What is killing the 2016/2017 MBP Keyboards?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Sebastian79, Feb 26, 2018.

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What is killing the 2016/2017 MBP Keyboards?

  1. debris/dust

    44.7%
  2. heat

    29.4%
  3. other

    25.9%
  1. Sebastian79 macrumors regular

    Sebastian79

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    #1
    Based on your experience, impressions, and understanding... tnx!
     
  2. 537635 macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Just bad design. Same as Note 7, they wanted too much.

    Too small key travel means dust will be a far larger issue than for other keyboards. Tight key margins mean less space for dust to get it, but also means that tolerances are not sufficient for all thermal scenarios (0 degrees in winter in a backpack, 60 degrees under heavy load).

    Same as for battery margins (see the Note 7 fiasco), keyboards have a point, where aesthetics starts to interfere with with function. 2016 Macbooks went over that tipping point in my opinion. The only possible solution I see are touchscreens with more precise haptic feedback (4, 5+) miniature servos, which work simultaneously and with different strengths when keys are pressed (so you know which part of the keyboard was pressed).
    Or... you know... just making the damn thing 2mm thicker.
     
  3. Sebastian79, Feb 27, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018

    Sebastian79 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sebastian79

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    #3
    but what do you consider to be the primary threat to an early keyboard failure? Dust and heat cannot be equally threatening. Unless of course you eat on the thing or have it exposed to very high temperatures...
     
  4. Sterkenburg, Feb 27, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018

    Sterkenburg macrumors 6502

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    #4
    There's probably no way to be 100% sure of it. However, based on my experience (very good care of the laptop and regular cleaning but a workload involving frequent, sustained high CPU usage), I'll wager my 2 cents on heat.

    EDIT: the fact that users consistently report certain specific keys to be more prone to failure (e.g. the "b", the "n" or the space bar) might be another argument in favor of the heat hypothesis. It's unlikely, I think, that dust/debris would selectively affect some particular keys, while in the case of heat it would make more sense as it could be related to the hardware components located under each section of the keyboard.
     
  5. Falhófnir macrumors 68040

    Falhófnir

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    #5
    Probably at the root of the issue is the small travel distance means the rebound force isn't great enough to overcome a relatively small chance in friction caused by dust or the distortions caused by heat.
     
  6. Maxx Power macrumors 6502a

    Maxx Power

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    #6
    I like your explanation so far.

    I just want to add that all that empty space below the keys in the previous generations of the Macbooks were really a margin or a buffer zone. Plenty of hair and dust gets under the key caps but the margin of space makes sure that they are not impinging on or pinching into the scissor assembly, which was also less delicate than the current models.
     
  7. Sebastian79 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sebastian79

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    #7
    So would you recommend using a keyboard cover? Many claim that it makes things worse, as it prevents heat dissipation. Would love to hear your views...
     
  8. Maxx Power macrumors 6502a

    Maxx Power

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    #8
    I wish I can contribute something to your question that is more substantial. I can only say that I do not prefer typing on covered keyboards (usually covered by silicone), because I find the feel to be very non-crisp and the feedback to be muted.

    As for heat, I would reason that a keyboard cover would increase the temperature of the scissor assembly and that of the key caps, but I have no idea how this should affect the longevity of this keyboard design.

    So my only valid input is about the loss of physical feel of the keyboard as it pertains to using keyboard covers and how this may adversely affect touch-typists.

    From a completely different perspective though - why would a perfectly well-designed keyboard even require a cover in most circumstances? I have never even had to think about this with any of my laptops, Apple or otherwise... I once inherited an old HP laptop that had stacks of cat hair and cigarette ash below a lot of the keys, along with a burnt key that was obviously due to a cigarette. All the keys were working. I cleaned the keyboard thoroughly with compressed air and plucked the stuck hair out. That laptop went on to serve for many more years as a streaming machine.
     
  9. Queen6 macrumors 604

    Queen6

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    #9

    I'm of the same mind as additional to the above we see posts from some member requiring multiple replacement keyboards. Personally I believe this is more related to heavy workloads and associated temperature than eating their toast over an expensive and intrinsic aspect of their work.

    Fundamentally it's due to a flawed design that was not comprehensively qualified prior to production. The dust, well it doesn't help, equally just "white noise" from Apple.

    Q-6
     
  10. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #10
    I don't think its one thing, but rather a combination of small issues that contribute to a larger overall failure. I think this is why many people have reported not having any issues, while others have gone through 3 or more keyboards. The root of the issue, imo, is that the design is failing, but (Correct me if i'm wrong), the MacBook has a similar keyboard and has not had anywhere near this level of keyboard problems, so its not the design alone
     
  11. Sebastian79 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sebastian79

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    #11
    If the macbook has the same keyboard and no fan, then it must be the heat from the MBP. How can it be the dust? thoughts?
     
  12. Falhófnir macrumors 68040

    Falhófnir

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    #12
    the MB still generates heat, indeed it can actually be worse as there's no active cooling to disperse it.
     
  13. Sebastian79 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sebastian79

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    #13
    What a mystery, huh?:confused:
     
  14. Falhófnir macrumors 68040

    Falhófnir

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    #14
    I suppose as an additional consideration, the MB is less likely to be used intensively enough to get very hot, and probably not for as long a period or over as many consecutive days as a MBP will, so it could still be a factor... but overall I think it's just a case that the tolerances the keyboard operates to are too fine for real world usage, how Apple responds to that is yet to be seen
     
  15. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #15
    Actually the inverse, in that MBP is better at evacuating the heat, given the fans.
     
  16. Sebastian79 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sebastian79

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    #16
    but more heat... and obviously not enough fans maybe?
     
  17. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #17
    Does it? I've not seen anything that would indicate that the current models run hotter then usual. What's your average temperature on your MBP?
     
  18. Sebastian79 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sebastian79

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    #18
    I'm just saying... most probably macbook pros run hotter than macbooks...
    since the keyboards are the same, that's the only difference left (other than the probable longer exposure / use of the pros)
    So, the only conclusion is that the cooling system must not be sufficient/efficient or fast enough?
     
  19. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    #19
    I believe Apple had an excellent design with their 2012-15 keyboards (which I believe actually "goes back further" - my 2010 MBP keyboard is essentially the same as on my 2015).

    But -- in typical Apple fashion -- it probably wasn't "thin enough" or "stylish enough" to suit their designers.
    So... the new, problem-prone keyboard.

    It would be easy for them to "go back" to the previous design. They might be able to revamp the key caps a little to make them "look like" the newer ones. But... it would also "add back" 2-3mm of thickness.

    Can't do that!
    So... they'll push forward -- either with the problematic design for 2018, or a "revised" one, that doesn't work, either !
     
  20. ascender macrumors 68020

    ascender

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    #20
    That's a good point about the regular MacBook keyboard, very strange... most of the anecdotal tales of faulty MBP keyboards I'd read seemed to be down to debris.

    I have to say I love the feel of the new keyboard and as much I really liked the previous generation's design, when I recently went back to one, I really didn't like the spongy feel of the keys at all.
     
  21. Queen6 macrumors 604

    Queen6

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    #21
    5W CPU versus a 45W CPU & 35W dGPU, admittedly the extreme, equally I believe it's on the right "wavelength" I would bet if you could get numbers, you would see a relationship exists.

    The design is likely flawed, exasperated by ingress of any debris, however the trigger for non-recoverable failure is highly likely to be related to temperature. Any deviation tolerances at this level can only result in a trip to Apple for a new top case. As stated Apple and or it's contractor likely did not test the keyboard at the elevated temperatures the more powerful portable Mac's can generate or potentially the radiated direction of the source.

    Q-6
     
  22. Maxx Power, Feb 27, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018

    Maxx Power macrumors 6502a

    Maxx Power

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    #22
    The alternative explanation in your context (that heat is the causal factor) is that the thinner distance between the keyboard assembly and the heat producing components is causing a net increase in temperatures of the keyboard assembly and particularly a higher heat gradient. The overall temperatures of the Macbook Pro may be low, but the relative temperature of the keyboard may be higher or the temperature gradient may be higher.

    I have no exact supporting evidence of the temperature gradient idea, but for overall temperatures under load, you can see (scroll down to the temperature section and see the top surface under load with 9 temperature zones)

    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Apple...7-Notebook-Review.185254.0.html#toc-emissions for the 2016 macbook pro and

    https://www.notebookcheck.net/Apple...5-Mid-2015-Review.144402.0.html#toc-emissions for the 2015 version.

    You can CLEARLY see that the newer Macbook Pro has a hotter top surface (especially keyboard area) by quite a bit in the thermal imaging pictures than the 2015 one. The 2015 model also has a more even temperature distribution across the 9 blocks.

    I'm not saying I'm in support of the thermal-keyboard hypothesis, but this may be a piece of evidence in the overall puzzle ?

    EDIT: Found the 2017's thermals. https://www.notebookcheck.net/Apple...555-Laptop-Review.230096.0.html#toc-emissions

    Also note that the ambient temperatures of the tested laptops was 21.5 degrees Celsius for the 2015 model, 20.0 degrees Celsius for the 2016 model and 20.8 degrees Celsius for the 2017 model. This implies that the 2016 model's surface temperatures are under-represented relative to the 2015 model and to a lesser extent the 2017 model.
     
  23. jerryk macrumors 601

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    #23
    The combination of a flawed design and poor materials. The clearances are too tight and the components used have issues with changing tolerances when thermal cycled.

    They should have conducted this experiment. Go to the desk of people that use desktop systems. Turn their keyboards upside down and shake. Gather the hair, food, boogers, skin, dandruff, dirt, and dust that fall out. Repeat every 30 days. Drop a year's worth of the detritus into a prototype keyboard, and then put into the keyboard tester. Set the cycle count to 1 million and ensure that the GPU and CPU cycle between max temp and stone cold. Have keys pressed on and off axis.
     
  24. kudos212 Suspended

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    Jan 20, 2018
    #24
    THIS thread is ridiculous. This is a perfect example of how overblown this issue is. There is less than 10 people commenting on this one and that's including the 2 moderators. I'm starting to think it comes down to user error.

    queen6 - never owned a MacBook Pro 2016. complaining about a flawed design he knows nothing about.

    Go back to "stain-gate" and there are hundreds and hundreds of people complaining about that WITH actual video and photo proof that it was happening. That is why apple did something about it.

    Look at this issue, there are very few threads and the majority all have the same issue, repeat keys. Yet, in all of these threads they always take it to the Genius Bar and *gasP* what a surpriise, they cannot replicate the issue, yet they get their keyboard replaced anyways, and *surprise* they still think it's broken. The fact that this is the only thing people are complaining about on the new MacBook Pro is quite amazing, considering that the older MacBook pros had much more serious issues especially when getting repaired. (these are the kind of users who don't know there is a setting of *KEY REPEAT* in macOS)

    I have yet to see someone actually provide any kind of proof that they got their MacBook Pro keyboard replaced 4-5 times and each time it was broken. This just doesn't make any sense at all, as it would qualify as a lemon for sure. Yet, here we are, people complaining again and again with no expertise.


    The butterfly keyboard is shallow and most users are unwittingly double typing. Look at the different youtube videos on this issue online.
     
  25. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

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    #25
    as a 2017 macbook pro user i have had no issues with my keyboard. Has been flawless I must say.
     

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102 February 26, 2018