Is the Air built to last?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ardent73, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. ardent73 macrumors regular


    Jan 14, 2010
    I've just had my second MBA I've owned die. I'm wondering if I should get a Macbook Pro, if it has better design / materials.

    I'm also wondering if I should go back to a PC, like the one I'm on right now. :(

    I'm gentle on a computer, I just need a high MTBF
  2. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Short Answer: Not known Air to be lower quality than Pros.

    Long Answer:

    Do u have a history of things dying on you?

    Care to specify what died?

    Care to disclosure further info as to enable intelligent responses, like how old this Air is? U bought it new? How often do u take it out? Have you open it? Have u done any hardware modification?
  3. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    What do you mean by "die"?

    To me when I hear of people breaking the same product multiple times then I tend to wonder if its more the user than the product? My brother and mother are notorious with destroying every tech product they touch while my gear tends to last forever despite me treating them very much like "tools". So I really believe that there is some weird cosmic karma that affects gear like this.

    Im not trying to defend Apple and if you're even thinking of Windows then theres no reason to stick with Apple if they make you unhappy/unconfident.
  4. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    Thats some bad luck. Having owned several Airs, I've found them tough as nails.
  5. ardent73 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jan 14, 2010
    First MBA had OS user partition died because of HDD fault caused by logic board failure

    Current MBA (with SSD) died due to memory RAM failure.

    I don't upgrade until I have to so these were/are older models. Do you have to upgrade at say the 3 year mark, before the MTBF catches you?
  6. ardent73 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jan 14, 2010
    I did a lot of air travel with the first one, but none with the second which has never left my home. Bought both new, only one owner, first via Amazon, second via MacMall.


    Do you leave them on/sleep or shutdown?

    I'm in the northeast USA cold winter/hot summers.
  7. l.a.rossmann macrumors 65816


    May 15, 2009
    It is not built to last at all.

    A Lenovo is built to take a spill head on and work. The air will die in a second.

    A Lenovo is made to be dropped from 7 ft and keep trucking.. An air will be done for.

    An HP, Dell, even any other Mac, when memory fails, you can replace it. When memory in your air fails, good luck BGA soldering new RAM onto it with a $20 kit from radioshack.

    If you want to buy an air because it fits your workflow and you won't be tough on it, by all means, do so. But don't buy it under the idea that it has better long term potential than other laptops.
  8. seveej macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2009
    Helsinki, Finland
    I agree that any machine, which solders all critical components on one logic board is quite prone to catastrophic failure/costly repairs.

    On the other hand, I disagree with the praise you shovel onto other brands.

    It's true that lenovo's have "fluid channels", so that liquids are supposed to run through the machine, but that's plain bs in real world scenarios. The most the machine is able to channel without seepage into internal components is about a tablespoon. Also, if you dip a glass of water on the table, chances are your machine is screwed, as it does not stand high enough off the table.

    In my experience, real thinkpads (read IBM) are quite sturdy, but no way near indestructible, most lenovo designs are far less sturdy. Fact of the matter is that laptops simply are not baseball bats.

    Regarding the OP's point: Sure, MBA's have some design compromises, which render them more prone to failure, while OTOH, they have less moving parts.
    On the whole, I'd say: "MBA's have less component failures than MBP's, but MBP's allow you to replace the broken components easier."

  9. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    I leave it on sleep.
  10. wolfpuppies3 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2012
    Virginia, USA
    Mine are both solid as rocks, practically indestructible given reasonable protection in a BookBook case. I do turn mine off when not in use.

    My experience with Macs has been that MBAs are no more or less fragile than my MB Pro which is built like a tank as well. It is Mac's build quality that helps to differentiate them from the very fragile Toshiba, Gateway, and HP laptops I have worn through.
  11. GeekGuys macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2009
    bad luck or not?

    I have had a number of Macs of all descriptions and there are some devices (not just Apple but any electronic device) that will have failures. A Friday built machine if you will.

    However, there is also the way you treat a machine. I had a 2008 MBA Mk I that I used to travel all the time. It was used daily and open/closed about 20 times per day. I replaced it in early 2012 with my current MBA. Same treatment.
    The 2008 MBA never failed me once. Never crashed. Never overheated. Never broken hinges or failed components. I sold it in 'as new' condition.

    I am not kind to my computers when it comes to software. I expect the machines to work heard for a living. However, I always treat the externals well. I don't use a case or cover but it always travels in a laptop bag (with padded internals). I open/close it carefully. I place it on a table, rather than dump it down.

    I wouldn't say I was delicate but you just don't treat a laptop like you do a lump of Oak !

    I have older laptops that are still working well and all my iphones have not had scratches or marks yet I don't use a case or cover on them either.

    I'm not saying you have treated it badly, just that the life of a device is as much to do with treatment as it is with luck!
  12. blndcat macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2012
    hinges and logic board

    I have a MBA 11" and have had MBP and iBooks before this one. Since there is no longer a spinning hard disk in it, the points of failure are:

    - logic board
    - hinge
    - ssd
    - screen

    I guess in that order of probability. Logic board failures are very common, I wonder if it is to do with heat. iBooks, iMacs have a history of logic board failures and you are so out of luck if your warranty/AppleCare is over as it is very expensive to replace.

    Using this MBA and ibooks, thinkpads before, the hinge seems likely to get looser and looser with use.

    SSD are better than hard drives but use them long enough and they will fail too.

    Screen will either get dimmer with use or just pop.

    But they are fairly sturdy, well built machines. I hope mine lasts long enough until the retina version comes out :)
  13. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2006
    You just got unlucky. They are no more prone to failure than a MBP
  14. fatlardo macrumors 6502


    Mar 15, 2011
    I have the 2009 11 air and its still going strong.
  15. excommie macrumors regular

    May 12, 2009
    I don't think the design of the hinge and the way screen is attached to MBA and MBP is very sturdy.

    When you open these laptops all the way, what stops the laptop at about 55 degree angle is the outer screen cover. This screen cover and the LCD are glued together. When you do that often, the glue will eventually fail causing "screen separation". This is common enough on MBP, I'm not sure about MBA, but MBA appears to have similar design.

    The point I'm trying to make is that not only the internal components can fail (and you're out of luck when RAM is soldered). The design of the hinge and screen is not very sturdy.

    My MBP 15" had screen separatation occured immediately after I had it for 3 years. Thankfully, Apple has a campagin (EM209) where they agree to replace the screens free of charge.

    Their customer service is pretty good. If things fail, chances are they'll make you happy with replacing things, even outside of warranty coverage.
  16. Azathoth macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2009
    Based on my experience (real world), I would say that the older Thinkpad T series (e.g. T60), are(/were) better built. Look at the youtube videos of people literally throwing them around and surviving.

    Having said that, as a HW designer, the macbooks are reasonably well built, but not really designed for long MTBF in real world use (consider things like drain holes for spills, roll cages, which the higher level Thinkpads have).

    OTOH the Thinkpads, at least until 2011 generally had awful screens, poor colour depth, poor viewing angle, though they have IPS panels in some of hte models now.
  17. Riker88 macrumors newbie

    Jul 29, 2011
    I would say no.

    I have a top of the line MBA 2011 and experienced a logic board failure after only 18 months. Since it was out of warranty, Apple charged me >$500 to replace the logic board despite expressing my unhappiness. Some people will say AppleCare but this is not cheap and needs to be factored into the original cost. I would expect any laptop I buy to last at least 2 years and not to have such a catastrophic failure.

    I like the MBA but I'm afraid Apple lost me as a customer for my next laptop (and I have multiple Apple products in my household)
  18. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    I'm on my fourth 13" MBA in three years.

    The only reason is because I gave the other three to family members that needed a great computer.

    I take my MBA when traveling on long flights across the continent. Traveling like that always subjects your things to bumps and so on.

    While I carry it with me and never put it in my luggage, nonetheless when one has a lot of luggage to deal with, everything get's disturbed a bit.

    In addition, even without the much hyped retina display, I really like the current display Apple uses.

    I would rate the MBA's highly durable, and strong. It's most certainly one of my all time favorite laptops.
  19. iNotion macrumors regular


    Jun 5, 2008
  20. ardent73, Mar 29, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2013

    ardent73 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jan 14, 2010
    No arms, no legs, name is Lucky...

    I blame the environmentalists, lead free solder is crap.

    Either way I'm leaning towards getting the 13" MacBook Pro probably Retina, too. :cool:

    I'm also spending $400 to fix the MBA Logic board (solder re-flow).
  21. AppleDApp macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2011
    How is a retina macbook pro made to last longer than a MBA?
  22. expatrsch macrumors newbie

    Mar 29, 2013
    The MBA is the most durrable and rugged computer I have ever owned. Have mine for 2 years now, global air travel from N.America to SE Asia Europe and Central asia every 2 months. twice a month it goes from sea level to a mining camp at 14,000 feet being bounced around in my luggage in the back of an old russian truck. Never a problem. Battery life is starting to dwindle but thats normal.
  23. Radiating macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    Why not get Apple care?
  24. bahndoos macrumors 6502


    Jul 9, 2010
    Hey now, I wouldnt dismiss the physical integrity of an Air so easily. Take a look at this:
  25. sostoobad macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2011
    This is a pretty impressive demonstration for the durability of an Air.

    They completely abuse the pulp out of it, freeze, it bake it drop it, spill a full glass of water on it, still turned on after the water spill, but killed the battery.

    I am just wondering the few who have had failures, were they dropped ?
    even multiple times ?

    I have a 2011 Air and a 2012 13" air, also have a 2006 MPB, works fine, bought it used, made sure it didn't have any dents= dropped etc, heck thats now 7 yrs old.

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