MacBook Pro lives to fight another day (and other computer news)

14 May 2020 by Lincoln Ramsay

My venerable MacBook Pro, a 13″ 2011 model, had a problem with the screen after the recent surgery. It just… stopped closing all the way. I thought maybe the case had been warped, possibly as a result of having nothing where the optical drive should be, but after putting up with it for a few days, I did some googling and found that it’s a somewhat common complaint for older machines.

Maybe the timing was just a coincidence, or maybe I got something (dust?) in the hinge. What I saw online suggested replacing the hinges, or maybe lubricating them would work.

So last night I had my computer open once again. To get the hinges you’ve got to take the whole screen off. The instructions have some ominous warnings because once you take out that last screw, the screen and body can just fall apart from each other if they’re not being supported.

I was kind of surprised that I couldn’t actuate the hinges with my hands… I guess the force they get with the weight (and leverage) of the machine attached is much higher than I can impart.

I sprayed a bit of WD40. I know it’s not strictly a lubricant but it’s what I have and it can work its way into tight spaces. Since I couldn’t actuate the hinges I had to put the machine back together before I could tell if it had helped. Also, I was nervous about the things I’d had to unplug that had never been unplugged before (like the video cable).

But the hinge works just fine again, and the machine booted up. Everything seems to be working. Another successful operation!

In other news, we sold the MacBook Air and used the money to get an RX580 for my son’s computer. He was very specific about wanting that card, even though it’s a little older, because newer/cheaper cards don’t have support for older DirectX versions except through emulation and that gives worse performance, and he has a bunch of older games. It turned out to be a convenient coincidence that we had a 90 degree sata connector on one of the cables though, because the motherboard put one of the sata ports under the back of the GPU.

The memory failures… I dunno. The shop did a “clean and reseat” of the RAM and said it was working. After dealing with some USB issues, we were able to get RAM errors once (after 7 hours of running memtest) but… after figuring out the USB situation, the memory errors have gone away. In any event, the machine seems to be stable so… I guess we’ll wait and see on this.

We’d also asked them to check on the front USB port (which had been causing stability issues, but my son hadn’t cared enough to lose his machine while it was repaired). They said the USB was fine, but when we got the computer home we found they had only connected the USB 3 pins, not the USB 2 pins. A bit of shuffling later and we were able to confirm that the black port on the front is fine but the blue port cannot be connected to the USB 2 pins or the system is unstable. Apparently USB 3 devices will be fine (though I don’t think we’ve tested that yet) but things like USB sticks won’t work. My son doesn’t want to lose his computer over 1 nonfunctional USB port so once again, we’re going to ignore it.