Macbook Air rigidity

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by FreVC, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. FreVC macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2012
    Hello everybody,

    A month ago I bought my first mac, macbook air 13" 256gb. It is my first mac and I'm absolutely loving it.

    However, recently I started to notice something annoying: if i open up my air, and grab the upper-left corner (above the ESC-key) beneath the screen, I can easily lift my air up. But only this upper-left corner gets lifted, and I can like bend my air. However: if I grab the upper right side (above the on/off button), it seems much more rigid: my air doesn't flex at all.

    I already found some topics on this forum about warped airs, but this is not my issue: when on my desk, all four rubbers touch the surface

    So, my question is if some of you also notice this lack of rigidity when lifting the upper left side? I know it's just minor issue, but it irritates me a lot when I'm for example taking notes in college. One of the main reasons to go for a macbook was the use of this unibody, but so far this does not seem to be that rigid at all. And if I pay 1600euros for a computer, I think I'm allowed to have ultra-high expectations.

    I already went to my premium reseller, but they gave me a strange look when I was explaining this issue and told the only thing the could do was tightening the bottom screws (this did not solve the issue).

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Wouldn't know. I never use just one hand to grasp my Air, am afraid to drop the dang thing and bye-bye$$$.
  3. Bendix macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2012
    So what is the issue if it does not flex? Or does it?
  4. FreVC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2012
    Yeah, it does flex. If I pick up my MBA by the right top side (above the on/off button), it comes off the table as one solid piece. But if i grab it by the left top side (above the ESC-button), it does not lift as one solid piece: it first like bends a little bit so that the top left rubber gets off the table, afterwards the 'rest' of the computer follows.

    So my question is if more people notice this reduced rigidity on this left side or that this only happens to my MBA
  5. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    That's actually normal. I had a 2010 MacBook Air 13", and then a 2011 MacBook Air 13". Both flexed and bent to some extent.

    You can actually do this: hold your MacBook Air on the left side and right side so that the Apple logo is upright and in front of your eyes. Then twist your left and right hand slightly. Notice how the entire device bends and flexes.

    It might be expected behavior, but I was always afraid because it felt like I could easily snap the machine in half if I used too much force.

    So I ended up with an rMBP in 2012 instead, which is MacBook Air-like thin but doesn't flex or bend.
  6. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    Thats much heavier and thicker than a MBA.
  7. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Much heavier? Yep. It's roughly 1.7lbs more than the MacBook Air.

    Much thicker? Nope. The tapered down design of the MacBook Air makes it thinner at one end, but the MacBook Pro Retina is actually just as thin as the MacBook Air if you take into account the thickest part.

    I know because I have owned both.
  8. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    1.7 pounds is a lot. People buy the air for it's size and weight, so something that weighs 1.7 pounds more IS a lot heavier. It's also much thicker in every spot except the thickest part of an air.

    Most people would not consider these 2 machines as similar in size and weight, by a long shot.
  9. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    It's heavier. I admit.

    But it's not thicker because of the curvature of the Air.

    The Air tapers down... but it's not a straight tapering down. The bottom plate curves a lot until it gets to the thinnest point. So in reality, both machines are equally thin when handled. Again, I know this because I have handled both, and both are equally thin to me.
  10. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    Glad you like yours. It's too big and too heavy for me (especially in it's current 15" form factor). I think most Air users feel the same way, or they would pick one up. It's just not as simple as saying "the rMBP is the rigid version of the Air". With that rigidity you also get 65% more weight and a much larger footprint.

    To each his (or her) own...
  11. bill-p, Sep 23, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012

    bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    Well, but the rMBP is actually the rigid version of the Air. At least that's how I see it.

    The screen is protected by a big thin piece of glass rather than the clear plastic on the Air. While the whole body of the Air was easy to bend/flex, the display assembly is particularly easy to bend.

    The display assembly of the rMBP is just as thin as that of the air, but it doesn't flex or bend. I suspect that the glass layer is holding the display assembly together... and preventing any flex or bend.

    Similarly, since the lower body of the rMBP is a more uniform shape, it's harder to bend than the curved shape of the MBA.

    And I actually just looked the numbers up. The rMBP is 4.45 lbs. The 13" MBA is 2.96 lbs. The weight difference is actually just about 50%, not 65%.

    Maybe that's a lot, but the rMBP should be heavier because it has a bigger body and a bigger battery... not to mention the extra components inside.

    Edit: just to put things in perspective, the rMBP has a 95WHr battery... whereas the MBA has a 50WHr battery. The battery in the rMBP is 90% "bigger" than the one in the MBA.

    But again, I'm not saying that the rMBP is "better" than the MBA. I'm just saying that it's designed like a more rigid version of the MBA. And when you take into account what Apple has packed inside that body, 50% weight increase seems reasonable.
  12. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    It's NOT reasonable for people who want the Air. It's really that simple. If I wanted to lug around 4-5 pounds, there are a number of choices out there which will be more durable than an Air (with the rMBP being a fine choice). The rMBP is NOT like an Air - you keep saying it is, and the differences don't seem to matter to you, but they do matter to most Air buyers - thats why Apple sells both.
  13. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    I've not really noticed any flex in normal use, but I only pick it up by the bottom corners when the screen is open. It feels solid enough when one takes into account how thin it is.
  14. FreVC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2012
    Thanks for the response.

    However, I still can't live with the idea my MBA body bends when I pick it up. I think I'm going to compare it to the display models at my reseller, and try and ask again what they can do about it.
  15. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...your rMBP is 1.7 lbs MBA is only 2.3 lbs total = 11.6" MBA user:p
  16. knuro macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2009
    Why would you concern yourself about an issue that only appears when you pick it up by one corner? Just use two hands. It is a great machine for power and size. Nothing is perfect.
  17. FreVC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2012
    This problem kept bothering me. I went back to my reseller. This time , another guy helped me. He seemed to understand my problem, opened the case and tightened the screws. He stated that at a reselling point, they aren't allowed to change any parts that aren't visibly damaged. So if my problem would reoccur, I would have to call apple care.

    Of course the problem was solved, so the next day I called apple-care. After a long wait period, and 'debate with the manager', they stated that I would have to bring it back to my reseller.

    Thus, the same day I brought my MBA back to my reseller. Here, a third guy helped me. He clearly saw my MBA flexing very easily, and took it back in without any doubt.

    Today, three days after I brought it to my reseller, my MBA is fixed. They have changed the top case and keyboard. The flex has definitely not disappeared (though I don't expect a laptop this thin not to be super-rigid), but fortunately it does not start to wobble anymore after picking it up a few times.

    Finally, I can enjoy my machine to the fullest.
    I'm even thinking about buying a Speck/other case for it might maybe add some structural rigidity (anyone any experience?).
  18. chrisrosemusic1 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 31, 2012
    Northamptonshire, England
    Fair enough, glad you are happy with it now.

    There are mixed reviews on Speck cases - some people complain of the clips snapping off and dust blemishing the case of the actual MacBook. I just have a 'slip case' for my Mac. Pop it in there for travel and dust protection whilst not in use. Far cheaper too.
  19. TomCat, Oct 16, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2012

    TomCat macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2000
    I agree.

    I think it is simple physics; the top and bottom of the MBA are essentially flat pieces of aluminum; they are sheets; wafers. The MBP top and bottom have curved edges which greatly increase their rigidity. Obviously the flex factor in the MBA will be more than in the MBP. The underlying question is whether the flex is within the boundaries of good design and is protective enough of the internals.

    That is still an issue here, and it is design trumping common sense, and that is a sin Apple has been guilty of countless times; Steve would not put a fan in the original Macintosh, and they consequently did not have long shelf lives. I think Jonny Ive (I'm not enamored enough to call him "Sir Jonny Ive") is as guilty of this as anyone. Were I designing the iPhone I would incorporate neoprene in the back so it doesn't feel like its going to squirt out of my hands at any second like a $2 bar of soap.

    So, what could keep a MBA owner awake at night is did Apple sacrifice any level of protection or product longevity just to make the damned thing look cool? They are proven to not be above doing this. BTW, other geniuses are just as guilty; Frank Lloyd Wright's houses are amazing, but the heating, cooling, plumbing and other basic systems were an afterthought, and in many of his greatest seminal designs they are in total disarray.

    I bought the 2011 MBA. But if I had it to do over again I would probably go MBP, for a lot of reasons. I am just not in love with the form factor at all, for one thing. Thin for the sake of thin is insanity, especially when that compromises so much else.

    Who wants a computer that is shaped like a guillotine blade anyway? It is cold, impersonal, unwieldy, and unfriendly, and difficult to pick up with one hand, plus it doesn't feel good when you are carrying it at your side; everything exactly the opposite of what Steve and Apple were shooting for in terms of the personal emotional bonding that they expect between product and user. The form factor of the MBP is much more friendly.
  20. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    Cold and impersonal? What the hell are you talking about?

    The fact that the Air is a huge sales hit for Apple demonstrates that many people want something as thin and light as possible. I'm one of those folks.

    Apple offers two products to appeal to 2 types of buyers. You value what is incorporated in the MBP. But to say it's more "friendly" or less "cold" is just ridiculous.
  21. 0x000000 macrumors 6502

    Aug 26, 2011
    I don't understand you.
  22. FreVC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2012
    Ohw: it has to be: 'Of course the problem WASN'T solved.'
  23. Mito macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2012
    I've just noticed that it is easy to flex near trackpad. (Small pressure exactly under trackpad)
  24. Abhishek Cool545 macrumors newbie

    Abhishek Cool545

    Jun 10, 2016
    I am Experiencing the same issue.when i lift my mac air near the trackpad i hear some sound as if it wasnt tight enuf and also it slightly bends.
  25. bmcgrath macrumors 65816


    Oct 5, 2006
    London, United Kingdom
    I've recently been provided with a MBA for my work and I must admit I find it fairly sturdy given how thin/lightweight it is. I move it away from my desk a fair bit to go to meetings/presentations and find it quite rigid. But it still doesn't compare to my rMBP 13" which is rock solid.

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