I have had terrible issues with a mid-2010 MBP 15" core i7 laptop. Doing a clean installation of either Yosemite or El Capitan, the installer fails toward the end or crashes on first boot. I have not tried a fresh Mavericks install. However, a restore from a Mavericks time machine backup works perfectly fine. Alternatively, a linux installation also worked well with no crashes.
Quite a few posts suggest it is a log board problem and that Apple would fix it. However, being impatient, I tried my own work around. I noticed that the problem didn't happen if I reduced the RAM from 8GB to 4GB (1 stick of DDR 3 instead of 2.)
A prevailing theory for this failure is that the Nvidia 330M card was crashing the system when it switched from the onboard to the 330M.
A couple of suggested work arounds:
1. disable automatic video switching in power preferences. This will likely consume battery at a faster rate
2. use gfxCardStatus and force it to either onboard or discrete
What I did was:
1. do a fresh install of El Capitan with only 1 stick of DDR 3 (4GB)
2. fully patched the OS
3. installed gfxcardstatus and forced it to onboard only.
I haven't had a crash since.