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New MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals 'Shoddy Assembly' 531

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. 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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  • Re:Three words: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:15PM (#35342574) Homepage

    Unlike those quality, American-made laptops.

    Oh wait... those don't exist.

  • by silly_sysiphus ( 1300705 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:15PM (#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.
  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rabblerabblerabble ( 1593117 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:20PM (#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
  • Sample size: n=1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Entropy2016 ( 751922 ) <entropy2016@yahoo . c om> on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:27PM (#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 Jackdaw Rookery ( 696327 ) * on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:29PM (#35342714) Homepage Journal

    You now have to be a fan-boy to buy Apple products? They are no longer available to the public? Since when? Do I need a badge? To join some kind of club?

    Oh wait, maybe Apple came around your house and clubbed your puppy to death? No?

    Perhaps take a deep breath and relax. People are free to choose Apple, Linux and even Windows. Each has strong points and reasons why they are good at what they do, so no need to start dropping both your IQ and elitist tech wang on the table by throwing the term 'fan-boys' around.

  • Re:HP - Dell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:29PM (#35342718)

    A complex/intricate design makes one tend to strip screws and leave ZIF sockets open? Sounds more like a lazy assembler to me.

  • And, yeah? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:33PM (#35342758) Journal

    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.

  • by BradleyUffner ( 103496 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:39PM (#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:Three words: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @07:59PM (#35343036) Homepage Journal

    Blaming China or low quality is misplacing the blame in any case. The low quality of so many Chinese-made goods isn't because China is unable to make good quality; it's because Americans are addicted to buying shiny cheap junk and the Chinese give us what the retailers ask for. The market segment that is willing to pay more for quality is quite small in America.

    That said, Apple *does* target the quality minded consumer with its computers. Normally the design and build quality on Apple stuff I've seen is first rate; this example comes from a sample size of one. Even a top notch manufacturer can have a bad unit. Except for the unclosed ZIF socket the problems listed don't seem to be the kind that are easy to spot in inspection. Probably the worst issue was the excessive thermal paste, and that's under the heatsink.

    Does this one unit mean that build quality is slipping at Apple suppliers? Possibly, but not necessarily. The negative publicity about Foxconn could mean Apple has more on its plate than quality these days when dealing with its suppliers, but that's pure speculation.

  • by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:00PM (#35343052)

    I've used Macbooks. That keyboard sure as fuck ain't awesome. I could go out and buy OS X and stick it on any machine for under $900, and ...well, okay, yes, damn you, that is a really nice screen. I'd love a better screen on my laptop, and since I should have some cash spare soon, I'm looking in to replacements, seeing if there's anything feasible. As for the aluminium unibody, I've honestly never understood the drooling over that. I treat my laptop carefully, as befitting a costly machine, and it just seems to make Macbooks terribly heavy. Am I missing something about it that just isn't obvious? The protection idea is negligible, it's not really better at dispersing heat, aesthetics are a matter of taste, and it's heavier. I've weighed my 17" HP vs. my friend's 15" Macbook.

  • by spinkham ( 56603 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:16PM (#35343164)

    You made me spit coffee out at "awesome keyboard".
    My Model M is an awesome keyboard.
    My ThinkPad has a great keyboard for a laptop.
    My new MacBook Pro has a tolerable keyboard at best.

  • Re:Ho hum? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by node 3 ( 115640 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @08:32PM (#35343292)

    Yes, but you are a fanboi, that's what you're *supposed* to do, for God's sake - in fact, how you escaped the hypnotic clutches of Steve's Charisma Beam and lasted two years without an upgrade is probably worthy of some deeper investigation by the clerics of the Holy Church of Apple.

    The problem with the Apple haters here is the rampant hyperbole. He upgraded his two year old computer, but you have to spin it into some sort of insanity. It's strange that you first call him a "fanboi", then note that he somehow managed to avoid this imaginary mystical superbeam emanating from Cupertino which would have made him a fanboi.

    In other words, you just called him a fanboi while noting that he wasn't a fanboi. Fantastic!

    Look at it from my perspective - if I proudly crowed about standing outside queuing in the rain the day before a new Dell Laptop or Ubuntu Linux 11.04 was released, you'd call me a sad loony!

    Ignoring the fact that he didn't say anything about lining up in the rain a day in advance for the new MacBook Pro (in fact, no one has ever done this, the lines have only been for the iPhones and iPads, more on this in a sec), yes, you would look insane waiting for Ubuntu or a Dell laptop.

    Why do people line up for iPhones and iPads? Because demand far outstrips supply. People in line know that if they don't line up, they will have to wait some uncertain amount of time before they can get one. Has this ever happened with a Dell laptop? Is this even possible with Ubuntu?

    On the other hand, there have been plenty of geeks downloading Ubuntu (and other distros) the day of availability. Haven't you ever tried to download an ISO on release day only to find download speeds horribly slow? Do you hurl the same "fanboi" insult at people who line up for video games, concerts, movies, etc?

    But no, only Apple users are "fanbois", because, well... "Fuck you, that's why"? That's all it really boils down to. What sort of insecurity leads someone to throw about effeminate insults to someone who upgraded his two year old notebook? What is it about other people's computer choices that bothers you so much?

  • by MidnightBrewer ( 97195 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @09:04PM (#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.

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

    by rthille ( 8526 ) <<web-slashdot> <at> <>> on Monday February 28, 2011 @09:09PM (#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...

  • by Kitkoan ( 1719118 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @09:14PM (#35343570)

    Sometimes its just better to post the truth in something like this as an AC. If you don't, you'll be modded into the ground. I've done the same before. And I've noticed the quality issues of Apple products myself (one of the reasons I don't buy them).

    I've owned 2 iPods, and both died in just under a year and I'm not alone there. Its quite rare I can find someone who's had a iPlayer(Pod, Touch, Shuffle) that has had one live for more then a year and a half. Does this mean there is none? No, but I find them to be quite rare with people who use them. I've had friends had other failing parts in MacBooks (HDs the most common). They just don't live any longer then a good built laptop from other companies. Granted this seems to be were many Mac users get annoying to me when comparing build quality. They will want to compare a $1200+ MacBook to a sub $400-$500 HP or Dell. Thats not a good comparison in any manor. HP and Dell are known to be subpar quality companies. Compare the Mac to something like a Asus, Sony or Toshiba. Do these companies have no failures? No, but they aren't shoddy built either. These are better build quality companies. An suddenly you'll see a more equal in quality build in all these companies. This was even highlighted by Squaretrades review of their records. [] Thing is, the price tag to the Apple laptops are much higher for the same specs and the review shows that the build quality isn't higher, its just higher priced to make you think your paying for something of higher quality. This is normal in designer products like clothes and perfumes/make-ups because people like to equate "higher price = higher quality" when in many situations, it isn't true but is to make you believe that it is.

    Now, is Apple normally a shoddy build quality company? No, but they aren't the top build quality either. They just know how to give the impression that they are.

    Now does this mean you shouldn't ever buy an Apple product? Not really. You should buy what you enjoy but should approach it knowing the facts and not have false impressions about the product either. In short, if you enjoy the Apple product, then all the power to you, but don't be surprised that not everyone will agree with you that they are the best. Its why there is more then one product out there. Everyone is different.

  • Re:HP - Dell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Simon80 ( 874052 ) on Monday February 28, 2011 @09:15PM (#35343578)
    I don't know if lazy is really the appropriate word to use when talking about cheap labour.I think it's much more likely that they're actually hard-working people who are overworked and underpaid.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @02:11AM (#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.

  • Re:HP - Dell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2011 @03:23AM (#35345538)

    "Rushed" is probably more like it. I bet Apple has ordered a large number of items in a short time.

    Good, Fast, or Cheap. Pick one.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.