I got my MacBook Pro back from Apple repair, today. It was actually ready late last week, but I was out of town. I had called DHL to arrange for them to not attempt first delivery until today. When I got home from my trip I discovered two messages on my machine from DHL, each warning me that my machine was in imminent danger of being returned. Instead of following my request to deliver today, they just went ahead and tried on Friday and Monday. Today I drove out to the DHL shipping center 20 minute away so I could take care of it once and for all without waiting around all day for another delivery.
I opened the box with anticipation. Maybe all of my concerns would be addressed. Or at least the screen brightness noise! I opened it and started it up to discover that they had completely wiped the hard drive, and reinstalled the base system (10.4.5). Well, at least maybe this was a sign of a huge overhaul of the system. The service slip describes replacement of four distinct parts, including (I think) the main logic board. I still have the same serial number as before, however.
The worst news? The one thing I thought would absolutely fixed completely – the screen-brightness relating buzzing – is clearly not 100% resolved. I can’t tell if the new behavior is the same or better, because it seemed like the buzzing varied a lot throughout the day, but I know that if I put my ear up to the right side of the computer, there’s a buzzing when the brightness is less than full, and no buzzing at full. Something in there is still “more noisy when not full.” That sounds like “not fixed” to me, but maybe it’s much quieter and “within spec,” now.
The expected-but-sad news? The whine is present as ever. I was shocked to come home and discover that the 17″ MacBook Pro was announced at NAB of all places. If the 17″ edition of this computer exhibits anywhere near the same noise problems as the 15″, then I don’t see how any NAB professional could possibly use it for their work. My only A/V interests with the machine is for home recording, and even for that it seems to be dodgy at best. If I make a blank recording with GarageBand, with the audio input set to “built-in audio”, but nothing plugged in to the input plug, I can record the noise. That just doesn’t seem right. Plugging a mini-jack to RCA cable into the headphones line-out on the computer, I am able to amplify the CPU whine to whatever volume I care to, through my home stereo. The freaking noise is there, Apple! Is it acceptable? I have a hard time accepting it, and I don’t see how any professional would allow it on their A/V portable computer.
Among the components replaced by Apple are some heat regulator parts. Hopefully this will make the unit run cooler, but I have to suspect that if the main noise complaints were not addressed, this repair might have been a waste of effort, since I’ll be pursuing further repair as suggested in my original complaint.
If Apple or anybody else can convince me that it’s OK for my machine to make a headache-inducing, audio-track ruining noise during ordinary operations, then I’ll shut up and stop posting about this. Otherwise, I want a freaking Pro computer, Apple. And I’m exhausted already just thinking about dealing with another round of DHL shipments and ineffective Apple repairs.
I’m going to hold on to the unit at least for a few days, since I’m doing some traveling next week. Yes, it’s true. I rely on the computer. It is in fact useful, but it’s fatally flawed and does not meet my expectations for an Apple computer.
Update: Positive Notes
I’m cranky because the main problem of the CPU whine wasn’t fixed. But on a positive note, I should add that both the CPU whine and display noises seem much less noticeable than before. The CPU whine is now my main concern as it’s still loud enough to notice all the time in a quiet room, and it gives me a low-grade headache, but I think the display brightness noise is now “quiet enough to ignore.” That’s good!
Other bright points? It’s now been running for a couple hours and it’s still relatively cool. I think there was something wrong with the heat management and it’s now fixed. That’s nice! Thanks, Apple. Also, I have yet to hear the mooing noise since I got it back. We’ll see how it holds up when I head out of town again this weekend. It’s always easier to hear the noises on the road – in part because hotel rooms are quiet, and in part because I’m more likely to be running on battery power.
It’s possible. Just possible that I might be willing to cut my losses and keep this computer as-is. The whining CPU still drives me nuts, but as long as one of my workarounds continues to work, I might prefer to just live with it (albeit with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth about Apple quality), instead of pursuing further action. I’m afraid if I pursue the repair process any further, I might end up with another machine that is worse than this one. Crappy way to have to look at the world, huh? Is this how PC owners feel?
Update: should have known not to write anything about this until I had used the machine for a couple hours. The mooing is still there. Silver linings are falling like flies.