The discrete graphics subsystem on my early 2011 MacBook pro failed. (See I Hate My MacBook Pro.) I sent it to PS3Specialist to have it “reballed.”

Reballing is an operation where they de-solder the chip, remove all old solder, and re-solder it. It is called “reballing” because the chip has flat pads on the bottom, not traditional side leads. They put a ball of solder on each of the pads. Then they put the chip in place and hit it with hot air, until the solder melts and the chip is back in place. It is absolutely amazing that the process works, but it does indeed work.

I had to ship my laptop from the east coast to the west coast location of PS3Specialist. FedEx sold me a $20 shipping box, designed specifically for laptops. Then they charged me about $30 for shipping. It took a week to get it delivered, a day to get it reballed, and just under a week for FedEx to deliver it back. Reballing cost $160, box plus two-way shipping was another $70, for a total cost of $230. Ouch!

But it definitely works and since the laptop was about $2000 new and it had lasted only 3 years, that’s about $700 per year, so if it lasts another 6 months, I come out ahead.

I have to say that I am very pleased with PS3Specialist. He received it, fixed it, and shipped it in a single day. … and it works.