If you own a MacBook Pro with an NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT GPU and an expired warranty, you may be unaware that since late 2008 Apple has offered a free out-of-warranty service program for the faulty graphics chipset. Apple's replacement program for the 8600M GT was initially valid for three years beyond your purchase date, whether you bought AppleCare for your Mac or not, but in 2010 the program was extended to four years from your purchase date. According to Apple, "If the NVIDIA graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within four years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty."
My Early 2008 MacBook Pro's AppleCare expired last week, and many early adopters of the first MacBook Pro with a multi-touch trackpad will be in the same boat. The good news is that even though your AppleCare coverage may be expired, your GPU is still covered for another year.
I already had one logic board replaced last November thanks to a faulty NVIDIA GPU, and until a TUAW reader reminded me about the out-of-warranty service program's extension to four years, I was worried about the GPU failing again within a couple months of my AppleCare coverage lapsing. Thankfully, my machine's weakest link is still serviceable at no cost to me for another year or so.
If you have one of the models listed below, and you've been experiencing graphics-related failures, take your MacBook Pro in and get it serviced -- it shouldn't cost you a cent. MacBook Pros covered under this program were manufactured between approximately May 2007 and September 2008, have an NVIDIA 8600M GT graphics processor, and include:MacBook Pro (17-Inch, 2.4GHz)
MacBook Pro (15-Inch, 2.4/2.2GHz)
MacBook Pro (Early 2008)
One more thing: if you do get your logic board replaced under this program, make sure the replacement board is the same model you brought in. When I got mine replaced, the service provider mistakenly replaced my 2.6 GHz CPU and logic board with a 2.5 GHz model. I eventually got things sorted out, but it meant being without my MacBook Pro for an additional week.
Thanks to Benjamin for this tip.