Weekly Poll: How’s your Unibody MacBook Holding Up?

Since 2008, Apple has shifted the design of all MacBooks with a unibody aluminum shell, starting with the original MacBook Air and continued with the MacBook Pros. Today, if you buy a MacBook, you’ll have to get one with an aluminum unibody, as that’s all they sell now. Apple’s hailed the design as stronger yet lighter than previous designs. It’s certainly proved popular with customers. Every high-end PC, it seems, tries to one-up Apple’s unibody design.

Plastic cracks and scratches, and rarely would hold up to any heavy blows or falls. Aluminum is much more resilient, but is still susceptible to scratches from hard objects and even bends from hard falls. It’s far from the hardest or strongest material on the planet. Just search for bent MacBook Air, and you’ll find some horrifying pictures online (of course, if a plastic notebook took the same blows, it likely would have cracked and shattered instead of just bending … but still).

That’s why we’re wondering how your unibody MacBook Pro or Air is holding up. Have you gotten some small scratches and bent corners, or does yours still look factory-fresh? Is the unibody design working better for you than other laptops you’ve had in the past? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


Add Yours
  • There’s two dents on the bottom of my six month old Macbook Pro that annoy me to no end because I have absolutely no recollection of how they would have gotten there! I treat my laptop like a newborn child and yet they have mysteriously appeared. Other than that it’s fine (:

  • My has its wear but no dents. I don’t concern myself with looks so long as it does the job that I expect … and the way that I want it. I’m no pretty boy and don’t give a damn when my machines are either.

  • I got my mid 2009 MacBook Pro in… mid 2009. It’s been dropped once and has a small ding on the corner. Other than that, it’s in damn good condition. Not a single scratch.

    • Wow, same here … though mine’s only one month old. Just that one corner ding that really didn’t affect anything … but it bugs me knowing it’s there :/

  • Mine is late 2008, 2 GB memory. Cosmetically it’s still pretty gorgeous, a few hairline scratches here and there, but the innards are pretty exhausted I think. Web browsing often slows down to c.1996 Netscape-ish pace, it has powered off randomly by itself a few times, and refuses to wake from sleep now and again. Also suffers from incurable spinning beach ball that only a hard switch-off will kill.

    It’s still just about usable for non-work use. Can’t run PS/Coda/Word/Excel and the like without waiting around all day for them to start up. But despite the sloth-like speeds and logic board issues (?) I still actually prefer it for personal use because Snow Leopard, for me, is just so much nicer to use than Lion which is on my work machine.

    • @elanor. Upgrade the RAM to 4GB (it is pretty cheap these days – and super easy to do). And do a CLEAN install of Snow Leopard.
      That will make your machine feel way faster, fresh and fly again.

      Come on, do it. You’ll love it. Guaranteed.

  • I have the same pro – late 2008 2gb ram – but mine runs lion/PS/ everything else beautifully cuz I upped my RAM to 8 gb. You could try doing the same. I also intend to replace my hdd with an ssd soon, which should make a world of a difference!

  • I actually have a unibody MacBook – that is to say it’s not Pro or Air. That one in-between model from way back. To be honest, I haven’t taken the greatest care of the outside but it’s holding up quite nicely. Still going strong, running Mountain Lion with no major problems.

  • I have late 2008 macbook, upgraded to ssd amd 8gb ram – like a new. :)

  • I dropped my Retina MacBook Pro on to tiles a few days after I got it. Totally devestated. The corner is bent a little bit, which isn’t a bit deal, but now the right CPU fan is extremely loud…

    • Devastated rather

    • Oh my, that’s awful!

  • According to AppleCare, there was a huge dent in my unibody 13″ MBP. Strange enough, I had never noticed it before. Stranger still, it was impossible to see it on the photos they sent me (after I asked for them literally 8 times). Even more strange, it was impossible for them to show me the dented part when I asked for it. Strangest of all: my AppleCare wasn’t honored because I dented my MacBook, so hey made me pay over € 300 for the new cover AND a new motherboard, which was supposedly damaged because it had been touched by the aluminum shell (I’m not kidding, sadly).
    The pinnacle of strangeness: How can a Unibody MacBook, that’s supposed to be the strongest laptop ever made, get a dent when it has never even fallen on the floor?
    I was ripped off by Apple and by AppleCare. I am kind of a computer expert in my social circle, and so far I have taken “revenge” by persuading everybody to consider Windows. So far two persons have decided to switch back.
    Moral of the story (I guess): dents in the unibody are invisible but damaging

  • My only complaint on mine is that two of my little rubber feet fell off of the bottom of my 2010 MBP; then found out that to replace them i have to buy a hole new bottom section of the case.

    So small bit of contact adhesive later, stuck them back on; don’t understand why i couldn’t just buy two new ones

  • I’ve had my aluminium MacBook (the one generation there ever was) since February 2009, and after 3.5 years of using it, the aluminium is starting to wear off on the corners. One corner wears off because of the sweat in my hand I think, the other because I use it to open beer-bottles xD. It’s just some scratches though, no real dents.
    After falling on the floor I had to open it up and tighten the hinges, and soon I will be putting in an SSD, so the hardware wears off less then any other computer I know, and the aluminium shell keeps up like a real trooper.

  • I have a 2009 13 inch macbook. About a year, in my daughter dropped my a really heavy safe!! on it about 2 inches to the left of the trackpad.It has a really large dent in it but works perfectly and has done so ever since.

  • Late 2008 Unibody Macbook
    No scratches. However, I did drop it on top of a metal bottle, creating quite a dent. The dent’s on the left side, exactly where the hard drive is. Surprisingly, the hard drive was fine, but now the bottom cover doesn’t quite fit properly…

  • True innovation on Apple´s side would be if they offered hardware-upgrade-kits for the unibody-laptops. Then we could use these shells until almost forever.

    MacBookPro 2.53 GHz (late2008)

  • After 3 years with my unibody macbook pro I will have to replace the battery this month. All in all very satisfied.

  • I have a late 2008 MacBook (please note, this is the only MacBook model to be unibody. I got it right after they released them and BEFORE Apple made unibodies MacBook Pro/Air only), and its held up surprisingly well. It has a very tiny dent to the left of the trackpad, but that’s about it. You wouldnt notice it unless you really looked. The battery on it did completely go though, expanding to the point where the right side of my trackpad no longer clicked down (due to the pressure of the expanding battery which is right below it). It does run very hot, but it might be due to the CPU running very hot due to trying to cope with 8GB of RAM (it only came with 2GB). I do have a case on it and a keyboard cover to help avoid wear. It has a bunch of scratches on the underside due to before I got my case, but over than that, my old Macbook is holding up amazingly.

    It’s even lasting longer than my new 2012 MacBook Pro, which I dropped my phone onto 3 days after I got it, put a MASSIVE dent into the top case right next to the Apple logo, and had to get replaced.

  • My mid-2009 MBP is nearly perfect. One corner is a bit out of shape, and there scuffing on the bottom.

    My one big problem is that the one plastic part (the black hinge section) is cracked and about to fall off. I asked a Apple certified store and they said it would be $200 to fix. I’m thinking about trying to fix it myself, using parts from a water-fried MBP that a friend wanted to throw out and is now my “parts car”

  • 13″ MacBook late 2008 (bought in april 2009), almost perfect just a few very small scratches on the bottom. And I never used a sleeve or something, since the beginning I toss it in my messenger bag without any protection!

  • Bought my Macbook air about seven months ago I have invested some money on the palm guard and two types of shell cover also the keyboard cover. There is almost no dent or scratch anywhere.
    So far I like the unibody smooth design, better than I see on any laptop I have used. But strangely I get a little shock whenever I put my palm on the bottom left side while resting my fist I dont have a clue since when did that happened. I guess things do give us pleasure but they also give us some form of pain…

  • I also have the Macbook 2008 Aluminium Unibody (the only non-Pro Aluminium Macbook).

    After 4 years of use, I upgraded to 8gb DDR3 RAM and a 700Gb Hybrid SSD/HDD. Runs Mountain Lion perfectly … although the fan sometimes runs hot when I’m running multiple or heavy CPU apps.

    Cosmetically it is factory perfect … because when I first took it out of the box, I slapped a plastic case over it, an matte lcd protector on the screen, a latex keyboard pad, and bought Invisible Shield’s for the trackpad and palm rests.

    A little OCD – but my Macbook looks and runs perfectly. Great value for a now 4 year old computer!

  • I have a Macbook Unibody (aka Late 2008) running on Lion, got it since mid-2009 and it’s purring like a kitten.
    I have no scratches nor any visible traces but a tiny dent on one edge (I was tapping with a scuff like gold bracelet on my wrist).

    The battery still holds for 3h-3:30 hours with the wifi on.
    Last month I noticed it started to slow down, the rainbow wheel appeared more often, I had to wait long minutes before Safari or Chrome deign to launch. If it happens to you use Onyx to clean it. It will work like new again.

    I’m about to upgrade my mac with 8go ram and a new, faster 500go hdd. SDD are still too expensive, I’m not paying $300 for a 256go drive.
    I hope this will give it a few extra years by my side. I love it.