MBP: Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

May 6th, 2006

This post is part of my MacBook Pro Complaints series. Instead of (or in addition to) linking directly to this post, consider linking to the series link, which includes a summary of all findings to date and direct links to the pertinent downloads that users may find useful. Thanks for reading!

I know everybody is sick of this issue. Believe me, I am too. But for the people following along from home I feel obligated to keep you posted on this until it reaches a resolution. Here is the latest chapter in my experience with getting my MacBook Pro repaired.

So far my machine has only been to AppleCare service once. I sent a long list of problems and hoped that at least some of them would be addressed. The machine came back largely unchanged, and now I’m trying to decide when and if to send it back. Most of the existing noise problems persist, and now that spring is descending on the Northeast with summer-like temperatures, the heat is more unbearable than ever. My hands literally get sweaty while typing on the thing! If that’s normal, then the world is due for a revision to laptop design. I bought the Apple argument that it’s “not a laptop.” But if it makes my palms boil there isn’t much I can do for that short of using an external keyboard.

I finally got up the psychic energy to call AppleCare back. It’s always hard to make these calls, because you have to steel yourself against the inevitability of them trying to convince you again that the problem isn’t really a problem. Yeah, OK. But anyway this time I got put pretty quickly in touch with a “product specialist” because my complaint was that a repair had come back with symptoms unfixed. To be honest, I was expecting most of the problems to be unfixed. But I didn’t expect the “display buzz” to still be there! That’s the one thing they had expressed confidence about fixing. I had agreed to send my machine in, and be without it for more than a week, so that I could at least get the display buzz fixed. I figured, if I had to suffer all the symptoms that everybody else does, at least I want to get the part that’s fixable fixed.

So now that Apple wasted a bunch of money on shipping and labor just to send me a machine nearly identical (except with the hard drive wiped) to what I’d sent them, I’m more than a bit hesitant to send it back off for another round of attempts.

To their credit, they claim that this time around it will go to a “higher level” of service. I guess that means somebody capable of actually repairing machines? I don’t know. It seems like it would have been worth it, sometime around when they were reformatting my hard drive, to also turn on the machine and see if the one symptom they were sure they could fix … was fixed. At least then I’d only be complaining about the CPU whine and the mooing. And I’d have a somewhat improved user experience (to be fair, they did manage to fix the “high pitched squeal” through some luck).

I’m pretty close to just accepting the flaws of the machine that may not be fixable. We may all be stuck with CPU whine and mooing. OK. If we’re all in this together, I think I can deal with it. I’m not happy about it, but I can deal with it. I’ll refine my QuietMBP application, embrace the udder cowness of my machine, and wear oven mitts or something while typing.

But I want the buzzing to go away! At least!

Now I’m faced with the prospect of going through all that “sending it in” garbage again, hopefully this time with a semi-joyful resolution at the end. But being without the MBP for that week and a half is damaging to my productivity. The very act of choosing a “least harmful time” to send it back in is stressful, and I’m liable to make the wrong choice, and end up wishing 4 days in that I had it available for Intel testing or portable use.

I’m going to think about it over the weekend and decide on Monday whether and when to send it in again.

Update: I meant to point out that there is a loose plan to do a launch a mass complaint against Apple in particular about the CPU whine problem. It tickles me pink to see any mobilization at all on the issue, so I am supporting the cause. But I don’t really care when you call, as long as you do call. One of the things that bothers me is that some people are running my software to workaround the whine, and therefore not complaining with Apple about the problem. I was guilty of this with the PowerMac G5 whining problem. I was just too busy and depended too much on my computer to let it out of my hands for a round of attempted repairs, so I never called.

If you have the whine and it bothers you, it’s imperative that you at least let Apple know once that the whine is bothering you and you want it fixed. If you’re not ready to send it in, at least call up and complain about the problem. Tell them you can’t send it in yet but you want to open a case for it and will think about when you can find time to send it in.

To encourage vocalization about the problem, I wonder if some kind of “I Whined” badge might be helpful? If there are any graphic artists reading this who would be interested in donating your time to whip up a quick graphical badge suitable for web display, let me know. If we can get people to place “I Whined” badges on their sites after calling Apple, then it might encourage others to do the same. I would also be willing to set up a page here dedicated in particular to the whine problem. Then users could have the badge point at that page for more information.

Just a thought. We can’t take this lying down (with our hands over our ears).

55 Responses to “MBP: Wash. Rinse. Repeat.”

  1. Jon Hendry Says:

    Daniel writes: “power is being consumed at a more consistent (higher) rate. I expect the battery life is much worse in Windows on MBP than in Mac OS X.”

    Do Windows hardware-monitoring apps work on the MacBook*s?

  2. Jon Hendry Says:

    Daniel writes: “I’m thinking of buying a MacBook just to see if it suits me better, and have something to use while the MBP is gone again. ”

    It’s tempting to me, as well.

    Although I don’t like the glossy screens, the MacBook has one *significant* advantage over the ‘Pro: apparently, it’s pretty easy to swap hard drives. That’s a big deal. Heck, I’m already wishing I’d bought a larger drive for my MBP – I bought the 80GB, have 25 GB free, and wish I had another 20 to 40 GB free for a Windows partition.

  3. Thinh Thang Says:

    I just bought a MacBook (2.0ghz/White) and I had to return it as well for the same reason as everyone else has been having. The screen buzzing, the heat, odd smudges on the right side of the body panel and the right speaker wasn’t working at all.

    My 12″ PB was perfect. Not a single flaw out of it besides the heat.

    Anyways, hope Apple makes us all happy in the end.

  4. Andi Zeidler Says:

    for anyone interested, i’ve had my mbp replaced two times now, and all three had the whine. the good news is that the second and third ran much cooler than the first and the last one was a free upgrade (from 1.83 to 2.0 ghz) and imho has a slighty better display as well… so all the hassle was worth something at least.

    on the other hand, i don’t think i’m gonna go through another round of replacements but instead keep my fingers crossed for the increw.com guys to fix the whine eventually…

  5. FalconDelta Says:

    I have a MBP with serial W8616 and it has the whine and the heat issue. As far as I can tell, and I’ve posted this other places, the whine seems to be from an offending kext file and not the hardware itself. If you boot into winxp you’ll notice there is no whine. Also, after I ran the latest SMC firmware update and implemented QuietMBP the temperature decreased to a tolerable level. While it’s still pretty hot, it doesn’t get super hot anymore. I assume once they figure out how to write a better SMC kext, we’ll see the noise issue go away. But, considering it seems to be a software issue, at least partially, I wouldn’t expect higher serials to be without the problem.

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