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"It just works."

Apple's Genius Bar better brace itself for some upset customers.  Buyers of Apple's pricey, sleek MacBook Pros are finding [Apple Discussions Forum] that their machines lock up and stop responding when you stress them.  The hard freeze, which occurs in OS X, is reportedly non-recoverable, though users can SSH into their frozen systems.

The company recently refreshed its MacBook Pro laptop lineup to feature Intel's new 32 nm Sandy Bridge CPUs and AMD's Radeon 6000 Mobility series GPUs, ditching NVIDIA GPUs (the 13-inch model is now no longer offered with discrete GPU).

While the hardware refresh looks promising, the reports may give potential buyers potential cause to steer clear.  Apple is reportedly aware of the issue, but does not have a fix for it at present and has not publicly commented on it.

Apple often remains silent about its quality issues.  That allows it to maintain an inflated perception of quality among consumers and the press.  

The company heavily sells its systems on claims that they are easier to use than Windows and lack Windows-like problems.

The tendency of its new laptops to freeze up stands in stark contrast to these claims.  Reportedly machines can crash under a variety of scenarios.  Describes one user:

Received a new 15" 2.2/6750M MBP last week and have been having some issues with the machine locking up under load.

For example if I boot up a VM using Fusion the temperature will spike up above 90 degrees and the machine will lock up most of the time. The machine appears locked (cannot move the mouse at all and keyboard is unresponsive). I can SSH into the machine still and it still is running however. This is one example but it will freeze under a number of circumstances where the CPU/GPU load is very high (rendering, DJ Software, compiling so far in my travels).

Another user, back on Apple's official Discussions forum, bemoans:

Great. I'm having the exact same issue. It happens when rendering video in Imovie. The fan comes on and everything freezes. I can do nothing but a hard reset. Now I'm wondering if I should return this $2000 item and wait until all the bugs are fixed. 

Maintaining its image of producing "magical" products has been a struggle of late for the gadget-maker.  While some devices like the iPad 2 pleasantly surprised, the company has received a dose of reality from recent malware attacks.  As it continues to grow its marketshare, it will likely continue to encounter the hardware issues and malicious attacks that have become a fact of life for OS maker Microsoft and its hardware partners.

In that sense, Apple may be a victim of its own image which it has worked so hard to create.

Update: Monday March 21, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Late today Apple rolled out an update to OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", which included a number of updated features and fixes.  A special version of the update was crafted for the early 2011 MacBook Pros (discussed in this article).  While ostensibly to fix other issues, many believed that this update would fix the freezing problems.

It appears it did not, at least not for all those afflicted.  Writes one user on the MacRumors forums:

this still does not fix the issues on the new MacBook Pro 2011 models (15" 2.3ghz) - just tested on the two machines we have here. Still they are getting too hot, constantly the fans are blowing (testing with Transmission/Bittorrent downloading the Ubuntu DVD). Also we had two freezes already (only under heavy load). I am posting updates on our findings to our blog ( http://j.mp/dLSqgy ) - and we are still waiting for replacements from apple.

Users are also reporting that the update fails to fix another crucial problem, blackouts when connecting to Apple's 24-inch Cinema Display.  Writes another user:

Still experiencing blackouts. No graphics glitches but definitely got 2 blackouts post update...albeit less frequent. Back to the drawing board i guess.

In fact, the update seemed to cause crashes/freezes when using Apple's iTunes.  Writes one user:

I'm on a new Macbook Air (13" maxxed out) and the update seems to be causing iTunes to freeze the whole system - clock, mouse, keyboard, etc. It happens about 5-6 seconds after I launch iTunes. I can start a song, and it will continue to play after the system locks up, but otherwise I'm stuck with a hard reset. I tried clearing the preference files in \Users\[me]\Library\Preferences, but that didn't help. I repaired disk permissions before and after the update. Any suggestions?

Adds another:

Since the update I've had 3 crashes with iTunes.
2011 15" 2.2 MBP.

Not sure its related to the update, but in the space of just over a year, I've never had a crash with iTunes on MacOS 

In other words, it appears that the update not only failed to fix existing issues, but caused additional ones.


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This just in!
By spread on 3/21/2011 5:33:06 PM , Rating: 5
Blogger on DailyTech confirms what everyone else knows. Macs are pretty and sacrifice function for a nice form.

Useless for actual work.




RE: This just in!
By chmilz on 3/21/2011 5:53:49 PM , Rating: 5
5 isn't enough.


RE: This just in!
By vol7ron on 3/21/2011 9:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
Curious if this is an SSD issue like the early Micron problems due to increased IOPS. Of course, the obvious issue is heat.

Regardless, this is why Apple wants to charge more and have less customers to worry about. Apple, the fix is to raise the price another $1K so I don't have to hear about your crap anymore.


RE: This just in!
By Motoman on 3/21/2011 6:49:03 PM , Rating: 5
Indeed. The Mac is all the proof you need that not everyone in the world needs a computer. As evidenced by anyone who bought a Mac instead of a computer.


RE: This just in!
By Phynaz on 3/21/11, Rating: -1
RE: This just in!
By HrilL on 3/21/2011 7:17:06 PM , Rating: 1
No because you still have all the hardware problems. I doubt installing windows on these Mac's would solve the freezing. It sounds like an over heating issue.


RE: This just in!
By Phynaz on 3/21/2011 7:26:01 PM , Rating: 1
But wait, I thought Macs are overpriced because they use the same hardware as PC's?


RE: This just in!
By GodisanAtheist on 3/21/2011 8:04:38 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, I'd rather have $800 worth of components go to poop instead of $2000 of the *same components* going to poop.


RE: This just in!
By MeesterNid on 3/22/11, Rating: -1
RE: This just in!
By nafhan on 3/22/2011 9:44:49 AM , Rating: 3
I saw an HP with a quadcore sandy bridge (2630QM) and AMD 6770M for $900 on Slickdeals last night. The screen and battery life probably aren't as good as the Mac's, but otherwise, same or better components as a $2200 Mac. Coupon code NB739862 at HP if anyone is interested... I came very, very close to buying. Really can't justify getting another laptop, though.

So, that guy probably was being a troll, but he's still right!


RE: This just in!
By JonnyBlaze on 3/21/2011 8:28:35 PM , Rating: 2
We are talking about a laptop here not off the shelf motherboards. it would freeze no matter what OS if the design of the laptop is bad.

i know you already know this and are just being a normal apple user tho.


RE: This just in!
By Phynaz on 3/22/11, Rating: -1
RE: This just in!
By someguy123 on 3/21/2011 10:57:41 PM , Rating: 2
It's overpriced compared to comparable specs. Much like how comparable PC hardware quality can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, similar spec'd Mac hardware can vary in quality as well.

Don't know where the premiums are going, but it's obviously not to quality assurance.


RE: This just in!
By spread on 3/21/2011 11:28:45 PM , Rating: 5
Macs usually lag behind PCs in hardware. Sometimes as little as 6 months, sometimes several years. Its nice that the Air offers an "upgraded" Core 2 Duo now. Absolutelly worth the money, right?


RE: This just in!
By safcman84 on 3/22/2011 5:30:40 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But wait, I thought Macs are overpriced because they use the same hardware as PC's?


Yes, but not in the same form factor. Looks like Apple got the cooling design of their cases wrong, and users are paying the price (on top of the premium they already paid to have a Apple badge on their PC)


RE: This just in!
By merc14 on 3/22/2011 8:32:30 AM , Rating: 4
Apple uses the same hardware as a Windows machine but then stuff it into a fashionable case that forgoes ventilation for looks. They then load it with OS-X and sell it for 1.5 times what a better equipped Windows laptop would cost. When it seizes up at 90c and shuts down, as it should, it is a user problem, not a Mac problem, so pack sand fanboi and quiet down or we'll ban you from the forum.

Now do you understand the difference?


RE: This just in!
By tastyratz on 3/22/2011 10:17:00 AM , Rating: 1
To the same token that a Kia is the same as a Honda because they are both cars that make xhp and get xmpg etc.

Apple uses the same processor, same memory, and makes a motherboard identical in function to competing manufacturers. Stripping all else apple produces hardware that generally has impressive specifications in many cases. Then they turn the "free beer" knob in the QA department on the way to the design department where they pay NO attention to whats actually inside the box.

See a common theme with apple? Consistent quality problems related to pushing products out the door and not checking to make sure it works. They also have a problem with overheating because *gasp* hot electronics need ventilation! What a thought! When you take out the air holes, close up the air space, and grind down the heatsink... things start to overheat.

A 4 year old could have figured that out. Now now long till the sheeple catch on to this trend?


RE: This just in!
By HrilL on 3/24/2011 3:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
looks like the iSheep came through down rating everyone because they can't stand the truth.


RE: This just in!
By hiscross on 3/23/11, Rating: 0
RE: This just in!
By Jcollector1 on 3/23/2011 3:58:22 PM , Rating: 3
Not that the MILLIONS and MILLIONS of Ipod's classics that break every years about 1 month after the warranty expires doesnt equate to "Crap".

I consider "crap" to be any idiot who spends 2200 on a laptop that he could buy for 900 to be pretty "crap"py

And the more you apple snobs wear off on us peons the more half a percent of market share you gain every year the more hackers will develop malicious software that will attack you super premium Mac's.


RE: This just in!
By quiksilvr on 3/21/2011 8:45:22 PM , Rating: 4
Seriously. News flash! If you encase a laptop in 1" of aluminum with little to no ventilation, guess what happens when you push that CPU to the limit?


RE: This just in!
By AnnihilatorX on 3/22/2011 5:42:44 AM , Rating: 5
Steve Jobs will knock on your door and say, you are using it wrong.


RE: This just in!
By JBlongz on 3/24/2011 8:53:04 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Macs are pretty and sacrifice function for a nice form.

Useless for actual work.


Really guy? I've been using them for years to develop in ruby, c, php, and now C#/Boo via MonoDevelop. I consider that to be more work than the average power user.


RE: This just in!
By JBlongz on 3/24/2011 8:55:33 AM , Rating: 2
I just bought the new 13" last week, modded it (replace optical with second hdd), and I have no issues! Also running Ubuntu via VMWare Fusion. I use Logic Studio Extensively. I guess the problem must be those new graphic chips in the 15" and 17".


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