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Since I asked... Why not a MacBook Pro

Goodbye my Apple MacBook Pro, I hardly knew you.

I previously posted the question An Apple MacBook Pro... Why not?, and I have an answer for the time being. The short of it is this - the new MacBook Pro's use an Nvidia graphics card (the 8600M GT) and Nvidia cards do not work well with Windows Vista. I am not certain about Windows XP, but with Windows Vista via Boot Camp 1.3 I continuously encountered the dreaded nvlddmkm errors . In Nvidia's own forums you will find over 72 pages of discussion about this error, dating back to January. It has not been solved, nor does Nvidia have any answer posted anywhere, nor via phone support.

In my own experience, I received both BSOD as well as the the annoying screen flash followed by the nvlddmkm error message as shown here and discussed in the above forum (the registry changes  did not resolve it for me btw). The clue about what is going on lies in the fact that the error only occurs when using Aero. When running Vista, if you turn off Aero and simply run Basic mode, the errors stop. Moreover, you can cause it to happen at will simply minimizing/maximizing windows such as Internet Explorer. Clearly something is going on with the DirectX rendering for which the Nvidia driver is choking on, but sadly, not a single support rep would listen or had a way to contact anyone that would help fix the problem.

After spending over 20 hours reformatting, installing, reading error logs, trying every known driver floating around, posting on forums and repeatedly calling Apple support ("we do not support Boot Camp yet"), Microsoft ("It is a Nvidia problem, they need to write better drivers.") and Nvidia ("We do not write the drivers for Apple - they do. We just provide the hardware spec."), I finally had to give up.

I only had it for 11 days, but I can say that I was a little sad to see it go. The screen was gorgeous, it was fast and I had a tinge of sentimental excitement using it.. but at the end of the day, I needed it to perform with Windows as well as MacOS X. In my desperate attempts to fix the problem, people suggested I should use Windows XP or use virtualization software instead (software like Parallels does not have the DirectX support to enable Aero, thus no errors), but I cannot justify spending thousands of dollars on a product that I can do less with, with the blind hope that someday it may work. Remember, this is not just an Apple MacBook issue, this is an Nvidia issue and it is one they have been (not) dealing with for over 7 months now.

For those of you contemplating, be forewarned. As for me, I will probably try again once Leopard is released in October and Boot Camp is supported.

Feel free to shoot me an email or post any questions you might have. Sadly, I do not have any answers that will solve the issue. I do have a feeling (and others concur) that it may be related to having more than 2GB of RAM (at least it seems to occur in higher frequency). I did not want to test this assertion out, for fear of halting my ability to return it.

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