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MacBook screen flicker

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I indicated months ago that my MacBook had a screen flickering problem – a flickering of the background light to be precise. At the very beginning I didn’t really notice it as it was very rare and I was never quite sure that it isn’t just a side effect of the reflective screen. But when I started seeing it more regularly and also when watching a film in the dark, it became quite clear that something is wrong with the machine.

The problem was that the problem appeared randomly. It just started at some time and possibly stopped later on. My suspicions that it might be triggered by using the machine with or without the charger attached, with a high or a low load, with or without bus powered USB devices attached didn’t turn out to be true as I ended up seeing the problem in each of those setups at times. As closing the computer and carrying it around for a while often made the screen flicker disappear for a while it was particularly hard to demonstrate the problem to the local dealer so they could have a look at it, see what part caused the problem and order a replacement. And thus the problem dragged on.

In the past month or so the flickering became very frequent and I could finally demonstrate it to the repair people. They said that the flicker was most likely being caused be the mysterious inverter board being defective and ordered a replacement part for me which took a while to arrive. Then, after some more delay due to them being a bit disorganised and understaffed and apparently having grown quite popular and well known not just in town but also in a rather extended region surrounding it (probably because there are very few Mac dealers and almost none who are in an easily visible downtown shop) and thus having plenty of things to fix, upgrade and whatnot.

But on Friday, eventually, they put in the spare part – which apparently is one of the few parts that is much harder to reach in the MacBook than in its Pro sibling. And I haven’t noticed more flicker since. That said, it has only been a day and the problem was irregular before that so I will keep watching this critically. In particular how this keeps over time. I wouldn’t want the new part to start acting up like the old one did after a few months.

March 18, 2007, 14:03

Tagged as hardware.

Comments

Comment by Olof: Gravatar image

Experiencing the same problem. Not yet a real problem, but this story is helpful, and certainly will come to good use should i choose to take my computer to Apple.

Olof

March 31, 2007, 21:04

Comment by samar: Gravatar image

yeap i’m having the same problem, and im’ actually goign to contact mac and see what they could do about it. what exactly is the problem

April 18, 2007, 8:07

Comment by alvin: Gravatar image

yo guys, i’m having the same problem, and already replace the logic board. but the result is same.

did you meant you replace the inverter board?

thanx alot

April 24, 2007, 20:15

Comment by gareth: Gravatar image

i just got this problem today :( sucks…this is my first apple computer! i will yet at them on the phone about switching bak to a pc lol

April 29, 2007, 0:38

Comment by simon: Gravatar image

i’m not sure if it’s the same problem, but my brand new macbook sometimes has an instable backlight, it’s not really flickering, but it looks a bit like a regular crt with a certain refresh rate.

but the weird thing is, it’s only when booted in mac os x, windows doesn’t show the problem.

you guys experienced the same?

May 1, 2007, 16:54

Comment by joe: Gravatar image

I do have same problem ! No solution at all so far. I suspected this was caused by inverter or magsafe or cpu at first, but it seems not. Maybe it’s just a software issue such as the improper videocard driver? If so, hope leopard could sort it out!!

May 4, 2007, 18:17

Comment by BC: Gravatar image

Hi Folks,

This may have something to do with the Intel processors.
Several PC-Intel mobile processor notebooks from last year were having similar problems. It was a problem with video drivers. They released a new series of video driver updates and the problem was solved.
You should bug Mac about video driver updates.

Has anyone experienced this problem after using a second external monitor with their macbook?

bc

May 6, 2007, 18:37

Comment by Adam DeVito: Gravatar image

I brought this up at a Pro Care meeting and they offered to replace my screen. They didn’t even see the flicker. I guess it was just common knowledge.

May 10, 2007, 8:49

Comment by Ed: Gravatar image

I’m having a similar problem. It occurs under OS X and XP. The screen flickers at first, and eventually the backlighting completely shuts off. It’s not predictable, and it can only be remedied by either restarting the computer (hard shut down) or repeatedly turning the brightness all the way down and bringing it back up.

May 15, 2007, 1:44

Comment by Jack: Gravatar image

Hey guys, I’ve got the same problem too, mine is a 2.0Ghz White Macbook. Problem started about a month ago in April, I bought my macbook in late December. I called up apple, but the guy said he wasn’t aware of this problem in the macbooks and he reckoned it must be rare. However, I’ve read so many other stories about this problem (MY SCREEN IS FLICKERING WHILE I’M WRITING THIS!!) I have to bring my macbook to an Apple Store to get it fixed, (the quickest way) I live in the UK, so the closest one is in London. However, I’ve got my university exams in mid June, so right now, I just have to put up with this randomly flickering screen and hope that the screen doesn’t break down completely or something before my exams…

Good luck people, hopefully it’s just the inverter board or something…

May 19, 2007, 9:34

Comment by Justd: Gravatar image

I got the flickering today. =( Hope to get it fixed…

June 20, 2007, 20:00

Comment by FFS: Gravatar image

My girlfriend just got me a MacBokk refurb that has a similar flicker problem - but seems to be a connection problem since it always works if I close it almost all the way. BUT, I have no worries about it since any time I’ve had to deal with Apple, they have been a pleasure to deal with and usually give me a replacement instantly or at least a 2 day turn around on a repair.

July 5, 2007, 1:31

Comment by Mike Hirst: Gravatar image

Got exactly the same problem [screen flicker] started a week ago and is getting worse. My Mac Book is only 9 months old. Its a really shame this is my 4th Mac and also bought 5 i pods over the years. So consider my self a loyal customer. Have mocked my PC owning friends but it looks like the jokes on me for buying a Mac. Its not good enough for £750 and less than a year old. Hope John Lewis will exchange.

July 20, 2007, 0:22

Comment by Remt: Gravatar image

Hello guys same here I have a 13” black macbook upgraded to 1gig ram just last month and the flickering started about a week or 2 weeks ago? Could be the update? or maybe constantly changing or using low brightness settings for the monitor?… I mean to have caused the inverter board to malfunction.

Hope it does not get worse though.

July 22, 2007, 13:10

Comment by Marshall: Gravatar image

Same problem in white macbook. Flicker is very annoying- seems worse when just starting up. Apple store replaced a part but still occuring. On three occasions monitor has gone completely black for several seconds.

July 22, 2007, 21:28

Comment by Jonas: Gravatar image

Is the flickering also a problem with the new macbooks (released in may 2007)? I’m thinking about getting one, and I don’t want to deal with this. My friend assured me it only happened with the older macs. Is this true? Thanks!

July 28, 2007, 1:58

Comment by Roald: Gravatar image

Hi! As far as I can see it is now 4 months since you replaced the inverter-board. Is the flickering still gone? I have the same problem, but get the feeling when contacting Apple that I need to tell them what causes the problem ;-(

July 29, 2007, 15:18

Comment by ssp: Gravatar image

The flicker didn’t re-occur for me after the repair.

But I sold the machine three months later, so I don’t know the current state.

Telling what causes this problem will be tricky / impossible. It took me a while to show the flicker to the staff at the store but once it worked and then they did the repair.

July 29, 2007, 17:02

Comment by Cristian: Gravatar image

See http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1057743&tstart=0

Hope it will help.

July 31, 2007, 14:05

Comment by ssp: Gravatar image

Thanks for the link Cristian — while it may help some people I’m fairly sure this touches a different screen flickering problem than I had. The one I had was a problem with the backlight which shouldn’t be affected by settings like these.

(I’m also fairly sure that traditionally European televisions run at 50Hz because that’s the frequency of the AC current)

July 31, 2007, 18:43

Comment by Kristoffer: Gravatar image

I experienced a similar problem with my old iBook. It started out as flickering and then got progressively worse until the brightness of the screen just locked at a very low level (as if you’d turned down brightness almost all the way). Our tech guy told me it was something wrong with the connection between the screen and the rest of the lap top and I ended up having to buy a new one, this time a MacBook. What’s making me nervous now is that after one year and one month (i.e., with enough time passed for the insurance to have expired and for me to not be able to buy the extended AppleCare protection plan) with this one, the screen has started to flicker, although not as much as my old iBook. Anyway, just thought I would throw my experience in there; not sure if my problems have been caused by “the inverter board” all along, or what’s going on, but it might be worth looking into the connection between the screen and the computer too.

August 22, 2007, 16:30

Comment by Luiz: Gravatar image

I have a 3 months old Black MACBOOK, newer version “Core 2 Duo 2.16Ghz” Wifi B/G/N, 2GB Ram, and today I noticed the screen flicker, very intense. I don’t see any relation but last week I used it with an external monitor and had to change the monitor configurations for a while.

September 24, 2007, 16:51

Comment by baps: Gravatar image

Hi everyone.

I bought a White Core2Duo 2,0 1 G Ram Macbook three weeks ago, and I’ve noticed a really very subtle flickering when brightness is set to very low settings (1 o 2 bars). The flickering is hardly noticeable, but I’m sure it’s there because if I change brightness a step it disappears completely. It never happens when brightness is above 4 bars o during start up as some users have informed. I noticed this because I usually run the mac on battery, so I set brightness settings very low to save battery life. I haven’t had any of the other issues Macbooks have become famous for. The unit has performed really good so far though I know is too soon to tell.

October 4, 2007, 6:21

Comment by mondosei: Gravatar image

On my white macbook, purchased 04-2007, the flickering definitely kicks when turning the brightness level to 1.

February 28, 2008, 15:42

Comment by James: Gravatar image

I am not under warranty. My macbook also flickers and it seems to be getting worse. I am wondering if the problem will eventually plateau, or does it continually get worse until a crash?

March 1, 2008, 7:23

Comment by Sam: Gravatar image

Hey, I just started getting the dreaded “flicker” a few days ago on my white Macbook, and I’m a bit split on what I should do. I’m still under warranty, so I may end up getting it fixed, but I live in the East of England, and there isn’t an apple store for miles and miles. The closest place is a two hour drive from me which I had to go to about a month ago to give them my Macbook - the speakers had stopped working and so had the battery; after checking the Apple support discussions apparently both these problems are fairly commonplace amongst Macbooks, and now I can add this little nugget of annoyance to the list of faults. As my first Mac (bought august ‘07) I’m really rather disappointed to have had problems after four/five months, but the faults are still outweighed by the Pros compared to Windows. This, however, begs the question, how many more problems will pop up before the scales tip?

April 4, 2008, 4:57

Comment by Mike: Gravatar image

I had the screen flicker problem, and the Mac Service Centre (here in Hong Kong) replaced the Inverter when my MacBook was 7-8 months or so. At around 11-12 months or so, I noted the same problem came back again, but less often than before. When I was using an external LCD screen, the LCD was still perfectly ok when the Macbook screen flickers.

Hope this helps, but I am not too keen to bring back to the Mac Service Centre since it only came back 2 weeks later the last time, and never really fixed the problem afterall!

Hope this helps…

April 4, 2008, 6:45

Comment by Martine the suburbean: Gravatar image

Got the inverter board replaced in my Macbook too two months ago, and the problem seemed to disappear… until yesterday, when I noticed the flicker again. I thought I was wrong, but it just happened again for sure :*(

I see your replacement took place a year ago; have your problem been solved with the new inverter board or not?

April 17, 2008, 21:24

Comment by ssp: Gravatar image

@Martine:
It worked fine for me after the exchange. But I sold the machine a few months later, so I couldn’t keep an eye on it for long.

April 17, 2008, 23:35

Comment by ras: Gravatar image

same here. same flicker. same swirling mystery around it. geniuses said they’d replace the inverter board, but the tons of other problems my black 13” had musta distracted them to forget. apparently wouldn’t have solved it anyhoo, huh?

May 6, 2008, 23:49

Comment by mantunes: Gravatar image

I’m myself have recently ran into this problem i did a battery update to my MB and that seemed to help for a while i almost want to point the issue being a power management issue possibly driver related. not sure my next option is to change out that inverter other than that.issue is not to persistent…

May 24, 2008, 18:10

Comment by rileyhuf: Gravatar image

I have this problem to on a white macbook I got in Nov. 2006. I sent it in for repair 3 months after I got it and it worked great. Two weeks ago the flickering started again. this is my first mac, I am a Web developer, and my last. Expensive machine that doesn’t cut it if you ask me.

June 6, 2008, 22:50

Comment by david: Gravatar image

hi all…

i am a london based mac-tech, ive seen this problem many times and in my experience it is always : invertor / invertor connector issues !

any of you people need any advice or are in london and need your machine looking at please feel free to call me on > 07772085721

regards. david

August 12, 2008, 16:25

Comment by Stephen: Gravatar image

Hi David,

I have the same issue when running XP on my MacBook but it only seems to happen when just running from the battery. I’ve also had it just go black a couple of times :-| Are you at BrentCross?

August 20, 2008, 10:52

Comment by Leo London: Gravatar image

I used to work for Apple and its only a bulb that needs to be replaced. Quick fix for any licensed Apple store or service center.

November 10, 2008, 4:20

Comment by malcolmm: Gravatar image

Well, it’s 18 months later (than the original post) and I’m having the same problem with my white 2.0Ghz Core 2 Duo. Just the occasional switch from full brightness to a lesser brightness and back again. I first noticed this last night, so I thought I have a look and there is quite a lot on the internet about this. I’ll be posting my experiences on my blog @ colrosa.co.uk/blog

November 20, 2008, 10:16

Comment by Deepclue: Gravatar image

This is all quite interesting… I’ve had flicker problems for a couple of days but I somehow assumed this was a defect of the light sensor that the MacBook uses to automatically adjust the screen brightness; so I went to the display preferences, unchecked the box that says “Automatically adjust…,” and the flicker disappeared.

March 2, 2009, 4:32

Comment by ssp: Gravatar image

@Deepclue:
As the white MacBook I use doesn’t have a light sensor, this explanation couldn’t apply there, unfortunately. Also, the light sensor induced ‘flickering’ I have seen so far on machines with the sensor, has been of much lower speed.

March 2, 2009, 9:38

Comment by Chas: Gravatar image

Does anyone know if applecare takes care of it?? and how long does it take them to fix

March 27, 2009, 18:06

Comment by Gregory Haynes: Gravatar image

I got this fixed about a year ago free due to apple care, but now its back again…

I wonder if they will fix again for free now that I upgraded my hd on my own?

May 14, 2009, 7:59

Comment by ssp: Gravatar image

If you bought the three year AppleCare package, they should do it as it’s still covered by that. I never had complaints about my exchanged hard drives or RAM in the MacBooks I gave them for repair. I think those components are considered ‘user serviceable’.

May 14, 2009, 9:27

Comment by Mihai: Gravatar image

I have this problem on my Macbook First generation. Occurred after switching to Leopard, or so it seems. I switched to Leopard as soon as I bought it,used, so I can’t tell if it had this problem running Tiger, but the previous owner, my sister in law, says she never noticed it. I happens while on battery power, shortly after the display turns on, lasts for a bit and the goes away. Doesn’t really happen on A/C power. Needless to say, the computer has been out of warranty for a long time. Unless I find a software fix, I plan to ride this out….

June 29, 2009, 1:13

Comment by evan: Gravatar image

this screen has two inch wide column,,,flickering eye strain, headache, nausea, best buy said THREE WEEKS. no laptop, three weeks… brand new laptop. apples don’t fall to far from the apple tree. know your apple vendor!

August 8, 2009, 2:03

Comment by KG: Gravatar image

Hey guys!!! its been a while since someone has written on this page but I’m getting the same problem (screen flickering). I have a recently new MacBook Pro (unibody) but is the first release of them. Anyway, have had this problem for a while now- I accidently spilt a drink across my keyboard and had that all replaced at my cost (AUD$550) and then the flickering started and thought it was a repercussion of the spilt drink and not having the hardware cleaned up. Reading this, however, makes me wonder (even though it’s 3yrs and 2months since the initial post and several OS and many releases of new versions but I’m sure that such a common problem over the many versions of macs have the same problem. It doesn’t flicker on an external display so I’ve been using that when it becomes too much. It also helps when I close the computer and wait for it to sleep then open it again and it goes grainy and starts repeating a pattern of whatever is on my screen, once it goes white (blank) I have come to so much frustration at it that I tap (more of a hit) just beside the trackpad and it tends to help subside the flickering for a bit.

Cheers

May 28, 2010, 8:58

Comment by Sandeep: Gravatar image

Hi Guys, My MBP unibody is 2009 make. Last month its LCD gone blank, went to Apple care, they replaced it. costed me USD 550 and after repair i am seeing some flickering happening when i use 9400 card, but no flicker happens if i use 9600 M graphic card…anyone what can be the problem?

November 15, 2010, 17:42

Comment by Jules: Gravatar image

Hi, i have had a fliker for about 6 months- it has got really bad now though and is out of warranty, so I can’t get it fixed. It flashes, whites-out, pixilates and is almost unusable for a minute or two, every hour or so. How can I sort this out cheaply, before it gets worse?

Thanks

Jules

December 6, 2010, 2:19

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