Better build quality worth the $$$?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by JuniCB, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. JuniCB macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2011
    I'm in need of some advice regarding build quality/longevity of the Macbook Pro. We've always bought cheapie PC laptops and have been going through them about every 2 years. We don't have a desktop, so our laptop gets used a LOT. Because they crap out so quickly, I had been of the mindset to continue to buy inexpensive laptops (as in, why waste money if it's going to break in 2 years regardless).

    I know people love their Apple products, but I assumed it was more of a style issue. Recently, though, a friend kept going on and on about the better build quality and longevity of her Macbook Pro.

    My question is - really? I am looking for a laptop that will stand up to frequent use, being carried around a lot, sometimes being sat on by cats, etc. If I can get more years out of it, then maybe it is worth the more than double price increase from a cheap laptop. I don't want to pay extra for fancy-computer-street-cred, but I will pay extra for a laptop I won't be cursing at in two years...

  2. TheJing macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2011
    Somewhere in Europe
    My good friend has had his Mac for 4 years now. It's been sat on, dropped, had cigarettes going out on the keys and much more. And it's still going strong.

    I would say Macs are better quality than most of the PC's. That doesn't mean that your Mac won't break after 5 months.
  3. PS65 macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2008
    United Kingdom
    Why would you treat your machine like this? I use my MBP for heavy use, but taking care of a machine doesn't cost any more money...but I would imagine there is a strong correlation between the way you treat your laptop and how long it lasts.
  4. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
    Macs do have better build quality. What are buildings made out of metal or plastic? you still hear of people who use there powerbook g3/g4 (the prior macbook pro) and they still are in great shape. The current macbook pros are very durable.
  5. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    You get what you pay for. Of course MBP has higher build quality than a cheap PC, but I wouldn't say MBP is any better than a similarly priced PC laptop. Whether it's worth it is questionable. MBP is still made of the same components as every other computer, and can hence fail at any time. Also, if you treat it badly, it won't last long.

    I think the longevity is fairly moot because there is no guarantee that it will last you 4 years. The warranty is only one year anyway, after that you're on your own unless you pay for extra warranty.
  6. rainking macrumors 6502


    Aug 12, 2011
    Johnson City, NY
    Using it a lot and abusing it are two different things. MBP owners tend to love and take care of their rigs.
  7. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
    and macbook air owners!
  8. scarred macrumors 6502a

    Jul 24, 2011
    When you use a Mac, they certainly don't feel cheap. Since they are made out of metal they don't have that annoying plastic shine on day two (just the keyboard gets that). The build is solid. The monitor hinge is tight. Etc. So ya, that part will last 4 years.

    But in the end, it is still a computer. Components internally might die. The battery will lose effectiveness over time. And frankly, computers just age fast regardless. So for that, like everything, it depends what you need the machine for.

    The pro line will definitely age better then the Air line. If I was expecting to keep using my mac for 4 years, that's what I'd get. There is a good shot of it lasting as you can upgrade the memory and hd easily.
  9. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010
    im not gonna restate what others have said [they have summed it up]
    but if you are a clumsy person [no offense or anything] then you would be better off buying a cheap PC. You kinda dont wanna drop a $1k + product ;)
  10. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    The only good answers started with Hellhammer. The rest of those are absolutely terrible and biased. They use the same components as PCs. Some of the budget level Windows laptops do use really bad components, but there are some very nice/comparable ones as you come closer to macbook pro price territory. The cases are made from machined aluminum which increases the cost. Some people like that they don't have that laptop creak that sometimes occurs when the panels shift a little over time due to heat.

    They are nice machines, but they can die like any other, and replacement parts are very expensive. If they all lived for 5+ years problem free, no one would pay $349 to extend the warranty to 3 years (15" and 17" macbook pro). It's hit and miss, and if you frequently close it while it's hot, that can put a lot of stress on any machine.
  11. jekyl macrumors 6502


    Mar 6, 2011
    I work in quality control in the automobile industry. A key point we look at is obviously build quality and how that can be improved. I admit I bought my 13" Macbook Pro mainly just to get a good look at it and I found the build quality to be absolutely astonishing. I admit I bought the machine as a refurb directly from Apple. The only one blemish I could find was a small smudge just above the escape key. I tried several times to wipe it off without success. Then I took a really good look at it through a magnifier and found it to be a pattern of holes, further research showed it to be the microphone. Between that and the power button, which fits so tightly into the case frame that I can't believe it's a separate piece. How can build tolerance be that tight? Anyway, came for the quality of build, stayed for the beauty of OS/X.
  12. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2010
    I absolutely agree with this :)
  13. randomrazr macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2011
    depends on how well u take care of it. a POS pc laptop can last if well taken care of longer then a macbook if its beean beaten up everyday
  14. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    By Comparison

    To all the other laptops I have owned over the years, some good, some not so good, I've owned Sony, ACER, Toshiba to name but a few.

    The first thing that hit me when I got my MBP ( which replaced a 17" Toshiba) was the solid feel of the machine. The Toshiba was also a 17" model, but quite plastic in look and feel.

    As I started to use my new Mac, other things came to light too...Laptops are not known for the quality of the installed speakers, but I was amazed at just how good they were. The Toshibas were truly awful. The ACER had fairly good internal speakers, but the MBP is far superior.

    Build quality is something that all Apple users are familiar with, and have come to expect.

    Another factor ( although it was not a consideration in my purchase) is the resale value of well looked after Apple products.

    Customer service and AppleCare are simply world class. Yes, you pay more, but IMO, you really do ( as HellHammer posted) do get what you pay for.

    I'd be surprised if you buy one if you ever return to the cheapies again. But compare before you buy....Try out the latest offerings from other companies and then pop down to your nearest Apple store. I think you will agree that the extra money really is worth spending.
  15. gngan macrumors 68000


    Jan 1, 2009
    Seriously, why would anyone sit on a laptop? This is plain stupid. If that's how you use your laptop then any laptop won't last. You are beating it!
  16. TheJing macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2011
    Somewhere in Europe
    That's like asking "Why would anyone drop their laptop?"

    Of course no one sits on their laptop intentionally. Accidents happen.
  17. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Macbook Pros do have a better build quality and seem to be more rugged as a result.

    What impressive me most is the all aluminum construction, an almost solid one piece aluminum housing around the logic board/keyboard.

    The 'weak point' being the cover on the bottom, but you need to have access to the interior for manufacture, upgrade and for that rare repair.

    I used to go through high end Windows Notebooks in 1 - 2 years owing to them not being able to hold up to use in my hands.

    That is just not the case with the Macbook Pro's.

    My old G4 Powerbook looks almost as good as new, but I will admit I took an extra step to protect that one. It was my first Apple laptop and I was not sure how the housing would hold up so I applied some clear 3M automotive coating where my palms rest.

    Did the same on my MBP's ... it prevents the 'polishing' wear pattern that develops over years of use.
  18. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    They're all CNC cut parts. It seems like this has become more common over the past few years, as we've started to hit a wall on precision with other methods. It is a considerably more expensive process. Apple invested quite a lot to help bring these machines online, and obviously staff had to be trained. This does contribute to the cost somewhat.
  19. praetorx macrumors regular

    Apr 7, 2010
    Not all PC laptops are "cheapies". In my opinion the Lenovo Thinkpad series is the most robust. If you're looking for something that will structurally survive drops this is your best choice. I've had three of them, never had a single hardware problem with any of them.
    Since all thinkpads are build around a metal roll-cage it is the most likely to survive a drop.

    Also my opinion, the MBPs have a top notch build quality you won't find anywhere else but because the housing is made of aluminum it is the most fragile compared to hard plastic/magnesium alloy found in the thinkpads (aluminum bents easily).
  20. JuniCB thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2011
    Thank you all for your quick replies. My partner and I do tend to be on the clumsier side; we never intentionally mistreat our laptops, but we don't baby them either. The thought of me accidentally dropping a $1k piece of equipment does make me feel a little nauseous. For the record, humans aren't ever sitting on the laptop, but sometimes I do come home to one of my cats curled up on top.

    Again, thanks - looks like I have some more thinking to do.
  21. IllIllIll, Nov 27, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011

    IllIllIll macrumors 65816

    Oct 2, 2011
    This line of reasoning doesn't work anymore. Metal is not necessarily better than plastic in all situations.

    For example, the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is primarily made of composite materials and not aluminum, which leads to lighter weight, better strength, and improved fuel efficiency. Quite a few high-end sportscars have carbon fiber subframes and body panels, for light weight and greater strength than steel. Similarly, if you drop a MBP or it is struck by a blunt object, the aluminum case will bend, warp, or dent while a similar size/weight laptop made of plastic might not.


    Not only that, but Lenovos actually have built-in liquid channels and drains to channel any fluids out of the laptop if a spill occurs. There are quite a few threads on this forum alone with horror stories about liquid spills killing MBPs.

    Additionally, the logic board on the new Droid RAZR Android phone is coated with a hydrophobic compound that resists moisture and corrosion, and the caseback is made from Kevlar. Yet another example where Apple's design team could take a lesson.
  22. sweetbrat macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2009
    Redford, MI
    My cats sit on my MBP on occasion...especially if it's a little warm and I've left it on the couch. It's like a cat magnet. They've never done any damage to it, though.

    The build quality of the MBP is very, very good. It's sturdy and can handle being carried around a lot. But it does use the same internal components as other laptops. There's no guarantees that something won't go wrong inside a MBP, just as with any other laptop. That being said, if you get an MBP with AppleCare, you have 3 years of warranty, and Apple's customer service is great. It won't be the fastest computer out there, but it should still be very usable after 4-5 years.

    Does that make it worth the investment for you? You're the only one that can really answer that.
  23. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    The build quality and attention to detail is amazing. I was just thinking about it earlier today. I think it's totally worth the extra price.

    It's like the same reason people go for expensive "luxury" cars. A little expensive, but worth it to some.

    My old Dell laptop was about $1450 and it lasted maybe 2-3 years. Its huge, it squeaks when picked, the screen is wobbly, the computer will burn your skin, its noisy, etc. So far, I've only put about $1420 into my MBP (which includes the warranty). I'm very happy. It wasn't as expensive as I thought. It'll be even cheaper once I sell this after a few years.
  24. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Oct 19, 2011
    I owned a 2003 Sony Vaio Z1. It has it's third owner now, still running. Light use. Original price about the same as the 17'' MBP now.

    My early 2008 MBP was used for gaming and working, quite heavily. Still running, though I had one free logic board replacement.

    You don't have to buy a Macbook Pro to get a solid laptop. But you get what you pay for, a $300 laptop won't serve you as long as a more expensive product. On the other hand, it doesn't make them immune to cat scratches and fall damage.

    I would actually recommend a Lenovo Thinkpad (T series). In addition to being high quality products, they are spill resistant (cat pee?) and more durable than a MBP. You can find some funny youtube videos with people standing on their thinkpads while they keep running.
  25. Badrottie Suspended


    May 8, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Are you planning to drink coffee or pop soda around your laptop? and take it to cafe or fast food resturants? If so, don't bother buying a MacBook

    Do you drop your laptop more than once? If so don't even think about getting one either.

    Do you always curse at your laptop if it did something wrong for no apparent reasons? MacBook is not for you.

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