MacBook Pro Power-On Pads – Location and Use
My Unibody MacBook Pro doesn’t turn on
If your MacBook won’t power on, there’s an easy way to determine if the problem lies with the power button or with another component in the laptop. Apple was generous enough to design an integrated method for bypassing the power button on all MacBook logic boards. Below I’ll show you how to use the power pads, as well as provide high-res reference photos of the locations of these power pads on each individual release of the MacBook Pro Unibody.
We’ve talked about this before on the Beetstech Blog. If you’re looking for info on MacBook Air models follow this link.
Why use power on pads?
There are countless reasons why your MacBook Pro might not turn on, and this procedure only rules out a single, but very common root cause. The power button is connected to the logic board via the same 30-pin or 40-pin cable as the rest of the keyboard, and of those pins, only two are necessary for the signal to travel from the power button to the logic board. There are probably quite a few ways you could damage this connection if you were creative enough, but we typically find either corrosion from a liquid spill damaged the keyboard connector on the motherboard, or the keyboard flex cable was damaged from repeatedly attempting to insert the cable. Diagnosing hardware issues is a simple process of elimination, and if you still can’t power on the computer after bypassing the power button, you’ve at least ruled out of component.
How do I use the power pads?
- The proper screwdriver to remove bottom case screws for your particular model.
- A paperclip with electrical tape on the area you will hold (to act as an insulator) or a flat head screwdriver.
- Remove the bottom case.
- Don’t forget to protect your computer from ESD discharge by grounding yourself ahead of time.
- Disconnect the power adapter and battery. Connecting/disconnecting other cables while power is connected can cause damage.
- Disconnect the keyboard cable from your logic board. This step is very important! If you leave the keyboard plugged into the logic board, the power pads won’t work.
- Now that the keyboard cable is disconnected, plug the battery in again.
- Locate the power-on pads using the reference pictures below.
- Use the paper clip or flat head screwdriver to bridge the connection with the 2 power-on pads. Maintain the bridge for a maximum of three seconds.
- If the fan doesn’t start spinning after 10 seconds, then reattempt the bridge between the power-on pads.
MacBook Pro Unibody 13" (Model A1278)
MacBook Pro Unibody 15" (Model A1286)
- Late 2008 / Early 2009
- Mid 2009
- Mid 2009 (2.53GHz CPU w/ single fan)
- Mid 2010
- Early 2011 / Late 2011
- Mid 2012
MacBook Pro Unibody 17" (Model A1297)
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With macOS 10.13, otherwise known as High Sierra, Apple introduced an ambitious EFI update. Several of the changes include: the introduction of the Apple File System, support for NVMe drives, and the usual batch of security updates. However, these EFI updates can cause some unwanted behavior when you test your Apple computer’s memory. At Beetstech, we use a long-time industry standard, MemTest86 to perform a comprehensive test of each computer’s RAM.
But never the type to blindly accept test results, strange testing outcomes led us to discover a bug in MemTest86 affecting computers running the new EFI firmware. In short, the newly updated EFI causes MemTest86 to incorrectly fail certain tests. But there is good news: while normal operation of MemTest86 is limited under these new EFI updates, we also discovered some simple workarounds for testing your Apple’s memory in MemTest86.
So let’s dive into how we discovered the MemTest bug, devised a reliable work-around, and get into some nitty gritty details of MemTest86 operation.
They go by “jumper pads”, “short-circuit pads”, “power pads”, and “power-on pads”. Whatever you call them, there are two bits of metal on your MacBook logic board that can force your laptop to boot up, even if the power button won’t do the trick.
Anywhere premium products are produced, there are unsavory folks trying to make a quick buck selling cheap knockoffs. It happens in every industry, from clothes to food to tech. But in recent years, counterfeit electronics have surpassed nearly all other categories of counterfeit goods by dollar value, and Apple, being the de facto high-end electronics manufacturer, makes for a prime target.
But you’d never be caught buying counterfeit electronics, because you can tell the difference, can’t you?
Remember the good ol’ days of carrying a spare battery, upgrading your own RAM, maybe even adding a second hard drive? If you’re an Apple user, those luxuries may be behind us, but upgrading your own solid state drive is still a privilege the Apple overlords allow us to have, for now that is.
Despite retaining the ability to upgrade your own SSD, ever since Apple introduced their proprietary “blade” SSDs in 2010, the task hasn’t been as simple as it once was. Apple talks up read and write speeds, but they rarely dive into the nitty gritty details of the technology behind the SSDs they use — drives specially designed only for Apple computers.
After countless questions, both from customers and our own staff, we decided to start our own investigation into the hardware involved. You have to be a bit of a private eye to uncover the secrets behind these drives, and the deeper we looked, the more surprises we found.
Owners of a Unibody MacBook Pro laptop are probably already aware that failure of the hard drive flex cable is a common issue. While it affects just about the entire Unibody lineup, the Mid 2012 MacBook Pro 13″ (Model A1278) is especially prone to this type of failure.
What is it that makes the Mid 2012 release special in this regard? A design flaw in the flex cable that seems to be compounded by the properties of the aluminum housing.
Our repair services department noticed this issue when they’d replace a bad cable, only to have the customer return a few months later with another bad cable. And possibly again with yet another bad cable. It didn’t matter if we used a used cable or a new cable in the replacement. Customers kept returning with the same persistent issue. We had to figure out what was causing the issue and find a solution.