Answer Best answer as chosen by user fes45
First off, if this unit has an nVidia graphics chip, there's a chance you can still get a free MLB replacement for it. Take it back to the store and tell the lazy sods to run the GPT diagnostic on it if it does indeed have the nVidia graphics on it. Otherwise, still might be worth taking it somewhere else for a second opinion. Apple hires people less for their technical competency and more for their willingness to drink the company kool-aid. So just like if you take the thing to best buy, fry's, or plenty of other places, it's a complete crapshoot whether or not you get someone who has any business being within 10ft of a screwdriver, let alone working on someone's computer.
Second, the unit should still be eligible for Apple's flat rate repair, so $300 and change for a 15" MBP isn't an unreasonable fee. That's another option to consider.
Third, you can always pull the HDD and put it in an external enclosure. It's just a 2.5" SATA drive, nothing particularly special about it aside from there being an Apple logo and SN on the label. If you're not interested in repairing this thing, then there are teardown guides on iFixit's website. Those models aren't overly difficult to get open,you just need a PH00 and T6 screwdriver which aren't the most common tools to find in the average person's toolbox. This is a good set of screwdrivers that will have near every bit you could possibly need, and it's fairly cheap: http://www.amazon.com/Boxer-Pcs-4mm-Precision-Screwdriver/dp/B000FGQ1G6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334420803&sr=8-1
If the only other computer you have access to is a Windows system, then you'll need a free program like HFSExplorer. It's kind of old and clunky, but it's free and it gets the job done. I just used it to migrate a bunch of stuff off of some external drives connected to my iMac that I'm shelving for a time. Otherwise, any other Mac should be able to pick up on the drive without problem, unless it's a PPC Mac, which might not be able to read GUID partitions.
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