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Don’t buy the MacBook Pros even on sale, in my opinion (theoutline.com)
171 points by tomduncalf 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments

Posting this from my six month old Macbook Pro 15" on which the spacebar has just started doing double spaces. Going to try and clean it with compressed air, but even if that works, it's unacceptable in my opinion that such a key piece of hardware on such an expensive machine should be so fragile.

The fact that at some point I'll have to take it back to Apple and probably be without it for several days due to the complexity of the repair makes this 10x worse - I am freelance so need this machine for work, so being without it (especially for such a seemingly trivial reason) is unacceptable and absolutely not what I expect when I buy Apple (previous Macbooks have worked for years without a single issue).

If they release a redesign, I'd swap it in a flash (I do actually quite like the keyboard to type on otherwise, but seems like the quest for thinness has gone too far this time!), but if this problem is as widespread as it seems who knows what it will do to resale values.

Would be great to get talk of this spreading as far and wide as possible, as judging by anecdata on Twitter and elsewhere, I am far from the only one with these kind of issues, and to me that implies a fairly major design flaw.

I try to keep spares of anything mission critical. I get that computers are expensive, but you owe it to yourself to make sure that your productivity cannot be broken by a single object's destruction or absence.

(That doesn't mean you need a spare new macbook pro. An older device that is maintained, and a good environment setup process, is sufficient.)

I do have a spare, but really I shouldn't have to invest time in setting it up over such a seemingly trivial issue.

Expensive things can break too, or even arrive DOA which has happened to me.

My wife's MBP 15" has exactly the same problem. All of my modern Macbook keyboards have stopped working, and I've completely given up on Apple laptops, switching two a Pixelbook with Crouton, which is excellent. I use browserstack for cross platform browser testing.

I'm using a new 2017 MBP w/o the touchbar. So far, no issues with the keyboard. But here's another thing to consider: with earlier MBPs and ThinkPads with better keyboard design, I would occasionally used compressed air to blow out the dust from under the keys. The bad thing about the new design is that I'd hesitate to do this now, because you could actually cause the keys to die by accidentally blowing dust under a key.

Apple: you need to go back to the drawing board and redesign the keyboard. Stop chasing thinner/lighter. The keyboard is the primary interface programmers use. It should be sturdy enough, and have enough key travel, to hold up for the life cycle of the laptop.

My SO and I have three MBPs between us. Two have had keyboard failures (one the "8" key, the other the space bar). Both took about a week for Apple to repair.

I had a key stick within two weeks. They had to completely replace the keyboard, it took over a week (IIRC). Fairly silly for a single key to cause such a massive repair.

I’m experiencing this issue with my B key and it’s annoying af. I use my MBP in clamshell mode with an external keyboard and I dread going mobile.

I had the issue with the doubling with the b key as well.

Mine was out of warranty, so I fixed it myself.

Failed: compressed air Failed: cleaning under the key.

Success (but not recommended) I removed the key, then pulled off the glued membrane. Cleaned all with 90% alcohol. Took a new membrane (but you might be able to use old) and used E6000 and a toothpick to glue it back. Replaced butterfly and key.

Not a good solution, but it worked.

It looked like the contacts were getting coated and not making good contact? Perhaps heat?

Best of luck.

I am not confident in my ability to do that but it's good to know there is a solution if I get desperate enough. My mechanical keyboard is saving my life right now.

Any ideas on how to get Apple’s attention on this issue welcome! Was wondering if there is any value on setting up a simple site where people can comment if they’ve had issues, just to help illustrate the scale of the problem...

I'm sure if one of us creates a site and shares it here it'll gain traction. I like clever domain names, so I just registered mbp.wtf from Gandi. If you have recommendations on a lightweight commenting system, I'd love to hear it!

I can crank out a site fairly quickly but I also want it to be as low-maintenance as possible.

Ha I like the domain! Will have a little think and get back to you :)

It's unlikely to take days. A few months ago they replaced a broken key cap for me in about 20 minutes.

If it's just a keycap (and maybe even the butterfly mechanism) that shouldn't be too bad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KuVvb9DTaU (from about 5:20) talks a bit about what's involved in an actual keyboard replacement, if you ignore some of the histrionics.

I think from what I've heard that for actual replacements, Apple will swap out the whole 'top case' subassembly, which could be a 4-500$ part if it's not covered under warranty.

That is what happened to me. The entire top case had to be replaced. Luckily under warranty, however.

Mine took a few days FWIW.

Mine took 3 weeks, but it was Christmas & NY closure.

It's just incomprehensible (and an unfortunate indictment of Jony Ive's design leadership) that the 2016 MacBook Pro has continued to prove such a regression from the 2012 design.

Professionals demand good design: tools that meet our needs in efficient, reliable, and even elegant ways. Apple's line of professional laptops has traditionally delivered this by and large, but the problem with the 2016 platform is that vanity finally overtook good design.

Good design weighs the trade-offs inherent in any design decision and decides based on the greatest benefit to the user. Vanity design decides based on the greatest benefit to the designer. And based on the dongles I've seen co-workers cart all over the office because Apple abandoned HDMI, based on the keyboard reliability issues that have affected the same co-workers, and based on the dearth of compelling Touch Bar applications that have sprung up in the past year and a half, I don't think there's any question that vanity has taken over.

Honestly, I think it's time for Ive to take more of an advisory role at Apple and let some of the many talented industrial designers in his org take Apple's hardware design back to fundamentals.

> (and an unfortunate indictment of Jony Ive's design leadership)

Ive has been leading design at Apple for 26 years. I think the failure lies elsewhere.

Counterargument: for a long time Ive had Jobs to push back on Design excesses. Now there's nobody that has the same kind of design sense at the top to push the product in practical directions.

It's like Lennon and McCartney, they wrote better songs when they were together than apart (I'd argue).

I actually don't think that's a counterargument at all. If someone like Ive is able to run unchecked and produce the failure that is the MBP keyboard, then that's a problem outside of Ive.

Based on the folklore, I don't think it's a stretch to imagine Jobs holding up an iPhone USB cable at a meeting and yelling "why the hell can't I plug this into my MacBook Pro?" I can't imagine Cook doing the same.

Sure, in a limited sense yeah. I think the Parent's view is that younger designers may be a little more grounded due to not having been worshiped as a god for years. Or just may have different/fresh ideas that are more responsive to current users. In other words if Ive is running amok, yeah maybe he should be replaced/challenged, and that's a failure of leadership, but it's still Ive who's doing the damage.

In my view every Apple product launch/update since Job's death has increasingly tended to make more choices that are pretty from a design perspective but clueless from a utility perspective. Eventually we'll just have some sort of glass slab that soothingly glows but doesn't actually do anything, oh wait... touchbar.

The real question here is would he consider this outcome a failure?

What were the design goals of that MBP? Looking at it with an industrial designer eye I feel "symmetry" and "thinness" were higher up the list of requirements than "a good keyboard".

My notebook is from a time, where HDMI wasn't the most common port yet for modern displays and it came with regular display port and an VGA. While I do have an adapter for the display port, the VGA shows significant marks from all its usage over the years. So many locations still only supply VGA from their beamers. Sometimes I find those mini-dp to vga adapters broken in the corners of those rooms. They seem to work fine for you mac users...

Tangential rant ahead:

I've been pretty disappointed in the latest MacBooks as well (mostly just the keyboard and mediocre performance improvements over previous generations), so as a hedge I thought I should give Linux another try, hoping in the ~5 years since I last attempted it one of the more user-friendly distributions would have figured out how to make installation painless.

Nope. It's easy enough to get a basic installation of Ubuntu or elementary OS working, but you still have to muck around with things like wireless drivers, graphics drivers, multitouch support, etc to get everything working as well as macOS. After half a day of trying to tweak kernel parameters and other things I gave up. Sometimes I enjoy that sort of challenge, but not right now.

I understand it's difficult to support a wide variety of hardware without the support of a company like Apple/Microsoft/Google, and supporting proprietary drivers is controversial and not the community's top priority. It's just a bit disappointing desktop Linux still isn't ready for the mainstream, despite multiple commercial companies working on it.

I grew up messing with GNU/Linux, so I know what it means to tweak kernel parameters and not have working wifi. But in the past five years of using Ubuntu full-time I haven't had a single issue with out of the box stuff working on any of a number of Lenovo machines.

Hell, I even have 16.10 running on a Macbook Pro from 2013. Curiously, the baked on RAM chip has a bad patch on it somewhere and macOS chokes when doing a full re-install, yet Ubuntu seems more fault-tolerant about memory and runs mostly fine (there are display corruptions when first booting, but putting it to sleep and waking it up causes them to go away until the next reboot).

Meanwhile I would argue macOS has become much worse given the closed-nature of the software and the price premium to use it. It's hard to complain about having to tweak things when the OS is free/libre.

> But in the past five years of using Ubuntu full-time I haven't had a single issue with out of the box stuff working on any of a number of Lenovo machines.

Yeah, my only experience is with Apple hardware. Obviously Apple doesn't work with Ubuntu to certify their hardware like Lenovo does (https://certification.ubuntu.com/desktop/), nor would I expect them to, but MacBooks are one of the most popular laptops so I sort of expected it to just work.

> It's hard to complain about having to tweak things when the OS is free/libre.

I agree, and I'm definitely willing to tweak things here and there, but it's a non-starter for most people. I guess they can still buy Ubuntu certified hardware or whatever, though.

Thinkpads generally work out of the box without any tweaking. I'd suggest using a distro with a recent kernel and you shouldn't have any problems.

Why do you still recommend a Thinkpad? Thinkpad screen resolutions stink across the board. X-series RAM caps out at 16GB where my XPS15 gets 32. I understand TPs work well with Linux but it's 2018, a lot of things work pretty darn well with Linux.

I don't actually like retina displays for tech work. I think it's purely cosmetic, and it generally slows things down. But worse than that are glossy screens. The 1080p x1 screen is perfect for me at 13", no scaling required, it's matte, and it's still in HiDPI territory so plenty of screen real estate. You can also get the 1440p screen if you want more pixels.

Ram-wise, 16Gi is plenty for me. The nvme ssd more than makes up for any issues. I regularly run multiple IntelliJ/Goland windows, docker containers, VMs, etc. without a problem. If I need more, I have a proper desktop. Laptops are meant to be portable.

The carbon is half a pound lighter than the comparable macbook pro, and better in all respects that matter to me - keyboard, weight, battery life, repairability, durability, linux compatibility.

Comparing the X1 carbon or other ultra-portables in the X series with an XPS15 isn't really fair - and the 16GB is a limitation of Intels mobile ('U' series) processors, hence the same issue with Apple.

A fairer comparison to the 15" machine would be either the T580 or P51 series which has a similar choice of up to 32GB RAM and up to even Xeon processors if that's your bag - perhaps not quite as sleek as the Dell, but then it is a Thinkpad.

T580 also uses a "U" processor though. At least until the T580p is out.

I think there's definitely some blame on laptop manufacturers here for their ridiculous ever-changing collection of SKUs.

Even Lenovo Thinkpads are incredibly diverse in terms of the hardware you can find in them compared to any generation of MacBook Pro.

I'm constantly amazed by the lack of product leadership at some of these companies. I guess the fact that they all focus on pleasing enterprises instead of actually making a decent product line-up and selling it hard is to blame.

Isn't it about time someone stepped up to fight Apple at their own game? Instead of shitting out SKUs like they have diarrhoea, have some restraint and release only a single model per machine, with SKUs modifying only inconsequential things like CPU speed, RAM quantity, and storage. Get rid of the myriad of awful Wifi and WLAN cards (that often cause issues in Windows as well).

Do this for several generations so that the basic hardware and drivers are the same for every machine in the line-up. Focus on getting the basics right - no sleep/wake issues, no finicky nonstandard hardware, no coil whine, no excessive fan noise etc.

Microsoft are trying this with the Surface range, but they're only just starting to actually position products in competition with Apple's.

I can confirm your experiences. I've been a long time Linux user, yet I still struggle to change to "natural" mouse scrolling on the latest install of LUbuntu. I finally had to resort to "magic" incantations on the command line and restarting X. Even then it all reverted when I rebooted the machine.

Why not buy a machine with Ubuntu preinstalled from Dell or system 76.

I don't want to buy a new machine (yet), I just want to try it out.

Then you should compare the tinkering experience for linux with Hackintoshes?

Sounds like you used a random laptop instead of researching which one is well supported hardware.

Ah, a MBP complaint thread. Here are mine (Maxed out 15):

1. New keyboard is painful to type on. I use it 99% of the time with external trackpad / keyboard / monitors but that other 1% pisses me off.

2. Battery life is mediocre. I don't keep track but I'm always surprised how quickly it goes when I'm unplugged. How about stop trying to make them thinner?

3. The touchbar is f*cking horrible. It's a bad solution to a nonexistent problem. My fingers touch it by mistake often, finding ESC is awful, and worst of all, it sleeps! Give me back my ESC and media keys.

4. A computer with two GPUs SHOULD NOT CRASH when plugging in external monitors. It should also wake from sleep properly in clamshell mode. A lot of the time I actually have to unplug one monitor to get either to turn on.

5. Support for external retina monitors is terrible. I spent the better part of a day getting two Dells to be readable / look good.

6. Xcode. A medium sized project compiling now hits all 8 cores so hard music will actually stop playing (I use Roon with a pretty heavy CPU load).

Unless things turn around, this will definitely be my last MBP, maybe leaving the dev ecosystem altogether.

Ugh Xcode. What an awfully heavy piece of software. Makes Eclipse feel lightweight.

Louis Rossmann has examined these issues in detail on his electronics repair YouTube channel:


(I disagree with the level of his vitriol against Apple, but I appreciate his deep teardowns and clear explanations. He just doesn't seem to understand how valuable the Apple software is vs. Windows to those who need or appreciate osx.)

It's not Apple's great software. Most of Apple's software is shit (as opposed to 3rd parties who write OSX apps).

It's the fact that it's mostly-decent hardware running a mostly-compliant POSIX OS that looks enough like GNU to make it usable (and compatible with web servers).

If someone, ffs anyone, made a decent, reliable Linux laptop, Apple would lose the dev market in a month.

This is called a Thinkpad.

I'm running Debian on a Thinkpad at work, this work great... except for a few points.

It's always a bit harder to integrate with the rest of the internal infrastructure: * AD integration in your favorite email client to have auto-completion on emails is a bit tedious * Exchange calendars are also annoying * Mounting (and, first, finding) the windows shares can a bit tedious * Password renewal is not integrated that well

It works, but it takes a few hours to figure out and configure.

And sometimes you are just stuck with Windows/OS X because of a specific piece of software (for example in my case, the video conferencing tool we are using). I never used a truly Linux only environment in professional context, I always had a Windows VM also.

> This is called a Thinkpad.

Indeed! The keyboard is amazing. The latest thinkpad x1 carbon is pure bliss, and Linux works out of the box for everything without any problems.

The latter point is not really true. There are plenty in web dev that need Adobe tools to open files. There are plenty in corporate environments that need Office to edit docs (Open/Libre doesn't really cut it for heavier stuff).

I share the frustration, mainly because both OS X and Windows are getting progressively worse over time as opposed to better, and the lack of a decent alternative is hugely frustrating.

You can't use Apple's great software if the hardware keeps crapping out and costing $X00 to fix.

>> (I disagree with the level of his vitriol against Apple, but I appreciate his deep teardowns and clear explanations. He just doesn't seem to understand how valuable the Apple software is vs. Windows to those who need or appreciate osx.)

IIRC, he said in one of his videos that he's a basically Windows guy who repairs Apple products because that's where the money is.

Because his channel is on YouTube, it's quite possible he's amping up his vitriol a little to get views. On the other hand - I watch a lot of his videos (I discovered his channel when I had one of those overheating 2011 MBPs and was looking for a fix), and his vitriol for the most part is all related to repairability and how Apple prefers to replace entire logic boards instead of fixing what's wrong.

It does seem like a lot of his customers come to him after talking to a Genius and being told that their Mac can't be fixed.

So in general, while he does take a strong stance, I would not say that he's not hating on Apple simply for the sake of hating on Apple.

As someone who has torn down and rebuilt a thinkpad or two, I was appalled when I started looking into his and other videos on MBP repair since I've never owned a MBP. They're clearly designed with entirely different priorities; form over function has been pushed way too far thus sacrificing durability and serviceability. I guess that is okay with some people, but given the cost of the machine, I think its ridiculous. Apple can, and should, do better than this.

What Apple software? Homebrew? Crusty old 2007 GNU coreutils?

I can understand this guy's hate for Apple though. They're violently hostile to anyone with a screwdriver or a compiler.

Just in case anybody thinks this thing is overblown:

- On my 2016 MBP the left alt key only registers about 30% of the time now. It seriously hampers my workflow.

- On my SO's MBP (slightly newer make but same keyboard type) the "H" key stopped working, now it's registering double (she's happy: "At least I can type, I just need to use the backspace key.")

- At work two people have the same type of machine and both have had keyboard issues.

In short, I know four people who own this machine (including myhself) and all four have had issues.

Needless to say, this is a serious let-down and makes me think my next machine will be the first non-Apple in 15 years. Sad, really.

The Board Of Directors has structured Tim Cook's pay so his pay is dependent on shipping specific amounts of iPhones. This would be a good plan if the goal was to boost the stock price for the few years that iPhone seems innovative, compared to anything that Samsung can come up with. This strategy did work for several years, look at 2013 and 2014 and 2015 and 2016. But the same strategy amounts to a plan for allowing the company to collapse in the long-term. Where are the new products? Where are the new ideas? Some people point to the vast cash reserve that Apple has and they view this as a source of strength: "Apple must be doing something right to have that much cash on hand!" But a large pile of cash can also be read as a weakness; in particular, it can be seen as a lack of ideas. For comparison, consider the last time Apple had super fat margins and a product that was light-years ahead of the competition: the 1980s. Apple did not pile up cash at that time, because it was still investing in the future. Profits were reinvested in new products. The leadership could see where the future was going, and they chased after it aggressively. The difference between then and now is obvious. Apple has a huge amount of cash, but they have no ideas about how to invest it. Tim Cook is a good operations guy, he has some talent for optimizing the supply lines between China and the West. But he has no ideas. And nowadays, given the growing number of problems, I think we have to wonder if he fully deserves his reputation for being a good operations guy.

Why is this downvoted?

> neither Apple nor its Geniuses would acknowledge that this was actually a problem [...] Apple Geniuses installed, with its pristine keyboard and maybe-different key switches. The answer is that after a couple of months, I started to get temporarily dead keys for seemingly no reason. Again.

This is the exact same behaviour that drove me away from Apple 10 years ago: First deny existance of issue, second place blame on customer, third force customer into a generic replacement script of parts in accending order of price. Repeat until customer does not return out of frustration, accepts the broken product or is pushed out of warrantee.

I think this strategy worked for them on average when hardware design flaws were less frequent, it maintained their facade of absolute perfection at the cost of a few lucid customers... but it leaves a particularly sour taste for those whom it does affect, and I think they are fast approaching the threshold where it will backfire and destroy their image.

At this stage denying the existence of these types of problems is an insult to anyones intelligence, deep technical literacy is not required - Anyone who buys Apple products for more than beholding their aesthetic beauty can see the simple truth in this case: that it is broken.

Concur. I liked the new keyboard when it worked. But after two week-long service appointments to deal with dead keys, I've given up on it. Those laptops are defective. I'm using a 2015 15" for now.

This is the hard part - it’s supposedly a pro machine, yet they expect you to not work for a week while they repair the keyboard that fails by a single speck of dust.

Exactly this

Upon advice of my betters, in replacing my mid-2012 macbook pro (whose internals seem to have swelled up), i chose a new 2015 macbook pro, which is retina but old style keyboard.

I'll wait until they get this keyboard thing straightened out to get a newer one.

Am convinced but cannot prove that the new keyboard is causing wrist/hand pain I thought I’d banished 20 years ago.

I do almost all of my keyboarding with kinesis. It cured severe finger pain a few years back. The only time I use the native keyboard for mac or anything else is if i am on the metra or library or customer visit.

I highly recommend it.

I can't do that. For one thing, I work pretty much exclusively on couches and on my back porch, where I can't set up an external keyboard. But I also have a quirk where, if I have a nicer keyboard and monitor in one setup, I won't be able to work as effectively in other setups; I'll just be sad when I don't have the optimal setup. I know that sounds super weird but it is how my brain works. So I try to keep myself to a stable lowest-common-denominator configuration, for my own productivity, and that's the standard laptop keyboard.

This appears to have been aggressively flagged since it's suddenly dropped from the front page to the 6th page in a matter of minutes and has a better point to age ratio than most all above it...

Could anyone explain why? it looks highly suspicious to me. I understand that many are protective over Apple products but putting that asside, this an objective and valid warning to people looking to buy this otherwise popular computer.

Apple (among others) posts are automatically “downmodded”. They require a much higher score to remain on the front page

Are you suggesting that Apple have automated bots attempt to censor hacker news? or is this more of an official thing where any posts regarding Apple are weighted down due to being considered too mainstream? or is it just a sensitive topic to many people?

I can easily imagine any but I don't know which is more likely.

No, it’s a Hacker News ‘feautre’. There are a number of topics/keywords that analysis found were being automatically weighted down for, I guess, generally being low quality and spammy, or rarely leading to useful discussions. I guess the intent is that the proper and good posts should “work harder” to push up through the weight.

I tried searching for some links to cooborate it, but I wasn’t able to find anything quickly on my phone.

Yeah I wondered this myself, the same happened to a repost of it! Hopefully we can get it back on the front page, I really want to draw attention to this issue for all of us owners

My plan is to wait until there's a new model out, and then take it in for AppleCare warranty repairs once a month until I hit their lemon limit and they give me a new machine.

The durability of this keyboard is a joke. I even bought one of those rubber keyboard condoms that makes the keyboard suck to type on and the H key still got dust under it somehow and started typing hh.

Apple doesn't seem to have an official lemon limit but they replaced the top-case 5 times on my 2016 and then gave me a 2017 with the same specs (slightly faster processor), and it's already crapped out already although this time they managed to replace the key and fix it.

You’re right that there’s no official “lemon limit”, but hey do have a process for it - it’s called ‘CRU’ (Customer Replacement Unit). It’s unlikely that they’ll offer it unprompted, but really after three repairs I find it difficult they would deny your request to have the laptop replaced.

It does require approval by a manager/“Lead Genius”, but you can get there by being reasonable.

Nice idea - I've got the three year Applecare so at least I'll be able to get it fixed, didn't realise about the lemon limit!

This isn't a "build quality" problem, it's a design quality problem. The quest for thinness has taken precedence over reliable functioning. If they added a millimeter or two they could put in a proper keyboard, but I fear they never will. We see a similar problem with the "trashcan" Mac Pro, where they backed themselves into a corner with a design that could not be upgraded. This is just bad engineering. Form follows function, not vice versa.

As an owner of a small company who buys a few macs a year and uses one almost solely, I fully agree with this. I’ve had to replace my latest mbp computer two times now based on keyboard issues (the second time was power and keyboard issues). The keyboard is a disaster. If you have kids, forget about it.

Was given one of these at work, the keyboard started failing within a week of taking it out of the box, some of my keys click much louder than others. My - key has been stuck twice while editing this comment, my ISO enter key has a dead zone and has failed to click once while typing this comment.

This machine isn't even 6 months old and it feels rickety and unreliable because of this design disaster of a keyboard, I wish I was over-reacting.

I will not be buying another Apple machine until this keyboard is reverted, I can't imagine dropping thousands of my own money and having such an unreliable janky input device.

I can't recommend Apple anymore. With the recent trend of tech companies towards walled gardens, the things that made Apple's walled garden great are getting eroded by other companies. Their hardware really is subpar, they're spending all this money on design and virtually none on maintenance, because repair is a profit center for them rather than a cost center.

Apple software looks and feels great, and I used to believe their hardware was just as good, but it turns out that their manufacturing processes are really crappy. Remember the first unibody aluminum Mac? Wasn't a unibody. They glued two pieces of aluminum together instead.

Look, I get it, you have to deal with the manufacturers you have. But Apple's amassed a gigantic pile of cash, and they really should be using it to improve their hardware. But they haven't been. And now, there's never been a better time to switch platforms.

I was singing their praises 2 years ago. But the beauty was only skin-deep.

The first Unibody Mac was still a very nice machine, even if the display wasn't actually a unibody. The chassis felt like nothing before it, and it was so nicely machined with a super rigid keyboard. MagSafe with separate board. Extremely easy to access battery and HDD (with a really nicely designed little lever system). Unscrew the bottom cover and easy access to RAM. Rigidity of the chassis helped keep ports in good condition.

It's only real flaw IMO was the superglossy glass screen. Fragile and extremely annoying under fluorescent lights. Plenty of the machines lasted a long time despite the glue deteriorating from heat.

You're right about them spending no money on maintenance because repair is a profit centre for them. Rossman is right about Apple's durability issues, too - almost every generation of MacBook has had at least one significant design flaw (from the 8600GT to delaminating screen coatings).

They're only getting worse as they go over the top with proprietary connectors and interfaces, and iDevice levels of integration. I mean, Apple have reimplemented M.2 and NVMe in their stupid proprietary SSDs at least 4 times now. It's utterly ridiculous. If your custom blade SSD dies, which it inevitably will at some stage, your only options are Apple support or OWC (or gamble with second hand parts).

At least in the past they used to get the human stuff right (mostly). No Apple MacBook has ever shipped with a low quality LCD panel, for example. I've never heard significant coil whine from any Mac. I've never heard any Mac that has loud fans at idle (except under an error condition). I've never had a Mac that burnt me. I've never had a Mac with poor speakers. The trackpads have always been best-in-class. The keyboards have always been very good.

Until 2016.

This happened to my wife's macbook pro spacebar, $600 fix. It happens with mine every so often too, but fingers crossed it has 'fixed' itself each time.

$600! ouch.

Had a similar problem (faulty key) with my dell precision laptop. $30 new keyboard, few screws out, replace and back up and running.

The laptop is big, heavy and ugly. But I cannot have it out of action so every part being replaceable was a huge plus. In fact it is so big heavy and ugly that when I drop it on the floor, the floor dents :)

You can easy switch out any thinkpad keyboard, and they're not big or heavy. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, that being said, it's a laptop, not a purse.

Yeah, mine has fixed itself when this happened before, but the spacebar issue seems more persistent. Hoping some compressed air can fix it - having to migrate to another machine for the duration of the repair would really annoy me, but I do sometimes need to work without an external keyboard (my preferred option).

The last great Macbook Pro was:

> MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)

The new models are subpar in build quality imho and the touch bar is completely useless tech.

I have a slightly earlier MBP and I'll keep it till it dies. I have some neuropathy in my fingers, a souvenir of neck surgery, and I mostly type on mechanical keyboards (all hail Cherry MX Blue!). I have tried the new MBPs in the Apple store and I simply cannot use them. There is too little feedback for my damaged hands. I'm sad that my current MBP is probably my last Apple notebook. Their current obsession with thinness is ruining their hardware.

Yep, those are the holy grail machines at my shop. Everybody that has one is skipping their turn when they are due for an upgrade. Unfortunately I got hired too late and have a 2017 15-inch.

Why? They still sell that model: https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs-2015/

Not our choice, IT only lets us choose the newer models.

I still use my 2010 MBP from time to time. I recently bought a new iMac, not because I really wanted an iMac, but because I needed a newer and more capable computer for some things, was unhappy with the current MBP offerings, and did not want to buy an already borderline-obsolete Mac Pro.

So far so good with the iMac! I've been an Apple user since 2002, and while I really don't want to move to something else, some of their recent decisions have had me seriously considering it...

Apple knows this, because they still sell it. https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs-2015/

My spacebar locked up on me briefly a week after purchase - calling it dust would be BS. Doesn't bode well for the future.

Thing is, this is actually dust. It's just a single speck of dust is enough to mess up these mechanisms because they're so delicate.

This would be less of an issue if you could pop the keys off, but again the mechanism is so delicate popping a key off is enough to irreparably destroy the mechanism in most cases.

Mine fell off within a week.

Even when brand-new, and working properly, these keyboards are a disaster. IT has been rolling upgrading people to them at work, and the number of external keyboards has skyrocketed.

So has the number of new lenovos.

I can relate to what the article says, and yet find it hard to break away from the ecosystem given the tools I've come to use every day runs so well on the Mac. Muscle memory with shortcuts and all.

I've found a quick workaround to simply let the machine cool down. Eg. When running Docker previously and when the machine got heated, I found keyboard problems keep cropping up consistently. Letting it cool for about 20 minutes with a laptop cooler seemed to help.

I'm an iOS dev so have no other choice - but even if I did, I like pretty much every other aspect of the Mac (both this specific laptop, and the ecosystem) and am happy to give Apple my money, but expect a certain level of quality in return, which this generation of keyboards seems to lack.

Definitely agree with you. I feel underwhelmed with the 2017 MBPs (typing on one right now). And you're absolutely correct: if you're developing for certain app systems, you have no choice. I'm a Ruby developer and I remember years ago people switched to Mac simply so they could use Textmate. Some tools just work better on the system (for better or for worse).

I actually quite like the laptop otherwise - I walk to and from work with it every day so the reduced weight and size is great - although the touchbar is meh and the USB-C/dongle situation is still a pain!

I have one of these provided by my employer - spacebar broke within a couple of months.

Also, I kid you not, the 'H' key was not functioning on one in the Regent Street Apple store I was using while waiting for an iPhone battery replacement.

Essentially, you have to avoid getting any detritus on the keyboard of any kind. I no longer eat any snacks or sandwiches at the computer, which is probably a good thing anyway.

Doesn't Apple have a ton of in-house engineers that use their hardware every day and therefore must have these problems as well? Shouldn't they fix them if only to keep their engineers from the pain?

Presumably they attribute any failures in typing to the chronic headaches they have from walking into Apple's invisible walls too often.

Fits with my experience.

Aside from hating the feel of the new keyboard in my 6 months ownership of the new Macbook Pro it went back for warranty keyboard repair twice.

I sold it and bought a second hand 2015

Damn, my Macbook Air 2013 logic board just gave out, and was considering the upgrade to Macbook Pro 2017 as logic board is running at £450 replacement cost.

After reading other's thoughts here, I think I have to avoid Macbook Pro for now, I hope they change this in the next release.

Annoying as I need a machine with Xcode.

I was considering getting a Mac Mini for Xcode and developing remotely on it using my Linux desktop. I figure I can just edit the code on the desktop and push it to the Mac when I need to build. If I get a good workflow going I'll share it.

Yeah, I was thinking of similar, would be good to see how it works out for you. There's obviously the command line tools for building, but I would miss the integration of Xcode as an IDE for iOS storyboards etc.

Otherwise I've been looking at using remote servers from macincloud.com / xcodeclub.com, but haven't tried that yet.

I use a keyboard cover and it helps reduce this issue. When you do get a crumb under a key and it stops working, the solution is to keep hitting the key hard until you dislodge/break the crumb. Low tech, but it works.

This will eventually break the tiny legs in the keycaps rendering your key permanently inoperatable.

I've only done this about twice in the lifetime of the keyboard. I'm not doing it every day.

Special-sized keys like up/down and backspace are more problematic. Mine is going back for warranty repair next week.

Been using a 2010 15" Macbook Pro since i found it in the dumpster in 2014 (yup...), it was my first ever time owning a macbook and using OSX (outside of some time on friends computers, etc) and i love that thing. I used linux before but wasn't so hot on the grueling labor of repairing simple stuff, and so i was stuck on windows coming from a windows-fanboy past - now i am a huge OSX fan for its combination of ease of use and POSIX compliance; but i refuse to buy any new macbook pro.

I want my magsafe charger, i want my displayport and ethernet port, i want my CD drive, i want to be able to replace the battery myself (done it twice), and to swap hard drives (done it four times) and RAM (once) easily, I want physical keys for escape and media buttons.

I have gone so far as to personally take out the motherboard and replace a single tanatalum capacitor with an aluminum-polymer capacitor (requiring me to scrape off some of the soldermask off so i could solder to the ground plane easier since the Al-Poly cap is much larger) because the tantalum one was causing GPU kernel panic crashes. (Big thanks to Louie Rossman for the tutorial video!)

I've brought this thing back from the brink of death many times and i will continue to do so until Apple cleans up their act and makes a true developers laptop again.

Funny I have an identical situation with my 17" 2006 MBP which has been repaired, and upgraded countless time. It has passed to many family members but it's back with me and I love it everytime I use it. Unfortunately, High Sierra doesn't support it so I don't know what it's future holds. My MBP 2016 is a disappointment; TB 3 is cool but I hate the touchbar and keyboard.

MacBook Pro from late 2013 is just as difficult to repair, only cheaper because they don’t have touch bar. I can’t replace the keys at home (expensive parts, so many things can go wrong), so it’s waiting for pickup to go to a company to stay there.

I’ll probably sell it and replace with another Lenovo, which is one of my machines since 2011 and it’s only two philips screws away to receive maintenance and upgrades.

> MacBook Pro from late 2013 is just as difficult to repair, only cheaper because they don’t have touch bar

Nope not true at all, the 2013 has a user serviceable keyboard, removing a keycap wont destroy the mechanism like it does on the USB-C MBP.

This tells me theres a worse problem at Apple: Groupthink.

No one was bold enough to call BS on this poorly designed keyboard. Everyone just went along with it.

And the worst part about it is that it's incredibly hard to replace the keyboard on the MBP. For most other laptops it's just a screw or two, a few plastic clips, and a ribbon cable to replace it. They're also super cheap for just about every manufacturer out there other than Apple and you can get a new keyboard delivery included for ~$15-$25. For the MBP you pretty much need to get the whole top case as one assembly because instead of just a few clips Apple rivets the keyboard to the case! And it's not just a couple of rivets either, try a couple dozen.

Absolutely insane how not only does Apple make the keyboard just about impossible to replace, but they also make a keyboard that's simultaneously much much more failure prone than any other keyboard that I know of. Here's a great video of a madman actually replacing the keyboard instead of just replacing the whole assembly.


I hope that issues like this further open a two-way channel of communication apple has with "pro"-oriented users. For most of us, computers are tools, which must meet our connectivity and performance needs (encompassing raw compute power and hardware endurance requirements). To continue serving this market well and staying relevant to professionals and power users, Apple needs to take into account our needs and use cases when designing and releasing future products, which was quite evidently an afterthought for the 2016 MacBook models.

If apple tomorrow released an updated 2015 rMBP with a Coffee Lake or Ryzen2 CPU, an optional dGPU, 2 (or better yet 3) full-sized USB type A ports, and (only in my dreams) a full-sized number pad, I would more strongly consider a purchase than migrating back to the PC world for my main PC.

I am hopeful Apple recognizes their shortcomings, learns from them and produces more innovative and powerful hardware that meets the needs of the professional and power-user groups.

I just switched back to Thinkpad X1 w/ Windows. With Linux Subsystem for Windows, it's been roughly working out. though I am currently maintaining two copies of things - one for Linux and one for Windows for lots of tooling. Not sure how to optimize here. Only been a few days. Re-learning keyboard shortcuts.

Only pain: not having iMessage on laptop.

I am a Apple supporter and shareholder, but will admit that I loathe the butterfly keyboard on my MPB with Touchbar. The amount of typos I make (mostly missed key strokes) rivals my iPhone which is impressive. I have also experienced the "dead" key issue when dust or hair get's under a key.

The technological anorexia plaguing Apple is progressing. Disorientation, lethargy, inability to complete simple tasks such as arithmetic, and fragility are all pathological symptoms. Apple employee injuries sustained by walking into walls, slowdowns caused by lack of energy reserves, irreversible damage inflicted by the lightest touch, degradation of capabilities once taken for granted, such as rapidly adding 1+1+1+1, coupled with staunch denials that any problem exists - these are not just warning signs. They are symptoms immediately recognizable to any trained practitioner denoting the sorry fact that, without intervention, Apple will not be getting better. No recovery may be reasonably expected.

Last May I bought a 2015 Macbook Pro 13" on sale for $1100 from Best Buy. Humorously it had a higher user review score on their website than the 2016 model (4.6/5 vs 4.5/5) and was ~$1300 cheaper.

From everything I've heard, I lucked out on that one!

All you need to know about Apple Engineering by Louis Rossmann https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUaJ8pDlxi8

I'm honestly thinking of switching to Thinkpad X1 Carbon now, but I HATE windows. And from what I've heard, Linux doesn't bode well with it. Anybody here Linux running on X1 Carbon?

I am, it's awesome with Fedora 28. There a couple of things to twiddle, mainly regarding sleep, but after that it's flawless. I can detail it a bit more if you like once I'm not on a phone.

Would love to hear it. I'm mainly concerned about the trackpad, wifi performance and power consumption.

Apologies for the delay:

Power consumption - pretty much the same as Windows. I did enable tlp and put `powertop --auto-tune` in the startup.

Trackpad is fine but it suffers from the same issue my XPS 13 (2016) has under Linux - occasionally tap-to-click stops working. A couple of clicks and it comes back but it is annoying.

Wifi performance is awesome, i'll max out my 300mbit internet on it, it's a league above the 'killer wifi' that Dell persist with.

The biggest issue and one that's apparently shared with the new XPS models is that Microsoft decreed their 'connected standby' sleep modes can't coincide with s3 (normal sleep). As Linux doesn't seem to support the new mode you have to patch the initrd line to insert a new ACPI table. It's a pain in the arse but you only need to run it once on each BIOS update. It's detailed here https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Lenovo_ThinkPad_X1_Carb...

Once that's done Fedora 28 is awesome on this, and the keyboard is leagues above the XPS or the latest Macbooks. Highly recommended.

Yup I have the X1 Carbon 5th gen (2017) with 1080p screen. If you have a recent enough kernel everything is supported out of the box (except thumbprint reader). It's probably my favorite Thinkpad since the IBM era. Perfect weight, dual USB-C ports, excellent battery life, great display, great touchpad and amazing keyboard (I prefer it to even the IBM era ones). I feel like Lenovo finally got it right.

It doesn’t work on the 2018 model. No reliable deep sleep state, no trackpad or track point on the model with NFC. Lenovo refuses to acknowledge both, so it will probably not get fixed. Also, the sound and webcam are aweful (think tin can and potato) … not something I expected from a 2750$ machine; but Netflix and conference calls will be painful at best. I also tried the Carbon X1 in 2015 I think (the one with the touch bar) but back then it only got 1,5 hours of battery, and I ended up returning it. This time it’s collecting dust in a drawer, probably indefinitely.

That's depressing.

Not X1 Carbon but on new T480. Runs flawlessly.

Yep - Fedora 27 on (older) T470 ... perfect. No issues with sleep or anything.

-Batt life --> TLP + powertop; I consume 5-6 watts idle with this setup

I recently had one of the new Macbook Pros for work and experienced exactly what the author describes. It happened regularly enough that is was a real issue. I finally got rid of it.

The can of air never resolved the issue either. I had to tap the side of the laptop and press down on the keys.

I honestly wouldn't recommend someone buy one either. They took forever to refresh the MBP and that fact that they released something after all that time with this issue is a joke. I won't be looking at Apple again for my hardware needs.

I haven’t had any issues with the 2016 tb version. But then that’s only 1 data point! Actually it’s the best Mac I’ve owned by far. The keyboard has been a big improvement as has the trackpad, screen, speakers, build quality and switch to USB c, reduced weight and size, etc. I upgraded from the redesigned 2012 which had a lot of glitches. New designs always take a while to work out all of the glitches. But generally I don’t see a lot of threads on bad keyboards. So I suspect this is fairly isolated.

I'm not a huge fan of the keyboard on my late 2016 MBP 15" myself (I would prefer the previous version, the buttons don't have the nice "clicky" sound anymore) but it has been rock solid ever since I got the laptop (November 2016) and has been in constant use since then (8+ hours every day).

I have my MacBook Pro on a stand then use a bluetooth keyboard and external monitor. Rarely do I use the actual keyboard.

If Apple created something similar to a Mac mini with a laptop battery I would buy it immediately. I know it wouldn't work for everyone, but it would suit my needs.

What do you need the battery for? No power at your desk, or just something a basic UPS could handle?

You're absolutely right, a simple UPS would be sufficient for my needs. I'm beginning to wonder if that is all I'm missing from my setup.

what's the battery for then? Just so you can move it from one place to another without shutting it down? And if so then it would only have to be enough of a battery to power the suspend right?

Why would it need a battery?

Form exceeded function. This isn't much different from stories of Apple power adapters with strain relief that always broke because the designers/marketers prohibited the engineers from making a proper strain relief.

Just an FYI, Apple still sells the older 2015 model: https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs-2015/

I hope they keep doing so until a newer model with a descent keyboard comes out.

Just got one, 15". looks good so far.

I moved on to an HP Spectre and Windows 10 from my 2009 MBP...I'm mostly happy with it, but VERY SAD that the MBP era seems to have ended rather than getting better and better. It's a damn shame.

I use a 2012 MBP that’s still going strong. The newer models with irreplaceable (at least by us mere mortals) hard drives, batteries and memory, and permanently pushed me away from buying a Mac again.

Any suggestions for good non-Windows laptops in the $1000 price range? I'm seriously considering just buying a refurbished MacBook Pro from 2013 at this point.

I think the dell XPS 13/15 or precision 5510 line is the successor to the MacBook Pro. I recently picked up an XPS 13 and installed Linux. I really prefer it to the MacBook Pro 2016 I have at work. The only thing missing is iMessage, which unfortunately is why I haven’t gone full Linux.

I use one of dells XPS 13 developer edition with Ubuntu on it. It works fine, there are some quirks (sometimes noisy whine when not doing a lot of CPU intensive tasks) and the camera is in a weird location. Outside of that it's worked well for my needs.

ThinkPads are a bit pricier but generally run Linux flawlessly.

So far I haven't had any problems with mine, purchased 4 months ago... knocks on wood

Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnot sure what you're talking about. It's best keyboard ever.


What is up with Apple lately. The Homepod is a total train wreck. No mic mute button. No input jack so can not use as a speaker. No stereo. Siri still terrible.

I had an employee provided macbook air which had constant issues with driving an external display. (I think it was firmware problems). When the keyboard broke after 10 months, I was pretty happy to have a solid reason for a replacement.

New macbooks are junk.

> This old MacBook Pro is still fine

Then why did you buy a new one?!? Excess consumerism drives the tech ahead, sure, but I can only have so much sympathy for your buyer’s remorse.

The problem must be environmental or physiological (he presses the keys harder than average, or something) because keyboard malfunction isn’t some recall-level dysfunction as he wants to make it out to be.

That said, the new keyboard is indeed a travesty.

Keyboard working here without issue. Noticed a couple issues earlier on, but discovered was from a couple crumbs. If there were a major issue affecting nearly everyone there would have been a recall or constantly news cycle about it. So I don't think the answer is for others to not buy a MBP because 'you' and some others are experiencing issues. Instead, I'd recommend you and others affected bring it into get fixed.

That being said, I'm sure the keyboards will continue to improve with each generation, albeit with compromises such as to get thinner they change the key styling and eventually will be touch only with haptic feedback (which I'm not excited for) but will be inevitable.

I think you need to reconsider the things you're saying. "A couple crumbs" rendering a key useless is a problem, not something to hand-wave. And yes, the issue is widespread enough that I've read several blog articles, stories, and comments on several websites about how terrible the keyboard is. This isn't some cheap $20 keyboard part that is expected to fail; this is Apple hardware, frequently claimed to be the best in the business.

Why "you" in scare quotes? Do you think people are lying about their problems with the keyboard? People don't want to bring in their workhorse machines (MacBook Pro) for repair because of a couple of crumbs. They don't want to be faced with repairs into the hundreds of dollars. They expect the newer MacBook Pros to be as reliable as the old ones, and this isn't happening.

Why are you so sure the keyboards will "continue to improve" with each generation? They haven't. The current trend is that they're getting worse. Have you tried typing on a hard, flat surface for a lengthy period of time? It hurts. Fingers were not designed to bang against unyielding surfaces for hours on end.

Did you clean them out yourself? There's very little room to use any sort of tool to clean under the keys without removing the caps, and from what I understand pulling the caps is a fairly risky procedure no matter how delicate.

You can get some way with canned air and something like a sheet of heavy paper to slip under the cap, but it's by no means infallible.

My intended solution is to take it periodically to the Apple store and request htey clean it out, since they have replacement caps and presumably the service manual on how to remove them properly. If enough people waste enough of their time and money, it might encourage them towards less hostile designs in future.

> change the key styling and eventually will be touch only with haptic feedback

Seen a lot of Apply apologists super happy about this idea as a sell of "increased reliability because there are less moving parts" when the 2012 model keyboard had zero reliability problems from their moving parts it's only the "butterfly" switch that has reliability problems.

Boggles the mind...

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