Retina Macbook Pro screen going blank/black intermittently/panic

Over the last few days my retina Macbook Pro has been playing up.

It started with a kernel panic (aka Grey Screen of Death GSOD).

After which I booted into single user mode and ran fsck -fy to check and repair any permissions, of which there were none. It seemed ok for a day or two, but recently I opened it to wake it from sleep and the screen remained black. They keypad was illuminated but screen completely black, the computer was on though, you could hear volume changes with the volume keys, you could see it on the network and remote screen share into it but the display was kaput and even restarting didn’t kick the screen into life.

There was a quick fix – an SMC reset worked (temporarily):

  • Whilst the computer is off press the left SHIFT+CTRL+OPTION and the Power button together at the same time and then release them. You should notice your charge light on the magsafe adapter briefly change colour.

This then let me boot as normal, the display came on and I thought all was good in the World.

Sadly about 15 minutes into use the screen just blanked out on me completely again and I had to perform another SMC reset. The computer had more than 50% charge, it wasn’t running hot, the fans weren’t on, I only had Chrome open and basic web browsing.

I read that it could be an issue switching between the normal and discrete graphics cards but I have since changed the auto-switch option in Settings and it has happened again.

Annoyingly nothing seems to get logged in the Console Log when the screen goes blank which leads me to believe it’s not software related and most likely hardware failure.

Fortunately I have 3 year Apple Care on the machine so I’ll take a full backup and get it off to Apple for diagnosis. I’ll update this post with their findings, assuming they find the culprit.

Just wanted to put this post out there should anybody else with a retina (or non retina) Macbook Pro have a problem with what appears to be a faulty screen or non-functioning backlight. First thing to try is an SMC reset (find the exact method you need for your device here) and you may be all good there after…or it could be the start of hardware failure. Backup and get it looked at if it happens too often.

UPDATE: I’m still being plagued with my retina Macbook Pro screen suddenly going black, keyboard and keys remaining illuminated and having to hard reset. Logging in again prompts that there was an error and to submit a bug report, the content of which is below. I was getting crashes every 2 to 3 minutes after logging in even if I didn’t open any apps and the laptop was idle. I also got the same crashes if I logged into a new clean user profile. One of the lines in the bug report points to it being a graphics card failure
Anonymous UUID: 95B3B782-572B-97BE-6D90-2A3F937D1C46

Tue May 20 23:53:31 2014
panic(cpu 0 caller 0xffffff7f8e51ef7c): “GPU Panic: [] 3 0 a0 d9 9 8 0 3 : NVRM[0/1:0:0]: Read Error 0x00000100: CFG 0xffffffff 0xffffffff 0xffffffff, BAR0 0x102c00000 0xffffff81fdf0a000 0x0e7150a2, D0, P2/4\n”@/SourceCache/AppleGraphicsControl/AppleGraphicsControl-3.5.26/src/AppleMuxControl/kext/GPUPanic.cpp:127
Backtrace (CPU 0), Frame : Return Address
0xffffff81faa02a40 : 0xffffff800c222fa9
0xffffff81faa02ac0 : 0xffffff7f8e51ef7c
0xffffff81faa02b90 : 0xffffff7f8cc62bf4
0xffffff81faa02c50 : 0xffffff7f8cd2ceaa
0xffffff81faa02c90 : 0xffffff7f8cd2cf1a
0xffffff81faa02d00 : 0xffffff7f8cf6210a
0xffffff81faa02d90 : 0xffffff7f8cf79509
0xffffff81faa02dd0 : 0xffffff7f8cda563b
0xffffff81faa02e00 : 0xffffff7f8cda55c5
0xffffff81faa02e30 : 0xffffff7f8ceb156f
0xffffff81faa02e60 : 0xffffff7f8ceb3241
0xffffff81faa02f00 : 0xffffff7f8ceb3808
0xffffff81faa02f80 : 0xffffff7f8cc77a53
0xffffff81faa02fd0 : 0xffffff7f8ceb793a
0xffffff81faa03130 : 0xffffff7f8ceb7eca
0xffffff81faa031b0 : 0xffffff7f8cd647c2
0xffffff81faa03380 : 0xffffff7f8cd63363
0xffffff81faa033c0 : 0xffffff7f8cd734cc
0xffffff81faa03420 : 0xffffff7f8cd7414f
0xffffff81faa034e0 : 0xffffff7f8cc4d7a3
0xffffff81faa03510 : 0xffffff7f8cc4cea5
0xffffff81faa03530 : 0xffffff7f8cc4d830
0xffffff81faa03570 : 0xffffff7f8cc4ccfb
0xffffff81faa03610 : 0xffffff7f8cc3f275
0xffffff81faa036b0 : 0xffffff7f8cc67271
0xffffff81faa038b0 : 0xffffff7f8cc68258
0xffffff81faa03990 : 0xffffff7f8ce084b0
0xffffff81faa039e0 : 0xffffff7f8ce08b34
0xffffff81faa03a90 : 0xffffff7f8cdfcebe
0xffffff81faa03c60 : 0xffffff7f8cc148ab
0xffffff81faa03cf0 : 0xffffff7f8cbfe18e
0xffffff81faa03d70 : 0xffffff7f8cc010fa
0xffffff81faa03db0 : 0xffffff7f8cc0098c
0xffffff81faa03e20 : 0xffffff7f8cbc8492
0xffffff81faa03e60 : 0xffffff7f8cbc773a
0xffffff81faa03e90 : 0xffffff7f8cbc3a44
0xffffff81faa03ef0 : 0xffffff800c6b0330
0xffffff81faa03f30 : 0xffffff800c6aedd2
0xffffff81faa03f80 : 0xffffff800c6aef53
0xffffff81faa03fb0 : 0xffffff800c2d7127
Kernel Extensions in backtrace:[B93BBFC9-9ED5-3DDD-8CED-5EDA081BB997]@0xffffff7f8cbfc000->0xffffff7f8cc0bfff

BSD process name corresponding to current thread: kernel_task

Mac OS version:

Kernel version:
Darwin Kernel Version 13.2.0: Thu Apr 17 23:03:13 PDT 2014; root:xnu-2422.100.13~1/RELEASE_X86_64
Kernel UUID: ADD73AE6-88B0-32FB-A8BB-4F7C8BE4092E
Kernel slide: 0x000000000c000000
Kernel text base: 0xffffff800c200000
System model name: MacBookPro10,1 (Mac-C3EC7CD22292981F)

System uptime in nanoseconds: 6116462735
last loaded kext at 4592679461: 3.5.26 (addr 0xffffff7f8e52c000, size 40960)
loaded kexts: 3.5.26 1.9.5d0 3.0 4.2.4f1 124 2.6.1f2 100.14.15 2.0.9d1 1.0.0 1.60 3.5.13 2.6.1f2 1.0.0d1 2.6.1f2 8.2.6 4.2.4f1 7.0.0 8.2.6 4.2.4f1 1 1.0.0 1.1.2 1.7.0 3.5.26 8.2.6 1.0.0 2.0.4d1 104 8.2.6 170.3.5 1.1.12 240.2 240.2 240.2 3.0.1 1.0.0d1 1.0.0d1 35 404 2.5.1 666.4.0 1.5.2 3.8.1b2 700.20.22 3.0.0 660.4.0 677.4.0 161.0.0 2.0 2.0 1.8 2.1 2.0 1.7 217.92.1 153 3 217.92.1 1.0 10.0.7 3.6.6 2.6.1f2 1.0.0 1.9.7fc2 1.14 98.20 8.2.6 8.2.6 4.2.4f1 91.1 4.2.4f1 1.0.0 3.5.26 2.6.1f2 2.6.1f2 1.0.12d1 1.0.0 3.1.8 5.7.0d11 2.1.3 3.1.7 98.20 3.5.26 1.0.4 2.4.1 1.0.11d1 2.4.1 240.9 660.4.0 3.1.7 3.1.7 1.4.5 650.4.0 656.4.1 2.0.1 3.2.7 1.0.3b4 1.0.1b5 660.4.2 630.35 3.2 2.6.5 677.4.0 2.0 2.0.0 2.0 1.1 278.11 1.0.0d1 7 2 371.1 1.9 23 28.30 2.0 2.9 1.4 1.0 1
Model: MacBookPro10,1, BootROM MBP101.00EE.B02, 4 processors, Intel Core i7, 2.7 GHz, 16 GB, SMC 2.3f36
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Built-In
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, PCIe, 1024 MB
Memory Module: BANK 0/DIMM0, 8 GB, DDR3, 1600 MHz, 0x80AD, 0x484D5434314753364D465238432D50422020
Memory Module: BANK 1/DIMM0, 8 GB, DDR3, 1600 MHz, 0x80AD, 0x484D5434314753364D465238432D50422020
AirPort: spairport_wireless_card_type_airport_extreme (0x14E4, 0xEF), Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (
Bluetooth: Version 4.2.4f1 13674, 3 services, 15 devices, 1 incoming serial ports
Network Service: Wi-Fi, AirPort, en0
Serial ATA Device: APPLE SSD SM768E, 751.28 GB
USB Device: Hub
USB Device: FaceTime HD Camera (Built-in)
USB Device: Hub
USB Device: Hub
USB Device: BRCM20702 Hub
USB Device: Bluetooth USB Host Controller
USB Device: Apple Internal Keyboard / Trackpad
Thunderbolt Bus: MacBook Pro, Apple Inc., 23.4

18 Replies to “Retina Macbook Pro screen going blank/black intermittently/panic”

  1. I bought a base model 15″ retina MBP IN August, but recently started noticing a similar issue. It happens intermittently, when the computer wakes from sleep, the screen backlight and apple logo are on, but the screen is black. The only way I can get out is to hard reset. It has only happened a couple of times in the last three weeks, but it’s rather worrying after spending close on $2,000 on a laptop and finding you may end up having to pay more for repairs.

    1. @JB – if you only bought it in August then you aren’t going to have any repair bills as it’ll be covered by warranty. It’ll still be annoying having to be without it for a week whilst it’s being fixed.

  2. I have an older non-retina MBP and I REALLY can’t afford a new computer right now. Apple could care less about good will or standing by their product. Apparently this is a problem of mammoth proportions that extends from 2008 – 2014. Its a DESIGN FLAW due to the NVIDIA Graphics card. Repair requires a new logic board as well because the card is soldered to the logic board. They are trying the damndest not to repair these for free. Which they SHOULD since we laid out big bucks for our laptops. But its an enormous problem. Several people in IT and repair commented that they were dealing with a flood of problems from these MacBooks.

    If you want to hear about a success story, check out this blog about someone who actually took Apple to small claims and WON. But it shows how hard they tried to deny this man his claim. This was in 2012. So it gives you an idea of how long this has been going on.

    The incredible thing is that they were STILL making the same flawed product years later. Unbelievable!

  3. Seems like the rMBP (mid-2014) is plagued by the same problems that also affect the Macbook Air. Apple replaced my MBA with a rMBP because there is a known problem with MBA’s supporting external displays – I thought I was getting a good deal! It turns out that this Mac’s problem is the Black Screen of Death (BSOD) – which bizarrely can be fixed by tilting the rMBP back ever so slightly, but not guaranteed to work all the time. Occasionally I have to close the lid – leave it for 30 secs or so, then login (still black screen) then eventually the graphics will kick in. Seems to only occur for me when running on battery. My guess is that this is a graphics driver fault rather than a problem with the hinge.

    Apple’s suggestion was for me to take it back to the Apple Store.

  4. @Scoopz

    So I took it back to the Simply Mac store and they claimed that they still haven’t gotten the 13 MBP that I turned back in, to recreate the same problem. I know i’m not crazy or anything and I likely know more about computers than them. So the guy told me that I could leave it with him till he can actually see it do it and he would just swap it out with a new one. But like I told him, If it’s a bigger problem then it’s likely all the ones he has in stock are the same. I’m planning on calling Apple and seeing about just sending it off to them and praying that it won’t take long to get it back in working condition. It just upsets me that they led me to believe that it was likely a problem with just the 13 MBP and I upgraded like a sucker.

    1. @Justin – My rMBP has been fine for over 6 months now. It was sent back to Apple once, they returned it with new logic board but right hand side USB port and SD slot weren’t working and it still kernel panic’d so it went back a second time for repair. It came back working ok and I’ve had no issued with it since. If you have similar issues to me, it’s probably a faulty logic board that’ll need replacing. Sorry if that’s not the news you wanted to hear. If you are within your warranty then it’s an inconvenience, if you are outside your warranty then it gets expensive but point Apple at this post and say you suspect it’s been a faulty logic board from day one and you’d like them to repair it as a gesture of good will. If you are in the UK then the UK Sales of Goods Act covers you a little outside your warranty period anyway as goods should be “fit for purpose” and last “a reasonable length of time” and for a computer that should be several years under normal operating conditions. Good luck.

  5. Bought a mid 2014 macbook pro 13″ about 3 weeks ago and had this issue. They offered to fix it but said it would take over a week so i just opted to pay the difference and get the 15″ with 16GB ram and 256GB HDD. Still having the same problem and it’s driving me crazy! When I called apple they said the guy said he hadn’t heard of any problems like this on the mid 2014’s.

    1. @TWil – It ended up getting sent to Apple for a new logic board TWICE before it finally came back fixed. I’ve not had the issue return for over 6 months now.

  6. Hey guys! Have the same problem (MPB ’12, 16 GB RAM, 756 SSD). It started all of a sudden 5 days ago, have been having it since then a few times. Luckily, still have Apple Care, but may postpone giving it to them, as I will need my MBP in the next few days. Hope it doesn’t get worse.

    Do I get you correctly that there is no fix for this problem?


    1. @dimitar – yes that’s correct there is no end user fix as it was a hardware issue for me and normally manifested when the discrete GPU kicked in. Bear in mind that Apple Care might just replace the entire logic board and SSD so backup everything before you ship it to them. Assume you will be getting a new (ie wiped) laptop back.

  7. I am having the same exact problem. I just got this computer yesterday (mid 2014 15 inch MacBook Pro). I don’t believe this to be an issue with GPU switching because I am using the base model with Iris Pro graphics only.

    1. @Steven – even though you’ve just got your machine, you could have a faulty logic board. Mine ended up having a logic board replacement and then a subsequent replacement as the first replacement was also a dudd.

  8. I am having the same issue. I don’t have AppleCare so if there is any possibility of fixing this on hand, that would be great news.

    Please update.

    1. @Derrick even if you don’t have AppleCare you should take it to your local official Apple Store and ask them to repair as a gesture of goodwill. There are plenty of people getting non retina MBP repaired free of charge because of an inherant fault with a batch of GPUs (read more but Apple aren’t officially doing a recall but are repairing them FOC. However, they are non-retina MacbookPro’s not Retina Macbook Pros like mine so you may not have much luck. FYI I had a complete new motherboard and the returned unit then had a dudd USB port so it went back again for yet another new board and I’m still plagued by GPU panics when I use anything with OpenCL support.
      Scoopz (Admin)

  9. Same exact problem here. Any luck? AppleCare found very slight liquid damage in my machine, so won’t fix it. I am not convinced it is a liquid spill issue. It might be, but wonder if something else is going on.

    Thanks for an update!

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