I was reading an article regarding the Shuttle's GPCs and how they stack up against commercially-made hardware on http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/flyout/flyfeature_shuttlecomputers.html and was finding it quite interesting. One thing that caught my attention was that they have a lot of issues caused by radiation with their off-the-shelf laptops (IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads), with the memory in each machine typically getting fried 2-3 times per mission (and a lot more on Hubble missions), with a high probability that it will happen while crossing the South Atlantic Anomaly.
That got me thinking. The Thinkpads, like most off the shelf computers, are plastic. Sure, they have RF shielding, but that exists mostly to appease regulators regarding RF emissions and would offer little to no radiation protection.
However, there are laptops on the market with metal cases (most notably the Apple laptops, made from a milled block of aluminium).
Would an off-the-shelf machine in a metal casing hold up better in space compared to an otherwise identical machine in a plastic case? I understand some plastics can be quite effective radiation blockers, and metals can actually make the situation worse (though I'm by no means an expert on nuclear physics, I'm just interested). Are there any cases on record of a matal-clad laptop going into space, and if so how did it hold up compared to the plastic-clad thinkpads?
Apologies if this is the wrong SE site to be asking this on, but while it is to do with computers I think the answer to this question lies in physics so it seems to me that this is the correct place to be asking a question like this.