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2019 MacBook Pro Seems to Have a High Failure Rate

James G writes:

I recently wrote to you about problems with my MacBook Pro 16” running OSX10.15.3 Crapalina having issues with restarts and shutdowns while sleeping.

I mentioned this to an acquaintance who is the manager of our local Apple Store and she said that they had not been seeing any problems like this with other MBP16 customers. She suggested I contact Apple support or bring it in to Genius Bar, which I did. I was impressed. They were fast and efficient.

They determined that there was indeed a hardware problem, probably the logic board, but the problem was esoteric enough that their local diagnostic tools weren’t sufficient. So I updated my Carbon Copy Cloner backup and took the machine back in the next morning to be spirited off to Apple’s central repair facility near Houston.

ll I can get from their progress emails is that it took them less than an hour to determine the problem and order “a part.” I suspect it’s a new logic board but since my MBP was a custom config with 4TB SSD and maxed RAM all soldered to the motherboard I bet the whole assembly has to come from China and what with the Covid situation I may have to wait awhile.

I’ll update you when my MBP is returned and I have a chance to test it.

... March 26...

I finally got my MacBook Pro 16” back from Apple repair. You may recall in a previous email I stated that it was crashing while sleeping. Bad logic board, which had to come from China (I assume) since the RAM and SSD are soldered on during manufacture. As mine was a 64GB RAM and 4TB SSD I don’t imagine they had a bin of those sitting around at Apple’s US repair facility.

The info they sent with the returned laptop says they replaced the logic board, the Touch ID board and the Lid Angle Sensor. The logic board swap presumably used a new SSD as there was a virgin system installed and none of my apps or data. A full restore using Carbon Copy Cloner got me up and running within 30 minutes.

So far so good, except now the right side of the keyboard backlight doesn’t work, though it worked OK before I sent it to them. Grrrrr….

It will be back to Apple once the COVID-19 dust settles. But if they have to wait another two weeks for a part from China I’m just going to buy a new one, get this one fixed and sell it. Apple won’t declare a hardware item DOA and give you a new one unless you buy it directly from them.

So far this is the fifth apple laptop I have owned and the last four have all needed a new logic or video board at some point. Understand, I usually drive my laptops until they drop, but this last one was bad from the get-go.

MPG: this is the 3rd and maybe the 4th bad 2019 MacBook Pro logic board replacement I have heard about—two from consulting clients and one from reader.

NEVER have I had so many reports directly from readers/clients. It seems that Apple has serious qualitiy control issues. Be sure to buy AppleCare with the laptop.

Reader Jan S writes:

I just got my 7-month old Computer back from repair from Apple and I had the exact same issue. It was restarting or shutting down when sleeping nearly from the start. A few calls to Apple and reinstalling the operating system seemed to fix it. But then out of the blue last week it would just shut down after only being on for a few minutes. The computer would go to the login screen and the fan would make a quick spin noise and shut down.

I called Apple support since the stores are still closed in California and we reinstalled the OS again, and tried the several things but nothing work. Thankfully my computer was backed up with Time Machine and I was able to turn off all of my personal info before sending it in.

Apple quickly sent me a box which I received on Tuesday, I shipped the computer out the same day. Apple received it on Wednesday, repaired it and shipped it back the same day and it was back with me on Thursday. The parts were listed below on the AppleCare service product repair summary.
605-06168 - Logic Board, 2.3 GHZ, 64GB, AMD Radeon Pro 5500M, 1 TB
605-06552 - Touch ID Board

It came back with Catalina OS, so I did have to also update the OS, but it’s up and running good as new (hopefully).

I so wish I saw your blog post before purchasing or even after purchasing and added Apple Care. My computer was fixed under warranty, but now I’m worried it’s not going to last. Thanks again for the detailed posted.

MPG: with the huge price premium Apple charges, a 1-year Apple warranty might be a puzzler. But it’s all about profit margin: Apple skillful PR makes it possible to offer a pathetic 1-year warranty and then charge another $350 for something adequate. You gotta hand it to Apple for the upsell from poor value.

James G writes:

Your recent post of your reader’s comments regarding their 2019 Macbook Pro reminded me of my own experience with my same vintage Macbook Pro. I detailed that experience for you in March or April 2020 ,  but it bears repeating.

My 2019 macbook pro arrived in mid December 2019 and I had the exact same problems as your reader -  kernel panics or crashing while asleep, starting right off the bat. When I was actually able to get it in to a genius bar, their hardware test immediately identified the logic board as faulty and my machine went in to Apple two days before they shut down nation-wide due to COVID. It took a about a month to get it back, they sent it to my office address despite instructions otherwise, and the keyboard cable was loose,  causing only half of the keyboard to illuminate and another trip to the Apple store, which had fortunately reopened by then.

Since that motherboard replacement the machine has been rock solid and a joy to use. It has a good keyboard with a nice touch. I have kept updating software within the OSX 10.15 Catalina family, fearing incompatible bugs if I upgrade to Big Sur. That OS update doesn't appear to have any real value-added functionality so I don't think I am missing anything by holding out. 

So based on your other reader’s experience it would appear that bad motherboards are a problem with the 2019 16” MacBook Pro. One would think Apple would actually test these things before shipping. And if your reader’s 16” macbook Pro was a later production run than mine its logic board failure makes me think they have not gone back and fixed the root cause of these logic board failures. 

At this point I am petrified to upgrade and will run this machine as long as it still has the speed to needs my needs.

MPG: maybe the Apple M1 series is faring better, but they’re not a viable alternative for serious use yet, due to software limitations and a cap of 16GB memory.

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