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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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RE: Fix released...
By JasonMick (blog) on 3/21/2011 6:14:44 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
As another user mentioned, an update to OSX was released today. I've downloaded this and it has fixed the problem on my machine, at least. I'd managed to get my system to lock doing a pretty basic stress test prior to the update, but not after.


Some users are still reporting locking post update. Additionally some users are reporting new issues of freezing within iTunes.

The update appears to have created more problems, while failing to fully fix the issues afflicting at least some MBP users...

I'd say it's pretty premature to declare this case closed. In fact Apple may need to work on yet another update to fix the problems caused by this one...


RE: Fix released...
By lewisc on 3/21/2011 6:28:59 PM , Rating: 2
I take your point. I can only speak of my experience, which has been that the specific freezing issue hasn't recurred since the update. I've not experienced any other issues, as mentioned by users on MacRumors, so can't comment on those.


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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