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My MacBook Pro 17" Has Gone Back to Apple for A Full Refund

I have reported extensively in this blog on the SATA 6G issues with 6G solid state drives (SSDs) on the 2011 MacBook Pro. For details, follow the links from my July 4, 2011 blog entry My 17" MacBook Pro Lemon Still Has SATA 6G Problems.

In brief, SATA 6G solid state drives (all brands) in the 2011 MacBook Pro exhibit the following issues:

  • Fail to function, fail to format, etc.
  • For 2-drive MacBook Pros: total failure to function in optical bay, even if system info claims 6G support;
  • Perform erratically;
  • Perform below potential.

These issues afflict the 17" model the most, the 15" model to a lesser degree, and generally do not appear to afflict the 13" model. The issues appear to vary for inexplicable reasons, as well as with the particular unit.

Alternatives and options

OWC offers a cable shielding kit for the 2011 MacBook Pro that might help in some cases.

Another alternative is to stick with a SATA 3G solid state drive instead of a SATA 6G solid state drive. But in many cases, the 6G drive will outperform, even if running at less than its peak ability.

My business needs and what I did

With $2900 invested in the 17" MacBook Pro, along with $300 for AppleCare, I wanted a unit that served all my needs: travel and accurate testing for 6G SSDs. While the 17" was fine for travel, the testing aspect is actually of greater importance for me; I cannot afford to test drives in a model that impairs their performance.

Apple had swapped the original unit for a replacement, but installing a 480GB SSD in the replacement model showed impaired performance relative to the 13" MacBook Pro, and based on recent experience, I know this meant strong caution was advised, because future glitches could occur unexpectedly.

In most cases and for most users, performance even though slightly impaired is likely to prove highly satisfactory with a SATA 6G SSD. But I don’t spend my hard-earned dollars on top-flight gear to get “pretty good most of the time”.

What Apple offered and what I did

Apple offered a full refund on the 17" MacBook Pro, along with a discount on something else. I accepted that offer and purchased two lesser machines at a discount, and I still had money left over. Apple also sweetened the deal with an 8GB iPod Nano, but the reasons for that were specific to a past conversation of mine with Apple.

I cannot fault Apple’s willingness and reaching out in doing something reasonable to mollify me— I am satisfied with this alternative in the face of the simple fact that demanding a 17" model that works is, realistically, just not in the cards technically. I will wait for a 2012 model instead.

With the refunded money from my 17" MacBook Pro, I ordered the following:

  • 2011 MacBook Pro 13" 2.7GHz (for testing and travel);
  • 2011 MacBook Air 1.7 GHz (for internet/mail/etc around home, etc).

Emailing me for advice.

I am getting a fair number of “what should I do” and “would Apple do that for me” emails. I cannot speak to anything about what Apple will or will not offer, and as for “what should I do”, I do offer consulting should you want to explore your options.


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