MacBooks are known for their functionality, sleekness and great battery life (up to 10 hours on a single charge). However, one question is always asked by buyers: how long do MacBooks last?
That’s a fair question to ask before opening your wallet. And one that consumers need to know the answer to, because it’s common knowledge that Macintosh computers are pricier than comparable models that run other operating systems, such as Windows or Chrome OS. When buying a Mac, whether new or used, it’s good to know this information up front.
First of all, understand that there are three modern Macintosh laptop models: two currently on the market — the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air (produced consistently since 2006 and 2008, respectively) — and the discontinued MacBook (manufactured from 2015 to 2019). Tips for taking care of your MacBook and determining its age apply equally to all members of the family.
Determining Its Age
Exactly how old is the Mac? You can pull down on the Apple icon (in the upper left corner of the screen) and select the top choice, “About This Mac.” There, in most instances, you will see when your model was produced (late 2015, for example).
On some earlier versions of the OS, that info isn’t readily available. But the serial number is visible, so double-click on it to highlight it, select “Copy” from under the Edit menu at the top of the screen and then open a site that provides information on a Mac’s serial number. Click on the serial number lookup field and select “Paste” from the Edit menu and you can determine the Mac’s exact age.
Creeping Toward Obsolescence
Throughout Apple’s history most Mac models have been able to run the current version of the OS until they reach about 7 years old (the age at which Apple considers it’s products “obsolete”), and OS versions are supported for three years. But understand, even if your MacBook is unable to run the latest OS, it still can be used as a functioning computer. Which means that buying a renewed MacBook Pro that is a couple years old will still make an excellent option - as it should work well for years to come, and will receive continued support from Apple.
Common Points of Failure
Apart from physical damage, there are a few things that can cause a MacBook to fail — some easily fixable, others not worth the time and expense.
- Battery: Computer batteries start to lose their charge faster as they age; that’s a fact of life. On some older models, replacing the battery is still an option, but newer models have their batteries soldered in place (though Apple and SellYourMac.com can replace them).
- Hard drive (for older MacBook Pros that still use spinning-disk hard drives): A failed drive doesn’t mean the computer’s life is over — a replacement (preferably a solid-state drive or SSD) is an inexpensive and easy upgrade to handle. RAM replacement in older models is a similar process. Some MacBook Pros that came with solid-state drives can be upgraded, but the newest models no longer have that option.
- General OS sluggishness: Users of older Macs can be plagued by the “spinning beach ball” on occasion. Often, that can be remedied by backing up your data, erasing the hard drive and performing a clean install of the OS and your data.
- Internal components: Elements such as the motherboard, power supply and screen are usually too expensive to repair on older computers.
Taking Care of Your MacBook
Obviously, treating your MacBook with TLC will pay dividends at the back end of its useful life - as the better quality of care, the more your MacBook will be worth on a platform like SellYourMac when it comes time to move on to a new model. Avoiding accidents (dropping it, spilling liquid on it, etc.) and shutting it down when it’s unused for extended periods of time will help prolong its life. A stand for your MacBook helps air circulation and prevents overheating, which can also help it live well into Apple old age. Power users (such as video editors, designers and gamers) tend to put more strain on their computers; that heavy-duty use is going to age a MacBook faster than light use (especially the battery).
So exactly how long will a MacBook last? Of course, there is no exact answer, and there is no science to give an expiration date. But in most instances, the majority of MacBooks last more than five years, and there are many out there that are older than 10. Apple provides support for all models of MacBook for up to 5 years if there are no hardware issues.