More powerful laptops more reliable?

kbearh

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 30, 2014
27
23
Hey guys, I'm currently deciding between the mid-range 13 inch Macbook Pro Retina (for 1,600) and low end 15 inch Macbook pro retina (for 2,000), and I was wondering if a computer's overall power has anything to do with its expected reliability? I've been searching around online for a while and can't seem to find a definitive answer.

First and foremost, I'm looking for a laptop that will likely last as long as possible (hopefully, at least 5-6 years). The 15 inch is honestly, more power than I probably need (mostly just take class notes, do research, video streaming, VERY light gaming, and occasional Photoshop). But my computer is being subsidized through my college (up to $1,600) so I'm willing to pay an extra $400 if that would mean its more likely to last me until the end of law school (I'm a junior in undergrad now).

So, if I shelled out a bit extra for a computer capable of more than I use it for, does that generally lead to a longer overall lifespan? Any opinions would be helpful, thanks.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,078
4,620
More powerful laptops are not more reliable. I advice you to get the warranty extension so that you can have 3 worry free years, after that its more or less a gamble. Some machines break down after 3 years, some last over 10. Not much you can do there, except make sure that the energy is 'clean' and there is not too much dusk/smoke etc. near your computer.

The 15" is a quad core, which is obviously a more capable machine. In few years time, it is likely to cope with software better than a dual-core 13". That said, I expect single-threaded performance still to be most important for tasks like word processing within the next few years, and the 13" is not that much different in that aspect from the 15"...

It's a tough call - but in the end you have to choose what's more important to you, more power and bigger screen or more mobile machine. I don't believe that thinking in terms of reliability/life expectance is the right approach here.
 

kbearh

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 30, 2014
27
23
More powerful laptops are not more reliable... Not much you can do there, except make sure that the energy is 'clean'...
That's surprising! I had heard causing a laptop to perform near or above its typical capabilities caused it to die quicker, so I assumed using a laptop below its capabilities would cause the opposite--a longer lifetime overall.

But what do you mean by clean energy? I've never heard that term before (other than when describing say, solar power haha)
 

dmccloud

macrumors 6502a
Sep 7, 2009
991
14
Anchorage, AK
That's surprising! I had heard causing a laptop to perform near or above its typical capabilities caused it to die quicker, so I assumed using a laptop below its capabilities would cause the opposite--a longer lifetime overall.

But what do you mean by clean energy? I've never heard that term before (other than when describing say, solar power haha)
Reliability of a specific model is related to component/build quality. Whether you run a machine at close to max performance or only 1/2 max doesn't affect reliability. If there is a bad run of a specific component (i.e. the ATI dedicated GPUs of "Radeongate", that will affect reliability regardless of how you use your machine.

"Clean energy" in this case means a reliable power source that isn't prone to sudden surges. A backup power unit will effectively "condition" the current before it goes to your machine, insuring that the power it's receiving is as clean as possible.
 

sixrom

macrumors 6502a
Nov 13, 2013
707
1
In two decades I've owned a vast number of Apple computers at all price points. Overall I rate their reliability as exemplary.
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors G3
May 28, 2005
8,001
544
Pennsylvania
In a few years, the biggest issue will be hard drive size.

If you don't go with a 15" MBP, go with a 13" MBA and use the extra money to upgrade the SSD.

Laptop reliability has nothing to do with usage patterns, and anything Apple makes will last for years.
 

kbearh

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 30, 2014
27
23
Laptop reliability has nothing to do with usage patterns...
This is really surprising to me guys, thanks for the info. I guess what I had found regarding demanding usage on a laptop lowering its lifespan, was more to do with overheating causing the computer's to fail, and not demanding usage itself.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,078
4,620
That's surprising! I had heard causing a laptop to perform near or above its typical capabilities caused it to die quicker, so I assumed using a laptop below its capabilities would cause the opposite--a longer lifetime overall.
Just to comment on this - running a computer at high loads for prolonged periods of time can indeed impact its lifespan negatively, but this does not really apply to your case. It doesn't matter whether your machine is dual-core or quad-core, it WILL run at high load when computing a demanding task (e.g. applying a filter in Photoshop) - the only difference is that the quad-core will finish first.