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Apple

New MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals 'Shoddy Assembly' 531

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-i-thought-appleness-was-next-to-godliness dept.
CWmike writes "Apple's new MacBook Pro shows some build-quality problems that shouldn't be seen in a notebook that costs $1,800, a teardown expert said on Monday. iFixit.com found several signs of substandard assembly while disassembling a 15-in. MacBook Pro. Among them: A stripped screw near the subwoofer enclosure and an unlocked ZIF (zero insertion force) socket for the IR (infrared) sensor. '[These] should not be things found inside a completely unmolested computer with an $1,800 base price,' iFixit said in the teardown description. iFixit also spotted an unusual amount of thermal paste applied to both the CPU and the GPU. 'Holy thermal paste! Time will tell if the gobs of thermal paste applied to the CPU and GPU will cause overheating issues down the road,' iFixit said. The refreshed MacBook Pro models launched last Thursday in what one analyst called a 'ho-hum' upgrade."
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New MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals 'Shoddy Assembly'

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  • by silly_sysiphus (1300705) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:15PM (#35342578)
    The first-generation Macbook Pros were nothing special in terms of build quality, but up until now, the unibody machines had been rather good. If you're not paying for build quality, what ARE you getting (hardware-wise) for the extra money, given that most of Apple's components are industry standard now? I suppose this is a good reminder that regardless of the brand, most electronics are coming out of the same crappy Chinese factories.
    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:19PM (#35342620) Homepage Journal

      I suppose this is a good reminder that regardless of the brand, most electronics are coming out of the same crappy Chinese factories.

      That's totally unfair.

      Why single out electronics like that?

      • I suppose this is a good reminder that regardless of the brand, most electronics are coming out of the same crappy Chinese factories.

        That's totally unfair.

        Why single out electronics like that?

        40 years ago the common wisdom in the US said the same thing about foreign quality, except back then it was about the Japanese. Those that don't learn their history...

    • by dave562 (969951)

      The only thing that sets the MBP apart from other laptops is the touch pad interface. Other than that they are the same as every other laptop out there. That touch pad is the only thing I miss when I'm working on other computers.

      • by sconeu (64226)

        Yeah, the "positive click" (I'm not sure of the official term) threw me the first time I used my daughter's MBP.

        Now I wish I had one on my Toshiba. I'm sick of the skipping cursor/false clicks (and yes, I have PalmGuard on).

    • If Apple's laptop assembly is anything like Dell's one person is give all the parts and its assembled in one spot. That amount of errors sounds like it was built by a new start and therefore its training/quality that failed. Dell laptop assembly required 10-15 laptops an hour. Servers was 4-5.
    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      If you're not paying for build quality, what ARE you getting (hardware-wise) for the extra money

      When you buy expensive brand clothing, you're not paying extra because its made from a rare blend of materials - you're paying for that extra brand which makes people recognise you as cool, modern, hip and rich.

      Same thing.

      • Sure, some people purchase Apple products because of the hipness factor but many of us (scientists) purchase them because they are better than Windows and Linux based computers for our research. I can use Linux for most of the stuff I do research-wise but there are a number of research tools that I use that are Mac specific (and comparable ones for Windows or Linux are not comparable in actual usability or utility).

        A lot of people also purchase Apple products because they do generally "just work."

        If the
    • by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:04PM (#35343498)

      Most laptops with a MacBook Pro's feature set also cost about the same amount of money. Compared to those around me, I'd say you get a sexy, sturdy exterior and a high-quality screen.

      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @01:11AM (#35345292) Journal

        It is the same old story, people comparing a top end Mac with a bottom end PC and then complaining about the price difference. Mac is now the first with the new intel stuff, so HOW exactly do they come up with this price comparison when there isn't a regular laptop out there with the same hardware?

        Not that I think Apple is all that hot myself. They are to me the old sony. You pay a bit more then you should but know you get reasonable quality in return. In the real world, that matters. I might get the same cheaper but it might be crap or I can lots more and it can still be crap. Old Sony made good mid quality stuff that gave you the insurance that you got decent gear for an okay price. I would be wilinng to pay more for my ordinary hamburger if I knew that the service would always be great, the hamburger always hot etc etc. That MID range, decent quality for a decent price is VERY hard to nail. Cheap and crap is easy, expensive and good is easy. Hitting the middle reliable, that is where you can make a fortune.

        Until you start cutting costs. Sony went bye bye. Apple is not imune to this. For all the Sony haters now, once they were a darling just like Apple is. The mighty do fall.

  • Ho hum? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mozumder (178398)

    These MacBook Pro's are the top laptops in the industry. There is nothing better.

    This refresh is almost as fast as my 8-core Nehalem Xeon Mac Pro, which is rather incredible.

    All great products have high resale value... I just sold my 4 year old MacBook Pro 17" for $920.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Amazing you can speak with your mouth full of Steve Jobs' cock.

    • Wait, didn't you get the memo? We now have to dislike Apple!

      Sarcasm aside, I agree with you, I think the update that just happened was the biggest leap forward since the introduction of the unibody enclosure. Big enough to make me sell my 2 year old MacBook Pro and upgrade.

    • I still have my 4 year old Dell XPS M1710 17" notebook as my main machine.

      • Well done, you. Nice and thrifty, plus no laptop in a landfill. Though I'm unsure of the point you were making with that post.

        Was it to say that Dell laptops don't ever need replacing?

        • Nope, but the OP sold his after 4 years, presumably because he needed a new machine.

          Actually, my M1710 is nearer 5 years old, I put in a new hard disk and upgraded the memory from 2GB to 4GB but it still runs beautifully (64-bit Gentoo Linux and 32-bit XP), does all I need it to and won't be being upgraded any time soon.

          • "presumably because he needed a new machine." Or he might have wanted an upgrade more significant than just memory or HDD. Or he broke his last laptop by dropping it. Who knows. Remember what they say about assumptions, it's asses all the way down. Or something. Anyway, how about this one:

            Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won't come in. ~ Alan Alda

  • People click on Apple stories. People post to Apple stories. Slashdot editors, could you please pull a George Bush and just say "Mission Accomplished" already?

  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rabblerabblerabble (1593117) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:20PM (#35342628)
    ...does this mean suicides will be up at whatever sweatshop Apple is building these or will they do what they did at the iPhone factory that had the same problem: put up more nets to catch the jumpers
  • It was made by people who are in a daze, overworked, and totally unskilled. Apple always overcharges for their hardware. There is no revelation here.
  • Sample size: n=1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Entropy2016 (751922) <entropy2016@yahoo . c om> on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:27PM (#35342694)

    They found a bad apple. So that makes our sample size is n=1 so far. Can anybody cite evidence of additional issues, or is this being hyped up like the iPhone 4 antenna story?

    • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:36PM (#35342774)

      I asked a friend; he said the line between this one data point and his preconceived notions shows a definite trend.

    • Agreed, the issues also seem relatively minor. Still if this article will lead to Apple doing some extra quality control that'll be a good thing. Sort of a little reminder to Apple that we hold them to a higher standard than other pc makers.

    • by BradleyUffner (103496) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:39PM (#35342820) Homepage

      They found a bad apple. So that makes our sample size is n=1 so far. Can anybody cite evidence of additional issues, or is this being hyped up like the iPhone 4 antenna story?

      Well, they found at least 3 independent problems on a single sample. Since each of these problems is possible separate from each other, the fact that all 3 show on a single item could indicate that the rate each problem is fairly high in general. There are other possibilities besides high problem rates, but it does raise the chances that this isn't just a single isolated incident.

    • Re:Sample size: n=1 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sqlrob (173498) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:40PM (#35342826)

      We have 4 Macs (2 iMac, 2 Powerbook) that have been in the shop a total of five times (1 iMac twice, everything else once). Their build quality has gone down a lot.

      • They have not made PowerBooks for years.

      • by kwerle (39371)

        We have 4 Macs (2 iMac, 2 Powerbook) that have been in the shop a total of five times (1 iMac twice, everything else once). Their build quality has gone down a lot.

        Oh yeah? Well my anecdotal is bigger than yours!
        N = 7
        S = 1

      • Re:Sample size: n=1 (Score:5, Informative)

        by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Monday February 28, 2011 @10:23PM (#35344444) Homepage Journal
        And we have 5 Macs (3 iMacs, 2 MacBooks/Pro) that have never been in the shop. Out of the about 30 different Mac owners that I personally know and interact with regularly, only one has had his Mac in for repairs. My anecdote is just as valid as your anecdote. Further, based on my anecdote, I can argue (just as validly as you argued) that the build quality of Macs has at least remained stable or even increased.

        My point with my reply is that when we look at objective data (I'm not commenting on the quality of these data but they have to be better than your anecdote and my anecdote), Apple computers are the most reliable: http://www.rescuecom.com/2010-annual-computer-reliability-report.html [rescuecom.com]

        Here are some somewhat subjective data (but still data with a larger sample size) showing Apple on top: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2368167,00.asp [pcmag.com]

        Maybe Apple's build quality has gone down but objective data don't seem to show that at all.
    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      hyped up like the iPhone 4 antenna story?

      Get a load of that: "Hyped up like the iPhone 4 antenna story".

      You mean the "hyped up" story that had Jobs and Apple tap-dancing like the Nicholas Brothers and then shipping out hundreds of thousands of cases to "fix" the problem? That hyped up story?

  • And, yeah? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bryan1945 (301828)

    What new computer line doesn't have problems? And Apple is known for having 1st generation problems. A stripped screw, extra thermal paste, and an unlocked ZIF? Shocking, pure shock I say.

    The best part it was ONE sample, yet somehow because it got attention from a sorta-credible source it is given more credence than the usual ancedotal observation.
    And no, I'm typing this on a Dell.

    • This is far from a 1st generation Apple product. They might have the new Sandy Bridge chips and mobo, but by and large these are identical to the previous unibody line.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      The best part it was ONE sample, yet somehow because it got attention from a sorta-credible source it is given more credence than the usual ancedotal observation.

      Actually, the fact that it was from ONE sample makes it even worse. If these types of defects/shoddy assembly were rare, you'd expect to find one in a typical laptop teardown. Maybe two if you got an extraordinarily unlucky sample. The fact that they found three suggests that statistically, this sort of stuff is present in a high percentage of

  • ZIF (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:40PM (#35342828)

    You had me at zero insertion force

  • Lol, lots of AC"s all of a sudden here to state that the macbook is the best you can get. And that is a pretty strange statement coming from the IT-crowd... Damage controle @apple I assume...
    • I guess so to, or the Stockholm syndrome is applied at full force. Build quality problems have been there in the past.
      And it always was a random luck if apple fixed it on the machines or not. Most of the time Apple acnowledged it only after they have been dragged to court with a class action lawsuit. If that did not happen users were left hanging dry in the air.
      Been there done that, first gen macbook air, constantly overheating if you did more than websurfing.
      A problem which according to apple never existed

  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday February 28, 2011 @06:43PM (#35342872)

    For now I'd say it's a fluke. You're not likely to find any of these problems even in a cheap Dell computer. In all the years I've owned and happened to open a computer or some other bit of electronics I can't say I've seen improperly assembled components. The only exception being toys where it's an absolute disaster how things get put together.

    It is possible that in the rush to anticipate demand that factories are forgoing some quality control and maybe even overworking their employees.

    • For now I'd say it's a fluke. You're not likely to find any of these problems even in a cheap Dell computer. In all the years I've owned and happened to open a computer or some other bit of electronics I can't say I've seen improperly assembled components. The only exception being toys where it's an absolute disaster how things get put together.

      It is possible that in the rush to anticipate demand that factories are forgoing some quality control and maybe even overworking their employees.

      It may be a fluke or it may be an assembly plant issue, but either way it's the sort of thing that makes an anal-retentive tyrant like Jobs go ballistic. I'm betting it gets sorted out posthaste, even if he is out on extended medical leave.

  • but you haven't been able to cheat the system and buy a Mac for top quality hardware in ages. Ever since they stopped using Power PC it's been the same PC Junk that Dell sells. You're paying $1400 dollars for a titanium shell...
  • than the annoying piece of junk mentioned in the Clean the Fan video a while back:
    http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1943659 [collegehumor.com]

  • Yes I'm now a troll (Score:2, Interesting)

    by VoxMagis (1036530)

    I think this is it - the last time I bother with Slashdot. Troll posts (like this one) I can bypass, but the constant troll articles are getting out of hand.

    Screw it. It's not just the Apple crap, I get it, you hate Apple. It's the ridiculous sensationalism that has crept into all of it. I won't let the door hit me on the way out.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:03PM (#35343078)
    That screw wasn't stripped! It's Apple's new screwdriver design. They take their ordinary pentabular screws, and apply a drill to eat out the head of one of them, forcing you to drill the screw out if you open it yourself.
  • OK (Score:3, Funny)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:35PM (#35343310)

    So, you spend $1800 on a status symbol, and you expect quality too?

  • "Ho Hum" WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rthille (8526) <web-slashdot.rangat@org> on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:09PM (#35343532) Homepage Journal

    The machine is 2x as fast as the one I bought last year, has 10Gb I/O, for the same price.

    Please have the "analyst" compare my 1989 VW Jetta to today's model for a "ho hum" upgrade...

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