using laptops over 10,000 ft


I am thinking of buying a 12" powerbook so I can work from overseas for a few months at a time.

However, on the apple wesbite I noticed their specs say "Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 ft".

I plan to be working in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, which sits at around 12,000 ft above sea level.

Has anyone had difficulty working at this altitude? Why do the specs have a 10,000 ceiling? Does it overheat with the thin air? Does the processor or hard drives not work as well?

Any ideas...?



Although I'm not sure exactly about the reason behind Apple laptops and their maximum altitudes, I know that pressure has a lot to do with it. This is for two potential reasons:

1) When hard drives operate over a certain altitude, the reduced pressure is not enough to keep the heads over the disk, and instead they begin to crash - they stop working correctly and cause damage.

2) The higher altitude, with the lower pressure, has less effect on the cooling of the system. With a lower pressure, there is less potential for heat to be carried away from the components and so there is the chance of overheating.

Whether this will affect you at 12,000 ft., I could not say. I do know that some hard drives that can be purchased actually come with their own 10,000 ft. limit. It would be good to hear from someone who has tried to use a computer in this sort of environment....


There must be people in the capital of Tibet who have laptops!

Try e-mailing a Tibetan newspaper or company, see what they say.

You could also e-mail into the excellent podcast the MacCast. Scroll half way down the main page in the link for the contact details. If you phone in and leave a question it might actually get played on the show - this question is certainly strange enough! But be sure to read the guide lines on how to phrase your question if you do ring, there are certain quality and clarity issues that you need to cover. i.e. don't ring from a mobile and plan what you want to say and say it as simply and succinctly as possible....

All the best sorting your problem out and subscribe to the MacCast using iTunes 4.9 it's a great show.


Post back when you find out more, I'd be interested to know what the reason actual is and if Lhasa is a harddisk free zone!


I would not worry to much. The operational elevation of 10,000 ft is common industry and really is only a comment about where it is guaranteed to work. The difference between 10,000 and 12,000 ft is to small to matter. This really is about lawyers wanting to CYA when someone tries to launch the goofy thing into space or some such ;-)


The last poster is correct. The difference in pressure between 10k and 12k is very small. It would be safe to say that you should not move the machine around much at all when the HD is spinning. I lived at 10 and 11k for several years in Colorado and has many computers and repaired them as well. Even back in the days of the whopping 30MB hard disk, they ran fin as did Bournulli drives. They simply have to have a limit to a warranty.
Air is cooler at 12k, so that would negate the loss in cooling due to air pressure.