What is re-balling and does it work?

Mac Format - - APPLE TALK -

I’m near the point of throw­ing my 2009 Mac­Book Pro off the end of Black­pool Pier. It started hav­ing screen glitches and ran­dom ‘lock-ups’, which ap­par­ently are the symptoms of the Nvidia graph­ics fault. I also found it would refuse to boot up fully (the progress bar would get about a quar­ter way across, pause, and then re­boot con­tin­u­ally). Ap­ple quoted me £450 to have a new logic board fit­ted, so in­stead I went to an in­de­pen­dent re­pairer to have the graph­ics pro­ces­sor re-balled. I have spent £89 on a ‘re-balling’ re­pair plus an­other £45 to have a new graph­ics pro­ces­sor fit­ted. Af­ter the first re­pair the graph­ics seemed OK, but the re­boot­ing prob­lem still oc­curred ran­domly. That’s when it went back for a new Nvidia pro­ces­sor to be fit­ted. For about two weeks it be­haved flaw­lessly un­til on a cold day I got it out of the boot of my car and took it with me to a cof­fee shop. Yes, you guessed it, it just con­tin­u­ally re­booted mak­ing it com­pletely un­us­able! I don’t sus­pect Yosemite, be­cause it still ex­hibits this fault when try­ing to boot from an ex­ter­nal HDD loaded with Mav­er­icks. Mike O'Dea

Re-balling in­volves des­ol­der­ing a chip from the cir­cuit board and ap­ply­ing a new grid of tiny sol­der balls to the un­der­side to reat­tach all the pins. The­o­ret­i­cally it can fix prob­lems with dry sol­der joints, but in prac­tice it’s not some­thing I rec­om­mend. Screen glitches and ran­dom crashes could in­di­cate a fault with the graph­ics chip, but there could equally be a fault with one of the other chips on the moth­er­board, or one of the etched tracks on the cir­cuit board it­self. Also the re-balling process in­volves ap­ply­ing a lot of heat to the whole moth­er­board, which stresses chips and can cause other con­nec­tions to fail.

Now that you are £134 in, it might be tempt­ing to per­se­vere with other re­pair op­tions, or even pay the £450 for a new moth­er­board. My ad­vice though, is to eBay the Mac­Book Pro “for parts or not work­ing”. You should get at least £100 for it and you can put that to­wards a new lap­top. Five or six years is a re­spectable life­span for a lap­top and there comes a point where you are just throw­ing good money af­ter bad.

Re­pairs in­volv­ing the logic board are very ex­pen­sive and there’s no guar­an­tee they’ll work.

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