While Apple’s computer hardware lasts a long time, at some point you’ll have to say goodbye to your Mac. If you’ve had problems with your machine, you may be wondering when to buy a new MacBook or if you should stick with your current one a little longer.
Let’s look at some of the top signs that your Mac is outdated. We’ll look at ways to get around these issues and consider whether it’s time to buy a new Mac.
How long do Macs last?
Whether you’re stocking up on your old machine or wondering about the value of a new purchase, you may be wondering how long MacBooks and other Mac models will last.
There is no exact answer to this as it depends on several factors. Someone who only uses their Mac to surf the web occasionally can use the same machine for longer than someone who uses the computer all day and performs high-intensity tasks such as video editing.
Apple’s old and outdated product page definitions give an idea of the device’s longevity. Older products are devices that have not been sold for more than five years, but less than seven years. A product is considered obsolete if it has been out of stock for more than seven years.
If we look at the compatibility of macOS (discussed below), we can see that Macs have usually been qualified to get the latest version of macOS for about seven years. Apple generally supports any version of macOS for three years.
Third-party apps are a little more generous. At the time of writing, Google Chrome requires at least OS X 10.11 El Capitan (released in 2015). Dropbox and Spotify in turn run on OS X 10.10 Yosemite (released in 2014) and are newer.
System Requirements for Chrome 2021
Adding it all up, let’s say you bought a brand new Mac in 2021. It would likely receive macOS updates by 2028. The operating system released in 2028 would be supported by Apple until 2031, and most third-party tools would work until at least 2033.
This means that you can generally expect a lifespan of about 10 years from a Mac, barring any unforeseen hardware issues.
6 Signs It’s The Right Time To Upgrade Your Mac PC RAM
Now let’s look at some signs that your Mac is at the end of its useful life.
1. You can’t use the latest version of macOS
Every year, around September/October, Apple releases a new version of macOS. Mac models from recent years can use it. This means that if your computer is not updated to the latest version of macOS, it will become obsolete.
At the time of writing, macOS 11 Big Sur is the latest version of macOS. The following Mac models can get the update:
- 2015 and later MacBook models
- 2013 and later MacBook Air models
- Late 2013 and newer MacBook Pro models
- 2014 and later iMac models
- 2017 and later iMac Pro models
- 2013 and later Mac Pro models
- 2014 and later Mac mini models
If your computer isn’t on this list, it’s probably got a status of Outdated. As mentioned, while you won’t get full macOS updates, you can still use your computer as it is for a while.
However, after a year or two, you won’t receive security updates for the current version of macOS and third-party software may stop working. That means you should be thinking about updating your Mac soon.
2. A constant lack of free space
As technology advances, applications and other data take up more and more space. This results in a constant battle for free space if you have an older machine with a negligible amount of storage space.
If you have a 128GB or even 256GB drive in your MacBook, you’ll probably have to juggle to constantly create more space. This may mean freeing up space on your Mac whenever possible or possibly adding more storage space to your Mac using an external hard drive or other methods.
You can use these workarounds to survive for a while with a small amount of space. But if you’re tired of them, it’s time to upgrade to a new Mac with plenty of storage.
3. The parts of your machine are not powerful enough
Your Mac’s storage drive is just one part of your computer that shrinks over time. Lack of RAM keeps you from running too many applications at once, and an outdated CPU means tasks like 4K video editing are extremely slow or impossible. You will also notice that the overall system performance is affected.
Another component that has been successful over the years is the MacBook battery. Rechargeable batteries only have a certain number of cycles before they are “used up” and do not hold their charge for long. macOS will let you know when the battery is low.
If you’ve used the battery a lot, it may only take an hour before you need to charge it. You can get around this by always using your laptop on the charger, but of course, that comes at the expense of portability.
If you have an older machine, you may be able to update or alleviate these issues by adding more RAM to your Mac, swapping the HDD for an SSD, or replacing the battery. However, this is impossible on newer Mac models, as most components are soldered to the motherboard.
The money you’d spend on a professional hardware upgrade or battery replacement is almost certainly better off investing in a new machine. Apple’s service page claims it costs between $129 and $199 to replace Mac’s battery, which isn’t cheap.
4. Your Mac has major hardware damage
An obvious reason why you may need to replace your MacBook is when it has suffered severe physical damage. Maybe you dropped the inside and damaged it, or you hit the screen in some debris and cracked it.
In these cases, the computer is unusable until you repair or replace it. And, as discussed above, there’s not much point dumping hundreds of dollars on an outdated machine when you can buy a new one that lasts longer.
Aside from a major hardware disaster, a long list of minor issues can quickly turn into a major problem. An old computer often looks a lot like an old car. You can live with some weird issues if they don’t affect your ability to use it correctly, but eventually, something big goes wrong and you have to decide if you want to fix it or upgrade it.
Minor issues like the charger not working unless it’s in the right place, dead pixels on the screen, stuck keys, and creaky speakers don’t necessarily cause a replacement. But if your computer has so many minor quirks that it can barely be used, you should cut your losses and look for a replacement machine that will perform much better.
5. Your Mac has frequent software problems
An outdated Mac can also manifest itself through software issues. You may experience frequent operating system crashes where everything becomes unresponsive. Other common issues include visual glitches and random shutdowns.
When you try this out, make sure you have enough free space as low disk space can contribute to these problems. If an SMC and PRAM reset doesn’t resolve the issue, then proceed with reinstalling macOS and see if the issues persist.
Fortunately, all software quirks disappear after this troubleshooting. But if not, you’re probably having issues with outdated hardware and you should consider upgrading your Mac.
6. Timing for a New Mac
You may be ready to upgrade your Mac, but you can live with all the problems it has, and you don’t need to buy one right away. In that case, you have to wait for the right time to buy a new Mac.
Apple releases new models every year for most Mac machines. You should not buy one right before the launch of new models as you may have to wait a little longer to get a brand new machine that lasts longer for the same price.
Always consult the MacRumors Buyer’s Guide before purchasing a new Mac. This tracks Apple hardware versions so you don’t get caught spending full price on an older model.
If you can’t afford the latest model or want to save some money, you can opt for an older or refurbished model. Keep in mind that the older the computer you buy, the faster it will become obsolete.
Know When To Buy A New Mac
We’ve seen how long Macs typically last, along with key signs that it’s time to update your MacBook or iMac. Your exact mileage will vary based on your usage and computing needs, but it’s clear that Macs have a reputation for trust.
Before you upgrade, make sure you’ve done everything possible to keep your old Mac looking like new. You’d be surprised what a few tweaks can do.