Please talk me out of or into buying an old MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by echos myron, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. echos myron macrumors newbie

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    Feb 26, 2015
    #1
    My 17" Mid-2010 MacBook Pro seems to have logic board problems and is on its way out. (The Genius Bar diagnostic software didn't find anything but it struggles to restore from sleep mode; I often have to reset the SMC to get it to respond; it failed to charge/accept a new battery after only a few weeks using it and now starts up with the fan blaring and reboots or shuts down 20 seconds into starting up)

    Looks like it's time for a new computer. I really like the size of my laptop, so would it be advisable to buy a Late-2011 17" MacBook Pro and install an SSD and max the ram, or am I setting myself up for early obsolescence?
    Am I better off just getting a newer 15" and just crying myself to sleep over the smaller screen size?

    Thanks so much,

    EM
     
  2. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #2
    Forget the late 2011`s; Apple has a tragic record of MBP`s with dGPU, I recommend that you look at it in detail. If you don't absolutely need the dGPU it`s best to avoid as it is one of the major reasons why MBP`s fail and the repair cost is not cheap.

    You can start here if you want;
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1848336

    Apple`s obsession of thin & light, form over function results in high power components running too hot, too fast and rapidly cooling this induces "Thermal Shock" and in general owners start to find issues arising 2-3 years after purchase with little or no recourse with Apple.

    Even now Apple is extending warranty coverage of dGPU on 2012 & 2013 Retina`s as like as not they may begin to exhibit premature failure although the Retina`s cooling is significantly better, than previously 15" MBP`s.

    The MBP with dGPU should be considered as buyer beware, the history and facts are simply far too substantial to disregard. As for me I have always been lucky, I run my 15" MBP`s elevated and used third party solutions to drive the cooling fans, spooling them up far sooner and more aggressive, unlike Apples ridiculous baseline of 90C (194F) for CPU Core temp, however a great many have not been so lucky and left with an expensive doorstop...

    The 17" has a better thermal envelope, equally it`s an expensive risk, I could have bought a "new" Late 2011 17' a few months back and passed on it for this very reason.

    Q-6
     
  3. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #3
    Can you substantiate any of this with statistical data? I ask because in another thread I was musing over what data might be available on this forum. Do we know how many affected laptops Apple built? Has there been a poll on this forum of those who have had the problem and those who have not? Would this even be representative if the sample size is too small?

    I don't think we know if this is a 5% problem or a 35% problem.

    So in answer to the OP I would say if you can pick up a 2011 at the right price consider it. I did and so far have not seen any issues and I am very happy with my MBP especially being able to upgrade to 16GB RAM and swap out the optical drive for a second SSD.

    Just offering the flip side of the coming point of view and hoping not to get flamed!! :)
     
  4. Queen6, Feb 26, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015

    Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #4
    Best search for yourself it`s your $$$$ at the end of the day, Apple are not extending warranty due to dGPU failure for their own entertainment.

    Bottom line is the harder you use the dGPU the more rapidly it will fail, so it`s not straightforward to bring a number to the "table" equally you can be assured that Apple are not extending the warranty for a low number. same as all corporate`s it`s a numbers game, the more units that sell and fail the greater chance of "court action" and bad PR.

    If your usage is light on the dGPU the issue may never occur, for me the design of form over function is fundamentally flawed, with petitions numbering over 30K requesting Apple acknowledge this issue, as they clearly have, lest they be instructed to by a court of law in the EU or US...

    Q-6
     
  5. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #5
    I was coming at it from the perspective that some hard data might help others not me, I made my decision already. There is so much discussion about this on the forum. I agree getting to the numbers would not be easy and of course some people have had their logic boards replaced multiple times. However you have provided a new piece of information(at least new to me) that there are petitions numbering over 30,000 people. That is significant.

    Of course if someone is, like me, motivated to buy a 2011 15" or 17" MPB there is always the option of having the dGPU re balled and re mounted on the logic board. There appears to be evidence from posters that this is a solution and even here in Singapore there are companies offering this service.

    For the 15" at least until this time next year there is also the possibility of a free repair and who knows what that might be. Apple may have been using the time whilst this issue has been escalating to actually fix the problem so replacement logic boards could already have the dGPU soldering / solder paste issues corrected.

    I don't think the design is flawed at all but the manufacturing process surely was.
     
  6. Queen6, Feb 27, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015

    Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #6
    Reballing doesn't really work, it`s more in the sense of bringing back a dead GPU for the short term, what can be done is replace the dead dGPU with a new component, equally due to Apple`s design and lack of thermal headroom the new GPU will also fail in time.

    This gent`s video is worth a watch, given repairing Macs is his core business

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ac...kVbIsAWN2lsHdY7ldAAgtJug50pRNQv0&spfreload=10

    What he is speaking about is accurate, it`s why Apple`s refurb Logic Boards often fail in a matter of a few months, it`s why dGPU`s in the MBP will continue to fail, albeit at a lesser rate with the Retina`s improved cooling.

    My own 2012 Retina just spent over six hours transcoding video, with an average CPU Core temp of 99C (210F) to 104C (219F) impressively holding 3.1Ghz equally the stress is obviously with the CPU pulling 38W - 40W alone. The dGPU can just hold below 70C (158F), if the dGPU was engaged with a graphically complex app you will observe similar temperatures as the CPU, this repeated over time literally kills the dGPU.

    Apple have historically replaced failed Logic Boards with refurbished ones, with very mixed results, I am obviously not able to quote their numbers. I did look into the reliability of high tier drilling systems (oil & gas) and what we observed was a refurbished board was 7-10 times more prone to failure, resultantly the use of refurbished boards ceased and safe to say the boards are manufactured to a significantly higher standard than the average Apple product.

    To me the MBP with dGPU is a "buyer beware" product, if you need one and are aware of the issues fair enough, equally if you are not aware of the issue and don't really need one then you have a "ticking time bomb" on your hands.

    As for petitions heres one :apple:
    https://www.change.org/p/timothy-d-cook-replace-or-fix-all-2011-macbook-pro-with-graphics-failure


    Q-6
     
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    #7
    Much better off with retina

    As has been said all the 2011 15 and 17 inch MBP's are prone to dGPU failure.

    As for screen size the 15 inch rMBP will give far better clarity much better performance all the goodness of thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Bluetooth 4, HDMI, AC wifi, PCIe SSD and Scaling options should give you the same real estate on screen if you need it.
     
  8. Venderious macrumors member

    Venderious

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    #8
    I'd recommend you buying one of the latest MacBooks. I can assure you 13' is the sweetspot for a good laptop, while 15' seems a bit to large, I think it will fit your needs perfectly, also the retina screen is a bonus.
     
  9. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #9
    Or as has previously been mentioned if you don't exercise the dGPU to that extent you may never see the problem.

    Shame that link no longer seems to work I would have loved to see it as I am in the semiconductor industry myself and am very familiar with the technology although not an engineer myself.

    So we can assume Apple's accelerated burn in life testing quality checks did not see the problem I guess. If what you are suggesting is correct and I have no reason to contradict you then anything that can be done to improve thermal cooling is a good thing providing that is what is actually does.

    I thought this was part of the re balling argument which included possibly using leaded balls to withstand higher temperatures and a better application of thermal paste. Even then it's not that straightforward as the metallurgy interaction of the PCB pads, vias, solder balls and type of solder paste all play a part.

    I have seen postings about people drilling holes in the bottom casing, no science behind it but a basic understanding that the logic board needs better cooling.

    If you can post a link where the video is playing I would be very interested.

    This whole issue intrigues me from a technical perspective I have to say :)
     
  10. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #10
    I wonder if anyone has experimented with one of those laptop stands with built in cooling fans. The bottom aluminium case acts as a heat sink at least a little so cooling that might bring down CPU and dGPU temperatures?

    Or would it just disturb the designed air flow? I don't know but I might try it just for fun :)
     
  11. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #11
    @ steve1960 both the links work? and I am on a VPN via Singapore :)

    I always try to run my 15" MBP`s elevated and a use third party solution to spool up the fans sooner and more aggressively as cooling is definitely the key to longevity with the dGPU.

    Some have swapped out the TIM on CPU & GPU, some have had success, others not so with negligible result. If the system is idling at high temp and or throttling heavily this may well be worth exploring, equally this can also be due to dust clogging the cooling system and or runaway processes. so a little thought should be employed prior to ripping the back off and having at it with the screwdrivers :)

    As has been stated and can be observed on any Apple Notebook forum, there is simply far too much anecdotal evidence, combined with Apple`s latest dGPU warranty program undoubtedly there is issue with the MBP and dGPU.

    The bigger issue is that it`s systemic across multiple models. Apple`s focus is on form over function and sadly this is the trade off. Personally I would be surprised if Apple was not aware, equally same as an corporate numbers "speak". I also believe it`s safe to say that Apple will cease the production of MBP`s with dGPU`s as soon as they technically can for obvious reason.

    Q-6
     
  12. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #12
    OK thanks I will try a little harder to get it working! I think it is because I am on my company VPN which perversely tends to screw up accessing some Internet pages. As soon as I close the VPN it will probably be fine. Gotta love IS departments right :)

    I don't try and spool the fans up faster but have set the base line to 3,500rpm on the fans rather than 2,000rpm. The worst I have done to the MBP is rip my DVD collection to soft copies. Many many hours of crunching data with the fans at 6,000rpm sometimes for 3 days non stop 24 hours a day. I had a lot of DVD's. Never saw a temperature above 82 degrees c but I did leave the air con on day and night given the ambient temperatures in Singapore!

    I agree about pre 'can opener' maintenance but equally I do take off the bottom cover and clean out the fans regularly I think that is also wise.

    Again I agree the breaking news about the warranty program is pretty conclusive but is it to satisfy 5% of unhappy customers or 35%? We will never know. Only Apple will know their ppm failure rate thresholds and the point where they balance that against legal action and loss of confidence in the brand.

    Surely it will be interesting if they can the dGPU's but I still believe (naively maybe) that they are searching for a solution to make it workable. After all it's a great idea if executed reliably. In my experience the technology is there or will be to solve the problem it's just a case of how soon it can be applied. Right now Apple is working on a permanent fix for this in their 2017 models :)
     
  13. Queen6, Feb 27, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015

    Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #13
    Yeah some time ago and I did post here, somewhere :) Results weren't stellar as most PC based coolers simply dont push enough air flow. The case is actually not a heat sink, the elevated temperature is due to radiated heat of the internals with little point of contact, obviously aluminium is a good thermal conductor.

    I also observed that if you can get enough airflow on some MBP`s it has a negative result as the cooling system relies on multiple sensors. In some circumstance the fans would start to reduce RPM and resultantly the CPU temp would increase.

    What I have found to work best is a passive cooler and 3rd part app to drive the fans, and with the release of the Retina less of an issue due to the vastly improved cooling system. For a PC type cooler to be of any useful effect you want to look for one that has at least a minimum capacity of 100CFM

    Background:
    I was working frequently at home on a Late 2011 15" with multiple monitors, so the dGPU was engaged 100% of the time and the system generally idled at around 70C as a result. what I was looking to to do was find a solution to reduce the temperature without turning the MBP into a "turbojet" as the noise of the fans as they escalate is clearly irritating. I did achieve moderate success between software and a high capacity cooling pad.

    FWIW I still have the Moshi Zefyr 2 and it still works as new, and only portable cooling solution I am aware of for the MBP ( http://www.moshi.com/peripheral-cooling-fan-zefyr-2-macbook#silver )

    Here for cooling post:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1493580

    Quote;
    "Well as ever (cooling) with a Mac a mixed bag, the elevation definitely helps versus being flat on the desk. I have little expectation of any cooler reducing a Mac`s internal temperature significantly, what the Notepal E1 was able to do was systematically reduce fan rpm by a good 1K without any increase in internal temperatures, which is a big step forward. With this cooler and a software solution (UltraFan/SMC Fan Control) it`s possible to have a moderate load and a relatively quiet system, and that counts for a lot. The major downside to the Notepal E1 is the size, it`s clearly designed to be "planted" on the desk. when using the 10 degree angle i use a piece of that rubber you can buy for car dashboards, just to ensure the MBP doesn't slip and slide about, just seems prudent with such an expensive notebook perched on the edge of the desk. The Notepal E1 also unusually blows a stream of cool air out of the front to cool the hands which is well unusual, nevertheless not unpleasant on a hot day.

    I still rate the Moshi Zefyr 2 as the best powered cooler for a Mac portable simply due to it`s continuous horizontal air flow, however the pricing and availability make it a tough choice. 1K reduction in fan speed may not sound that big a deal, however if that keeps the Mac below the "Turbojet' threshold then it`s a worthwhile investment for anyone seeking the quieter life"

    Q-6

    ----------

    Undoubtedly, equally as the dies shrink, Apple may well reduce the physical size and therefore thermal envelope of the MBP, as that`s their game, promising something wonderful and awesome :rolleyes:

    Time will tell and hopefully Apple will give the components a little more space to "breath" :)

    Q-6
     
  14. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #14
    Interesting stuff thank you. Surely if the fans are forced to work at higher rpm by third party software the fans would not reduce speed? Maybe the third party software does not control enough of the sensors?

    Passive cooling right..................bag of peas from the freezer. Just joking :)

    I agree external cooling is intrusive like having a Boeing 747 in your house, not really a great solution.

    I think the answer may be package technology. I have lived most of the last 15 years going through issues with ball grid array (BGA) and wafer level chip scale package (WLCSP) device issues with thermal stress and mechanical stress. It actually makes a difference how your ball grid array is laid out. Get it right and everything is rosy get it wrong and the parts start to part company with the PCB after some temperature cycling and / or drop testing.

    I don't see the same issues with QFN or other package technologies and for sure BGA suffered when the world switched from leaded to unleaded solder and balls.
     
  15. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #15
    Die shrinks are interesting from a package technology perspective.

    The more you shrink the die the more difficult it is to get the necessary IO's you need to communicate with the outside world. The die may be small but how big does the package need to be to communicate with the outside world? In the past die was the limitation for size, now its package oh and of course leakage and current consumption!

    Enter 3D packages and other new technologies, where will it go? I don't know and I don't have any idea how that will affect thermal characteristics.

    Where does moors law end? I started working with die on a 4 inch wafer at 350nm now look where we are with the huge Nvidia and Intel chips. 12" wafers are yesterdays news and 20nm technology is nothing to shout about if you believe TSMC.
     
  16. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #16
    @ steve1960
    The fans reduced due to one aspect of the MBP being cooled by and external cooler, effectively fooling the system, if I remember correctly this was an Early 2008 15" MBP, so nothing to worry about now :)

    Dont joke too fast some have literally used freezer cooling packs to keep their early MBP`s at a reasonable temp seriously :eek:

    As for the technology completely agree, another 2-3 years and it will likely be a far lesser issue, all the same I believe Apple will go 100% to iGPU on portables as that`s one of their goals if I remember correctly.

    I am from the energy industry (drilling) and have been involved in a lot of "environmental" testing and proving so the situation with the previous and current MBP`s is no big surprise to me :apple:

    I just hope that people can read for themselves and then make an informed decision if they absolutely need the dGPU as it does bring the risk of premature failure.

    Q-6
     
  17. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #17
    Anyway, to the OP I think we have frightened you enough already :)

    I hope you buy a Mac Pro that makes you very happy I know my early 2011 MBP (my first ever Mac) has made me very happy during the 1 year and 3 months I have owned it. If it dies tomorrow I will still be happy and just try and fix it or move on.

    Apple addict now :)

    ----------

    I have really enjoyed this debate and thank you for the invaluable information you brought to it. This is exactly what a forum like this should be about :)

    Funny I really didn't know some people have taken to freezer cooling packs that is desperate!!!
     
  18. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #18
  19. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #19
    Excellent thank you that link worked as will the others now I am off the company VPN and Windows laptop and back to the MBP :)
     
  20. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #20
    I finally got to that video thank you. This is long but I hope insightful and relevant. If you dispute any of my comments I would be happy to hear it always willing to improve my technical knowledge :)

    My commentary on the video follows each stage as I watched it and I did not go back and edit anything. I started skeptical but finished believing his theory could be possible. The JEDEC specifications chip suppliers have to meet still bothers me though.

    1) Apple laptops fail as the Apple Care warranty expires and there is a timer inside your laptop set to blow it up. Can you hear the mission impossible theme tune playing? Conspiracy theory in some respects truth in a way. They said that about Hotpoint washing machines years ago the truth is the company whoever they are do statistical analysis for how long their products will last and then offer a warranty accordingly which protects them and allows them the R&D expenditure in the future to bring you the next latest and greatest without being brought to their knees by people who think their ‘special product’ should last for 20 years. Apple is not unique here. Hotpoint gave a 5 year warranty for a reason which does not take a lot of figuring out!
    2) There are no ****** nVidia or ATI chips, there may be ****** packaging technology or ****** surface mount technology or ****** sub contractor wafer flow soldering but the architecture of the chip design is just fine. Doesn’t matter if it is better or worse than the competition the chips can do what they say on the box (ronseal, does what it says on the tin). He clearly means ****** packaging technology.
    3) Vent holes in the bottom of the laptop case? There is enough speculation on this forum that this might disrupt the Apple designed air flow as to make it counter productive. Plus people on this forum have flamed those that decided to drill holes in the bottom casing of their laptops.
    4) Yes he finally got it, changing the thermal paste will improve things maybe he is not an a*hole after all but I am only 3 minutes into the video.
    5) No no no they do not use ‘the entire chip for the balls’ these days chips are pad limited not die limited. There is no way the die is that big the die is small and the package is larger.
    6) OK I could accept that the internal BGA package itself could be compromised by extreme heat. A plus mark for this guy.
    7) No you are not ‘messing with the bumps inside the chip itself’ you are messing with the bumps inside the PACKAGE uugghhh Just nomenclature I guess this guy may be good at computer repairs but he is not a semiconductor guy.
    8) The entire wafer is falling apart, I just fell off my chair laughing. A wafer contains several hundred or even thousands of die depending on the wafer size and the die size. He is holding one chip in his hand and sensationally announcing the wafer is falling apart.
    9) OK I can see his logic but the problem is still inside the chip package not the chip itself. Just semantics its good enough for the lay man.
    10) OK now 12 minutes into the video he is starting to make sense. He still refers to the chip when he means chip package but that’s OK although I might like to see the manufacturers specifications for die and chip package to see what they actually say is within temperature tolerance. JEDEC comes in here.
    11) Very poor explanation of chip scale package versus ball grid array he clearly is not confident he knows what he is talking about he waffled through it a bit but that’s OK.

    In conclusion I have to say this guys explanations were horribly technically inaccurate but his summary may have some credence that it is the chip package that fails and not the integrity of the chip solder balls to itself or the PCB.

    Of course you then have to factor in that all packaged components have to meet a JEDEC standard and go through strict HTOL temperature cycling and aging before they can be approved. This is designed to reduce the field PPM failure rates to an acceptable minimum. These days that means up to 105c for commercial general use components. I have never seen 105c on the temperature sensors in my MBP according to the third party monitoring software I use. Chip and package good for 105c maximum temperature I have seen at it’s highest 82c. Why would I ever see a dGPU failure if the chip package design was the problem?

    So now we are faced with a possible conclusion that Apple is building laptops where industry standard components with an upper temperature limit of 105c cannot possibly meet the thermal limits of their end products. Wouldn’t that be a good headline for the media if it were true (maybe where people work that dGPU real hard for video editing on a real hot ambient environment with maybe a compromised air flow around their laptop?) ☺

    Really? Flip side is that the whole world uses components with a maximum working temperature of 105c (lets leave out lower grade components and upper grade military grade components here) and it’s only Apple products that fail?

    Possibly but this guy has not convinced me 100%.
     
  21. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #21
    Sorry to continue but like I said this interests me at the technical level :)

    Didn't I read on this forum that a Mac will shut down if the maximum operating temperature is reached? If so most likely the chip temperature will increase for a short time afterwards as the fans are switched off (time to get out that bag of frozen peas!).

    However, from what I read this is not the scenario users see with Radiongate they don't say there laptop shuts down due to excessive heat regularly just that the graphics go haywire at some point.

    The more I think about this the more I am tending to think it is not just about temperature but that combined with some metallurgy or solder paste issue issue either inside the chip package or package to solder balls or solder balls to PCB.

    What I do believe is that keeping the internal operating temperature as low as possible will increase the chances of not having a problem.

    Time will tell.................2011 MBP manufactured in April 2011 sold in October 2011 still working fine after 3 years and 4 months! If it lasts 5 years with no failure for this issue I don't see how I could complain, something else will probably die first!
     
  22. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    #22
    All very interesting....

    .... However the main problem I see with laptop GPU's is that people are stupid enough to believe that you can run them as you would a massive watercooled desktop 24/7 without it lowering the life expectancy of the laptop. In short they buy the wrong tool for the job then blame the tool....
     
  23. Queen6 macrumors 603

    Queen6

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    #23
    @ steve 1960,
    I do agree much of what he speaks about is sheer rant, equally as he states he is not defining anything scientific here, rather based on his own empirical observations, and he has a fair point.

    To me what`s happening is the GPU is simply being stressed thermally inducing mechanical failure over a period of time. Users systems will throttle way before any system shutdown. I still have a working Early 2008 15" MBP with the ill fated Nvidia 8600GT and it still runs, I tend to attribute this to the Notebook was used as a server for a long period of time (thermally stable), yes it ran hot, however there was very little thermal cycling. It was always elevated and ran 3rd party fan control applications, or was I just lucky...

    There are so many variables; hardware, software, environment, frequency of use, frequency of cycle it`s impossible for the layman to determine specifically as only Apple knows the exact statistics of mean time between failure for their product. What can be safely extrapolated from numerous sources is that Apple choose to run the MBP with dGPU closer to the thermal limits and resultantly they superficially have greater issue.

    Keeping systems cooler and reducing the likelihood of "Thermal Shock" are not nothing new across the electronics industry, even when dealing with high grade military components temperature or rather the rapid cycling of temperature is frequently the root cause of failure.

    Clearly the subject interests me, same as your good self :) am also interested in systems that don't rely on fans etc. for cooling such as the potential 12" Retina Air.

    Q-6

    ----------

    Well thats part of it, as the expectation versus the actual technical capability are frequently different. A high end MBP may well play the latest games, equally as you state it`s worlds apart from a gaming PC, specifically cooling of the system.

    Q-6
     
  24. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #24
    I can't argue with that! I bought mine because I am an older generation (my forum name gives it away!) and I wanted the ability to do my own upgrades as I saw fit on a laptop that suited my needs at an affordable price at the time. The last part is probably most relevant. Us old guys still like to 'tinker' rather than be faced with a sealed unit and even if it was sealed we would still try and take it apart ;)

    In November 2013 I paid 900 USD for an April manufactured 2011 15" MBP sold for the first time in October 2011 with a 2.3Ghz quad core processor, 500GB SSD, 8MB RAM, glossy 1680 by whatever display but the higher spec display anyway. It had many of the optional upgrades offered when purchased new. At least in Singapore this was a very good deal. 900 bucks for a 2 year old high spec Mac.

    I upgraded to 16GB RAM and swapped out the optical drive for a second SSD recently and have the luxury of replacing the battery if I need to in the future.

    It does everything I need it to do in a fixed position at home with the 15" display but when I need it also a portable computer.

    I don't really need the dGPU although I am taking up semi serious photography and video as a hobby which taxes the MBP a little more, as did converting my entire DVD collection to soft copy. At least in terms of processing and internal heat generation.

    So I think it is reasonable to maintain that if I don't get radical with gaming or ultra serious graphics I should never see the problem. If this turns out to truly be the case, as you intimate in your post then this could still be a good choice for the OP.
     
  25. steve1960 macrumors member

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    #25
    Yep!
     

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