longevity of Mac laptops versus Mac desktops

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by kipwheeler, May 25, 2017.

  1. kipwheeler, May 25, 2017
    Last edited: May 25, 2017

    kipwheeler macrumors member

    kipwheeler

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    Nov 1, 2016
    #1
    I wasn't sure if this post belongs in this forum or the other Mac forums, as it is a comparative question.

    I'm under the impression that, in terms of hardware longevity, desktops tended to be better bets than laptops. (By longevity, I'm not talking about obsolescence, but rather about having rugged parts that don't break down or wear out). However, I realized that might just be a mistaken impression.

    So, my question--when it comes to Mac laptops versus Mac desktops, does anyone have a source of hard statistics about repairs and break-downs? Is one category--laptop or desktop--generally known to be "tougher" or "longer lasting" than the other, if we disregard questions of obsolescence and focus only on breakdowns and repair costs?

    Full disclosure: I'm a Mac fan who owns both types, but I'm considering a cheap new purchase as a secondary computer. My old 2009 iMac at work is getting long in the tooth, but my employer doesn't want to replace it with another Mac. However, I could buy a brand new iMac computer out of pocket with minimal stats on the cheap, or I could transfer my work files from the 2009 iMac onto a 2013 MacPro laptop I personally already own.

    To make up my mind, and hoping to minimize future repair costs, I'm trying to decide if it's a better bet to spend money on a new (but cheapest configured) iMac now, or risk simply stuffing files onto an already aging MacPro laptop. If Mac laptops have a shorter life because they break down before Mac desktops do, I'd rather go with a brand new desktop. If it's basically a wash, and the two are roughly equal in lifespan, I'd rather save the cash now and simply transfer my work apps over to the 2013 MacPro laptop for now.
     
  2. chevelleguy3 macrumors regular

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    #2
    In terms of longevity, I don't see a difference between laptops vs desktops. I personally use a MacBook Pro for work and have a MacBook Pro as my personal machine. Obviously the desktops are capable of more processing power but unless you are a "true" power user a MacBook Pro would do just fine.
     
  3. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #3
    I am not aware of any reliable data sources that could be used to answer your question. If you are looking to minimise your investment, my advice would be to buy the cheapest computer that can do the job for the next 2-3 years and then selling it.
     
  4. caramelpolice macrumors regular

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    Oct 6, 2012
    #4
    The main reasons desktops tend to have better reliability than laptops is because they're large and stationary. Desktops don't tend to get dropped to the floor in a bag or knocked off a table by your cat or have coffee spilled on them.
     
  5. Mr. Dee macrumors 65816

    Mr. Dee

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    #5
  6. ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    #6
    I would theorize that desktops have much better reliability than laptops, as a general rule. Part of this is heat dissipation, and an even larger part is that they are stationary and less prone to the damage/wear/tear of mobile use. However, we would have to test that hypothesis, and then determine if such generalizations can be made with Macs, and which ones (given some Mac desktops historically use identical type laptop components, where as others desktop, and others workstation-grade.)
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #7
    Its been my experience that Laptops tend to run hotter, are being used in a mobile fashion which presents its own risks, and I think those factors contribute to a shorter life span.

    My iMac sits on my desk untouched, and runs very cool. I've seen threads here where the median idle temps of the MBP seem to be in the 50s, and can climb into the 80s quite easily, where as my iMac is typically in the 30 degree range idle and I see the 60s when I push it. Granted, I don't encode video or other high intensity activities but I think the usage patterns are such that I'm not terribly different then many consumers.
     
  8. kipwheeler thread starter macrumors member

    kipwheeler

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    Nov 1, 2016
    #8
    Thanks to everyone for your feedback so far. I'd love it if someplace like Consumer Reports had done a comparative study, but as far as I can tell, one isn't immediately available. The points though, about laptops at more risk of coffee spills, damage from drops or being knocked aside, and tending to have worse heat dissipation make a great deal of sense and match my own limited experiences.

    This makes me lean toward a desktop for now. Thanks again!
     
  9. leman macrumors 604

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    Oct 14, 2008
    #9
    About the thing with the heat dissipation... I am not sure whether this is true. Sure, laptops are smaller and their internal space is more constrained, by they also generate less heat. An iMac for instance uses desktop CPUs and high-end mobile GPUs which have 2-3x TDP of the GPUs found in the MBP. And don't forget the larger screen which also needs more power. So its not that simple.

    In the end, the decision between desktop vs. laptop should not be made on basis of very questionable longevity arguments (in the end, chance plays much higher role here than all other factors combined), but simply on the basis of whether you need portability or not.
     
  10. ascender macrumors 68000

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    Dec 8, 2005
    #10
    I find it hard to take articles like that as being objective in any way when they start with something like this "Because iSmartened and iWant less expensive technology that respects my data, doesn’t develop iSmudges and doesn’t require an iCork to just work."

    The OP was looking for some objectiveness, that article really isn't, apart from alluding to a poor support network in Romania, but even the comments on that element seem very subjective. And as for the rest? If anybody is thinking of reading it, I wouldn't bother....

    On the OP's question, I suspect the subjective answer already given around the wear and tear laptops are subjected to is probably as good an answer as any. Does the size of the chassis plus temperature constraints also affect the choice of components Apple can use in a laptop compared to a desktop?
     
  11. Mr. Dee macrumors 65816

    Mr. Dee

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    #11
    Could you let the OP speak for themself? Thank you.
     
  12. ascender macrumors 68000

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    #12
    Eh?????

    I was offering comment on a link to an article you posted (which isn't really even that pertinent to the original question).

    Is that not the point of forums or have things changed recently?
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #13
    Concerning Mac laptops, the ones that seem to have the most problems are those that use dedicated GPU's (as distinguished from those that use integrated GPUs).

    The 2011 MBPro 15" and 17" models are a case in point. LOTS of failures.
    Meanwhile, we don't hear much from owners of 2011 MBPro 13" models with integrated GPUs.

    The iMacs, as well, seem to be susceptible to the same issues, though not quite as much as MacBooks.

    It probably has as much to do with heat and lead-free solder issues as anything else.

    I have a 2010 MacBook Pro 13" that's doing fine.
    I also have a 2007 (actually, late 2006 design) iMac 24" that's also fine.

    Hmmm… I wonder if there could be any correlation between the overall life of a particular Mac and whether or not it's been left "on" most of its life, vis-a-vis Macs that are shut down nightly? (I always shut down my Macs at night)
     
  14. Mr. Dee macrumors 65816

    Mr. Dee

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    #14
    Did you even read your own reply, you refer to the OP in the third person, its not general commentary. Its better you had just provided a standalone argument without trying to belittle the linked article because of its introduction. If you have an opinion about MacBook Pro vs iMac, do so without using other comments as scaffolding to construct a thought.
     
  15. ZapNZs macrumors 68000

    ZapNZs

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    Jan 23, 2017
    #15
    You ask a fantastic question. Unfortunately, doing such a study would be difficult, as it would need to be longitudinal and multimodal in nature, and the sample size would have to be massive.

    It is crazy to think that, even though computers play such an integral part in our lives, much of the reliability data is generated by the Makers of the products instead of an independent testing agency!
     
  16. kipwheeler thread starter macrumors member

    kipwheeler

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    Nov 1, 2016
    #16
    True, that!
     

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