MBP Reliability

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by laser71, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. laser71 macrumors regular

    Nov 29, 2010
    Hi Everyone,

    First post, but long time daily reader.

    Short Version:
    How reliable are MBP hard drives, and their other critical components?

    Long Version:
    I'm a self employed web developer/business owner who works primarily in the photography and video field. I'm a long time PC user, but am thinking about making the switch.

    Presently I use a 3yr old home-built PC which is fairly powerful and extremely reliable. It's nothing special: 2x monitors, 2x500GB raided HDs, 8GB ram, dual core 2.8ghz. Although I'm very happy with it, given my line of work I like to upgrade my main system every few years to minimize the chance of unexpected failure.

    I also have a 2005 IBM Thinkpad as a laptop. The thing is ridiculously underpowered for anything beyond YouTube and email, but the original battery still lasts an hour and the machine runs quite well. I've literally taken it around the world twice and it's never once let me down. (12" screen, 2lbs) Although it's not well suited for my current work, and for that reason it mostly collects dust these days.

    Both of these computers need to be replaced soon. And while I like desktops, I really miss the flexibility of easily taking my work with me, even if it is just on the couch or a coffee shop.

    I was thinking about getting a 15" MBP, with as much ram, storage, and processing power possible. Whatever the top of the line model is for that size. I was going to buy in January, but will wait for Sandy Bridge - as I'm not in an urgent rush.

    My hope was that this could be my main machine. I'd buy a Henge Dock (when they come out) and have it hooked up with my keyboard and two monitors (via USB external display), and other peripherals. But then I'd have the flexibility to pick it up and take my office with me when needed. I am hoping that the machine would be powerful enough for my regular workflow (a lot of applications open, Photoshop, short video editing).

    However, my concern is that the computer has to be extremely reliable. While I do backup obsessively and take care of my gear, the possibility of being without my primary machine for any period of time could be extremely costly. I have had a shocking number of friends who have all had their Macbook hard drives go bad. (75% of them have had a failure at least once) I'm not sure if this is more to do with the nature of laptops, or just bad luck.

    How reliable is a MBP? Are my friends just unlucky to have a high proportion of hard drive failures? Would you consider it as reliable as any other computer for mission critical tasks? What is the usable lifespan on most MBPs?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Macs are pretty reliable, though looking at a help forum might convince you otherwise, as almost only bad cases are reported here.

    Anyway, HDDs are mechanical and prone to fail, some fail soon, many fail later, but in the end, they fail, due to their mechanical upbringing.

    Other parts of the MBP don't contain moving parts (except the fan(s), SuperDrive or hinge), and are less prone to fail.

    Seems there are many posters here, that still use their three to six year and older Macs, even the mobile ones.
  3. Richard1028 macrumors 68000

    Jan 8, 2009
    I also have a photo/video background.

    My advice... stick with your PC for video (vs. the MBP). I still use my 3 year-old Dell Quad desktop and there is no comparison.

    I don't think reliability of the MBP is an issue. It's raw CPU/GPU power that matters with video and unless you're considering a mac pro system I'd stay in the PC universe for these kinds of tasks.
  4. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Apple uses normal hard drives which you can find inside any PC you see in Walmart or other stores. Eventually, all HDs will fail so reliability is a moot point. Some die after few hours or days, some after a year or two, some after many years of loyal service. It's impossible to predict when it dies.
  5. laser71 thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 29, 2010
    Hi all,

    Thanks for the responses so far, I appreciate it.

    Regarding hard drives, I certainly understand that they are mechanical and will fail eventually. For that reason my main computer as two cloned drives, which I guess is something I'll miss switching to a single drive unit. Of course potentially the new MBP will be all SSD, so that concern may be alleviated.

    It makes sense that the MBP would otherwise have no higher HD failure rate than other machines, I guess unless there was a software or heat issue. But again, my friend's experiences had me a little spooked. I'm glad it seems to sound like perhaps they just had bad luck.

    As an aside - I run 12 servers, using somewhere around 50 hard drives between them. At least one drive fails on average per month. Due to a contract they are all Seagates. Although my personal machines have always been Western Digital, and I've been fortunate enough to never have one fail.

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