Friday, February 8th 2019

Apple MacBook Pro 2018 Appears to Have a Serious Design Flaw

Apple's MacBook Pro (2018) with the AMD Radeon RX Vega 20 graphics option appears to have a serious design flaw related to its video subsystem. The laptop tends to show severe screen flickering and lines crossing through the picture after waking up from extended periods of idling (after the display has turned off). The problem persists even through reboots. A reboot will make the flickering go away, however the next time the MacBook idles and decides to turn off its display, waking the machine will bring the flicker back. Most common remedies an enthusiast could think of, such as disabling the auto-switching between integrated- and discrete GPUs, and preventing the monitor from idling, don't appear to fix the problem.

The problem was discovered on a brand new $4,500 15-inch MacBook Pro (Intel Core i9, AMD Vega 20, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD). Upon its discovery, it was taken to the Apple Store, where the employees immediately replaced it without further questions when they heard "display corruption after standby". The replacement process was hassle-free, it looks like others have faced this issue with this MacBook Pro model and Apple is trying to quickly resolve it to keep the lid on it. However, after a couple of days, the problem re-surfaced on the replacement MacBook, too. Both models were running MacOS "Mojave" version 10.14.2.
TechPowerUp staff member Crmaris depended on this MacBook Pro to see him through the rigors of TechPowerUp's CES 2019 coverage, which includes image editing and video rendering on the move, which requires the serious CPU and GPU power on tap with this particular MacBook Pro variant. Video rendering and transcoding tasks can run up to hours, during which the MacBook usually sits unused, plugged in. By default, the monitor times out after a certain amount of time. Perhaps this is the key to reproducing the issue: let the display time out while the machine is utilizing the discrete GPU for something other than driving the display. Crmaris is also the editor of HardwareBusters, and has described the issue on a more personal level in the video linked below.

If you have encountered a similar issue, please do let us know in the comments below, so we can get an idea how widespread this problem is. Source: Hardware Busters (YouTube)
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150 Comments on Apple MacBook Pro 2018 Appears to Have a Serious Design Flaw

#101
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
bug, post: 3991884, member: 157434"
@Darmok N Jalad The iOS is so refined, the last time I tried I could figure out how to move the cursor in the middle of a word to fix a spelling error. And no back button, I can't wrap my head around that.
Hold your finger on the screen and it will give you a cursor that you can put between letters. It magnifies where the cursor is so it's easier to position it correctly. You can do the same thing when you're dragging a selected area. Having owned an iPhone for several years, you learn how to do these things.
Posted on Reply
#102
bug
Aquinus, post: 3991887, member: 102461"
Hold your finger on the screen and it will give you a cursor that you can put between letters. You can do the same thing when you're dragging a selected area. Having owned an iPhone for several years, you learn how to do these things.
True (and I was expecting the functionality was there). But my point is, for an OS that is supposed to be so refined, it sure has functionality that's hard to discover.
Posted on Reply
#103
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
bug, post: 3991889, member: 157434"
True (and I was expecting the functionality was there). But my point is, for an OS that is supposed to be so refined, it sure has functionality that's hard to discover.
Holding your finger on the screen doesn't seem very hard to discover to me considering that just tapping on the screen and hoping the position is correct seems like bad UX. It doesn't make sense for it to work that way (unless you're used to bad UX design.)

Edit: That's me though. I've used Macs and PCs. There really isn't much wrong with Apple and as @notb said, they typically just work. Some people really like it when their technology "just works". Not everyone has the inclination or the time to fiddle around with a laptop or something. Believe it or not, there is a market for that and it's rather large.
Posted on Reply
#104
bug
Aquinus, post: 3991892, member: 102461"
Holding your finger on the screen doesn't seem very hard to discover to me considering that just tapping on the screen and hoping the position is correct seems like bad UX. It doesn't make sense for it to work that way (unless you're used to bad UX design.)
The keyboard I'm using on Android has actual arrow keys ;)
Posted on Reply
#105
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
bug, post: 3991893, member: 157434"
The keyboard I'm using on Android has actual arrow keys ;)
How many times do you have to tap the screen to get where you're going though? ;)

My point is, if you know how to use the device correctly, it's not an issue.
Posted on Reply
#106
trparky
Can we just agree that there's a lot of things that Apple gets right and then on the flip side there's a lot of things that Apple gets wrong? We can say that about another company that's hated a lot around these parts, Microsoft. When Microsoft's stuff works, it's great! But when things go wrong, look out; you end up getting a thread like this but with the subject being Microsoft. The same can be said about Apple, hence this thread.
Posted on Reply
#107
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
trparky, post: 3991899, member: 170376"
Can we just agree that there's a lot of things that Apple gets right and then on the flip side there's a lot of things that Apple gets wrong? We can say that about another company that's hated a lot around these parts, Microsoft. When Microsoft's stuff works, it's great! But when things go wrong, look out; you end up getting a thread like this but with the subject being Microsoft. The same can be said about Apple, hence this thread.
I think that this is the most rational comment I've read so far in this thread. Every product has its issues and every person has their preference in what they want out of their purchase. Simply put, Apple isn't for everyone, but they cater to a pretty large market.
Posted on Reply
#108
trparky
Aquinus, post: 3991903, member: 102461"
Every product has its issues and every person has their preference
Exactly. For instance, when it comes to the Mac I wouldn't even be caught dead using a Mac. I absolutely love the idea that I can trick out, personalize, and tweak my Windows-based desktop out until my heart's content. However when it comes to my phone I'll buy nothing but an iPhone. I like how iOS is such a smooth user experience and not only that but I can be confident that my device will receive proper software and security patches every single time regardless of what carrier I choose to use (I'm on T-Mobile US).
Posted on Reply
#109
bug
trparky, post: 3991899, member: 170376"
Can we just agree that there's a lot of things that Apple gets right and then on the flip side there's a lot of things that Apple gets wrong? We can say that about another company that's hated a lot around these parts, Microsoft. When Microsoft's stuff works, it's great! But when things go wrong, look out; you end up getting a thread like this but with the subject being Microsoft. The same can be said about Apple, hence this thread.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. In order to get Apple fans to admit Apple products are mostly just like any other (still above average), they'd also have to admit they're being overcharged. Which is this whole discussion started ;)
Posted on Reply
#110
trparky
bug, post: 3991909, member: 157434"
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. In order to get Apple fans to admit Apple products are mostly just like any other (still above average), they'd also have to admit they're being overcharged. Which is this whole discussion started ;)
Trust me, I know that Apple users are getting overcharged (including myself with the iPhone) but that's about where my Apple support ends. Like I said in a previous post, I wouldn't even be caught dead using a Mac. Overpriced and over-engineered garbage. Can we say the same thing about another company the rhymes with... nGreedia? Yeah... :D

I know... I'm bad. :roll:

I have absolutely no use for fanboys of any kind regardless of what company they play cheerleader for. I don't care if it's Apple, nVidia, AMD, Seagate, Western Digital, Intel, ASUS, Gigabyte, Samsung... I could go on and on. Fanboys of any camp generally suck. I'll admit though that for the longest time I was an Intel fanboy, Intel or nothing at all.
Posted on Reply
#111
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
bug, post: 3991909, member: 157434"
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. In order to get Apple fans to admit Apple products are mostly just like any other (still above average), they'd also have to admit they're being overcharged. Which is this whole discussion started ;)
You're underestimating what people will pay for something that will typically just work though. People like us might be content customizing things and making things work exactly the way we want them, but that's not the majority of the market. Otherwise everyone would be like me and would run Linux. :laugh: For what you get with respect to hardware, I would agree that the price doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but you're not really just buying a laptop with no software on it, are you? You can't buy OS X, but you pay for it via the cost of the laptop. So, only until recently did I use a Mac laptop for work for almost a decade. I've almost never had an issue with the OS not doing what I wanted it to do. When it comes to a machine that's hands off, that's music to a lot of people's ears. For work, it's even better because when your machine isn't working, you're not being productive.

Don't get me wrong, Apple products are expensive, but from the Apple products I have used, my issues have been very minimal and they tend to just work. There is value in that to the general market.
Posted on Reply
#112
trparky
Aquinus, post: 3991917, member: 102461"
You're underestimating what people will pay for something that will typically just work though. People like us might be content customizing things and making things work exactly the way we want them, but that's not the majority of the market. Otherwise everyone would be like me and would run Linux. :laugh: For what you get with respect to hardware, I would agree that the price doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but you're not really just buying a laptop with no software on it, are you? You can't buy OS X, but you pay for it via the cost of the laptop. So, only until recently did I use a Mac laptop for work for almost a decade. I've almost never had an issue with the OS not doing what I wanted it to do. When it comes to a machine that's hands off, that's music to a lot of people's ears. For work, it's even better because when your machine isn't working, you're not being productive.

Don't get me wrong, Apple products are expensive, but from the Apple products I have used, my issues have been very minimal and they tend to just work. There is value in that to the general market.
Exactly. I understand that not all people are going to want to get their hands dirty, scraped up, cut up, etc. when building their own PCs. Some people just want what's often called a turn-key solution; buy the product, take the product out of box, turn the product on and quite simply get to work. There are definitely merits to both kinds of thinking.

Like I said before, I love being able to tweak and build my own desktops but when it comes to my phone I quite simply need it to work when I need it to work. I need to know that my phone will function when it comes to crunch time like if I'm stuck somewhere out in the cold and for whatever reason I'm having car trouble. Yeah, I can change a flat tire if I need to but it would probably take some time to do so and when it's 19 degrees outside with a windchill I don't want to be frustrated while trying to get the car jack into place on the side of the road while contending with cars zipping by me.
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#113
bug
Well, I guess we all agree on that. Apple products do have their (sizeable) market segment.
The initial idea in this thread was that for the hardware you can always get a better deal elsewhere, but that got quickly derailed.

Fwiw, my main beef with Apple is their tight grip on their ecosystem. It's what makes their products work so well, but from a consumer point of view it's also what takes away your right to tinker/repair. And when you control everything from software to hardware and keep your SKUs to a minimum, your costs are lower. Yet Apple's end user prices are anything but.
Posted on Reply
#114
ssdpro
Aquinus, post: 3991917, member: 102461"
Don't get me wrong, Apple products are expensive, but from the Apple products I have used, my issues have been very minimal and they tend to just work. There is value in that to the general market.
The question is why does Apple remain so valuable as a company (cheap labor) but not grow beyond minority market shares? This article is about a MBP that fits into the desktop/notebook segment and Apple maintains a paltry 9-12% market share depending on the study group and metric. In the mobile device segment Apple maintains 18-24% market share depending on the study group and metric. Most of Apple's mystique stems from marketing and business model as the usage experience hasn't allowed their market shares to grow.
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#115
trparky
bug, post: 3991935, member: 157434"
my main beef with Apple is their tight grip on their ecosystem
In some ways it's why, for instance, Apple iOS isn't nearly as bad as the infected app security nightmare that is Android. Not a day goes by when you don't hear about how some security researcher found dozens of apps in the Google Play Store that were infected with this or that kind of malware yet they were downloaded by millions. Google really needs to get a handle on this, they need to start vetting the apps better than they have been as of late.

bug, post: 3991935, member: 157434"
but from a consumer point of view it's also what takes away your right to tinker/repair
I agree with you on that in some ways but to be honest how many of us would be able to do anything but swap out a part in our desktop systems? We're not going to break out the soldering station like that one guy with his YouTube channel. We're going to simply take out the offending part, ask for an RMA, ship it out, and await a new part.

As for the lack of repair-ability of Apple Mac systems it's a symptom of what people want from their systems namely they want them thin and light. Unfortunately to make them "thin and light" you have to trade something away for it, namely the ability to repair it since in order to make it thin and light you have to throw the idea of modular components out the window and make motherboards with everything built onboard. We can say the same thing about most Windows notebooks as well, you'll never be able to replace your mobile GPU in your notebook with a newer and faster one since it too is built onboard the motherboard. Yes, some notebook makers toyed with the idea of modular mobile GPUs but that idea was pretty much a flop since it too was proprietary as all hell.
Posted on Reply
#116
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
bug, post: 3991935, member: 157434"
Fwiw, my main beef with Apple is their tight grip on their ecosystem. It's what makes their products work so well, but from a consumer point of view it's also what takes away your right to tinker/repair. And when you control everything from software to hardware and keep your SKUs to a minimum, your costs are lower. Yet Apple's end user prices are anything but.
Unfortunately that's how you can make things "just work" without having weird issues unless you do things "the right way". Locking down the ecosystem gives their hardware predictable characteristics that they can build an OS around. It's also not necessarily cheaper to make everything proprietary because that means development is mostly all in-house. A locked down ecosystem is part of what makes Apple products appealing to their market. People who want hardware that just works aren't likely to want to tinker with it in terms of what's inside the machine.

Simply put, the type of people Apple is marketing towards isn't you.
Posted on Reply
#117
bug
trparky, post: 3991949, member: 170376"
In some ways it's why, for instance, Apple iOS isn't nearly as bad as the infected app security nightmare that is Android. Not a day goes by when you don't hear about how some security researcher found dozens of apps in the Google Play Store that were infected with this or that kind of malware yet they were downloaded by millions. Google really needs to get a handle on this, they need to start vetting the apps better than they have been as of late.
Hear, yes. Experience, no. Never.
90%+ of the horror stories are about 3rd party app stores. I've been on Google's app store for years and never had a security issue with that. Once in a while a rogue app will slip in there, too, but Google will take care of it rather quickly.

Aquinus, post: 3991956, member: 102461"
Unfortunately that's how you can make things "just work" without having weird issues unless you do things "the right way". Locking down the ecosystem gives their hardware predictable characteristics that they can build an OS around. It's also not necessarily cheaper to make everything proprietary because that means development is mostly all in-house. A locked down ecosystem is part of what makes Apple products appealing to their market. People who want hardware that just works aren't likely to want to tinker with it.
Well, when instead of targeting hundreds of CPUs and GPUs, you only hate to target a dozen or so, I'm pretty sure your development and QA costs are a fraction of everybody else's. Sure, having an in-house language to develop everything will add to the costs, but that's what the App Store is for, right?
Like @ssdpro pointed out above, Apple doesn't have a significant percent of any market they're in. But they still top the profit charts. If that's not due to higher margins than I don't know what it is.
Aquinus, post: 3991956, member: 102461"
Simply put, the type of people Apple is marketing towards isn't you.
You got that right :P
Posted on Reply
#118
trparky
bug, post: 3991957, member: 157434"
Hear, yes. Experience, no. Never.
90%+ of the horror stories are about 3rd party app stores. I've been on Google's app store for years and never had a security issue with that.
Wait. What? The security researchers have found rogue apps not just in third-party app stores but in the Google Play Store itself as well.

https://thevpn.guru/more-adware-apps-google-play-store/
https://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/various-google-play-beauty-camera-apps-sends-users-pornographic-content-redirects-them-to-phishing-websites-and-collects-their-pictures/
https://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/google-play-apps-drop-anubis-banking-malware-use-motion-based-evasion-tactics/

All found in the Google Play Store itself.
bug, post: 3991957, member: 157434"
Once in a while a rogue app will slip in there, too, but Google will take care of it rather quickly.
If you ask me, if their app vetting process was better then the app wouldn't have made it to the Play Store to begin with. Much of this stems from the fact that anybody and everybody can develop and submit apps to the Google Play Store whereas with the iOS App Store you need to purchase a developer license to submit apps. A person who simply wants to infect some users won't be willing it shell out the cost to buy a developer license for the iOS App Store, they're going to go the cheap route and plaster the Google Play Store with scam apps to do that since there's no cost to do so.
Posted on Reply
#119
bug
trparky, post: 3991967, member: 170376"
If you ask me, if their app vetting process was better then the app wouldn't have made it to the Play Store to begin with. Much of this stems from the fact that anybody and everybody can develop and submit apps to the Google Play Store whereas with the iOS App Store you need to purchase a developer license to submit apps. A person who simply wants to infect some users won't be willing it shell out the cost to buy a developer license for the iOS App Store, they're going to go the cheap route and plaster the Google Play Store with scam apps to do that since there's no cost to do so.
I don't think you can publish on Google Store without paying. But you can develop for free, which is a big plus in my book.
Posted on Reply
#120
trparky
OK, I was slightly wrong about my no cost requirement to publish apps to the Google Play Store. According to this Android Authority article there's a one-time fee of a measly $25. Apple charges $99 per year for the ability to publish to the iOS App Store. So if I were a scammer I'd choose the Google Play Store since I could, at least in theory, set up a couple of dummy accounts to publish apps under since its cheap to do so. If my account gets banned by Google due to publishing "bad apps" I can just go and create a new account, pay the measly $25, and watch Rome burn again.
Posted on Reply
#121
bug
trparky, post: 3991977, member: 170376"
OK, I was slightly wrong about my no cost requirement to publish apps to the Google Play Store. According to this Android Authority article there's a one-time fee of a measly $25. Apple charges $99 per year for the ability to publish to the iOS App Store. So if I were a scammer I'd choose the Google Play Store since I could, at least in theory, set up a couple of dummy accounts to publish apps under since its cheap to do so. If my account gets banned by Google due to publishing "bad apps" I can just go and create a new account, pay the measly $25, and watch Rome burn again.
I doubt a scammer has a problem ponying up $99/year. It's probably the scrutiny process that makes the difference here.
But imagine you were a student or a high school kid trying to learn programming. Between Google and Apple, where would you start?
Posted on Reply
#122
trparky
bug, post: 3991971, member: 157434"
But you can develop for free, which is a big plus in my book.
You can write apps for iOS for free all you want, Apple gives away XCode for free. You just need to have a developer license to publish to the iOS App Store. Hell, you can even write iOS apps with Microsoft Visual Studio using Xamarin, you just need a Mac to compile it and any old Mac can do that; even a cheap Mac Mini from a couple of years ago can do that. Using Xamarin you can take all your Microsoft .NET programming experience and use it to write iOS apps. Hell, one of my most used iOS apps (BitWarden) is written in .NET and compiled to be an iOS app.

Oh and Microsoft Visual Studio is given away for free too. Hell, I'd even go so far as to say that writing Android apps is better and easier to do so in Microsoft Visual Studio than Google's own Android Studio which is an unstable pile of hot garbage.
Posted on Reply
#123
bug
trparky, post: 3991982, member: 170376"
You can write apps for iOS for free all you want, Apple gives away XCode for free. You just need to have a developer license to publish to the iOS App Store. Hell, you can even write iOS apps with Microsoft Visual Studio using Xamarin, you just need a Mac to compile it and any old Mac can do that; even a cheap Mac Mini from a couple of years ago can do that. Using Xamarin you can take all your Microsoft .NET programming experience and use it to write iOS apps. Hell, one of my most used iOS apps (BitWarden) is written in .NET and compiled to be an iOS app.

Oh and Microsoft Visual Studio is given away for free too. Hell, I'd even go so far as to say that writing Android apps is better and easier to do so in Microsoft Visual Studio than Google's own Android Studio which is an unstable pile of hot garbage.
So, at some point, you need to cough up the dough for a Mac ;)
Posted on Reply
#124
trparky
bug, post: 3991987, member: 157434"
So, at some point, you need to cough up the dough for a Mac ;)
True but again, any old cheap Mac Mini can do that which can be had for $799 or you can find older Mac Minis for a hell of a lot cheaper.

As for Microsoft Visual Studio you really have to hand it to Microsoft for that, they've made the best damn developer tool in the industry. You can make Mac apps, Windows apps, Android apps, iOS apps, even Linux apps (with Mono and .NET Core) and share code between them all. Pretty much nobody can touch the quality and abilities of Visual Studio, it's just that damn good. And to think you can get Visual Studio for free. Wow.
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#125
notb
bug, post: 3991884, member: 157434"
Well, I didn't mean that. But the thing is all laptops got thinner, size isn't a major concern when buying one. I got a new Acer laptop 2-3 years ago and it was like half the width of the one I bought 10 years ago. It's no Macbook for sure (in fact assembly was a little subpar - but I fixed that), but for $800 I got a Skylake CPU, 8 or 16 GB of RAM. And I spent an extra $200 to swap the HDD for a SSD. That thing runs everything I need to this day.
Which model do you have?

I think it comes down to how you use your laptop. Or rather: how you live with it.
Laptops may be getting thinner in general, but they're still big and heavy. You feel them in your backpack or bag.

The whole point of making notebooks smaller was to get them to the size and weight that we find somehow familiar and neutral. Like a normal paper notebook. And we're getting close.
And for people that tolerate heavier luggage, there will always be a potential to get something larger and cheaper / more powerful.

I had a 2.5 kg notebook when I was studying. It took half of my backpack and was heavy, but OK for commuting between home and university.
But that's not always the case, right? Sometimes you go shopping after work. Sometimes you just go for a walk. And walking around with additional 2.5kg is definitely uncomfortable.

Currently I carry an HP EliteBook 840 (physically similar to the MacBook Pro). Just 1 kg and maybe 1cm of thickness less than what I had 10 years ago, but the difference is night and day.
bug, post: 3991909, member: 157434"
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. In order to get Apple fans to admit Apple products are mostly just like any other (still above average), they'd also have to admit they're being overcharged. Which is this whole discussion started ;)
They don't. You don't look at prices as you should.
With Apple you pay a premium for their work. Their products are really easy to use. They do many things for you.
Apple competes with other manufacturers by making their products friendly and tinker-free.
Makers of Windows laptops don't compete by making their products friendly and tinker-free. They compete by finding the cheapest way to combine the same generic parts and make them run under the same OS.

Simple fact is: if you're 100% in Apple ecosystem and use Apple-certified accessories, it's very unlikely you'll ever have any compatibility issues. No tinkering, no asking on forums, no need to learn how something works. It may not be that important for tech-savvy people, but for everyone else Apple is actually very good value. You computer or phone just works - exactly like your car, your TV, your fridge. You just use it. You don't have to think how it works.
bug, post: 3991889, member: 157434"
True (and I was expecting the functionality was there). But my point is, for an OS that is supposed to be so refined, it sure has functionality that's hard to discover.
Honestly, when I got my iPhone, it took me few days to find out how to do this kind of things.
It's a touch interface. You can only touch, hold, swipe or pinch. It's not that hard to discover how things work. And thanks to very strong Apple policy, all apps work more or less the same.
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