the command to force integrated graphics.

What if it doesn't work?

There is another simple solution you can try.

Install Zorin OS, one of the most visually pleasing Linux distros. A worthy OS to replace Mac OS. If you do decide to go with this route, Zorin OS will easily disable the discrete GPU; and the best part, brightness and sleep functionality work. Battery life will also be improved. To learn how to install Zorin OS check out our article.

  • Are you thinking about starting a blog?
    Subscribe to Bluehost and easily create a website like this one. Generate leads and make passive income for only $2.95 a month
    Learn More
  • Blink Outdoor Camera
    Checkout this battery powered outdoor security camera that is rated to last 2 years per charge, running only on two AA lithium batteries
    buy
  • Macbook Air M1
    Undoubtedly one of the best laptops Apple has ever made. Featuring a beefy M1 processor, a robust software experience and impressive hardware, this is the go-to laptop for most people.
    buy

Kenyon Ndezi is a recent graduate, writer, creator of kenyonndez.com; and the owner of Neonbuild.com, which is a company focused on building apps for small businesses and individuals. Follow along and get inspired!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.