Need advice about buying a white macbook - are they reliable enough?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Tim018, May 31, 2009.

  1. Tim018 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    #1
    Aight, so I would appreciate some input about possibly going into the mac world.

    Currently i am a strong pc person and i enjoy using vista/7 and also tinkering in linux. However, i am looking to purchase my first macbook to replace my current toshiba laptop which is nearing its end of days.

    Here is the setup i am looking at:
    -white macbook 2.13 ghz, 4gb ram (from apple), 160gb base hdd, an apple keyboard and dvi connector
    -then i would buy a decent samsung monitor, a 320gb 7200rpm segate or wd hdd, and a neoprene case. + i already have a decent mouse
    -this would bring me to spending on about $1400 after tax and other possible random accessories

    Here is what i plan to do with this notebook:
    -a fully functional clamshell desktop along with a portable computer w/ decent batter life
    -cs4 for photo/graphic design along with html/css/web development
    -triple boot system (i know you have to install rEFIT)
    -a reliable computer to use for designing, school work, and whatever else i may throw at it for atleast the next two years of high school and then a backup computer once i get into college

    However, here are my concerns:
    -i have seen so many posts on how the macbook has random kernel panics, battery failures, not powering up problems, freezing, bluetooth failures, keyboard failures, leopard being unstable (ive had a great experience with vista being stable, i hate the "application has unexpectedly quit"), lagging....the list goes on. Can i trust that this computer will be a reliable computer that i can use on a daily basis w/o os and hardware issues?
    -clamshell mode: I really need this laptop to be able to run in clamshell mode w/o all the issues ive seen about it. For example the flickering screen, or the picture being fuzzy and having to reset it constantly to fix it or other misc things. Can i trust the macbook will be reliable as something like mac mini when it comes to being a desktop on an external monitor?
    -also, i need to be able to run vista just as well as i could on a dedicated windows computer such as a vaio or a toshiba
    -overall i am just looking on input from others if they have had a positive experience with their macbook or not.

    anyways, i am just looking for some input about users experience with their macbook's. I am very tempted to just go and buy the sony fw or something of the likes, but every 16" or so pc (fw, hdx16t, xps 16, toshiba a300) has had some or other notable problem that i would really like to eradicate with a macbook. thanks for any input about the macbook.

    also, just so you know how to respond, my tech knowledge is very good. i can build a pc desktop from ground up and i work with photoshop/illustrator/dreamweaver on a daily basis, thanks.

    Tim
     
  2. chazz123 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    #2
    i have an older white macbook and it works...... if money isnt an issue i would get the newer one though
     
  3. toolbox macrumors 68020

    toolbox

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    Oct 6, 2007
    Location:
    Australia (WA)
    #3
    There going to be reliable if it's kept in good condition, and regular maintenance is done.

    My macbook i have had for 3 years works perfectly.
     
  4. rgarjr macrumors 603

    rgarjr

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    #4
    They are reliable if you take care of 'em. If you of course throw 'em around or knocked 'em down they wont last u that long.
     
  5. Richard1028 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    #5
    I have a 2.4ghz macbook white

    If you're currently using CS4 on that aging Toshiba then the macbook will be fine. (one of my first laptops was a Toshiba and it worked great for 18 months until the on board power supply burned up).

    If you're hell bent on getting a 7400rpm drive like so many people then go for it. Personally I can't tell the difference using CS4 on a 5400rpm drive. I do know the faster drive will eat away at battery life so if that's important to you then keep this in mind.

    Can't help with clam shell mode. I need the keyboard when hooked to an external monitor.

    As far as overall reliability goes, that's a subjective call. I've had mine for 6 months now and it's in use at least 12 hours each day. I haven't really experienced the problems you read about here.
     
  6. andalusia macrumors 68030

    andalusia

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #6
    CS4 runs incredibly well on my Whitebook (See specs in signature)
    I haven't had any problems with clamshell mode.
    Works perfectly as a computer for my school work.
    Runs Windows 7 beautifully under a virtual machine with 1GB of dedicated RAM, and incredibly with 2GB+ RAM. You will have 4GB, which is adequate, and Vista should run well (especially if in Boot Camp).

    Experience with Macbook:
    Positive.
     
  7. rgarjr macrumors 603

    rgarjr

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    #7
    Damn bro, you're really getting your moneys worth on that book. ;)
     
  8. l.a.rossmann macrumors 65816

    l.a.rossmann

    Joined:
    May 15, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #8
    In my opinion, no. The magnet in the upper portion of the frame is too strong so the thing slams a little each time it closes, opposed to closing gently. You can't pour water into it the same way as you can an IBM.

    This is not to say it's a bad laptop. I like OSX. The hardware and design is not as reliable as other laptops I have used, for equal or less money, all it takes is a glass of soda for me to prove my point.
     
  9. 01jamcon macrumors 6502a

    01jamcon

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #9
    What the hell? You want your computers to withstand pouring water on them? What planet are you on? Sure maybe an IBM has certain water-proofing steps taken, but the VAST MAJORITY of computers are not built to withstand any kind of water damage.

    Anyways, to the OP, I have a 2 1/2 year old macbook, and mine's been a bit of a mixed bag: I've had a number of issues; bluetooth drop out, chipped palmrest (also yellowing), battery issues, and in day to day tasks, I might get an application quitting unexpectedly every few days or so. So not as reliable as I would have hoped. Comparing it to an older pc, in terms of sheer hardware reliability, the Macbook has come out worse.

    However, in terms of usability, using it every day, both in clamshell and normal modes, it has been pretty damn good. For some reason, mainly the ease of use of OSX, I'm able to look past its (many) faults, and be pretty happy with it when it does work, which is at least most of the time.
     
  10. tekio macrumors regular

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    May 31, 2009
    #10
    Haven't had any problem with mine despite not really looking after it.
     
  11. Shawny D macrumors member

    Shawny D

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    May 13, 2009
    #11
  12. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Location:
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    #12
    It should be fine for your purposes. That said, I do have a couple of caveats:

    1. They did recently do a few changes to the whitebook with the new graphics card and new led backlit screen. You could play it safe by lurking on the boards for a bit and seeing if people are reporting problems with this new revision. One of my old school mac friend's favorite sayings is what he calls the first mac commandment: "Thou shalt not buy a version A." I realize the plastic macbook has been basically made for three years now, but a little caution may not be a bad idea.

    2. The macbook doesn't have the oopsie spill channel like some of the thinkpads do, but neither do most notebooks. In any case, I'd strongly recommend some sort of extended warranty past the initial one year apple warranty. Apple portables are sleek and slim, but can be notoriously difficult and expensive to repair; if a logicboard (or motherboard) goes out on you, it may be almost as expensive to repair it as it would be to buy a new laptop. I'd recommend one of the following options:

    a. Applecare. Applecare extends the initial one year warranty to three years from your initial purchase. It give you three years of apple technical support for your laptop and most apple software, and covers a lot of apple peripherals such as mice and keyboards. You also get a copy of tech tool deluxe to diagnose hardware errors on your mac. Applecare does NOT cover accidental damage, abuse, etc. You can buy applecare for a discount from some online retailers or from ebay or craigslist. Make sure you get an unopened box and receipt if you go these routes.

    b. Best Buy. If you buy a unit from best buy you can buy geek squad coverage and can even pay to have accidental damage coverage. In addition, it's return policy is a little more lenient than apple's.

    c. Your credit card. Certain credit cards also give additional or extended coverage when you use them to purchase electronics. You'll have to get with the issuer of your card to get the details.

    Do the homework, and good luck with your decision.
     
  13. core2duo macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
    #13
    The white MacBook is a very nice machine, top case chipping issues aside (may be fixed with the new revision - I have the NVIDIA model and it's yet to be a problem). That being said, if it were my money to spend I'd get a unibody model instead. I think the design enhancements make it a very worthwhile upgrade for difference in price.
     
  14. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Location:
    Bookshop!
    #14
    Forums are full of people with issues. People rarely post new threads saying "Today, my macbook worked exactly the way I wanted it to". I've never had any of the issues you raised in your original post.

    For what it's worth, I've had my macbook since the day they were released in Australia. I had a few of the early teething problems which were covered by Applecare, and in the ~2.5 years since then, I haven't had an issue. This computer is brilliant. I regularly run photoshop on it, i often run it in clamshell mode, and uptime is frequently measured in weeks. I can easily get around 3-4 hours out of a 2 year old battery. My MacBook is brilliant.

    As for Windows, any Intel Mac is going to run Windows as well as a similarly spec'ed PC would; All a Mac is is a PC (personal computer) with a chip in it telling the Mac OS X disc it's a Mac, allowing installation onto it.
     
  15. student_trap macrumors 68000

    student_trap

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    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    'Ol Smokey, UK
    #15


    After 2 days of ownershipmy sister had managed to drop hers 5 feet down the backof a radiator.

    That was 2 years ago,it has been perfect despite this (and the many other accidents) all this time.
     
  16. Richard1028 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    #16
    Yeah, I get application errors too... mainly with FireFox or one of the MS Office apps. But I don't consider those to be Apple's fault. I've never had OSX lockup or found the need to hold the power button down for 3 seconds to reboot my macbook.

    I also get the impression that Apple "secretly" did something to minimize the splitting/cracking issues of the macbook shell (in 2007?) because most of the complaints about this seem to be on prior macbooks. I've nothing to substantiate this of course and Apple probably wouldn't admit it for fear of implying ALL older macbooks have inferior casing.

    All the more reason to look at a company's "service after the sale" policy IMO. The Genius Bars and Apple stores are hard to beat for convenience if you're near one. Dell isn't bad with on site repairs but the guy probably won't have the right part when he shows up. Plus, this coverage is pricey for 3 years.

    But you're right... there are stable PC's everywhere. I've owned a ton of PC laptops but they typically never lasted more than 18 months.
     
  17. bigdaddyp macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    #17
    Some Thoughts.

    I have had transmission cause a few problems like hanging at shut down and causing problems with time machine but the os remained solid. I find Leopard for my needs to be very stable and reliable. I go weeks at a time without needing a reboot which is pretty cool for a laptop.

    Clyde2801 are you sure when Apple did the update to the whitebook that they added a led backlight?

    Op if I were you I would get a Seagate or Wd 5200 rpm 500 gb hard drive. With the high data density on these drives you get great speed without extra heat, noise, vibration and power drain. I installed the Seagate on my mini and was amazed at how much faster it was over the stock hdd. Felt like a brand new machine. :D

    I was a long time Windows user when I switched to a Mac back in 2006. I actually bought my iMac because of the form factor and had planned to run xp on it as my primary os. However; after using it for about a month I realized that I did not not need Windows nor did I miss it. :) The few times I did get frustrated with the mac os was when I was trying to do something the windows way instead of the easy way. After taking a deep breath and googling my problem I usually ended up doing a big Doh! because the solution was really simple and obvious. Thats my long winded way of saying is don't be afraid to ask for help if you have a problem.
     
  18. clyde2801 macrumors 601

    clyde2801

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Location:
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    #18
    A guide on this forum says they did. I wasn't aware of it until someone else brought it to my attention.
     
  19. 01jamcon macrumors 6502a

    01jamcon

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #19
    I'm almost certain that the display in the white Macbook is still not LED-backlit: comparing this page to this one of the unibody, we can see that Apple points out the LED-backlit point on the unibody while making no mention of it on the whitebook's page.

    However, there are reports that some of the newer LCD screens of both the white and unibody macbooks have been improved to almost-Macbook Air quality.
     
  20. l.a.rossmann macrumors 65816

    l.a.rossmann

    Joined:
    May 15, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    #20
    The two main instances of hardware damage I notice are liquid damage and cracked LCDs. One is not difficult to fix.

    This is 2009. I expect the top priced machine to have the reliability of the lower priced machines, and then some. Anything less is mediocre.

    Everything is good until you've used something better. That is what life is like on planet earth.
     
  21. JamesGorman macrumors 65816

    JamesGorman

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2008
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    #21
    Macbooks are quite reliable machines. Just treat it properly and take care of it, you can use onyx to keep things running smoothly and properly. Also as it was suggested above to lurk around and see if any problems arise, I wouldn't advise that, If there is a huge problem than thats a factor id for sure take into account, but mostly these forums are used to seek help on problems, so the majority of threads here will be based on some type of issue. But don't forget that the threads here only count towards a small percentage of overall mac users.
     
  22. panzer06 macrumors 68030

    panzer06

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Location:
    Kilrath
    #22
    Hey Tim,

    I have both a 6 week old MB and a 6 month old Sony FW with Bluray. They both work very well for me but I find I need to be careful using either one. I gently close the lid on both. I am very careful connecting the AC Adapter on the Sony lest I damage the fragile barrels.

    The machines are very different even though they cost about the same. The MB has hardware virtualization active by default and VMware Fusion uses it. The Sony has it disabled and it cannot be activated without a convoluted hack. The Sony kicks the MB for gaming and movies with ATI HD3650, HDMI and Bluray.

    Whatever features you want will determine which works best for you. Just handle them with care and they will last for years. No one but me ever touches these machines (wife and kids included!).

    Cheers,
     
  23. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    #23
    Which laptops can withstand soda? Because I've got two dead HP's in the back with coffee (cream and sugar, please) and water spilled on them, and one dead Thinkpad with water spilled on it that's dead.

    Liquids being spilled on anything not certified to withstand it (i.e. ToughBook) is plain stupid, and shouldn't be used as a benchmark to a good system.
     
  24. uberamd macrumors 68030

    uberamd

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #24
    That made me laugh. The fact that someone is basing the quality of a laptop off its ability to withstand grape soda is laughable. Lets be realistic. If you drop most cell phones in a swimming pool they will break, but if 1 model happens to function afterwards does that mean its a better device? No. That was not the intended use. Be realistic.
     
  25. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    #25
    Yet that's what the one guy (who is apparently using this board to sell his services) is saying. He should be able to spill liquids (soda) onto a laptop, because apparently on some brands you can.

    Unless I buy a ToughBook, I don't expect to be able to spill soda on it and have it survive.

     

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