MacBook Pro Durability / Build Quality

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by rabidcentipede, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. rabidcentipede macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2010
    Hello all. I have been lurking in the Waiting for Arrandale threads for quite some time, but was starting to get alarmed by a trend I was noticing. It seemed that more and more people were talking about how their laptop had just recently died, was on it's "last legs", didn't even work as a mobile computer anymore, had to be hooked up to external monitor/keyboard, etc. - I know that not all of these were MBPs, but it was still frightening to see that so many people were having such major issues with their laptops.

    Is this a normal occurrence? Or did I just happen to see an unnaturally high concentration of people with broken/dead MBPs?

    Either way, how long have your MacBooks / PowerBooks / MacBook Pros generally lasted before they needed replacing?
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Everything you see in this forum is an unnaturally high concentration. If you think about it, there are millions of MBP owners out there. Only a tiny fraction of those frequent this forum. Also, people who have no problems with their Macs aren't going to come here just to post that fact. Only those with problems post about them.
  3. man02195 macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2010
    and by saying it's on it's last leg, it justifies getting the latest greatest i5 or i7...
  4. duffyanneal macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2008
    Keep in mind that a lot of the Mac owners have machines that are several generations old. Also keep in mind that most people don't post when everything is OK. It is when there are problems when people reach out for help. With that said you should expect your Mac to last at least 3-5 years and still be very productive. At that point the hardware should still be OK, but the current generation of hardware will potentially be a multitude of times faster. You'll probably want to change machines to gain some productivity, but it won't be because of a hardware failure.
  5. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    As a general rule people bitch when something goes wrong, not right. Very unlikely to hear people post that they had a great day with their one year old MBP. OTOH, if someone's logic board melts down they want to vent.

    I've owned a dozen or so PBs/MBPs. Some were gems, a couple had serious issues. They are machines. Machines break. Not something worth worrying about, but if it is I suggest an abacus. They have an extremely low failure rate.
  6. rabidcentipede thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 10, 2010
    Thanks everyone for the replies. That's what I was hoping - only those with problems were complaining.

    On a related note, is AppleCare worth it? Assuming I have a decent amount of technical experience and would probably be able to troubleshoot any software issues or minor hardware issues, do you think I would really need it? How often have you needed to make use of it?

  7. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Searching the forum with MRoogle will usually find answers to most of your questions:
  8. ttran88 macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2009
    Applecare is really worth it if you get it off eBay. Just got my applecare off ebay for 95 dollars. thats 47.50 dollars a year. Thats peace of mind knowing you'll have a laptop for an extra 2 years incase something happens. Now lets say you didn't buy it and it died on you. You need to fork up an extra 1200 for another mbp. If you had applecare you may even be given a new one if its was sent to apple 4-5+ times for the same problem
  9. johnsy macrumors 6502

    Nov 15, 2006
    You have to understand that apple has this subculture- that owning their things are not only cool but also that their products last longer than competition. I can assure that it is not so. My experience- Imac, mbp and 2 ipods.

    Imac had a problem with hard drive. It was replaced. Now as computer ages even more I am getting some weird artifacts and screen freezes.

    mbp- battery died after more than a year. 186 battery cycles and no warranty equals no help. I do not expect free battery, but 90 dollars for a battery with a 90 day warranty? Besides 186 cycles and sudden battery death vs decline is far too short from advertised 300 cycles. Not counting subpar battery, screen suffers from distorted text (faulty graphic board) once in a while. I will see if 3'd party batteries are still available.

    ipods are holding so far. In fact original 1GB shuffle is probably the best thing apple made. And the reason is simplicity and little hardware and software.

    A whole apple vs brand x superiority holds on one principle- VERY short apple product life span. Brand x consumer buys thing to last. Yes, X brand computers might suffer from viruses, spyware and so on, but hardware tend to last not any shorter than apple. Apple uses different strategy- very short product lifespan. After a year something upgraded is released and "new" and
    "better" features lures people to become dissatisfied with older generation product. This forum is very good illustration of this process. Just browse forum posts and you will see that people have this believe that things will get better and something is wrong with current generation thing available today. How many posts you could count such as "waiting for..." "when ..." "new generation..." and similar.

    Now if apple product is replaced every year or so, again and again, to keep up with the latest fashion, might be something important is missing. That thing is satisfaction and product longevity. Chasing latest trends and new releases you might not notice that product is after all not made to last and has more flaws than you thought. How many people in this forum have owned the same apple product for a 2 years? More than 2 years?

    My advise- buy whatever works. Apple is just average company- average in every aspect except price which is above average.
  10. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    Apple products typically have a solid build and remarkable fit and finish but the MacBooks are not something I would feel safe carrying around without padding. I tend to treat them more carefully than I do stuff from most other brands and I suspect that this is the case with most other Apple users. That Aluminium may feel solid in the hand but if you drop it and it dents....
  11. Topazera macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2010
    I think you may have gotten the reassurance you wanted out of the thread but I thought I'd chime in: as a fellow lurker from the waiting thread, I'm currently on a laptop I would say is on it's last legs and that's only due to good build quality. My first-gen aluminum PowerBook G4 has withstood 7 years of heavy use as my primary (okay, now somewhat secondary) computer. I would say it even worked really well for four or five of those years! Obviously, the 867 MHz CPU isn't really cutting it for me anymore so I do all my HD vid watching and Photoshop/video work on another computer. But that's just it, the build quality outlasted the internal components for me. While my wireless connectivity has dramatically decreased, my audio line out needs to be carefully fiddled with to get both left and right signal and my battery died in past two years, nothing has failed that I haven't been able to work around. Albeit frustratingly sometimes. In fact for a while now, I've been perversely hoping something would crash entirely so I could really justify a new laptop. ;)

    My point (which by the last few sentences you can see is true for me too) is that I think a good portion of us here who don't have the luxury of upgrading very often, for whatever reason, like to brag about our years in the trenches keeping our machines going. A refreshed line of laptops just feels like the perfect excuse to give up the fight. That might skew your sample when you read the threads here. :) Personally, my experience with Apple's build quality has been great and all my family's machines have lasted at least four years. I can't speak towards the newer generations of products as I haven't purchased one for a while though!
  12. alanlindsay macrumors member

    Mar 4, 2008
    My MBP has been working flawlessly for 2.5 years. Just thought I'd let everyone know. That is all.
  13. mediaprodguy macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2006

    My 2006 MBP is still in great working order. Last legs.... meaning that I essentially outgrew it. I wanted the latest toy. Larger HD etc.
  14. johnsy macrumors 6502

    Nov 15, 2006
    There is one more thing in this computer outgrowing process- it looks like programs are more and more power hungry. And I am not talking about some exotic games. Simple programs are quite demanding. For example Safari- it was running on 512 MB, now sometimes it takes more than 2GB. Well it could probably run on 512 MB even now, but it would be very slow. How about word processor? Also takes a lot of memory more than 200MB just to sit idle.

    For example bigger hard drive makes sense, because everything is digital these days- documents, ebooks, photos, movies etc. Eventually hard drive gets full.

    Safari or websites in general on the other hand gets loaded with useless features- more flash, more java script and so on.
  15. Pax macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2003

    I had to find faults with my 2006 MB to justify upgrading to a MBP. Passed MB to my GF. I was using it recently. It's still a great computer. Expect several more years out of it. IMHO new MBPs are bomb proof.
  16. King Apple macrumors regular

    King Apple

    Mar 17, 2010
    Applecare is totally worth it. If you're applicable for the student discount, its a deal! Otherwise you can take the risk and try to get it off ebay.
  17. GeeLuv macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2009
    I've had mine for 10yrs

    I have a MacBook Pro Titanium G4 667MGz that I purchased brand new I got the apple care and have used steadily for the past 10yrs. Same goes for my Quicksilver I keep my hardware for a long time and use it to death. Both computers are running fine I take care of them and am always conscious of how I use them. Apple in my experience is worth the extra money I've never had a gripe about the quality ever. FYI I have a first generation iPod, and iPhone as well both still in perfect condition and working just fine. I just purchased a new MBP 17" i7 that I hope will last me another 10yrs. So if there is anyone out there looking for some pristine legacy Apple products hit me up.
  18. col sandurz macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    Longevity? I for one am still using a 12" iBook G4. It came with OSX 10.3. I upgraded to 10.4 and it still ran beautifully. When some programs (like memory hungry web browsers) became a little slow, I upgraded the stock 256MB ram by adding a 1GB stick (1.25GB total and by that time, cheap ;) ). I also did a complete (well near) teardown to replace the stock 30GB hdd with a 160GB (darn iTunes eating my space). Essentially this is what I have now and it still does basic word processing, web browsing, and music playing great.

    Complaints? Well, one thing that has bugged me since I got it, the trackpad is slightly lifted in the corner (the white poly has not always been as tightly engineered). It looks a little shoddy, but it has and does work. Tried replacing the whole top cover when I did the hard drive, until I discovered the G3 iBook cover I got doesn't fit. Also, the computer is pretty old; so, it does not play HD video well (darn 32MB of VRAM). And with wifi G it sometimes lags on the now heavy content the internet has (talk about justifying upgrades with more crud). At times, I am also bugged when my fiance uses it and I want to use the internet (never mind the PC in the next room :p).

    Verdict? These products last. After 6 years they may not be the most pretty or sexy objects but they work and will continue to do so. I for one want multi-touch, aluminum case, HD video, wifi N, etc. that the new generation(s) has and can do. I am justifying the new purchase because for once I find myself in a position where I need two Apple laptops (BTW I have had the iBook longer than I have even known my fiance :D) Yes, even with a new MBP, I will continue to use my iBook.
  19. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    You can't judge anything Mac by the way it's discussed here on the MacRumors Technobubble. They are tough, durable machines.
  20. dhro1 macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2010
    Maybe I've been lucky

    Macbook Pro: Just over 3 years. No problems, never even crashed. Despite being dropped several times, which has admittedly scratched it and caused a bit of the case work to raise a bit. Used for keynote at work and lugged around a lot. The battery started to fail just before three years and was replaced under applecare (bought with a student discount), which consequently paid for itself. So despite abuse works perfectly.

    Power mac: First generation dual 2ghz. I think late 2003. Works perfectly, although getting a bit too slow now for RAW photo editing. But for messing around and iWORK it is brilliant. And, whilst running 2 apple monitors, which are again flawless. Lots of bits inside upgraded (HDDx2, graphics card, RAM), which was very easy. It's been left on for all that time, except when I've been on holiday, as well.

    Airports: 2004 airport express g died this year, after I'd given it to a friend. 2 time capsules going strong (one original at least 3 years old, I think) and two airport express Ns again going strong (again I think about 3 years old).

    iPods: 3rd generation (2003), needs a new battery (for the second time), but still works otherwise. Two ipod shuffles lost their lives in major unexpected downpoors, however.

    iPhone 3G: Must be pushing 2 years. No problems. Even the battery hasn't deteriorated.

    Overall, I think thats not too bad at all. I do know a couple of people who have had problems. But they both seem to have extremely bad luck with a lot of technological things they own.
  21. Kiddo86 macrumors member

    Apr 16, 2008

    People are always, always, always more likely to bitch and moan about stuff on forums / review pages than they are to talk about their wonderful experience. I've owned 3 different macbook pro's now... never had any issues with any of them (but I've never really posted that fact)... however, if I DID have a problem... you'd all hear about it.
  22. felixelgato macrumors member


    Sep 25, 2008
    3 MPS´s

    In the last 5 years I have bought 3 diferent MBP´s, and all of them are working perfectly, and I am not the kind of guy that treat them very softly...
  23. paintballswimgu macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2010
    i think that the reason mac users complain about the computer "not working" isn't because the hardware is bad. Its because we've gotten so used to perfection, or close to it, that we can't settle for anything less. If i had a dell i'd probably lose my mind complaining to tech support that my casing was coming apart by a mm or something. Where if you tell apple you have that problem, they tell you that its unacceptable and that they will fix it.
  24. azahar macrumors newbie


    Feb 24, 2010
    I know this is a MBP thread but thought I would chime in with regard to build quality.

    I have a Macbook C2D 1.83Ghz which is now 3 1/2 years old. As a network engineer, I travel throughout Europe installing datacomms and telecomms equipment and my MB comes everywhere with me. It has been packed and transported with me using rucksacks, carry-ons, shipped with other kit, taken apart by Estonian customs (for proof it was a computer!) and it still keeps going.

    I cannot say that it hasnt had its faults. The Bluetooth seemed to have an intermittent fault. It turned out to be a loose cable where it was attached to the mainboard. Also, I dropped it accidentally while unpacking it to go through an airport scanner and it killed the optical drive. A £40 replacement and some helpful guidance from that wonderful iFixit website and that was easily sorted.

    It does have wear and tear, but its only cosmetic and dos not impair my use of this great laptop. This laptop has been through lots of physical use though my travels and general work use, and keeps going strong. I simply cannot fault it on build quality.

    I used to have a Dell Latitude years ago working for another company doing a similar job. It had to be replaced every year just through wear and tear, not to mention the lost work hours just keeping Windows XP in a stable state to use.

    The ORIGINAL battery has been through 973 cycles and still shows 94% health. It can still get 2-3 hours use while on battery, depending on what I am working on. How many 3.5 year old Dell/HP/Sony laptops can claim that (or any of this!).

    I will be upgrading to the latest MBP 13" 2.4Ghz as soon as I can.
  25. johnsy macrumors 6502

    Nov 15, 2006
    I upgraded my apple battery. Bought one of these . I can say, that it is so much better than original battery- consistently lasts a little bit more than 4 hours doing normal stuff. Original battery lasted only up to 3 hours, sometimes a little bit longer (with everything dimmed out, wi-fi off and other power saving technique). No issues with replacement fit, color is a little bit darker, but who cares.

    I came up to conclusion however, that apple in a way is becoming disposable brand and certainly was that way for a long time. The idea is that either you know what you like and buy prebuilt unit or customize it at the time of purchase. After that it is not so easy to do upgrades.

    Mac mini- you HAVE to use a putty knife to open it! What is wrong with designing an unit using regular screws instead?

    New aluminum imacs. Hard drive upgrades require tedious work.

    Macbook /pro line. Mixed feelings. In a way it is easier to upgrade a hard drive, I should give a credit where is due, but batteries are not so easy part.

    Now you might say, why should I demand not original apple parts? Hard drives might have apple logo, but they are still not made by apple, the same is with memory and even batteries (integrated battery is an exception). So why I should overpay for that? Apple uses quality parts? I really doubt that. Hard drives die, batteries don't reach advertised discharge time, and have shorter lifespan than is written in technical papers.

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