Durability and serviceability

JonathanGennick

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 6, 2011
26
0
I'm a long-time Thinkpad user who is thinking of making the move to a Macbook Pro 15" Retina model. I'm wondering whether people with experience can comment on durability and ease of service.

Are keyboard swaps possible? I'm one of those guys who always seems to end up with grungy keyboards. I keep a couple of spare on hand for my Thinkpad, and a swap is a ten-minute job. I'm guessing that a swap is not even possible on a Macbook. Is that correct?

What about liquids and spills? I wish I could say the never happen, but stuff happens, right? Let me share a couple of recent examples:

1) I'm on a flight working when the flight attendant reaches across to pass a glass of soda to the person next to me. Some spills onto my laptop. Is a Macbook likely to withstand an accident like that?

2) And then a more dramatic example is when I last year knocked a full glass of Coca-Cola onto my keyboard. That flooded the keyboard, and the Coke ran off over the sides across the speaker grills. I never even had to shut the machine down. I blotted off the keyboard with some towels, drained off what liquid remained, continued for another hour in order to get some critical work done. Then the next morning I swapped in a spare keyboard that I keep on hand. Only two or three drops of liquid got past the keyboard tray, and they landed on the CD drive, so big spill and no harm done, no productive time lost.

How would situation #2 play out with a Macbook? Would I need to send the thing in for service? How fast does Apple typically turn things around?

I really like what I see when I go into a store and look at these Macbooks. Great design. An operating system that isn't a kludgy mishmash. Two and a half Gs is a lot to spend though, and the issues of durability and ease of service are concerning.
 

leman

macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
9,999
4,564
Nope, the serviceability of the current MacBooks is pretty much non-existing - there is almost nothing you can do yourself (except for cleaning). Don't try to compare the durability to a Thinkpad - while a Mac will likely survive few drops of water, anything more substantial will kill it. If by durability you mean resistance to external damage, then Mac is not the computer to buy; if you mean longevity and quality, then its among the best computers on the market. Best strategy - have an insurance that covers accidents ;)
 

esskay

macrumors 6502
Jan 3, 2008
305
7
Boy, I remember my old Thinkpad X21 back in the day... That thing sure did take a licking and keep on ticking. Couldn't say the same for the annoying OS it was running. ;)

So happy to be back on Mac OS...

Had a close call with a flight attendant once last year (just missed my computer) so when I fly these days, I close my MacBook as soon as anybody holding liquids is nearby!
 

Commy1

macrumors 6502a
Feb 25, 2013
726
69
MacBooks are pretty fragile without any find of third party protection. Not even sure if there really is any truly great macbook case on the market, Apple doesn't make it easy with such tight tolerances.

Maybe the next gen Macbook will have a fluid seal under the keyboard and run off channels :p I'd pay for that.
 

Wishbrah

macrumors regular
Oct 20, 2013
234
8
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if a teenager can build an atomic bomb in his garage, then it's probably possible to service and swap a rMBP keyboard at home. Just saying.
 

Commy1

macrumors 6502a
Feb 25, 2013
726
69
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if a teenager can build an atomic bomb in his garage, then it's probably possible to service and swap a rMBP keyboard at home. Just saying.
If you're referring to my post, I understand that bit, the keyboard isn't what I'd be worried about. But any fluids dumped on the computer can only really seap into the internals of the machine via the keyboard and trackpad. And the ports of course, but gravity doesn't pull sideways.
 

thundersteele

macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
2,984
7
Switzerland
Are keyboard swaps possible? I'm one of those guys who always seems to end up with grungy keyboards. I keep a couple of spare on hand for my Thinkpad, and a swap is a ten-minute job. I'm guessing that a swap is not even possible on a Macbook. Is that correct?

What about liquids and spills? I wish I could say the never happen, but stuff happens, right? Let me share a couple of recent examples:
Hahaha... sorry but I had to laugh while reading this... or maybe cry, not sure. The modern MBPs are in principle one piece of glued together stuff. Any kind of repair will run into the $500 range easily (except battery and bottom case).

My MBP has so far survived a few single drops of liquid here and there, but any larger spill has a large chance of killing the machine, as you can find out by searching for liquid damage on this forum.

I love Macs, but cheap repairs and liquid resistance are not among their qualities.
 

kathyricks

macrumors 6502
Nov 26, 2012
265
17
When you're using your rMBP at home while eating or drinking you could use an Apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse if you wanted to.
 

BasicGreatGuy

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
11,688
10,726
In the middle of several books.
Unless one has lots of disposable cash, it would be prudent to purchase AppleCare +, when buying a MBP.

As you mentioned, accidents can happen, not to mention hardware failure. And as already noted, repairs without AppleCare + can be expensive.

Edited to add: sippy cups and blue tooth keyboards.
 

BigBeast

macrumors 6502a
Mar 6, 2009
642
40
Unless one has lots of disposable cash, it would be prudent to purchase AppleCare +, when buying a MBP.

As you mentioned, accidents can happen, not to mention hardware failure. And as already noted, repairs without AppleCare + can be expensive.

Edited to add: sippy cups and blue tooth keyboards.
Apple doesn't offer AppleCare+ for Macs; it's only for iDevices. Macs can have the AppleCare Protection Program added to extend service to 3 years, but that only covers manufacturer defects, not accidental damage. You could purchase something like SquareTrade or a host of other warranties that cover accidental damage, but they're usually quite expensive.

The short version: the first situation you described would probably have amounted to a full logic board replacement; the second situation definitely would have been catastrophic. Liquid is kryptonite to Macs.

If you enjoy Windows, stay with the Thinkpad. If you're tired of Windows and would like to start enjoying computing, get a Mac and start taking better care and precautions for your computer.
 

alphaod

macrumors Core
Feb 9, 2008
22,047
1,106
NYC
I've never spilled anything on my computer...

But food for thought, you can't really swap the keyboards on the newer ThinkPads either. My X1 Carbon has the chiclet keyboard and swapping it would require a new top case.

If you're worried at drips, get a keyboard cover to use on the plane (I also instinctive close the lid down when someone passes liquids over me on the plane). And if something is spilled, get compensation from the airline.
 

BigBeast

macrumors 6502a
Mar 6, 2009
642
40
How about installing OSX on a thinkpad?
Doable, but not optimal. As someone who runs a hackintosh, it'll get the job done, but there are times when something pops up and you'll be without your Mac until you can address the issue. It's definitely not for most users, and it can be a major pain in the ass.
 

JonathanGennick

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 6, 2011
26
0
If you enjoy Windows, stay with the Thinkpad. If you're tired of Windows and would like to start enjoying computing, get a Mac and start taking better care and precautions for your computer.
In a round-about way, you've hit it on the head. It's not really the O/S so much as it is the screen. I am spoiled by my iPhone display and my Kindle Fire HDX display, and I want the same on my computer. Windows 8 scaling is a mess, so that pretty much leaves OS X.

It's just that to have to live in fear of knocking a coffee cup over. That's a tough one for me. I might take the shot though, and just change my habits.
 

esskay

macrumors 6502
Jan 3, 2008
305
7
Perhaps a keyboard cover as suggested above will work for you. Should prevent the keyboard from getting grungy at least and maybe some amount of protection (not sure how much of that they provide).
 

accountforit

macrumors 6502a
Jan 22, 2014
676
0
Expecting to be able to pour liquid on your laptop without damage is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. That is like asking your car not to get damaged if you run into a tree going 60mph. Stop placing liquid next to your laptop and you won't have to worry about it.

If you want the best all around laptop on the market, then buy a Macbook. Otherwise, buy some something else and deal with mediocrity daily.
 

JonathanGennick

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 6, 2011
26
0
Not absurd at all. Spills happen. Drops happen. Things get knocked around.

Mainly, if I am going to make the switch, I want some idea of what I'm giving up. Spill resistance is clearly on the list of trade offs.
 

princealyy

macrumors regular
Mar 27, 2011
128
3
I left my thinkpad for mac (dell in between) ... honestly no comparison ... the thinkpad quality has been on the way down for years. My last Thinkpad T410s was a joke. I cannot get over the level of service I was getting.

I have been very happy with the rMBP, I will say when traveling I have to be very careful with it, but I find that lately I am just using my tablet and not doing much work on flights.
 

nickandre21

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2012
533
1
All electronic devices need care and hate liquids. Same with macbooks the only thing is that the parts are costly. But with a macbook you get better things mostly and the topper in this list is customer support which i have never seen with other laptop manufacturers, here apple treats all customers whether a owner of a basic macbook air or a fully specd retina as a premium customer.
Now durability if you keep it away from liquids do not drop it down it can last several years but being an electronic you can never say what can fail when for all that apple will cover you for 1 or 3 years. For serviceability if your keyboar goes you need to get a topcase if its the battery on retinas a new top case. The speakers and mic can be got seperately. If you shatter your display glass or damage your lcd cable you need a new display assembly.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,860
30,384
Boston
Not absurd at all. Spills happen. Drops happen. Things get knocked around.

Mainly, if I am going to make the switch, I want some idea of what I'm giving up. Spill resistance is clearly on the list of trade offs.
If you're worried about spills and drops then the MBP is not for you. I love my rMBP but the aluminum case just won't stand up to a fall. I'd look to a toughbook instead. TBH, I don't know any laptop other then the toughbook that will survive a drink being spilled on it.
 

Orr

macrumors 6502
Oct 8, 2013
363
50
Not absurd at all. Spills happen. Drops happen. Things get knocked around.

Mainly, if I am going to make the switch, I want some idea of what I'm giving up. Spill resistance is clearly on the list of trade offs.
I could definitely see laptops become water-resistant in the near future w/ the proper coating (similar to the S5 and certain other mobiles). For now though that is a pipe dream and you probably shouldn't be owning such an expensive piece of machinery if you are that clumsy/careless.
 

KevinC867

macrumors 6502a
Jun 8, 2007
620
1
Saratoga, CA
I know it's not ideal, but I do eat and drink near my rMBP. I have taken the precaution of using a keyboard cover to minimize entry of fluid (and crumbs) through the keyboard. I also place my rMBP on top of a magazine to prevent a spill from entering the air vents near the bottom of each side.
 

thundersteele

macrumors 68030
Oct 19, 2011
2,984
7
Switzerland
I found a funny torture test of an MBA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_0CN-12npY

In the end it fails the water test, though it remains functional. Should also point out that the test is quite realistic, not one of those "controlled pouring of small amounts of water" tests.

What is also quite hilarious is the similar test of the MS Surface... the tester uses the surface to bake an egg in the oven, and then later as a skateboard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSsY8W621eE


Btw, I do agree with the OP that some amount of spill resistance is desirable on a mobile device.
 

urkel

macrumors 68030
Nov 3, 2008
2,720
760
I know we're talking about the rMBP now, but what do people think about AppleCare for the last non-retina 15" MBP?

I'm 5 days away from my warranty ending and I'm torn on whether or not to get AC. I'd prefer to get a Retina MB but the drive price/options have me "stuck" with this model. I upgraded to 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD which I can cleanly put back to stock config, but the fact these are so easy to open up makes me question whether or not I should spend $300 for 2more years. What is likely to go wrong?
 

BasicGreatGuy

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
11,688
10,726
In the middle of several books.
I know we're talking about the rMBP now, but what do people think about AppleCare for the last non-retina 15" MBP?

I'm 5 days away from my warranty ending and I'm torn on whether or not to get AC. I'd prefer to get a Retina MB but the drive price/options have me "stuck" with this model. I upgraded to 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD which I can cleanly put back to stock config, but the fact these are so easy to open up makes me question whether or not I should spend $300 for 2more years. What is likely to go wrong?
Logic board could go out, as well as other hardware failures. It is a roll of the financial dice.