MacBook Pro 2011 17″ Disable Broken Radeon Graphics Card and Force use Integrated Graphics

If you own one of the last generation of 17" MacBook Pros from 2011, and if you have worked with a large external monitor, you may reach the point of frying the Radeon graphics card.

Since the model also has built-in Intel graphics, the question arises, can I not carry on working with that?

Yes you can.

This script helps you to disable the card at boot, and force use of the Intel integrated graphics. And, to re-run that process after an O/S update has undone the changes. The loss is that you can no longer plug an external monitor in. The gain is that your MacBook 17" now works again, and runs slightly cooler/at lower power to boot.

Several steps are involved. I wrote a script to reduce the steps to:

1. Boot to recovery mode and run the script
2. Boot to single user mode and run the script
3. Optionally boot to recover mode again to re-able SIP.

Recall that to run the script you must make it executable: chmod a+x force-integrated-graphics.sh

But how do I use this if I've already broken the graphics card?

* You should still be able to use the Cmd-S, or Cmd-RS keypresses at boot to get to a command line. If you can get from there to a pendrive or a network drive, then you can copy the script.

https://gist.github.com/chrisfcarroll/ff8ad18be53b0391464a9affeb119364

#! /bin/sh

kextoffdir="/kextoff"
loginhookscript="/Library/LoginHook/LoadDelayedAMDRadeonX3000kext.sh"

echo "---------------------------------------------------------------
Run this script twice.
First, from a Recovery Mode commandline to run csrutil disable.
Second, after rebooting to a Single user mode commandline, with / partition mounted writeable, to do all the things that must be done with csrutil status= disabled

After that, rerun Recovery mode to run \`csrutil enable\` again.

* How to start in Recovery mode? Cmd-R

* How to start in Single user mode? Cmd-S

---------------------------------------------------------------
"

echo "
nb: csrutil disable only works in recovery mode
"
csrutil disable
echo "
csrstatus:
"
csrutil status

echo "
Moving the AMDRadeonX3000.kext out of extensions and updating the extensions cache
"
mount -uw /
mkdir -p $kextoffdir
mv /System/Library/Extensions/AMDRadeonX3000.kext/ $kextoffdir/
touch /System/Library/Extensions/

echo "
Set nvram magic things. This is the step that disables the Radeon as the bootup graphics card
"
nvram 'fa4ce28d-b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9:gpu-power-prefs=%01%00%00%00'
nvram boot-args="-v"
nvram fa4ce28d-b62f-4c99-9cc3-6815686e30f9:gpu-power-prefs
nvram -p

echo "
Add a loginHook to load AMDRadeonX3000.kext after boot
"
mkdir -p /Library/LoginHook

cat > /Library/LoginHook/LoadDelayedAMDRadeonX3000kext.sh <

Kudos and References

* https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/166876/macbook-pro-how-to-disable-discrete-gpu-permanently-from-efi
* https://github.com/codykrieger/gfxCardStatus

6 thoughts on “MacBook Pro 2011 17″ Disable Broken Radeon Graphics Card and Force use Integrated Graphics”

  1. Chris,

    Thank you so much for automating this process. The raw process was a bit intimidating for those of us who don’t drop down to the command line very often – fears that one small typo could render my mac inoperable. You gave me my MacBook back! Kudos!

    -kc

  2. Hi, I started having problems again with getting a black screen at boot up. Doing all the resets worked… but it went blank and hasn’t come back when I turned off Automatic graphic switching in the Energy control panel.

    Now when it boots I get a black screen no matter what. Cmd-s, cmd-r make no difference. Clearing SMC/PRAM/NVRAM make no difference. I get the start up chime, screen stays blank. Of course I’ll hear two chimes when doing one of the resets.

    I think it fully boots because I can hear the email arrival tone now and then. One time, before changing the energy setting, I let it sit for 30 minutes, open and closed the lid and the screen came on. But after the energy setting change, no more.

    If I close the lid, eventually the external LED will go into light/dim cycle. So it seem’s like it’s running.

    This is a mid-2011 17″ i7 MBP with 16GB and two 1TB SSDs — I had an exactly identical machine several years ago only one HDD. It did the same thing and Apple replaced the controller once for free in 2014. But after the 2nd time, I got really nice 2011 17″ two replace it. — which I’d still be using if apple hadn’t orphaned it and as such Fusion 360 orphaned me too… So I got a new 16″. But I use my 17″ for tons of other things, just not CAD work.

    Anyway now that it’s always a black screen I have no idea what to do. I might buy yet another 2011 17″ that already has the Radeon GFX disabled and move my disks over to that one.

    I love the 17″ i7, it’s still quite fast with the SSD’s, boots in 22 seconds and ran Fusion just fine! It keeps up with my new 16″ running Fusion no problem, until the graphics went out and of course AutoDesk dropped support for High Sierra.

    So PLEASE help me.

    1. Sorry I’ve got nothing else I can suggest 🙁 Even MacBooks don’t last forever. If you’re in the UK, I could send you my 2011 MBP (has been unused on the shelf for 3 years) and you’re welcome to try it and see if you can get it running with your SSDs?

      (Also sorry it took me 2 months to see your comment)

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