Macbook pro reliability?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by B-Team2012, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. B-Team2012 macrumors newbie


    Aug 20, 2019
    Very generalized question, but my IT guy at work who is a former Mac user strongly recommended that I not buy a Mac as they are having lots of issues with the 2019 products. I have been nothing but satisfied with my macbook pro (almost 5 years old) and my wife's (10-years old before the screen started to go out!). He seems to know what he's talking about, and cites problems with keyboard, screen issues, hard drive's losing data without recovery, apple not being good about fixing problems. This seems way off base with what I've experienced these last 10 years, and just looking for some reassurance (or confirmation of his concerns) before I drop $2K on a new machine that I intend to last well over 5 years to replace my wife's computer. I use it for pretty basic stuff, no fancy gaming/high-power processing. Thanks!
  2. ruslan120 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 12, 2009
    In its everlasting pursuit to make things thinner, Apple redesigned its keyboard on the latest line of Mac laptops. They introduced a mechanism for its new, "Butterfly" keyboard, which is known to fail, and it's on its fourth iteration in 2019 laptops. It's supposedly better than earlier versions, but only time will tell whether or not it is.
    Notable issues - dust and debris accumulates under the keys. Due to how thin the mechanism is, said debris gets lodged under the keys and prevents them from functioning properly.

    Again, due to the pursuit of thinness, Apple chose to solder on its storage rather than let it be removable or upgradeable.
    Models earlier than 2018 Macbooks have a connector inside, in case your laptop dies and you'd like to bring it in and get your data off. The latest models don't have this connector which means if your laptop dies for whatever reason, you can't disconnect your storage. Your data is gone with the laptop.*

    Apple replaced the more reliable cable that connects the screen (in older laptops) with a thin, ribbon-like "flex" cable that has also undergone design iterations. It's said to be better on later models, but time will tell.
    Read more here.

    * This doesn't affect the mantra that it's always a good idea to make regular backups. Everyone learns the hard way, sooner or later.

    I did a video on this and seems like opinions are split 50/50. Some agree with me and are waiting on Apple to fix these issues in a laptop design overhaul (new laptop rumored in 2020). Others think that the cumulative corrective design fixes that Apple has made are enough to deem the laptop reliable. It's too early to tell w.r.t the 2019 laptops.

  3. Nbd1790 macrumors regular

    Jan 2, 2017
    New York
    All of the issues mentioned above seem to be true amongst users. Although, there are users who are using the first gen design (2016 models) that have yet to run into an issue. Regardless, it seems Apple is going to stick with the smaller and thinner design, meaning that the issues of having every component of the computer soldered onto the motherboard is here to stay (regardless of a redesign). As far as the keyboard goes, it seems to be split as mentioned above. A lot of people have issues (more than you would like to hear about) and there are also some people who haven't.

    Regardless of design issues, there's always a possibility of data becoming unrecoverable even if the hard drive isn't soldered into the motherboard which is why it's always a good habit to start backing your data up on a weekly basis. Buy an external hard drive dedicated to time machine and use it once a week and that will at least eliminate the fear of losing your data. Even before using the newer design, it was a habit I got myself into just to feel a bit more secure about losing data permanently.

    The keyboards are covered under an extended warranty (which I believe is 4 years) if that gives you any peace of mind. I have a friend using a 2017 13 inch model who hasn't had any issues with the keyboard at all, and he uses the laptop on a regular basis (no external monitor or keyboard) is a DJ, and is quite aggressive on the keyboard and finds himself in less than ideal situations that could damage the keyboard.

    Hope this is a bit of help to you - aside from the general concerns, loving my 2018 13 inch with TB that I picked up recently.
  4. RUGERMAN macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2010
    I have been reading about the keyboard problem on mbps for a while but never have seen any stats on them. Like is it 10%. 20%, 80%? What is the frequency of problems? I know I have a 2017 and love the KB. There has to be some study on this after 2 or 3 years.
  5. thebez macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2008
    Earlier I read a study on the 2014-2017 keyboards. It wasn’t really conclusive on the 2017 model, as it was still the current model at the time. Why it looked at was how many MacBook Pros were brought in for specifically keyboard issues in their first year of ownership.

    I didn’t find it surprising that they were reporting (I’m rounding here) a 12% failure rate for the 2016 model, or even an 8% rate for the 2017. What did surprise me a lot was the 6% reported for both 2014 and 2015 model years. We are talking about a long established, respected design at that point. I had a Titanium PowerBook back in the day, and I don’t think I ever heard of a dead keyboard on one of those models, although I don’t doubt it happened on occasion. Are the newer models just progressively worse? I mentioned in a different thread earlier that I am likely buying a 2019 MBA tomorrow. Maybe I should buy one of the new 2017 models instead!

    Nah, I’ll get the 2019. I can’t stand the silver aluminum anymore!
  6. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    FWIW, this has always been the case in my experience, solders or unsoldered. Apple is very insistent that once they take you device for repairs, it should be backed up because they can't guarantee it will be there on return. In the perhaps 4-5 times I've taken in devices for repair, they have never come back with data. So while I understand the issue with soldered storage, in practice it doesn't seem to mean much.
    My late 2013 had the logic board, top case, SSD replaced in 2017. My daughter's 2016 13-MBP went in at 4 months (mfg defect) and again at 20 months. Starting in 2011 our family has purchased 3 MBAs, and all of them are still in service. 2 of them have significant dents in each of the 4 corners. 1 USB port doesn't work. But these are awesome systems.
  7. mw360 macrumors 68000


    Aug 15, 2010
    Apple is having a lot of visibility of problems because of how news and social media works these days. That's only going to get worse, regardless of how the hardware reliability goes up or down. Various hardware issues are hitting the press and the forums but nobody knows how widespread they are. The keyboard problems, were real back on 2016. I have a 2016 MBP and it is bad. It was bad as soon as it came out of the box. But the design has changed 3 times since then. We can only assume that it helped, otherwise they wouldn't have done it, but it only takes one person to shout that their new keyboard is bad, and everyone then makes a mental short-cut to the idea that the fix has made no difference at all. We just don't know, but the noise about the keyboard has died down in 2019, and now it's mainly people who don't like the feel, or who don't trust the design because of what they heard. The keyboards now effectively have a 4 year guarantee which you could take as a good or bad sign.

    For the other things, all similar products will have similar problems from time to time but reporting on an unreliable cable in an Alienware or Dell PC isn't going to drive a lot of ad clicks. Flaws in Apple product whip up hysteria like nothing else.

    Apple hardware is unrepairable though, so anyone buying would do well to investigate the various repair costs and factor them into a purchase. To repair a single key on the keyboard for example would be about $600 if outside of the 4 year period. That's absolutely obscene and ought to be more widely known and criticised. It's not an accident, Apple designed it that way. Apple Care as insurance against repair costs is a profit making enterprise so like all insurance it's likely a loss-making exercise for consumers. Looking at the cost of Apple Care is a crude way to estimate the reliability. If Apple hardware were unreliable garbage, nobody would know that better than Apple and Apple Care would be very expensive to cover their costs. It's somewhat expensive but I don't think it's much more so than other extended warranty schemes.

    That doesn't tell you anything, but there's very little data. The only attempt to get actual numbers on the keyboard issue, found that returns to Apple Stores weren't much higher than normal. That seems extremely hard to believe based on personal experience, and the hysteria about it, but its the only objective data out there.
  8. jaduff46 macrumors 6502


    Mar 3, 2010
    Second star on the right....
    Been a Mac fan since the 80s, both as an owner and investor, and was looking to upgrade to the MBP in both 2018 and 2019. Love MacOS, but concerns about the hardware and keyboard coupled with positive feedback from @maflynn and others pushed me to purchase a Lenovo X1 Carbon last month.

    Same $2K~ investment. Moving back to Windows 10 is OK and overall really happy with the decision.

    Your mileage, of course, may vary.

    Best of luck!
  9. ZeuSGoKiL macrumors member


    Nov 6, 2016
    Norlisk, Mother Russia

    Not inspiring at all, Sadly, that seems not to be the case. You know when Apple actually apologizes, the situation is serious.
  10. Northern Man macrumors 6502

    Northern Man

    Aug 25, 2013
    Pleased that it has worked out for you.
  11. ETJ macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2019
    Didn't read all the replies but here's my 2 cent.

    They had a lot of problems with the butterfly keyboard in earlier versions. But the latest "4th" gen butterfly keyboard seems to be working a lot better than gen 1. Either way it could be good to know that Apple has a free keyboard replacement program if something happens within first 4 years of purchase.

    This is a problem that is fully fixed now. The 2019 version won't have any screen cable issues.

    He's probably thinking of the T2 chip and how the storage is encrypted. I don't know if there's a way to prevent encryption (there might be) but really.. I would just use this issue as a motivation to start having backups. You could make a backup to the cloud (dropbox or iCloud) or to an external hard drive. This is just part of good housekeeping.

    If you are used to OSX and not strapped for money I would recommend you to stay with apple.
  12. topgunn macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2004
    Any data you get from MacRumors is going to be anecdotal but here goes. I have about 200 Macs deployed, most of them MacBook Pros. I have had more problems with the 2016 and newer MBPs that I have with the 2015 and older. With the previous generation, we are able to fix most of these issues in house. With the current design, we have to send everything in to Apple. We weren't buying AppleCare on the 2015 and older machines because we were seeing failures along the lines of 1 in 20 machines. I bought AppleCare on the 2016's, as I do after a redesign, and it has been close to break even which means a failure rate along the lines of 1/6. The issues with the 2017, 18, and 19 models are better than the 2016 but still materially worse than the 2015 and earlier.

    We are a split shop and have about a 70/30 mix of Macs to PCs and employees are allowed to choose which platform they will use. That ratio has been shifting in favor of MacOS for some years now but I am beginning to see that change. This is due to a number of factors including the cost of the machines (each department pays for their own machines with their budget dollars), the usability especially when it comes to the keyboard feel, as well as the projected reliability of the new machines. We have deployed five 2015 MacBook Pros so far in 2019 which is amazing considering it is a 3 year old computer.
  13. tbloomq macrumors newbie

    Aug 9, 2013

    Do you have data on the x86 devices? What is their failure rate and issues?
  14. topgunn macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2004
    We buy the T-series Lenovo ThinkPads almost exclusively. The failure rate is higher than the pre-2015 MBPs and lower than the 2016 and later MBPs. I would say we have an issue on 1/10 machines within the first 3 years. But, the Lenovos come with a three year warranty at very little additional cost so all of our Lenovos are covered under warranty. The cost of AppleCare makes it prohibitive and more cost effective to just buy a new machine when one fails.
  15. ETJ macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2019
    Hi! Just bought a 2019 MacBook Pro 13" (1.4/256SSD/16RAM). In my country we have pretty good consumer protection program in place, if you can prove the device was not mishandled the you the costumer. But do you think I should buy Apple Care anyways? And also how many of those issues you've had, with the 2017 and later, are the keyboard? (Since the keyboard is already covered in apples keyboard replace program and doesn't need apple care. Thank you for your help!
  16. WinstonRumfoord macrumors 6502

    Mar 27, 2014
    I have been using Mac laptop and iMac products since 2004. I just upgraded from my 2015 15" MBP to a new 2019 15" MBP and have been nothing but disappointed. Not sure if it's OS or hardware, but whatever it is has been a dismal experience. I went from simply wanting a snappier computer (old MBP) to now needing to restart multiple times a day, trouble connecting to different devices, an awful keyboard (I thought I'd get used to it... 3 months in and it's still just as frustrating) and have already had two close calls with our toddler almost pulling it off my desk with the non-magsafe charging cable. I thought carrying dongles to and from work would be fine, but i have found myself in a bind a few times already from forgetting my SD card reader dongle at home, or at the office.

    I regret buying it and wish I had went Windows.
  17. JeanDeFer macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2018
    I had a few sticking or non functioning keys after a few years. Apple store cleaned it for me in half an hour and told me I could come back as often as I want, for free. Since then I use the vacuum cleaner on the keyboard once in a while, and that does the job too. So if you manage it properly it is not a major issue. The newer models don't suffer from this problem anymore.

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16 August 20, 2019