It's a well-documented problem with Macbook Pro 2011 models that from 2014 onwards, the discrete GPUs that are automatically activated and deactivated (or whatever, I'm not going to pretend I know all the words) have started burning out, dieing and generally being a pain.

Last week it happened to mine, and after learning about the problem and figuring it out, I disabled (i.e. moved to the desktop) the AMD + ATI GPU driver files on my OSX partition, via single user mode, to prevent the discrete GPU from firing up at launch.

Result: my Macbook Pro lives on, powered by the integrated graphics.

The Problem

I now wish to boot up into my Windows 7 (Bootcamp-augmented) system, but when it starts, the screen cuts to black, signalling to me at least that it too is trying to utilise the dead discrete GPU.

Required help

So, without getting to the Win7 desktop, I need to somehow disable/delete/move whatever drivers/settings are allowing Windows 7 to use the discrete GPU, and force it to instead rely ONLY on the integrated graphics.

Is there a way to do this with a Win7 equivalent of Mac's single user/shell mode?

Key details / tl;dr

  • Macbook Pro 2011; OS 10.8 and Win7 partitions
  • Discrete GPU is bust; OSX relying on integrated graphics, Win7 still trying to use bust GPU
  • Black screen on Windows 7 boot; no control
  • How do I disable discrete GPU, force win7 to use integrated graphics, with no screen access to system?
  • You should start Windows in Safe Mode, open the Device Manager, uninstall the discrete GPU driver, and then disable the driverless device - for good measure. – and31415 Jun 16 '14 at 21:59
  • I too have a 2011 MBP with the discrete graphics problem. I have researched this issue enough to know that while you can have Mac OS X only use the integrated graphics, it is impossible to have Windows 7 on a Boot Camp setup only use the integrated graphics. I'm going to send mine out to a repair shop to have them install a new GPU - hopefully that plus the resoldering will permanently fix the problem. – pacoverflow Jun 16 '14 at 22:50
  • @pacoverflow Why is this? I didn't think Bootcamp was so deeply integrated with Win7. – J.B. Jun 16 '14 at 22:54
  • @and31415 I'll give that a try and report back, cheers. – J.B. Jun 16 '14 at 22:55
  • @J.B. It has to do with Boot Camp not exposing the fact that there's also an integrated graphics chip to Windows, so Windows only thinks there's a discrete graphics chip. While Mac OS X will sometimes use the integrated and sometimes use the discrete, Windows 7 on a Boot Camp setup will always use the discrete. – pacoverflow Jun 16 '14 at 22:57

install Parallel desktop and run your windows in it by adding your bootcamp system. You can run Parallel desktop with integrated graphics only.


I managed to disable my AMD GPU by starting windows and getting to system and security -> device manager -> display adapters -> and then right clicking on my AMD Radeon HD and hitting 'disable'. The maximum resolution has been reduced from 1680x1050 to 1400x900, but that's ok! I have a late 2011 MacBook Pro with the same soldering problem. Good luck with these instructions!

  • 1
    Good for you!  But, didn't you notice that the question says that, when Windows 7 boots, the screen goes black?  How can the OP follow your instructions if he can't see the menus, buttons, and icons? – G-Man Apr 29 '15 at 3:51

Sucks to hear about your graphics controller! You can run Windows 7 using the default Microsoft Standard VGA driver.

Here's how to rip out the discrete graphics controller:

  1. F8-Boot Windows 7 and choose safe mode.
  2. Go to Device Manager and double-click your display driver (ATI or nVidia depending on your Mac.
  3. Choose the Driver tab and hit update Driver.
  4. Hit Browse my computer for driver software.
  5. Hit Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.
  6. Choose the Microsoft Standard VGA Graphics Adapter (you may have to uncheck show compatible hardware and drill down to it manually.
  7. Hit next, then close, and restart normally.

That should do it.

NOTE: When running in BIOS emulation mode, Apple completely masks out the Intel GPU hardware so only the discrete hardware is seen. When running in EFI mode, Apple maps the I/O ranges into the same address space for both adapters, and their ACPI/EFI implementation is incomplete. Long story short, it is not physically possible to use the Intel GPU in Windows on Macs that have discrete graphics -- period. Not through BootCamp, not through a manual Win7 install, and not though an EFI boot either.

  • I wish I could say that worked, but it seems even Win7 Safe Mode utilises drivers that activate the conked-out GPU. pacoverflow mentions in the discussion above that bootcamp effectively blocks Windows from utilising the integrated graphics, so that's probably it. I'm going to install a non-bootcamp system on an external drive, then go through the process you mentioned above. I'll report back; thanks for the help! – J.B. Jun 17 '14 at 0:28
  • Unfortunately the Windows install disk also blacks out the screen, leading me to believe it comes with drivers ready to plug in. I'm putting this problem on hold as it isn't extremely urgent for me, but an answer not involving safe mode could still be appreciated. Cheers for your time nonetheless. – J.B. Jun 17 '14 at 14:53

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