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.
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.