Many Mac users have been patiently craving a visual makeover of the MacBook Pro line. After all, Apple’s professional laptops have looked much the same since the aluminum-exterior PowerBook G4 debuted…back in January 2003.
If you’re tired of waiting—and you’ve got deep pockets—Oregon’s Computer Choppers provides services for those looking to customize the looks of their laptops. The company’s flagship service is a complete refinishing of your MacBook Pro, transforming the laptop’s metal finish from anodized aluminum to chrome, copper, 18k or 24k gold, nickel, or black nickel; you can also choose between, brushed, matte, or polished finishes.
I asked Computer Choppers’ Alex Wiley to describe the process of overhauling the exterior of your MacBook Pro. First the company strips the laptop down to separate the pieces of its case from everything inside. (If you’ve ever taken apart a MacBook Pro to install an upgrade, you can imagine the hassle of completely disassembling it. Wiley noted that among the obstacles here is removing the industrial adhesive Apple uses to hold everything together.) Then the “tight-tolerance” areas of the case—for example, the display housing and the bottom casing—are sanded.
The sections of the case are then given to a plater, who uses chemicals to strip off the existing anodization and to prepare the pieces for the desired surface finish: brushed, matte, or polished. (A polished finish requires the most time and labor, which makes it the most expensive.) Each piece is given a zinc bath, and then plated.
The interior sections of the MacBook Pro—for example, the palmrest area—generally use a matte/satin finish, regardless of the finish chosen for the outside, although the customer can choose brushed or polished. The company also offers an aluminum-polishing service, which simply smoothes out the MacBook Pro’s original anodized finish.
Since Computer Choppers’ work is all custom, the company doesn’t currently have a traditional online store; you contact them with a description of what you’re looking for and they send you an estimate. (Online ordering will be available in the near future.) According to Wiley, a refinishing costs $800 to $2500, depending on the finish. (That doesn’t include the laptop itself; you can provide your own or have the company purchase one for you, adding the cost to the total price.) The least-expensive treatment is polished aluminum or nickel, with gold and black nickel at the high end; the price to refinish a 15-inch MacBook Pro in 24k gold averages around $1500. The cost of the service includes repainting the non-metal parts—the keyboard, the trackpad, and the bezel around the screen—to match the metal finish, as well as the re-engraving of the newly-painted keys.
The company includes a warranty on the new finish. In addition, because the process voids your laptop’s warranty, Computer Choppers offers an optional hardware warranty, with service provided through an authorized Apple service provider in the company’s area. (You have to send your laptop to Computer Choppers, rather than to Apple, to get service.)
But adding a coat of rare metal isn’t the extent of the company’s offerings. Computer Choppers can also replace the MacBook Pro’s white, plastic Apple logo with something more attractive—and more expensive. Customers can choose cubic zirconia if they’re getting close to the limit of their tricking-out budget, or go nuts with real diamonds. (Don’t worry, the light from your screen will still shine through; it’s just that it will be shining through gems rather than plastic.). You can instead opt to remove the Apple logo altogether and have the company use your own logo design, customizing it with precious metals or various stones and gems, in various patterns, colors, cuts, and sizes. Of course, going this route pushes the cost of the customization well into the category of “luxury good”—prices for the logo customization range from $500 to as much as $10,000!
According to the company, customizing a MacBook Pro with a 24k gold, polished finish and an Apple logo of diamonds costs around $8000. This package includes warranties for both the customization and the MacBook Pro, as well as several accessories: a microfiber carrying sleeve, a screen protector, a cleaning kit, and replacement feet. Computer Choppers also recommends buying a Pelican hardshell computer briefcase to keep the laptop safe. (It’s too bad one isn’t included—if you spend this much tricking out your laptop, you’ll definitely want something more protective than your typical computer bag.)
Granted, a gussied-up MacBook Pro won’t run any faster or otherwise perform any better. But it’s sure to turn heads, and it just may be enough to hold moneyed Mac users over until we see an actual professional-laptop upgrade from Apple.