MacBook Pro stage light fault: Apple’s design turns $6 fix into a $600 nightmare, says iFixit

Some MacBook Pro owners have complained of a ‘stage light’ effect, where they see uneven backlighting at the bottom of the display. For some, the symptom is only the first stage, with the backlight failing altogether.

iFixit says that it has identified the cause – and the way in which Apple changed the design of the Touch Bar generation for the MacBook Pro turns what would otherwise be a $6 fix into a $600 nightmare …

The problem, says the company, is caused by Apple using much thinner ribbon cables instead of the thicker wires used in previous generation MacBook Pro models.

The issue is fairly simple: the current generation of MacBook Pro laptops (2016–present) uses flexible ribbon cables to connect the display to a display controller board beneath the Touch Bar. These cables wrap over the board, where they’re secured by a pair of spring-loaded covers—and they’re subjected to the stress of bending with every opening and closure of the laptop. Within a seemingly short time, those cables are starting to fatigue and tear. The backlight cable is generally the first to go, producing the infamous “stage light” symptoms, and eventually giving out entirely when the laptop is opened more than about 40°.

When it first debuted, the design seemed fine. But as always, the devil is in the details. Apple opted for thin, fragile flex cables as opposed to the beefier wire cables used in previous designs that could be routed through the hinge instead of wrapped around it, helping mitigate the stress of repeated openings and closings.

In theory, you should be able to replace the cables for $6. But Apple’s design makes that impossible, says iFixit.

In an apparent effort to make the display as thin as possible, Apple designed the cables as part of the display, so they cannot be replaced. This means that when (not if) those cables start to fail, the entire display unit needs to be replaced, as opposed to one or two little cables—effectively turning a $6 problem into a $600 disaster.

The problem so far doesn’t appear to be affecting too many people, but a petition started by Apple DIY repair guru Louis Rossmann, calling for an extended warranty program, has so far gathered more than 2,000 signatures. Apple already has a free repair program for certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models with sticky or unresponsive keys.

Mac owners should complain to the mirror that they bought a grossly overpriced, grossly underwhelming shiny toy instead of a computer.


Macs used to be a good value for the money. After years of constant use they never slowed down. No more. They got greedy. They have been lowering quality and tech specs for years while raising the price. They also have not rolled out an innovated product since 2007.

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Well, unfortunately and I am one of them, that is not why a lot of people buy MacBooks. Mostly animators and Graphic Designers use Mac Book because of their stable operating system and graphics card. Apple used to be really reliable in the various industries that Mac Users work in. The problem with Apple is when they started farming out to China is when the quality of their products started to go down hill. I bought a laptop in 2015 and had to replace the battery three times, and it is not cheap. They make it impossible for the consumer to be able to do it themselves, which in the past the battery on laptops was just a matter of lifting a hinge in the older models to access the battery which was pretty easy, not anymore. It is my hope that at some point they seriously consider addressing their quality issue, otherwise Apple is going to start losing market share pretty quick and enable its users to seek other alternatives.

Apple isn’t even using quality graphics cards anymore. When they roll out a new machine they are consistently 2-3 models behind on their graphics cards.

Yeah, and they’re non-upgradable. In a $5000 computer. That money can buy you a top rig with Threadripper and RTX Titan/Quadro which will last for a decade if properly cared for.

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It’s why I have a mid 2012 version, quad core I7 processor. Loaded the memory, SSD and juiced the clock.

30 second boot up and zero problems.

My 2011 and 2012 still outperform their windows counterparts.

Shiny toy? Compared ti the disaster called windows seems the toy s a windows machine.

I have yet to have a problem with the Mac OS however I work on windows OS for several friends. Why would anyone want such a trash OS?

I replace the batteries myself, not a difficult task. Upgrade the spin drive to a solid state drive and it boost performance. Loaded out the memory which is a must. Spin drives life is average 5 years depending on use.

My mid model 2012 mac pro is just about ready for a keyboard. E sometimes doesn’t work. I did replace the keyboard on my early 2011 mac pro and it wasn’t easy as the motherboard needs to be removed. May farm the keyboard in the 12 out.

As far as the battery I always drain the battery to 5% before recharging it. As with any laptop battery life is all about charge cycles.

I don’t buy the new model mac pro as the quad core i7 is stable and works well in the old models so I have seen no quality issues to date.

I may have to log onto my 2011 iMac and compare with my windows laptop. I used to record alot of my guitar playing… mostly for my own benefit and it had a great editing system and IO to my equipment. I just stopped using it … for no good reason.

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I’ve used windows in the past and still have 1 windows machine. 13" quad core I7. I changed to a solid state drive however it’s still a bit slow. It’s dedicated to work use only however I have norton as like most windows it is susceptible to everything in the world. OI carry my MAC for emails when on the road and direct connect the windows when working. The windows machine requires updates for the OS frequently, the mac once or twice a year I may see a OS update.

Did I inadvertently start a Mac vs. PC debate?

From my stand point, Mac/Apple makes it really hard for DIYers like myself to maintain and fix their laptops and toys. Yes, there are ways to do it, but the round-about is just atrocious. And yes, they are also quite expensive, but the hiked price is getting less and less justified as the quality and creativity of the current and upcoming Apple products are declining, and this here is an example. We can blame Chyna all we want, but it really comes down the corporate decisions. My $0.02.

Who you beat up an excellent piece of hardware/software you end up with a comparison.

Sorry for the diversion.

The problem with computers mac or windows, many people cannot repair basic problems ranging from OS to hardware. I called the local mac store as a fan went out in my 2011 mc pro. 200 bucks to replace 1 fan motor. I bought the fan online for 10 bucks and it took longer to take off the back than replace the motor.

#1: Norton is a resource-heavy AV, wouldnt recommend whether its free or paid. My top 3 recoomendations are:

  • Kaspersky
  • ESET NOD 32
  • Bitdefender

#2: (I am assuming that you are) not doing a clean install of windows 10. “New” computers come with all sort of bloatedwares that slow your gig down, and doing a clone-image of that onto a new SSD merely mirror the problem over. At the very least, hit (ctrl + shift + esc) --> startups and disable any programs you dont want starting up as you turn on the machine.

#3: not all SSDs are created equal. There are brand differences (samsung vs. transcend), and their are type differences (NVMe M.2 vs SATA). In both of those example, the former is usually faster.

#4: in mac, you dont “turn off” your computer even tho you “turn it off”. Most of them are put into hibernated state which preserve a “save state” of your system up to the moment you hit that I/O button, and thus when you “turn it on” again, the start up time is faster bc most processes are not completely turned off.

I think you can enable this in windows, but it will eat up some of your harddrive space. I have noticed that after a certain update of windows 10, it is enabled by default, tho I have turned mine off.

Also, depending on what type of laptop youre using, and what brand as well. Lenovo is trash imo, and so on. And of course, a touch screen laptop will be slower than others bc the touch screen feature also eat up computing resources.

I use Norton as it does the job and is used for work only as windows is the preferred operating system for access into carrier equipment.

I use the Samsung EVO SSD type drives. Seems to work best. The type, SATA or they type recommends by the manufacturer.

The time savings for both MAC and Windows are related to the spin on the drive and placement of programs, defraging a windows o a spin does speed it up however you don’t defrag a SSD as there is no time savings with spin.

One of the issues I gave with windows based laptops are they generally are all cheaply constructed. Plastic cases and cheap components. The windows machine who traveling is all protected from damage. The Mac in the aluminum case goes in the Backpack. I’ve dropped it a few times and it works still works well.

One of the concerns everyone should have with the mac is the new 64 bit OS coming out in the next release as it will force them to buy all new software.
One of the things I’ve always hated about windows.

The upside to the MAC is that OS upgrades are free.

I wonder why they changed the design?


The real issue is the fixed cables even it they are cheaper replacing the display is beyond the normal long term cost of a machine. The interesting thing is that the issue has just started to appear and as the equipment ages they will hear real screaming from people affected.

One would think they would change the design a bit and use replacement connectors to lift the fix to cable replacement.

But then with labor the 6 buck cable would still cost a person a few hundred.

Im not debating their effectiveness, just their use of resources. Norton isnt known for being light weight, and we are talking about run-time optimization.

Depending on what laptop you have, the motherboard and available sockets, but yes, SATA is the default one.

Defraging helps with mechanical HDDs yes, but it will deteriorate SSDs; however, defragging only goes so far in speeding up your computers. There will be a different in boot time for a computer starting 20 processes at launch vs. one with only 10. See below example articles for details. This also tied up to the programs you run on it, i.e. Norton AV vs. a better one that doesnt hog resources.

Not all pcs are made with plastic chassis. There are metal ones, you didnt look hard enough. Asus Zenbook series comes to mind, along others.

But after all, I’m not here to change your mind, since we both know our own references. Im just here to share what I know. Just keep in mind that there are only one Apple that produces Macs, but there are a handful of manufacturers producing windows-based laptops. Thus, sometimes it is strange to me when people compare parameters such as build quality when comparing Mac vs. windows, when they should be comparing Apple vs. ASUS, for example, for that.

Sleek and lightweight 2.5 lbs. aluminum body for comfortable portability

This is where all Apple products should go…

Good thing that they removed the batteries from those. Would start a fire.

As to my post- I have (and still do) own both. I will admit- the Apple has never BSOD’d on me, yet I find the system clunky and its ‘office’ products on par with Windows, er, 1992 versions. I see my Apples as good for Garageband, and little else. So I’m not a fan- that said, I was just making a bit of a joke; I did not intend to start an argument.