Apple’s MacBooks are super convenient due to their power and portability. The convenience of having a full-powered computer that doesn’t weigh much more than a tablet makes the MacBook perfect for working on the go. But can it genuinely handle that strain? How much weight can a MacBook withstand?
Apple gives no indication of how much weight the MacBook can withstand, and it depends on the model of the MacBook you have. Newer models have aluminum shells that are more durable than older plastic shells. In some cases, MacBooks could withstand up to 100lbs or more, but rather try not to test it.
Since MacBooks are made for travel, Apple tries to make the devices as durable as possible, but they are not built for rough working environments. There are many sensitive components that could be damaged if you apply too much pressure in just the wrong way. Let’s look at that in more detail.
Do MacBooks Break Easily?
When you take proper care of a MacBook, it won’t break easily. It can last for years, or even decades, if you take good care of it. In an everyday use scenario, there is nothing to be afraid of.
But we can’t always guarantee everyday use, can we? Sometimes a completely normal situation can turn abnormal in an instant. For example, a case where someone leans on a desk without noticing the closed MacBook sitting on top, putting their entire weight on it. This has actually happened a few times before, often with no damage to the MacBook.
Another real-life scenario is a person working on his MacBook at the airport and missing the call for his flight. When he finally realized it, he grabbed his things and ran for the plane, holding the (still open) MacBook by the screen. The pressure he applied to the screen caused permanent damage in the form of a big black spot on his display.
Dropping a MacBook can have disastrous consequences, too. Modern aluminum MacBooks can possibly get away with a few dents and scratches if they hit the floor at just the right angle. Older plastic MacBooks are known not to be so lucky, often suffering cracked screens and hard drive failure because of the fall.
The easy and simple answer is that it depends on what kind of force is applied, where the pressure is applied, and which model MacBook you have. In general, MacBooks tend to be more durable than most other laptops. Still, you should handle them with the same amount of care you would give to any sensitive electronic device (or even more, considering their price).
How Much Pressure Can A MacBook Pro Withstand?
Apple does not clearly indicate how much pressure a MacBook Pro can withstand. The general consensus is that you should assume it can withstand 0 pounds, which is a relatively safe assumption, though it doesn’t answer the question.
The most reliable information comes from CNET, which did a series of tests between 2012 and 2013 on the new aluminum case MacBook Pros. The MacBook successfully withstood freezing and boiling temperatures and a minute-long shower while it was open and switched on.
This was followed by a drop from a desk, a drop from head height, and a fall from the roof of a moving car. They even threw it into a TLB loaded full of stone and pebbles to toss it around a bit, and the MacBook survived it all with no more than a few scratches and dents; not even the screen was cracked.
But the real test came when they applied heavy weight to the MacBook. The first was a pallet loaded half-full of bricks. Taking the average weight of about five pounds per brick and half a pallet comprising 267 bricks, it’s safe to say this weighed a little over a thousand pounds. Even then, apart from some more scratches and dents, the MacBook Pro was perfectly fine.
This was followed by a boulder that weighed about 1,400 pounds, and this time the retina display of the MacBook cracked, though the laptop still booted up successfully.
Even though the boulder didn’t weigh much more than the pallet of bricks, the difference was in how the weight was applied to the MacBook. The pallet ensured that the weight of the bricks was evenly distributed, whereas the boulder had one sharp point that stuck right into the aluminum shell on top of the display.
In summary, CNET proved that the aluminum MacBook Pro could theoretically withstand more than a thousand pounds of weight, but only if the weight is evenly distributed. Remember that doesn’t mean that it should, and you should take proper care as far as possible to ensure that your MacBook Pro lasts.
You can watch the entire test below:
What Can Break Under Pressure On A MacBook?
The aluminum clamshell case of the MacBook makes it sturdy and keeps it relatively safe, but there are a few components that can still easily be damaged apart from the case itself:
- The retina display. This is the component that is most easily damaged. The damage ranges from scratches (sometimes from the keyboard if you carry the laptop around without a protective cloth) to cracks due to pressure applied incorrectly to either the front or the back of the screen.
- The hard drive. Even though modern MacBooks use solid-state drives, older models may still contain mechanical hard drives that can easily take damage from hard bumps.
- RAM. Though the RAM itself isn’t necessarily easily damaged, bumps and pressure can cause the chips to come out of their sockets and lose connection.
- The keyboard. It is a fragile thing at its best, and pressure can cause keys to pop out or even bend the keyboard altogether.
What Objects Can You Store Above A MacBook Without Damaging It?
As we’ve seen, it’s not so much the weight that damages the MacBook but rather the shape of the object that carries the weight. You should avoid placing heavy, sharp, pointy objects on top of the MacBook. This even includes something like a power plug; even though it doesn’t weigh much, the pressure of a power plug inside a backpack with a MacBook has been known to cause damage.
Any object that evenly distributes its weight should be safe under normal circumstances. This includes:
- Books. Stacking a few books on top of a closed aluminum MacBook should not cause problems, as long as they’re not too heavy.
- A loaded cardboard box. As long as it lies flat on top of the MacBook and it isn’t full of gold nuggets or led, your MacBook should survive the ordeal.
- A backpack, even if it’s full. Note that a backpack can also have pointy bits, like buckles or the points of things inside it. You should ensure that the side of the backpack that makes contact with the MacBook is flat and preferably padded, but as long as that’s the case, your MacBook should be perfectly fine.
Again, to emphasize: the key is to ensure that any weight you have to place on top of the MacBook is evenly distributed.
We mentioned that the safest assumption is that a MacBook can withstand zero pounds of weight. This way, you know that you will never have any weight-related damage to your MacBook. But life happens when we’re making other plans, so if you really have to put something on top of your MacBook, at least ensure that you take all the necessary precautions and distribute the weight.
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I started building and fixing PCs in high school. After a couple of years of offering consultancy to a PC repair shop, I became the goto guy for all my acquaintances for PC/Laptop related buying advice or troubleshooting.