What is the average life expectancy of Macs? When is it time for a new Mac to be purchased? These are the warning signs you need to replace your Mac.
While Apple’s computer hardware lasts a long time, you’ll still have to say goodbye to your Mac at some point. If you’ve had trouble with your machine, you might wonder if it’s time to get a new MacBook or if you should stay with your current one a bit longer.
Let’s take a look at the most obvious signs that your Mac may be out of date. These issues can be fixed, or it may be time to buy a new Mac.
How long do Macs last?
You might be looking at the life expectancy of MacBooks or other Mac models , and taking stock of it.
It is difficult to give an exact estimate of a Mac’s life expectancy as there are many factors that can affect it. A person who uses their Mac only for occasional web browsing may be able to use the same computer for a longer time than someone who uses it for high-intensity tasks such as video editing all day.
The Apple’s Vintage & Obsolete Products page gives an indication of the device’s longevity. Vintage devices are those that have been discontinued for less than five years but not more than seven. If a product has been discontinued more than seven consecutive years, it is obsolete.
If we look at macOS compatibility (discussed further below), it is clear that Macs are usually eligible for the most recent macOS version for approximately seven years. Apple supports every macOS version for three-years.
Third-party apps can be a little more flexible. At the time of writing, Google Chrome (released in 2015) and Spotify (released this year) both require OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Dropbox works with OS X 10.10 Yosemite (released 2014 or later).
Let’s say that you buy a new Mac in 2022. It would most likely get macOS updates up to 2029. Apple would support the OS released in 2029 until 2032. Most third-party tools used on the final OS version would also be supported until at most 2035.
A Mac should last at least 10 years, barring any hardware problems. Let’s now look at signs that your Mac is nearing the end of its lifespan.
1. You can’t run the latest version of macOS
Apple releases a new macOS version every year in September or October. It is compatible with Macs built in the past few years. If your Mac is not up-to-date, it will be considered obsolete.
MacOS Monterey (version 12, at the time of writing) is the most recent version of macOS. This update is available for the following Mac models:
- MacBook models starting in 2016 and later
- MacBook Air models starting in 2015 and beyond
- MacBook Pro models starting in 2015 and later
- iMac models available from late 2015 and beyond
- iMac Pro models starting in 2017 and later
- Mac Pro models starting in late 2013 or later
- Mac mini models starting in late 2014 or later
Your computer may have entered obsolescence status if it isn’t listed. You can still use your computer as it is for a time, even though you won’t be receiving full macOS updates at that time.
Both macOS Big Sur (and macOS Catalina) are supported at the moment. Catalina will cease receiving updates in October 2022, and Big Sur will be unsupported by October 2023.
After that, your Mac will no longer receive security updates for the current macOS version. Third-party software may also stop working. You should upgrade your Mac as soon as possible.
2. Your Mac is constantly short of free space
Apps and other data are taking up more space as technology improves. If you have an older computer with very little storage, this means that there is always a fight for space.
You will need to manage files to free up space on your MacBook if you have a 128GB, 256GB or larger drive. This could mean freeing up storage on your Mac whenever you can, or adding additional storage to your Mac using an external hard drive or another method.
These workarounds can be used to live with very limited space for a time. Once you’re tired of them, it’s the right time to get a new Mac. Choose a model that has plenty of storage space. It’s difficult to survive on a Mac that only has a few hundred MB.
3. Your Mac’s Hardware isn’t powerful enough
The storage drive on your Mac is one component of the computer that decreases in age. You won’t be able to run multiple apps simultaneously, and an older CPU will make it difficult or impossible to do tasks such as 4K video editing. Older hardware will also affect overall system performance.
The battery in MacBooks is another internal component that has suffered over time. Rechargeable batteries have a limited number of cycles before they are “spent”, and won’t last for very long. You can check the cycle count of your MacBook to see if it is nearing its end.
The battery might not last as long if you use it a lot. This can be avoided by charging your laptop every time you use it, but this will limit its portability.
READ MORE: MacBook Battery Replacement Options: From the Safest To The Most
You might be able to upgrade your older Mac or to mitigate the issues by adding RAM to your Mac or swapping out the HDD for an SSD or replacing the battery. This is not possible for older Mac models as many components are soldered directly to the motherboard.
It is probably better to spend the money on a professional upgrade or replacement of a battery than it would be to buy a new computer. Apple’s website says that a replacement battery for a Mac costs between $129 and $199. This is not a cheap price.
4. Your Mac has major hardware damage
Image Credit: AlexMF/ Wikimedia Commons
If your MacBook has suffered serious physical damage, you will need to replace it. You might have dropped your MacBook and caused damage to the internals. Or you may have smashed the screen against debris and cracked the screen.
These cases will render your computer unusable until it is repaired or replaced. As we have already said, it is not a good idea to spend hundreds of dollars on an obsolete or old machine when you can buy a better one that will last.
A long list of minor problems can quickly turn into a serious problem, even if there is a catastrophic hardware event. A computer that is older than its intended purpose can often be compared to an old car. While you can accept a few minor issues, if they don’t affect your ability to use the computer properly, eventually something will go wrong that is beyond repair and you’ll need to choose whether to upgrade or fix it.
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You don’t need to replace your Mac if you have minor problems like the charger not turning on when it should, stuck keys or dead pixels, crackling speakers, or a broken keyboard. If your computer is so broken that it’s impossible to use, you might consider replacing it with a machine that performs better.
5. Your Mac is subject to frequent software issues
Software issues can also be a sign of an old Mac. OS freezes can cause everything to stop responding. Other issues that can occur include random shutdowns and visual glitches.
These issues can be caused by low disk space. If the SMC or PRAM reset fails to resolve the problem, you can move on to Reinstalling macOS to see if it continues.
After this troubleshooting, you should see any software quirks disappear. If not, it is likely that you have hardware issues and should upgrade your Mac.
6. A New Mac is Just the Right Time
You might be ready to upgrade your Mac but can manage with the issues it has right now and not need to purchase one immediately. If that is the case, it’s best to wait until the right time in order to reap the benefits of a new Mac.
Apple releases new models every year for the majority of Mac computers. It is best to wait until the new models are released before you buy one. You can still get a new machine for less money if you wait.
Always read the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide before you purchase a new Mac. It keeps you up-to-date on the latest Apple hardware releases to ensure that you don’t spend too much on an older model.
You can choose an older, refurbished Mac if you don’t have the budget for the new model or you want to save money. Keep in mind that the faster a computer becomes obsolete, the more you should consider it older. It’s up to you to decide how long you want your computer to last.
For more information, see these tips for saving money on a MacBook.
Know when to replace your Mac
We have looked at the average Mac’s lifespan and highlighted signs that it is time to replace your MacBook or iMac. While your exact mileage will depend on your computing needs and usage, it is clear that Macs have a solid reputation.
Make sure that you have done all you can to make your Mac feel new before you upgrade. It’s amazing what a few minor tweaks can do.