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Released on July 21, 2011. Core i5 or Core i7 Processor. Thunderbolt. This unit is also used to run the Mac mini Server configuration.

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Corrupt graphics display - Hardware Solution Needed

2011 Dual-core Mac Mini 2.5GHz i5

(Bought a "for parts" Mac Mini to work on)

After installing a borrowed Mac Mini drive... and installing the missing parts (fan, cables, etc) --- when I boot the machine up, there is a lot of graphic distortion. All kinds, in fact. I ran the simple AHT... even though the screen was totally screwing up, it said "no trouble." Running extended now. Will update.

To confirm, this is NOT an issue with the connectors, the cables, or the actual display I'm using. All KG items. Memory is also KG from another MM 2011.

What I did do: replace all the thermal paste sites (under large heatsink, and on reverse side for the separate 2 chips that I believe control the Firewire, etc but are NOT the graphics chip.


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Not sure I understand your question here...

Your system likely has it's video logic as built-in into the CPU (HD Graphics 3000). Here's the specs Apple Mac mini "Core i5" 2.3 (Mid-2011) Specs If you have the 2.5GHz version it has a Radeon HD 6630M chip (different logic board layout).

Given what you have written, it's likely the reason the system was sold as parts was because the graphics services is bad.

Here's a good image and layout of the logic board Mac Mini Mid 2011 Teardown - Steps 13 & 14


Not sure I follow you on the "factory installed EFI generation" All of the Intel generation of the Mac use EFI firmware. If you mean you needed to update the EFI to resolve "hangs, graphic distortion" problems I would recommend reviewing this Apple TN on EFI firmware and the issues the updates have resolved EFI and SMC firmware updates for Intel-based Macs.

As to fixing this system if you have the right gear to reflow the chip you could give that a try. But, given what you've stated I suspect the chip is just bad (either the CPU or the GPU depending on what model you have).

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Sorry... to clarify, just wanting opinions on possible causes & solutions. Obviously, my first thought was a faulty graphics chip. However, I've noticed with these EFI machines... symptoms are often no so indicative of the "obvious" cause as it first might appear. Case in point... I've had multiple machines now (from the factory installed EFI generation) just need fresh EFI factory restore to rid myself of symptoms like hangs, graphic distortion, etc.

However, if this is a graphics chip issue... suggestions on possible solutions? Reflow the chip? Immersion bath to remove any unseen corrosion under the chip? Hope that helps...



Yeah... was thinking of the models that required the EFI update vs. models manufactured post-update and didn't need it. Thanks for the input... I thought I might end up replacing this GPU chipset. Just hoped I could avoid it since those chips aren't easy to come by (well, not cheaply in small quantities). Thanks!


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I experienced the same issue as the the poster here:

I had the same vertical bands across the screen. I could boot to internet recovery or diagnostic mode and the lines stayed. I did a PRAM reset and it would boot up with the lines and then go blank. I could SSH into the mac like it was working normally but I could not VNC into it. I took it to the Apple store and quoted me about $300 to fix it by replacing the logic board. Considering a new one is $499, I decided against it.

I figured there wasn't much to lose and decided to try and reflow the GPU. I disassembled the mac, covered everything but he GPU in tin foil and used a heat gun on low for about 30 seconds, waving slightly. I used an infrared thermometer to check that the temperature was up to ~320F for at least 5 seconds. FYI, the GPU is the chip under the heat sink closest to to the back panel. I think the teardown only shows the intel GPU version. Since I had it apart, I replaced the PRAM battery as well (I doubt that was the culprit though). After re-assembly it booted up just like normal without any bars/lines.

I watched Netflix on it for a couple of hours without issue. The heat gun cost me $23. That plus some aluminum foil and thermal paste and I have my Mac back. I'll keep you guys posted on progress. Even if this only lasts a couple of years it's worth it.

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Happy it worked out for you. While re-heating appears to have solved the problem now you may encounter a followup failure here.

What happens, the Tin based solder breaks down from the high heat of the GPU, If you run this system hard (heavy gaming).

Once the solder has failed its makeup is altered so it will re-crystalize sooner. You'll need to completely remove the chip clean off all of the old solder and reflow it back on (or just replace the chip) with fresh heat rated solder.


Thanks for the info, Dan!

I know this is at best a temporary solution. But I've relegated this machine to web browsing and watching videos.

I'm curious. Is this issue caused by using the wrong solder during manufacturing or is this thing common with GPU's on a BGA? I've seen several reflow repair videos and they are almost always showing GPU's being repaired.


It's not so simple ;-}

Apple & other manufactures where forced to use Lead-free solder, the first generations of solder where just not well formulated for high heat. In addition there where some bad GPU chips produced, Then to add to it, we (the users) out reached what the manufactures of the GPU & systems had designed the systems to handle.

So we have one kettle of fish here!


Interesting. When did reliable high temp solder make it into the industry? It would be good to know what production years are prone to GPU/BGA issues.


Only the manufactures know this. Apple & their part suppliers in our case here.


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