Users complain of Sandy Bridge MacBook Pro freezes

Shelling out extra cash for Apple gear often gets you better-built products, but it's no safeguard from ugly kinks. If you've checked Apple's support forums lately, you'll know why. A 43-page discussion thread suggests 2011 MacBook Pro notebooks with Sandy Bridge processors and Radeon HD discrete graphics are freezing under heavy loads.

The user who started the thread on March 1 complained that his MacBook Pro's fans revved up and his cursor got stuck during a multitasking session with a Time Machine backup running in the background. Others quickly joined in to report similar experiences—fans speeding up and the cursor freezing under load.

This thread has gotten long enough that there's now a "MBP-Freeze" wiki page detailing common symptoms, possible fixes, and particularly incriminating user reports. One of those reports is from someone who alleges that "3 brand spanking new" MacBook Pro systems he tested all failed in under four minutes. Another claims to have reproduced the problem on all of the new machines at his local Apple Store.

One of the possible workarounds, according to the wiki page, is to download gfxCardStatus and use it to disable the MacBook Pro's discrete Radeon HD GPU, letting the system rely solely on the integrated graphics component of its Sandy Bridge CPU. That's hardly a fix, though, and it suggests a genuine hardware fault might be at work here.

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