Better to drop a MacBook Pro than a MacBook?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Shacklebolt, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. Shacklebolt macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2004
    Occurred to me recently that one point that Apple will obviously never use to sell computers, but should strongly be considered when buying, is that it's better to drop a computer with an aluminum enclosure than a hard plastic one.

    Due to varying kinds of klutziness, I'd say that I've dropped my MBP about 6 times since 2006, sometimes while it's on, sometimes while it's off, and somehow, nothing internal got screwed up. No hard drive corruptions, airport card cracks, logic board damage. I'll bet that a lot of this has to do with the enclosure -- namely, aluminums ability to dent, which considerably lessons the impact and absorbs the shock of a fall. So yeah, the bottom pan looks terrible, but that's not a terrible price to pay if it keeps the guts of your comptuer intact. (kind of like the crumple zone of a car)

    A friend of mine recently dropped his white Macbook A1181. He had just put it to sleep, but apparently the hard drive was still spinning, because it's now totally corrupted. And of course, the plastic looks great -- no dents, no cracks.

    I'm thinking that it's far better to have a computer that'll dent in a fall than one that's got a rock solid, undentable case that absorbs no shock whatsoever. People drop their laptops all the time -- just something to think about when buying, I suppose.

    Orrrrrr am I completely wrong in my thinking? And if so, why?
  2. Jrv macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2011
    Long Beach, California
    I don't drop my Macbook Pro all the time.

    In fact, I've never dropped it.
  3. kvizzel macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2011
    People tend to try and not drop a thousand+ $ computer.

    Never dropped mine. Don't plan on doing so. :confused:
  4. borisiii macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2010
    Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn't plan on dropping either...
  5. xlii macrumors 68000


    Sep 19, 2006
    Millis, Massachusetts
    I've never dropped mine. Electronics tend not to drop well... it is something to avoid. Kind of like the question... is it better to get your iPod Nano wet or your iPod Touch wet? I think the op has been 'lucky' if he has dropped his mbp 6 times and it still runs.

    A cat only has 9 lives... I don't know how many lives your mbp has... something to think about next time you drop your mbp.
  6. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    Never dropped mine, never going to drop ... actually, it fell off of the keyboard holder on my desk (sliding keyboard dock thing) and flipped so it landed right side up on the carpet.

    Landed flat too so nothing really "happened".

    Regardless, on a physics side, the.... aluminum would do a better job at absorbing the shock; if you look at the black bezel, there's a thin strip of rubber going around it; back when I dropped my iPad 1, it landed on the corner (luckily) and although the aluminum dented, the rubber absorbed most of the shock.

    Internally, they pack it all tight, but the ability for aluminum to bend and not bounce back will help in absorbing drops. The plastic will bend and rebound, which will absorb a lot of shock, but more internal motion will happen because of it. However, it is less likely for the plastic itself to be damaged.

    Aluminum will dent and scratch but those dents absorb more energy than the plastic will.
  7. parker770 macrumors member

    Apr 5, 2010
    Do the regular macbooks have the sudden motion sensor that the MBP uses? When it senses that it is being dropped, it stops the HD from spinning(in theory).

    My 2008 MBP 15 has unfortunately been dropped more times than I would like to admit(I have a 105lb Pyrenees who thinks she is a lap dog), and it is still running perfectly. I did have to replace the display bezel and housing as a result of a particularly nasty drop(the computer was free from a friend because it was "broken").
  8. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    I don't think... my 07 blackbook did; I never heard the drive being parked Like I do whenever I move my MBP.

    But I have no idea; I'm basing this on sound alone.
  9. Samuriajackon macrumors 6502


    Feb 9, 2009
    I dropped every laptop I've owned on purpose and on a regular basis...until i started buying Mac products...:)
  10. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 2, 2004
    LOL, sorry, maybe I should have been more specific when I said "dropped".

    I have never LITERALLY "dropped" my MBP. It's mostly just me knocking it off a couch/bed.

    So fine, I should have said "surviving falls".
  11. DW58 macrumors regular


    Sep 2, 2011
    Is it better to be shot or stabbed, run down by a truck or a train?

    I think this is a pretty odd question, but I'd rather not drop any Mac and I wouldn't consider it "better" to drop either of the models mentioned as both would be very risky.

    The question I'd be asking myself if I was the OP would be "Is it better for me to take better care of my Mac"? :rolleyes:
  12. ThemacNub macrumors regular

    Aug 26, 2010
    A macbook is better to drop than a macbook pro. Just dont drop either though
  13. aziatiklover macrumors 68030


    Jul 12, 2011
    Location: and
    Plastic will break aluminium will bent :rolleyes: but why would u do that tho? :eek:
  14. arcite macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2009
    Cairo, trapped in a pyramid with my iphone
    My baby has a dent in the screen, a dent in the keyboard, and three or four chips taken out of the corners. My macbook pro, she leads a hard life. :rolleyes:
  15. fabian9 macrumors 65816


    Nov 28, 2007
    Bristol, UK
    Just because polycarbonate doesn't plastically deform during impact, it doesn't mean that it doesn't absorb the shock. I would even argue that polycarbonate is better at absorbing shocks due to its lower modulus of elasticity...
  16. zeemeerman2 macrumors 6502

    Feb 21, 2010
    I have a white 2008 Macbook, accidentally knocked it off a table twice in its lifetime. Both times in stand-by.
    My plastic is a bit broken at the points where the MacBook touched the ground, but no internal parts are harmed, at all. It still works as new, just it doesn't look as new.

    A macbook pro is like when you bump your car into another car or so. If lightly, your enclosure will be damaged, but not your internal parts. You can still ride without noticing any difference, but it won't look as new.
  17. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    What you're trying to do is prevent shock and force on the inside of the machine. The stronger the material is, the harder it is to break, but the less energy it absorbs.

    The tougher the material is, the easier it is to morph, but it absorbs more energy. That's why bridges are created out of metal: they're strong enough not to crumble or morph, but when a hurricane or an earthquake comes and shake it, it bends instead of breaks.

    Plastic would transfer more energy into the inside of the machine, which is bad.
  18. RKpro macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2008
    This is something I've considered actually. I've dropped mine while it was in a sleeve, and in my padded backpack about 1 foot onto concrete one time.

    The part of the unibody below the superdrive slot was bent out of shape inward. I kind of freaked out, because the computer was new at the time. But luckily I was able to bend it back into shape when I got home, looks completely normal now.

    I think a plastic case would have fared better externally, but it would have transferred more force to the internal components as you've said.
  19. fabian9 macrumors 65816


    Nov 28, 2007
    Bristol, UK
    Mhhh I'd say a lot of what you're saying depends on design and materials choice.

    Most plastics tend to age, become brittle with age and in low temperature conditions, whilst losing their strength at elevated temperatures... So that makes them unsuitable for most bridges.

    Some ductile steels also become brittle in low temperatures, so using those in bridges is also not a great idea.

    Similarly, some plastics are bad at absorbing energy. But there are a lot of dampers out there made of plastics, so clearly plastics can be a good shock absorber. Again, depending on your exact material choice.

    In the case of the MacBook, I really don't think there is much between the aluminium and the polycarbonate. The polycarbonate will flex elastically, whilst the aluminium will deform plastically. Both are mechanisms of absorbing energy...

    I think this calls for a field test! :D
  20. randomrazr macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2011
    plastic cracks/chips

    alunimum dents, scratches and deforms

    so either material will look bad "cosmetically"
  21. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    I've dropped an iPad and have only damaged the corner; when it hit the ground, it made a thump, but did not bounce. This indicated "all" of the energy was absorbed by the aluminum and rubber that coats the inside of it.

    Both materials are good, but they both absorb energy in a different way. Plastic takes it and then rebounds while aluminum absorbs and stays that way.

    I had a Galaxy S that I dropped on concrete, off of pool tables onto tile, slid, and just plain beat up, and it looked terrible. Scuffs, scratches, but the unit still worked.

    Mass and the weight of the object also play an important part. For something small like a phone, I think plastic is best. For something like a laptop, I think aluminum does its job a lot better.
  22. ZHP macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2011
    These suckers are durable. Mine goes through a lot of beatings from day-to-day walking and classes. It's difficult to keep it in good condition without being uber careful. I don't care about dents and such. I've got a few dents here and there, never actually dropped it onto the ground though. It did fall from a short height once, but it works just fine still. When I got it, I simply accepted that its resale value is going to be crap. I'll care more about that when I graduate and get another one.

    As long as it still is functioning, I don't care what it looks like. If I really cared what it looks like, I'd just get one of those little black cases for it. Probably shoulda done that to begin with.

    They should be making all computers out of aluminum :p
  23. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    *knock on wood*

    I've never dropped any of my notebooks. I plan to continue this trend.

    One advantage plastic does have vs. aluminium is not denting/bending. I think it was the pre-unibodies Pros that had a problem where the metal around the superdrive bent easily, rendering the superdrive useless. With plastic, that doesn't happen.

    In any event, try not to drop your computer. ;)
  24. vitzr macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
    I work in a large engineering department, where the company issues us both a desktop PC & a high end ThinkPad workstation laptop. Some of the guys are rather careless, I've seen a few hit the tile floor. They're made out of composite carbon fiber.

    No dents, no cracks, no problem, they absorb the impact by deflecting upon contact, returning to their original shape immediately. According to the torture test data we've been supplied, they are the most durable of all "non-ruggedized" laptops. It's quite impressive.

    Knock on wood, in fifteen years I haven't dropped any of my Mac or ThinkPad laptops yet.

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