Apple has finally admitted culpability in the long-running saga of MacBook Pro laptops with faulty graphics hardware, launching a repair extension programme for a swathe of its customers.

Buyers of Apple's 2011-era MacBook Pro have long maintained that the device suffers from a serious design flaw which causes premature failure. The GPU, a component which frequently varies in temperature depending on load, is connected to the motherboard via a lead-free solder which becomes brittle through repeated thermal cycling. This results in cracks which interfere with the GPU's operation, manifesting as graphics corruption, crashes, and entirely dead laptops. While Apple had replaced any faulty systems under warranty, those whose devices fail outside warranty - even those who had already received a replacement only to find it suffering from the same issue - had been left with a charge of several hundred pounds for a replacement motherboard, an approach which made Apple the target of a class-action lawsuit last year.

Now, Apple is finally stepping up to the plate and admitting that its previous approach was inadequate, while confessing that the flaw extends further than previously thought. 'Apple has determined that a small percentage of MacBook Pro systems may exhibit distorted video, no video, or unexpected system restarts,' the company has stated in a support announcement this week. 'These MacBook Pro systems were sold between February 2011 and December 2013,' the statement continues, admitting for the first time that the flaw extends beyond the 15" and 17" MacBook Pro devices sold in 2011 through to 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display laptops manufactured between mid-2012 to early 2013.

Those with any of the above devices who find them suffering from any GPU-related failures can apply to have their laptops repaired at Apple's expense, even if the failure occurs outside the warranty period. Additionally, and in an extremely welcome move, the company is contacting anyone who has paid for a repair that would now be covered under the new programme for a refund.

The repair extension programme goes live today in the US and Canada with other countries, including the UK, to benefit from the same programme next week. In all cases, the extension covers all affected laptops until the 27th of February 2016 or three years from its original purchase date - but only for the GPU design flaw, with all other claims being handled by standard warranty or chargeable repairs.

Full details are available on the Apple website.
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