The company said it decided to make the offer after an investigation revealed problems related to the Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics processor, which Nvidia acknowledged in July contained a packaging defect. Those problems include distorted or scrambled video during playback and the inability to play video, even on an external monitor.
At the time of the disclosure, "Nvidia assured Apple that Mac computer with these graphics processors were not affected," the company sad in a notice posted Thursday on Apple's support site. "However, after an Apple-led investigation, Apple has determined that some MacBook Pro computers with the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor may be affected."
If the Nvidia card fails within two years of the original purchase of the machine, Apple said it will repair the system without charge, even if the notebook is out of warranty. In addition, the company will refund money spent for repairs related to the faulty cards.
Products affected include 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pros manufactured between May 2007 and September 2008.
The flawed graphics card resulted in Nvidia taking a one-time charge of $150 million to $200 million in the second quarter to cover warranty, repair, return, replacement, and other costs and expenses related to a "weak die/packaging material" in some of its graphics processing units used in notebooks. The company said higher-than-expected heat generated by some notebook designs exacerbated the problem.
In disclosing the GPU flaw, Nvidia also lowered its revenue forecast for the second quarter, which led to the company's stock plummeting about 30%. Nvidia blamed the lower estimate on a drop in demand and on competitive pressure that forced the company to lower pricing. Nvidia's main rival is Advanced Micro Devices, which makes the ATI line of graphics cards.