What's wrong with my Macbook Pro?
February 19, 2013 4:55 PM   Subscribe

I have a 13" Macbook Pro that I bought in late 2010. Lately, it's been doing some odd things. Occasionally it makes a sound that I can only describe as an "electronic fart". Like a short buzz that lasts less than a second. The second thing is that sometimes parts of the screen go black. These things only happen once every few days.

I googled "weird noise", "weird buzzing noise" and all sorts of variations along that theme, and none of the results match my issue. Most of them are about people who have constant buzzing, or weird fan sounds. My sound is a short, loud buzz, which doesn't happen super often. I haven't noticed any specific program or situation that causes this sound. It just happens randomly.

The issue with the black screen is that occasionally, parts of my screen go black. It seems to happen only when I'm browsing the net using Chrome, but I don't know if it's specific to Chrome because... well I don't use my computer for much else other than surfing the web. Usually, it's panels of my browser window that go black, but not parts outside of the window. It obscures parts of text, and scrolls slightly, but not completely when I scroll the rest of the page. Then it goes away, as suddenly as it came.

Is my laptop dying?
posted by ohmy to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
LCD Inverter board maybe?

(not an expert)
posted by Leon at 4:58 PM on February 19, 2013

I had similar issues with my Macbook Pro for some time before it completely failed. I opened it up and it turned out that the HDD (I replaced the original HDD a long time ago) ribbon cable connection was coming a bit loose, so I was able to fix it by just pushing it in a bit. I reinstalled the OS to account for any errors that could have occurred due to the iffy connection, moved back the files I had backed up (you have all your data backed up, right?), and now it works like new.
posted by halogen at 5:02 PM on February 19, 2013

not an expert; i had a macbook that did that electronic fart you are describing, i took it to the store...it was asking me for a firmware update.
posted by zdravo at 5:14 PM on February 19, 2013

Mr. Arnicae (former Apple programmer) says "Main board" in response to both of the questions - he says the buzz sound is generally the kiss of death for the motherboard.

Take it into the Apple store. Stop counting on the computer in the interim (back up files etc. that you need).
posted by arnicae at 5:17 PM on February 19, 2013

Seconding loose cable and backing up of files. It is weird what cables which are incorrectly seated can do to a MacBook Pro. All kinds of stuff with the display, that's for sure. It's a bit of a hassle—although not too bad—but worth opening it up to check or have someone check for you.
posted by Mike Mongo at 6:26 PM on February 19, 2013

I would firmly place this in the territory of being something you can't really fully or accurately diagnose from descriptions over the Internet. An experienced tech would need to see the machine in person.

Nthing backing all your stuff up though, then take it to the apple store. They do free diagnostics and will tell you what they find and what service will cost. If it seems exorbitant(and it can be), then find a small local repair shop.

Have the issues gotten more frequent with time? I've had similar issues with chrome on pcs and macs, and generally just quitting and reopening chrome would make it go away for quite a while. It's only with the buzzing that the graphical issues are all that concerning.
posted by emptythought at 10:40 PM on February 19, 2013

Seconding the response from Arnicae - I used to get that weird buzz on my iMac a lot, right before the logic board went completely south.
posted by kythuen at 8:06 AM on February 20, 2013

Response by poster: Uh oh. None of this sounds good.

I backed up my data last night and I'll be bringing the laptop to Apple soon.

Thanks everyone!
posted by ohmy at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

My first response was going to be "Back up your data *now*" and I see that you did that. Are you using Time Machine, or are you actually doing a real, full backup?

(Time Machine is awesome for backing up most things in most circumstances, but it may not allow you to pick up and resume from a disk crash as if nothing happened - it may require a separate OS re-install. Take a look at Super Duper (free for a full disk dump) or other similar tools while you have a working system - it may save you serious aggravation down the line.)

Sorry that this is no help in diagnosing your actual problem...
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:14 PM on February 20, 2013

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