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Why is the MacBook so heavy?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Walt Mossberg of the WSJ recently reviewed the MacBook. He highlights an interesting issue when comparing it to the Sony SZ series laptops.

The MacBook weighs 5.2 pounds and the Sony weights 3.8 pounds!
Both laptops have almost exactly the same size and feature set (the Sony has a dedicated graphics card and costs much, much more), so what has Apple put in the MacBook to make it so heavy?

Sure, the plastic casing of the MacBook will be heavier than Sony's carbon fiber, but 1.4 pounds?! Surely Apple can make a lighter MacBook? What's going on here?
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post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by jms698
Walt Mossberg of the WSJ recently reviewed the MacBook. He highlights an interesting issue when comparing it to the Sony SZ series laptops.

The MacBook weighs 5.2 pounds and the Sony weights 3.8 pounds!
Both laptops have almost exactly the same size and feature set (the Sony has a dedicated graphics card and costs much, much more), so what has Apple put in the MacBook to make it so heavy?

Sure, the plastic casing of the MacBook will be heavier than Sony's carbon fiber, but 1.4 pounds?! Surely Apple can make a lighter MacBook? What's going on here?

You know, when I'm carrying my computer around, it's not that heavy. For me, the weight isn't an issue. To answer your question, I think it might be a combination of the case and possibly the battery? I don't really know, I'm just guessing.
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post #3 of 22
Work out more. I suggest you buy two so you can curl them, and then stack them on your back doing other exercises.

I think weight is probably the last thing on the list Apple cares about. In fact, it's probably not even on the list. Most PC laptops are like twice as big and heavy anyway.
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post #4 of 22
From what I've read the Sony Laptop is actually 4.1 pounds (the 3.8 pounds does not include the battery) still it is a bit heavier but its also about $500 more expensive.

And to answer your question I have no idea perhaps the battery is heavier

{Opinion: 5.2 pounds is not that heavy (atleast for me) I've had to carry a lot heavier notebooks.}

Btw I would like to see someone weigh the MacBook with out the battery.
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post #5 of 22
i'm annoyed with these responses. a question is asked, and rather than any sort of answer given, all i see is "who cares about weight?" i'll never understand how defensive apple fans can be.
post #6 of 22
The Reality Distortion Field generator weighs about a pound or so.

I'm not being fanboyish but who cares about an extra pound? As others have said, it's not all that important especially considering that the Mac is quite a bit cheaper for once.

Maybe it's built more strongly, has a heavier HD, heavier battery - it could be a number of things.

I might care if the Sony was $500 cheaper and lighter.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by progmac
i'm annoyed with these responses. a question is asked, and rather than any sort of answer given, all i see is "who cares about weight?" i'll never understand how defensive apple fans can be.

First of all I tried to answer the question to the best of my knowledge, I also corrected him a bit about the actual weight and then I gave my opinion on the subject, thats it, I'm not being defensive and I did try to answert so I don't know what your talking about.

1 pound of diference is not as much compared to $500. (my opinion)

btw I'm a switcher so no RDF field influencing my opinion
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post #8 of 22
I assume it's because the SZ series was designed with light weight in mind, and so Sony chose componants and materials to compliment that. The Macbook, nee iBook, has always been designed as a sort of rugged, backpack-worthy student machine, while the SZ is targeted at travelling businessmen.

I would be surprised, though, if Apple didn't have an ultralight MacBook Pro in the works.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Sure, the plastic casing of the MacBook will be heavier than Sony's carbon fiber, but 1.4 pounds?! Surely Apple can make a lighter MacBook? What's going on here? [/B]


I can't speak to the Sony but there are several things contributing to the weight in a MacBook.

First there is a very substantial metal chassis inside the computer, beefier than, say, the chassis in a titanium Powerbook.

Second, there is a metal plate underneath the entire logic board that sits directly inside the bottom plastic case. This dissipates heat, adds strength and adds weight.

Third, another fairly hefty bit of metal underneath the entire keyboard. This makes for a very rigid keyboard, the most rigid I've seen in a laptop, but it definitely adds weight.

Fourth, the battery is on the large side for a "smaller" notebook. Note than on Mac, the battery weight is included in the weight of the overall machine.

Fifth, the heat sink seems large to me as well. But with all the heat problems being reported, that is probably a good thing.

Sixth, the cooling fan assembly is entirely metal except for the fan blades, quite large, and of very high quality.

And lastly there is the matter of the substantial metal bracket that goes around the battery on the sides facing the hard drive and RAM. With previous Mac laptops you either lifted the keyboard or opened the case (or a small door that formed part of the case) to get at these components, so this bracket is also a net weight gain.

I would guess that in the case of the first three items, Sony is using thinner pieces of metal or depending entirely on the plastic.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by progmac
i'm annoyed with these responses. a question is asked, and rather than any sort of answer given, all i see is "who cares about weight?" i'll never understand how defensive apple fans can be.

Arg that's exactly what I was thinking.

Anyways, I don't own a laptop, but I will say that those heatpipes and batteries can weigh a lot. Sony weighs their viao sans battery and I donno if they have heatpipes.

Apple's drives might weigh more, I donno. We're talking about 17-20 oz here, it could come from anywhere.

I'd imagine that the vaio uses more plastic.

PS, can you tell I don't know the correct spelling of viao? I spelled it 2 different ways so people would think the other one was a typo.
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post #11 of 22
I'm also of the believe that - according to reports - the MacBook has been made specifically with ruggedness in mind. Apple willl have wanted to avoid the Logic board problems of the iBooks at all costs- caused by flexing of the board.. People do tend to chuck around the iBook/MacBook class of computers much more than say a PB/MBP. Hopefully, it proves a real road warrior akin to the tough books or similar...


Quote:
We've all seen the disassembly pictures on the internet, but as far as I can tell, they didn't mention these details:

1. The Macbook is built with a very sturdy metal frame, similar to a steel safety cage construction in a well-built car. The internal construction doesn't involve any flimsy metal pieces, so Kudos to Apple! From what I can tell as a materials science graduate student, it looks like cast aluminum or magnesium alloy. Very sturdy and light. All major components are screwed to the metal frame, and the plastic (black or white) just covers that frame.

2. The macbook has 3 internal speakers. One on each side of the laptop and one in the center. The one in the center is slightly bigger, about 2/3 inch in diameter. I presume it's the "bass" speaker. This is the only significant empty space in the entire laptop! It's below the F8 key and fires UP towards the keyboard. The ones on the side are oval shape and fires BACK towards the screen. The speakers are mounted with some sponge sound isolators-probably to prevent music from creating a buzz with the casing. Nice!

3. The ENTIRE hard drive assembly is mounted on shock absorbing soft rubber! The HD caddy slides on rubber rails, and is held by those rubber rails. There is also a rubber bumper behind the SATA connection, fully engloving the HD with rubber. And it's not just a hard piece of rubber - the rubber rails are designed with hollow channels to be flexible. *clap clap clap* You probably won't notice this even if you take the hard drive out.

4. Of the many many case screws, the two on the outside left near the front (left of left palmrest) is a SHAM! It's just a meaningless set of screws put to make the Macbook symmetric looking, and as far as I can see they serve no purpose! There are two screws accessible from the INSIDE of the case that holds that part of the casing together. Weird, huh?

5. The REAL fan exhaust grill only spands from F5 to F7. The rest of the grill is just there for show. The Macbook seems to include a lot of "features" that are only for show!

All in all, the design is simply incredible. I've taken apart a LOT of laptops (powerbook G4, iBook G4, about 6 thinkpads, 4 dells, etc) and none of them came even close to the attention to detail. So the blueprint was excellent. HOWEVER, the assembly quality is not very good. Some screws were loose, one of them was somewhat striped, one of the plastic pieces were slightly bent during assembly, etc. Apple needs some handle on quality control in assembly!!!

Finally, I do NOT recommend anyone take apart their macbook, as it is much easier to open than an iBookG4 but MUCH HARDER to put together than a iBookG4.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by jms698
(the Sony ... costs much, much more)

the plastic casing of the MacBook will be heavier than Sony's carbon fiber

Well, there's two very good reasons you have provided for yourself.

Also, as others have noted, the MacBook is an extremely rigid machine, built with reggudness in mind.

Finally, I agree that people just saying "who cares about an extra pound", whithout offering reasons for the MacBook's extra weight relative to some other 13.3" notebooks is very annoying. But it's probably a reaction to your thread title. The MacBook is not "so heavy". It is more that the Sony is "so light". If you check out the majority of Dell's, Acer's, Toshiba's and HP's consumer laptops, you will find that they are closer to 3 Kg in weight (granted, that's because they've got 15.4" screens), or are similar in weight to the MacBook if they have smaller screens.
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post #13 of 22
The weight of the MacBook really doesn't bother me.. .and that's coming from a 12" iBook. I really like the solid feel. The only way you're going to know "why" it weighs what it does is to take it apart and start weighing parts or get ahold of an engineer. While it is annoying when people don't respond to an original posters questions, it's equally annoying when people make posts that we obviously can't answer.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Joey
it's equally annoying when people make posts that we obviously can't answer.

Do you not think the question has been answered? I think there's plenty of explanation in here as to why the MacBook weighs more than the Sony.
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post #15 of 22
It's heavy so you can beat people in the head with it.

"What'd the MacBook say to the face?"
'..."
"SLAP!"
"Argh!"

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
I think the quesiton has been answered quite well. Sony spent lots of money making the SZ really, really light and Apple spent lots of brain power making the MacBook really rugged and kept the price extremely reasonable. The extra pound is certainly worth the much cheaper price.

Another point to consider: Sony laptops have a reputation for being very failure prone. They fall apart like nobody's business (I know, I've owned one). I'd rather pay less, get a MacBook and carry more, than get a Sony and have it fall apart as soon as the warranty runs out (their tech support is useless, too).

Summary: no other notebook on the planet is as good a deal as the MacBook. (That Reality Distorition Field generator must really be running on full-power )
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post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Apple

btw I'm a switcher so no RDF field influencing my opinion

You're under the influence and don't realize it.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by backtomac
You're under the influence and don't realize it.

Indeed.
post #19 of 22
Whatever Apple does, fanboys can justify. Why is that Dell so much heavier than the MacBook? Because Dulls suck! Why is the MacBook so much heavier than the Sony? Because it is rugged, of course!
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by cygsid
Whatever Apple does, fanboys can justify. Why is that Dell so much heavier than the MacBook? Because Dulls suck! Why is the MacBook so much heavier than the Sony? Because it is rugged, of course!

Wow! what a helpful, informative post. Thanks for all the extra information you've brought to the table.
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post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. H
Wow! what a helpful, informative post. Thanks for all the extra information you've brought to the table.

Thought I'd stay in the spirit of most of the responses...
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by backtomac
You're under the influence and don't realize it.

well maybe a little bit... just give me a few months more with my MacBook then the RDF field will be crancked up to maximum

Quote:
Whatever Apple does, fanboys can justify. Why is that Dell so much heavier than the MacBook? Because Dulls suck! Why is the MacBook so much heavier than the Sony? Because it is rugged, of course!

Well my girlfriends dell is almost 7 pounds yet its made of very cheap plastic and feel like it could break if its handled to hard (scratch that, it's already cracking) but my MacBook is 2 pounds lighter and feels a lot more solid/rugged.

Thats a huge difference in my book... oh and I was using the dell for months, I carried and gave it daily use, so I know what I'm talking about.

But I do admit newer dells feel a lot more solid, but still not as solid as this computer. (and some are still heavier)
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