Is there a decent magsafe power adapter?
July 15, 2015 3:15 PM   Subscribe

I own a 2008 macbook pro which is still doing okay, but I have been running through power adapters like mad. I've had two of the inexpensive knockoff variety quit in the last year, but the expensive apple-brand ones don't seem any better. What should I do?

The apple website shows terrible reviews for their 60w magsafe adaptor, even with the updated design that keeps the magsafe end from fraying.

The last two adapters I purchased have been knockoffs purchased on amazon. One lasted about a year and the other lasted about three months.

Reading the reviews for all of these products seems fraught since it seems like there are a lot of fake reviews mixed in.

Does anyone make an adapter that really lasts?

Or, failing that, is there an inexpensive knockoff that is slightly better than the competitors?

For the purpose of answering this question, anecdotes are less useful because I think the quality varies so much within each brand. Links to articles, product reviews, technical knowledge, etc. would be appreciated.
posted by mai to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How are your adapters failing? Are they overheating and burning out, or are the cords fraying?

If they're dying from overheating, the problem may be with the power interface on your laptop's logic board, which likely means it's time for a new laptop.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:26 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oddly enough I really like my most recent Apple-branded adapter, which I think I bought in late 2013 (previous one bought in 2011, was fraying horribly, rubber melting within a year or so). Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I barely move it and treat it very carefully when I do.
posted by acidic at 3:27 PM on July 15, 2015

Are you saying the expensive Apple-branded version doesn't seem any better through your personal experience? Or just based on reviews on the website?

While website reviews can give you a snapshot of a certain kind of opinion on a product, I think in this case I'd worry less about all the negative ones. I don't think Apple users have an incentive to write a positive review of an adapter, but if it fails, they'll look for some place to vent their frustration and they'll end up on the Apple website pounding away about how much of a failure their particular adapter was. If the adapter works, you probably aren't going to look for a place to tell people it works. That'd be like going to Amazon to favorably review that glass of water you drank. It's a thing that's in the background, and you just expect it'll do its job and you forget about it... until you need to buy a new one because this one broke unexpectedly and now you're angry and you smash the keyboard until Wheel of Fortune is on.

If you buy the Apple-branded version and it fails, if you take it to an Apple store and complain to them, you'll probably get a free replacement, especially if you're nice and you bought it rather recently.

I have never had positive experiences with knock-off Apple products, but have always had good customer experiences with authentic Apple stuff, whether or not the product worked perfectly.

My vote is to get the authentic one.
posted by incessant at 3:49 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you still have your Apple adapter and are near an Apple Store, you might try bringing it by there. I have a MacBook Pro of similar vintage to yours; a couple years ago the power adapter started to fall apart in obviously potentially deadly ways. I took it to the Genius Bar and the horrified tech snatched it away from me and gave me a brand-new replacement, free of charge. The machine was over a year out of warranty at that point; I might try it again, since the replacement is now meeting a similar fate.
posted by jordemort at 3:50 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Both of the recent failures were because the cord *from* the adapter to the computer became loose, at the part where it connects to the adapter body. At first, wiggling it around would cause it to work again, but eventually it would be completely dead. They are not overheating as far as I can tell.

Thanks for the answers so far.
posted by mai at 3:54 PM on July 15, 2015

Response by poster: I should add that I will inevitably need to move it around a lot based on the nature of my work. Treating it super-gently is not really an option, although I am sure that would help.
posted by mai at 3:56 PM on July 15, 2015

I used to have crazy fraying problems with all my mac adapters. I started reinforcing the connections with Sugru (or the DIY version, Oogoo) and haven't had one fail yet.
posted by stefanie at 4:31 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Both of the recent failures were because the cord *from* the adapter to the computer became loose, at the part where it connects to the adapter body

Per an Apple Genius, that's apparently just a weak link in the design, which is why they all fail the same way. (Like ear buds.) He said the plug end almost never fails. After reading the rest of the answers here, if you do end up getting the Apple adapter, here's what I did to get a discount:

Mine recently fritzed out so I took it to the Genius Bar. Since it wasn't under warranty I had to pay out of pocket, but instead of having to buy a whole new unit the Genius just replaced the brick and attached connector part. (The plug side cord connects into the brick.) This ended up being cheaper, but it has to go through the Genius bar to get the discount. You end up with an adapter that's half filthy and half bright and shiny, and at least if it fails you may be able to get a free replacement from Apple.

I used to have crazy fraying problems with all my mac adapters. I started reinforcing the connections with Sugru

Yes, definitely do this. This was the one connection I hadn't thought to reinforce.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:19 PM on July 15, 2015

Treating it super gently is not really required, just using some techniques to reduce strain on the cable. Apple has a support article about ways to do this, but I wanted to call attention in particular to the last photo on the page, which shows the proper method of wrapping the cable for storage and transportation. If you leave some extra cable before begining to wrap the rest of it, you will greatly reduce the strain at the entry point to the brick. Tough to explain in writing, but the photo demonstrates the technique.
posted by bluloo at 10:39 PM on July 15, 2015

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