Update: Macbook Pro Retina Thunderbolt Issue

My loose thunderbolt connector issue is now fixed. I took Omotesando Apple Store in Tokyo and genius confirmed the issue. Since I’m still under 12 months warranty the service was free.

According to the genius the logic board of the machine was replaced.  Both thunderbolt ports are still a bit wiggly; there seems to be more tolerance for connector movement than there was in my Macbook Pro 2011 non-retina model. However, the connection no longer breaks despite the wiggle. I tested this throughout with various scenarios and cables. I even tried yanking the cables (gently) while having a hard disk connected with the Thunderbolt – Firewire 800 adapter. The connection didn’t break even once. I am not able to reproduce the issue.

The connectors do feel fragile and I will surely take  extra care when handing the thunderbolt cables. Since there is so much tolerance it might be that force of the movement of the cable is transferred directly to the logic board and who knows what kind of damage that might cause. I would advice any Macbook owner to handle them gently.

Thunderbolt story continues

I took my Macbook Pro to Apple Store yesterday due to the issue of loose Thunderbolt connectors. I reserved a genius bar appointment in Omotesando store almost a week earlier.

The friendly Genius immediately confirmed the issue, Thunderbolt to Ethernet convertor dropped connection from a slightest movement of the cable. She asked other geniuses to come to check it and ran MRI diagnostics. There was actually trouble running the diagnostics since the computer was booted from a network drive using the Thunderbolt-Ethernet adapter. However, and therefore the issue was confirmed.

As I expected, the computer had to be sent to repair, and in all likelihood the logic board will be replaced, and maybe keyboard and chassis too. Since I’m still under 12 months warranty it should be free. It will take about a week or maybe  less, I was told.

Now, I could have just let it be and make a do with USB3 connections, perhaps buy USB to Ethernet adapter instead of using the wiggly thunderbolt, use USB drives and so on. However, I will likely use this computer more and more, and I might need to get a fast external drive for this to store and edit my photos, as well as connect this one to 4K monitor one day.

Even if I am able to get the Thunderbolt working by taping the connectors to the chassis who knows how long it will work if the connector is this unreliable from the beginning?

The Genius did mention to me that the computer might also be returned in it’s present state if the technicians in the other end are unable to find a flaw with the connectors. This feels a bit strange for one reason; how could Apple Genius and technician come to a different conclusion? The issue was already verified by the Genius and thus the decision was made to send this computer to be fixed.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

I must however say that Geniuses in Omotesando store were super friendly and professional. I hope that technician who fixes the computer will have same spirit.

I still have time to consider purchasing Apple Care for my Retina Macbook Pro. I have had logic board failure in my earlier Macbook Pro, as well as complete battery failure twice. I might buy it.

Thunder Bolt in Macbook Pro (Retina Late 2013)

macbook pro thunderbolt connector

My Macbook Pro with Retina Display (Late 2013 model) is a remarkable computer. It’s super fast and I have had almost zero issues. Just one thing.

The Thunderbolt 2 connectors are loose, like there’s too much mechanical tolerance. The Thunderbolt plug wiggles and there is no assuring firmness. I have had this issue with Thunderbolt to Ethernet, Thunderbolt to FireWire 800 adapter and Minidisplay port to DVI adapter as well.

I decided to test the adapters with my older Macbook Pro (2011) with Thunderbolt 1. The connector felt much more firm and reliable and none of the issues happened in this older device. I even tried to  nudge the connector around slightly. Even though there was slight movement, the connection never broke. This is obviously how it’s supposed be.

It seems I’m not alone with my problem.  This is so widely known problem with the Macbook Pro Retinas that there is even home brew solution. The plastic piece that secures the connectors to the magsafe is quite clever actually, and this can further protect the connectors from external stress. I am considering ordering one.

The problem however is super annoying. It’s OK if I use my laptop on my desk and be super careful not to touch the wire or computer while it’s connected. But using this on my lap? No way. It’s actually quite dangerous since if I’m using FW800 disk for example via the adaptor and connection breaks during data transfer that might result in data corruption.

Furthermore, this raises a question about the durability of the ports themselves. I would advice to be extra careful and not yank the wires when they are connected. Stress from such movement might transfer straight into the logic board.

Since my Macbook Pro is still under warranty I am considering taking it to the genius and ask if there’s anything they can do. But if they decide it’s manufacturing problem, this might require that the logic board will be replaced. Who knows what kind of new issues that might bring. Besides, I cannot afford downtime.

Seeing however how fragile things are in the new Macbook Pro Retina, I am considering getting Applecare for this, after all. In the mean while I make a do with my trusty G-Drive USB3 disk for backups.