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The latest in a string of problems afflicting the new MacBook Pros, users are now reporting poor hard drive performance, random beeping, and clicking noises reportedly coming from the drives. The issue appears to be with the Seagate 500 GB drives shipping with many of the new MacBooks.  (Source: Apple)
More problems plague Apple's latest laptops, but a fix may be in store

Apple's MacBook Pro laptops certainly have their upsides.  Cut out of a block aluminum, they feature the attractive unibody design and industry leading battery life, while keeping to the ultra-portable 4 lb. and under weight range.  And their Core 2 Duo Intel processors and 9000 series NVIDIA graphics would seemingly make for a good experience, whether you were booting Windows Vista (or Windows 7) or OS X.

However, the newly launched luxury notebooks have not been without problems.  Early on their SATA speeds were found to be capped to 1.5 Gbps -- an update removed the cap and allowed transfer speeds of 3 Gbps.  Additionally, some of the new MacBook Pro laptops have experienced display issues, with many users reporting failing graphics.

Now Apple has another quality headache on its hands.  At least a couple hundred users have reported that Seagate 500 GB hard drives on their new 15" and 17" MacBook Pros have been experiencing poor performance, as well as making random beeping and clicking noises 20 or more times a day.  The Apple Support forum has an 82-page, 1000+ comment thread on the issues.

Describes one user who goes by the screenname Wessto:
I recently purchased a new MBP 15, 3 Ghz, 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drive, build-to-order. The hard drive appears to be a seagate ST9500420ASG. I am experiencing a strange hard drive click followed 80% of the time by a beep. It is definitely not a beep from the speaker. Additionally, it happens at any time, even when the computer is sitting on a perfectly still table. It is exactly the same sound as what is documented at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gOhgaIMpPI" rel="nofollow

and mine too appears randomly approximately 15-20 times per day. It does not appear to matter if the computer is under light or heavy use and it seems truly random when it occurs. Another user on youtube has also experienced this with their new MBP 15 and sent me a wav file with the same sound mine is making. So far, his experience is that it does NOT occur under bootcamp. This leads me to believe that it is something specific to OSX. Turning off the "put hard drive to sleep when possible" does not seem to make any difference. I have not personally tested bootcamp on my machine to confirm that mine is the same, but the original poster of the youtube video linked above also seems to think it is OSX specific.


Some users are reporting that the beeping is becoming less frequent, possibly due to a firmware update.  Other customers, though, are becoming frustrated.  Stated one MacBook owner, speaking to Apple blog site AppleInsider, "The crazy thing is that you can read comments about AppleCare Engineers stance on this issue: 'Its normal behavior,' (and) 'Apple´s Working on a fix.'  Also, some of them are recommending doing a complete reinstall, when this issue is factory related."

Apple reportedly is working on a full fix for the problem.  Representatives from Apple, according to affected customers, reportedly have told their customers that Apple is "highly aware" of the issue and that finding a fix is one of the company's "highest priorities."  However, they ask that for the time being users "live with" the problems plaguing their pricey purchases.


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RE: No surprises
By drycrust on 8/9/2009 1:57:53 PM , Rating: 5
My first "modern" computer was a Mac. It had a strange problem: suddenly the hard drive would get wiped. Then one day I noticed this happened just after the fan speed had changed. So I got to thinking: why do the fans, which are working at full speed, change speed, and what could possibly cause a hard drive to get wiped? Then the penny dropped: there was a problem with the power supply. So I took the computer back and told them I wanted a refund because it was a manufacturing defect, so they said they would have to look at the computer to determine if it was a manufacturing defect. They later rang me to say it wasn't a defect and they don't know what the problem was, but they had updated some firmware.
But it was too late, I had bought a PC by then, so after I picked up the unit I contacted a friend at church who had a Mac notebook, so I asked him if he would like it - for free. Strangely enough, he had been praying for a new computer and so, obviously, felt this was an answer to prayer. I was also relieved to have got rid of the thing: a win win for God!
When I took it around to his house I offered to set up the computer, to which he agreed. When I finally plugged the computer in I was amazed to hear the fans were barely audible. Then I knew I had been right all along.
The point of this is good design and mediocre quality control is worse than mediocre design and good quality control.

My take on this is it sounds like a problem with the HDD. Also, why does the case have to be cut from a block of aluminium? Why don't they just press it from a sheet of aluminium, or is that what they mean? Oh, why bother. I use an HP running Ubuntu so I'm happy: It just works.


RE: No surprises
By sebmel on 8/10/2009 4:29:39 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with you that quality control is very important. I like that the EU mandated that warranties must be for two years on all electronics.. forcing all big companies to raise their game all over the world as they don't make one product for the EU and another for the US.

Apple usually comes top of customer satisfaction surveys for the computer industry. Having said that, there's no reason for complacency considering how important information loss can be... it isn't like a lawn mower failing.

As for machining the Aluminium case:
Think about a wide flat but thin object.. flex is difficult to control.
Now put sensitive electronics in it.
Now heat them up for some thermal expansion.
Now bounce it around a bit.

Those are some serious stresses on a laptop... and we rightly demand quality control.

A machined case is going to allow for greater rigidity in a thin design because of how you can introduce cross walls and screw into metal. The aluminium is going to allow for heat loss.

You could mould a cheap plastic, which is better at returning to shape, but you'd have to use the fan more, screws don't grab well, and it would be a bit thicker. Handle one of these 'unibody' MacBooks and, regardless of other personal preferences, it's hard not to be impressed by the build quality.


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