Many Mac users may try to delay replacing their devices due to the high cost. However, it is worth considering the expected lifespan of a Mac.
Are you contemplating purchasing a used Mac and unsure about its age? For instance, is the 2017 iMac priced at $400/£400 worth it, or would it be wiser to invest a little more in a newer version?
One important aspect to take into account is the age when most Macs begin to encounter problems, like unexpected shutdowns and deteriorated batteries that cannot maintain their charge. Regrettably, there will come a time when repairing your Mac or MacBook is no longer a feasible solution and you will have to seek a replacement.
One problem with older Mac computers is that they may not be compatible with the necessary software. Additionally, Apple may no longer provide support for the operating system used on the Mac, increasing the risk of malware and security threats.
In this article, we will discuss the topics mentioned above and provide recommendations on which Mac computers are currently supported by Apple. We will also cover which Macs can still be repaired with available parts from Apple, as well as those that are considered obsolete or vintage by the company. If a Mac is classified as vintage, Apple may still have the necessary parts for repairs, but if it is deemed obsolete, parts will no longer be provided for potential fixes.
When should I consider replacing my Mac?
There are several signs that your Mac has reached its maximum lifespan:
The most up-to-date version of the software used by Apple is no longer supported, which could put you at risk.
The applications required for use are no longer compatible with it.
The Mac may have difficulty completing the necessary tasks, particularly if the RAM or other components cannot be updated.
An issue arises that is too costly to repair, or the necessary components are not accessible.
The Mac is becoming less dependable. Unexpected shutdowns are happening frequently and you have exhausted all attempts to resolve the issue without success.
Which Mac models are compatible with macOS updates?
Apple typically supports the three most recent versions of macOS with bug fixes and important security updates, guaranteeing functionality for the latest version of Safari and full support for Apple Services like iCloud. Feature updates are only available for the most recent version of macOS.
Apple will currently offer assistance for the following versions of macOS: macOS Sonoma (macOS 14), macOS Ventura (macOS 13), and Monterey (macOS 12). In September 2023, when Apple released macOS 14 Sonoma, it discontinued support for macOS Big Sur. The latest security update for Big Sur, macOS 11.7.10, was issued on September 11, 2023.
If your Mac is using Sonoma, Ventura, or Monterey, you can trust that Apple will monitor and address any security vulnerabilities or issues with these operating systems.
If your Mac has an outdated operating system like macOS Big Sur, macOS Catalina, or an even older version, you may not receive necessary updates for Apple’s software.
If your software is outdated, you may encounter compatibility issues with your other Apple devices on your Mac. Without the most recent security update, you may be unable to utilize features such as Apple Pay for online payments. Additionally, if you prefer to sync your iPad or iPhone with your Mac instead of using iCloud, your Mac must have a recent version of macOS. With Catalina, syncing is now done through Finder instead of iTunes. If your Mac cannot support Catalina, you will need at least iTunes 184.108.40.206 and Mac OS X 10.11.6 (El Capitan) in order for your iPhone or iPad to be recognized by your Mac.
Updating your Mac to the most recent version of macOS is not the only factor to consider. With each update, Apple drops support for more Macs. This means that the newest version of macOS may not be compatible with your Mac.
If your Mac is not included in the list of supported models below, it will not receive crucial security updates.
Macs that are compatible with macOS Sonoma.
The Macs that are supported by Sonoma in 2023 are as follows.
MacBook Air from 2018 and later
The MacBook Pro released in 2018 or later.
Mac mini from 2018 and later
The iMac models released in 2019 and beyond.
iMac Pro from 2017
The 2019 and later model of Mac Pro.
Mac Studio (all models)
Which Mac models are compatible with Sonoma?
Computers running macOS Ventura
The Macs that are compatible with macOS Ventura in 2022 are:
MacBook versions released in 2017 or after.
The MacBook Air versions released in 2018 or after.
Newer MacBook Pro models released in 2017 or after.
Models of Mac mini released in 2018 or after.
Macintosh computers released in 2017 or after.
iMac Pro (all models)
Mac Pro models from 2019 or later
Mac Studio (all models)
Can Ventura Pro run on my Mac?
Computers that are compatible with the operating system macOS Monterey.
The Macs compatible with macOS Monterey in 2021 are as follows:
Newer models of MacBook released in 2016 or after.
MacBook Air models released in 2015 or after that.
MacBook Pro models from 2015 or later
Mac mini models from 2014 or later
Apple desktop computers released in or after autumn of 2015
iMac Pro (all models)
Mac Pro versions released in 2013 onwards.
Is your Mac capable of running Monterey?
As of now, the oldest Macs that are currently supported include the 2013 Mac Pro (black cylinder model), the 2014 Mac mini, and the 2015 MacBook and Pro models. However, when Apple releases the next version of macOS in autumn of 2024, the list of supported Macs will be reduced to only include models from 2017 and, in certain instances, 2018.
Unfortunately, if you were expecting Apple to continue supporting your ten-year-old Mac, you will be let down.
Which Mac models are not compatible with macOS?
In 2023, Apple discontinued support for macOS Big Sur upon the release of Sonoma.
In 2020, Big Sur was released and it was compatible with the following Mac models.
MacBook versions released in 2015 or beyond.
MacBook Air models released in 2013 or after
MacBook Pro versions released in 2013 or later
Models of Mac mini released in 2014 or later.
iMac computers released in 2014 or after
iMac Pro (all models)
Mac Pro versions released in 2013 or after.
Apple has discontinued providing security updates for the 12-inch MacBook released in 2015, the mid-2013 and early-2014 versions of the MacBook Air, the late-2013 and mid-2014 versions of the MacBook Pro, and the 2014 iMac.
In autumn of 2024, the list of Macs that will no longer receive support will include models from 2015 and 2016.
Apple’s software updates no longer support Macs that were released before the aforementioned models.
Is it significant if my Mac is unable to run a compatible version of macOS?
If your Mac is unable to be updated to a compatible version of macOS, it becomes susceptible to security threats, which is a cause for alarm. Additionally, you may encounter difficulties making online purchases using your outdated Mac.
It is possible that you may encounter compatibility issues with certain software on your Mac. This is because Apple and other companies may stop providing support for older versions of their applications, leading to potential problems with the software you are currently using. If you are experiencing unexpected shutdowns, it could be due to an outdated app that the developer is no longer updating.
To access fully supported software, you must upgrade to a more recent version of macOS, which may require updating your Mac. However, there are ways to install a new macOS version on an older Mac.
After about eight to ten years, Apple will no longer provide operating system updates for Macs. It is advisable to consider replacing your Mac at this point.
At what point do Mac computers become outdated?
However, the longevity of a Mac is not solely determined by software updates. The ability to repair any hardware issues is also a factor to consider. Apple has two classifications, Vintage and Obsolete, that indicate the level of hardware support available. The first stage, Vintage, means that parts may still be obtainable for the Mac. The second stage, Obsolete, signifies that you are responsible for repairing any malfunctions on your own.
If you check out Apple’s list of discontinued Macs, also known as those for which spare parts are no longer available, you’ll notice that the company ceases to offer parts for Macs that have been on the market for over seven years. In certain cases, they may not even offer parts for Macs considered “Vintage” by the company, which haven’t been sold for more than five years.
This may result in the inability to have a defective Mac repaired due to unavailability of parts.
Mac computers that are no longer sold by Apple for over seven years are considered obsolete. If a Mac is listed as obsolete by Apple, it is unlikely that you will be able to get it fixed in case of any issues. While you may be able to find replacement parts on your own, Apple will not offer them.
More information on the specific models can be found on Apple’s designated webpage, but the following lists will provide a general overview.
Starting in May 2023, Apple will deem the following Macs and older models as Obsolete:
The 2014 and earlier version of the 11-inch MacBook Air.
MacBook Air (early 2014 and earlier) with a screen size of 13 inches.
MacBook Pro with a screen size of 13 inches, released in 2014 or earlier.
MacBook Pro 15-inch (mid 2014 and earlier models)
27-inch iMac (late 2013 and older)
The 21.5-inch iMac released in late 2013 or earlier.
The Mac mini released in 2012 and earlier
Server model of Mac mini released in 2012 or earlier.
The Mac Pro (2010 and earlier models)
Apple maintains a catalog of Vintage Macs, which refers to Mac computers that were discontinued from sale five to seven years ago. In France, a law allows for support and availability of spare parts for up to seven years after Apple stops selling a Mac.
Apple Authorized Service Providers will repair vintage products for up to seven years, as long as parts are available.
According to Apple, the following products are considered vintage:
12-inch MacBook (2015 and 2016)
13-inch MacBook Air (2015)
The 13-inch MacBook Pro from the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2015, 2016, and 2017.
21.5-inch iMac (2013 and 2015)
27-inch iMac (2015)
Mac Pro (2012)
The list includes newer Mac models, such as the 2017 MacBook Pro and the 2015 5K iMac. However, these are considered Vintage by Apple and anything older is deemed Obsolete.
This strongly implies that if your Mac was built prior to 2015, it may be wise to consider purchasing a new one. Additionally, it is not advisable to purchase a 2015 or earlier Mac if you come across one for sale. For more information, see: The Reason Behind Avoiding Second-Hand Mac Purchases.
Should I repair my Mac or purchase a replacement?
If your Mac falls into the “Obsolete” category and experiences issues, obtaining necessary parts for repairs may prove difficult as Apple does not supply them.
You might be able to buy an old Mac on eBay or similar and scrap if for the parts, but we’d suggest that it really wouldn’t be worth the effort.
If your Mac is on the Vintage list, Apple may have the necessary parts available, but there is no guarantee. If you are fortunate enough to obtain the part, an Apple service provider may be able to repair your Mac, though the cost of the service is likely to be expensive.
It is possible that your Mac may have been involved in a recall related to the problem you are facing. In this situation, it may be beneficial to participate in a repair program. However, if the window for Apple’s repair offer has already ended (which is probably the case), you will still need to cover the cost of the repair, which may be a barrier.
Apple repair programs
The current programs offered by Apple for repairing Mac devices are:
A battery issue has prompted a recall of 15-inch MacBook Pro models manufactured between 2015 and 2017.
Some Mac laptops purchased after 2016 have keyboard services available.
A service program is available for 13-inch MacBook Pro models from 2016 to 2018 that have a backlit feature.
The service programs that were previously in effect have now come to a close.
A program for servicing SSDs on 13-inch MacBook Pro models released between 2017 and 2018.
A program for replacing the batteries of 13-inch MacBook Pros manufactured between 2016 and 2017.
We have additional details regarding Apple’s product recalls and repair programs available here. Additionally, please refer to this webpage for further information on the aforementioned repair programs.
If your issue does not fall under any of the ones mentioned previously, you may have to pay a high cost for repairs. We recommend that if your Mac is more than five years old, repairing it may not be a worthwhile investment – unless, of course, there are valuable documents or photos that you need to retrieve. In that case, it would be worth considering how to recover these files.
Should I upgrade my Mac or purchase a new one?
This is a comparable inquiry to the previous one, as you consider the value of investing in upgrades for your Mac versus purchasing a new one.
There are multiple methods to enhance your current Mac, such as increasing RAM or switching from a hard drive to an SSD. By upgrading the internal components of your Mac, you can potentially improve its speed and functionality for your needs. Check out our guide on upgrading a Mac for more information.
Unfortunately, a significant number of Macs are not able to be updated. In more recent times, Apple has made the decision to permanently attach RAM and conceal internal parts, making it virtually impossible to access (unless you are willing to potentially ruin your Mac in the process).
If you’re considering purchasing a new Mac, take a look at our compiled list of the top Mac bargains available.
Best iMac deals
Top Mac mini bargains
Top offers on Mac Studios
Top deals on MacBook Pro computers
Top discounts on MacBook Air
Is it possible to upgrade the RAM on my Mac?
If you own any of the listed Mac models, you may have the option to upgrade the RAM.
MacBook (2008 to 2011 models)
The MacBook Pro models from 2009-2012 include the 13-inch, and the 15-inch from 2008-2012, as well as all 17-inch models.
The majority of iMac models, with the exception of the 21.5in Mid-2014 and Late-2015 models, allow for updates to the RAM. However, in these two models, the RAM is soldered and cannot be changed.
The Mac mini was available in 2010-2012 and the 2018 model.
Mac Pro: (all models)
The iMac Pro’s RAM cannot be accessed by the user, but it is possible to upgrade it at an Apple Store or an authorized service provider.
It is not possible to upgrade the RAM on MacBook Air models.
In this article, we discuss which Macs have expandable RAM and provide instructions on how to upgrade it.
What changes can I make to my Mac?
It may be possible to update other components, including the SSD, hard drive, battery, logic board, hard drive, but this is only possible for a few Macs and the process is only for the expert. If you’d like to try read: How to upgrade a Mac.
If you are willing to disassemble your Mac and try to enhance its parts, feel free to do so. However, make sure to back up your data before proceeding and be ready to accept failure if the process does not go smoothly.
Is it worth upgrading the RAM or other components of your Mac instead of buying a new one, assuming you can find the necessary parts? This may extend its lifespan by a few more years. However, we would advise against it if your Mac is more than seven years old (and note that MacBooks with upgradable RAM tend to be older than that).
What is the lifespan of Macs?
In response to the inquiry “What is the lifespan of a Mac?”, our estimate is five to eight years. However, it’s important to note that after five years from the last sale by Apple, it may not be possible to replace any malfunctioning components in a Mac.
Prior to purchasing a new Mac, be sure to check out our article on the optimal timing for buying a Mac or MacBook.
Consider checking out our comprehensive guide for purchasing a Mac to assist you in making your decision. We also offer a guide specifically for the best MacBook models.
Curious about the duration of Apple’s support for iPhones and iPads? Check out the lifespan of iPhones and the length of time Apple provides support for iPads.