Macbook Pro boots to unknown state, display issues

My dad has a Late 2013 Macbook Pro 13" on OS X 10.11.6 which will not boot properly. With every boot after a force shutdown, the startup chime can be heard but the backlight does not turn on. The backlight turns on after ~30 seconds, but only illuminating a black screen.

These boot options have failed and shown the same results:

Things I have tried:

  • NVRAM reset

    • two chimes can be heard, indicating a successful reset.
  • SMC reset

    • the charging light flashes green after releasing the keys, indicating success.

Things observed:

  • caps lock key light is responsive
  • keyboard backlight buttons (f5, f6) don't work
  • display brightness buttons (f1, f2) don't change the backlight intensity once the backlight is on
  • Prior to this, the trackpad has frozen a few times. Starting yesterday, opening the lid has occasionally shown nothing. With these encouters, a force shutdown and waiting a while allowed my dad to boot it normally. This time it was opening the lid to a blank screen.
  • We plugged the charger in while the battery was not full (orange light) and kept it plugged in until it was fully charged. The orange light did not change to green when the battery finished charging, but only changed when we unplugged and re-plugged the charging cable.

My question is: based on these observations and the backlight behavior, what kind of state is this Macbook booting into? Is it actually booting into Safe Mode when I hold down Shift, but can't see it due to a faulty display? Or is it failing to boot anything at all?

I'll have access to an external monitor tomorrow, will try connecting it using a Thunderbolt-VGA adapter and post updates.

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Category: macbook Time: 2016-07-29 Views: 0

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