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It’s no secret that Apple hardware lasts a long time. Eventually, however, the time comes when your Mac may outlast its usefulness, becoming obsolete.

It’s generally pretty obvious when it’s time to replace your computer, but just in case you’re unsure here four signs that it might be time for a trip to the Apple Store.

Your Applications Are Getting Slower

We say: Software applications tend to get bigger and more demanding with time. Eventually, your Mac won’t be able to keep up with those demands. In the short-term, you can slide back to an earlier software version 10 Websites To Download Older Versions Of Software 10 Websites To Download Older Versions Of Software Read More to help with performance. Unfortunately, even this option becomes prohibitive at some point — especially if you want new features and functonality.

There are a few things you can do to speed up your Mac. For one, you can free up space on your hard drive by removing unwanted files. There are plenty of ways to do this Everything You Can Do to Free up Space on Your Mac Everything You Can Do to Free up Space on Your Mac Your Mac only has a limited amount of available disk space – even more so if you're using a laptop. It's time to fight back and free up some serious space. Read More , from emptying your trash can to removing entire libraries.


The number of Startup applications on your Mac can also slow it down How To Make Your Mac Start Up Faster How To Make Your Mac Start Up Faster Is your Mac taking forever to boot? Here's how to speed it up. Read More .  You can take a look at your login items and remove those that aren’t needed. You can find these in System Preferences > Users & Groups, and then by clicking on your username. Next, click on Login Items and the name of an application you don’t need to launch during startup. Finally, click the “-” symbol located below the list to the left, thereby removing the application.

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To make your Mac run faster, you can also see which applications are running in the background using Activity Monitor. Some of these applications can take up a lot of processing power Activity Monitor: The Mac Equivalent of Ctrl+Alt+Delete Activity Monitor: The Mac Equivalent of Ctrl+Alt+Delete If you want to be a fairly proficient Mac user, it is necessary to know what Activity Monitor is, and how to read and use it. As usual, that's where we come in. Read More . To access Activity Monitor, open up your Applications folder and then your Utilities folder. From here, open Activity Monitor and take a look at the list of apps and processes that are running on your Mac in real-time.

From here, click on the Memory tab at the top and then the Memory filter at the top of the list. Under this view, programs are sorted by the amount available RAM they are using. To stop an application, click on it and then select the gray “x” icon located at the top-left corner of the window. When in doubt, don’t stop an application or process.

You can also reinstall OS X for a squeaky-clean Mac. Eventually you will get tired of juggling your Mac’s processes, and that’s when you might want to consider an upgrade.

Your Computer Won’t Run The Latest OS X

We say: Apple wants us to be using the latest version of OS X on our Macs, providing it for free. When a Mac can’t run the latest version, it’s only a matter of time before a new purchase becomes a necessity.

About This Mac

Apple releases a new version of OS X each fall What's New In OS X 10.11 "El Capitan"? (And How to Try it Yourself) What's New In OS X 10.11 "El Capitan"? (And How to Try it Yourself) While the changes don't seem that big on the surface, there's a lot going on under the hood that could make this incremental upgrade one of the most significant to date. Read More . The current version, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, is compatible with most Macs manufactured since 2007, including:

  • MacBook (Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

If your Mac isn’t on this list, the time has come to consider making a new purchase. The reason for this is two-fold. First, along with not being able to run El Capitan, your Mac has probably been downgraded by Apple to “vintage” or “obsolete” status. Vintage products are those manufactured more than five and less than seven years ago.

Apple discontinues hardware service for vintage products, which means they won’t be able to get your Mac fixed for cheap if things go wrong. You may be able to get work done from non-Apple service points though.

Obsolete products are those discontinued for being more than seven years old. At this point, service providers can no longer order parts.

Components Don’t Work, Are Too Expensive

We say: Parts for Macs are expensive. Luckily, they typically last a long time. When a part needs replacing, you need to decide whether it’s worth the cost. Much of the time a better solution may be purchasing a new Mac.

You can certainly continue to use your MacBook when the battery dies by plugging it into a wall for power. However, this isn’t a great long-term solution, as a faulty battery could indicate that other system components are about to break. Although Apple offers a battery replacement program, this can be expensive.


In recent years, Apple has made it nearly impossible for end users to replace Mac parts Fix Your Own Mac: A Troubleshooting Guide Fix Your Own Mac: A Troubleshooting Guide Apple is known for having great customer service and repair technicians, but if you're no longer under warranty that expertise doesn't come cheap. Why not try troubleshooting your own Mac first next time? Read More , including batteries (which are now glued to the logic board), hard drives, and memory. In doing so, the prices for these components have steadily increased because of the added labor costs. Ultimately, the choice comes down to whether you’re willing to pay the price.

When faced with an eye-watering bill for a new logic board or laptop display, ask yourself: would I be better off putting that money toward a new Mac, that’s likely to have a greater life span in the longterm?

The Timing is Right

We say: Sometimes it’s worth waiting to make a new Mac purchase.

Most Macs receive an update on a yearly basis. When eying a purchase, it’s best to buy the most-current model available. It’s also a good idea not to buy a new Mac right before a new model is announced — for the same money you could have a faster machine, with better features and a potentially longer life span in terms of support.

The MacRumor Buyer’s Guide is an excellent resource for making sure you don’t fall foul of Apple’s update cycle. It provides some insight about when an update is likely arriving for each Mac model, based on historical trends and industry news.


If your Mac is already dead and you can’t wait, it’s a good idea to always buy the latest model available. Saving some money on an earlier model may sound tempting, but it could cost you in the long-run. The older the model, the closer it becomes to being vintage or obsolete, regardless of when you purchased it.

That said, we acknowledge that not everyone can afford to buy the latest model. For those of you who find youself on a tight budget, there’s a few things you can do to buy a Mac on the cheap How to Buy Refurbished Mac Laptops and Save Money How to Buy Refurbished Mac Laptops and Save Money Apple's natural stranglehold on the Mac market means discounts on their hardware aren't frequent. That said, you can get a Mac for less — you just need to know where to look. Read More .

Enjoy the Process

Buying a new Mac can be an enjoyable and frustrating process, all rolled into one. Because Apple’s hardware is generally of a high quality, however, we don’t have to replace our Macs all that often.

How often do you replace your Mac and why?

Image Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds via

  1. MRH
    March 19, 2016 at 3:30 am

    Note that you can now get 16GB memory on a 15" late-2010 MBP. I upgraded mine with that and a 128GB SSD. Plenty fast for second computer, and it runs El Capitan with no problems.

  2. CheeseWizLatte
    March 3, 2016 at 12:29 am

    I'm writing this on a 2010 mac mini. I also have my 2001 PowerBook G4 that I use when I'm out and about (yes, really)

    I learned a few years ago that I can get a bit more life out of my hardware by simply not upgrading the software unless there was a feature that I genuinely thought I needed it. I used my iPhone 4 up until two months ago when my wife got me the newest model for christmas.

  3. Sillysack Buttowski
    March 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    What the hell! Everyone uses such advanced computers and still complain and whine that they're old. It's 3/1/2016 and I have a Lenovo PC with 4GB RAM with 3.47GB usable! An INTEL Core2Duo E8400 processor running at 3.00GHz.No Graphics card either! Ugh! And no plans for buying a new and better one if this one goes bad. And to top it off, I think this is ten folds fast compared to my previous one. Damn it! Damn this computer!

    • CheeseWizLatte
      March 3, 2016 at 12:34 am

      You're computer is still comparable to mid-range computers being sold right now, let alone 5-7 years old. You should be fine until you push a kid through Kindergarten

      • Sillysack Buttowski
        March 5, 2016 at 7:40 am

        Well, I use my computer to do what people do on high-end ones. It's slowness and hanging drives me crazy, plus, I have no more space on my hard drive. I must have at most 5GB free of my 120GB capacity and I just "can't!" delete anything to free some space. I can't even play decent Minecraft on it. Yes, I use Optifine at the lowest possible settings and yet it lags like crazy! It makes me cringe so much.

  4. deniseeeng
    February 12, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks for this - quite useful for me! My MBP was purchased in mid 2012 to replace my aging MB 13" running on Tiger OSX..... Am very happy that it seems like I do not have to purchase a new one just yet!

    However - I haven't updated to El Capitan yet.. have been waiting for a bit before I do anything ;) (that tends to mean a long time, actually!) I am still using Mountain Lion (le GASP) but no problems so far.

    • Bryan Wolfe
      March 4, 2016 at 1:01 pm

      Unfortunately, Apple makes it so difficult NOT to upgrade. They give the OS away for free, stop supporting older versions, etc.

  5. Charlie
    February 5, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    I've been using a mid-2010 Macbook Pro since purchased in late 2010. It's had the RAM increased to 8GB as well as a modest SSD (they were a heckuva lot more expensive back then).

    The battery was replaced once under Apple Care. That battery too was replaced, by me, a little over a year ago. Like many other MBP users I was under the impression that only Apple was capable of replacing an aluminum uni-body MBPro's battery. One trip to dissolved that myth and provided me with ample how-to info and illustrations for the task.

    • Jorge
      September 23, 2016 at 6:25 am

      how often do you recommend for a battery replacement?

  6. -rob-
    February 5, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Im writing this from an iMac 24" (end 2006, 2.16 Intel core dua, 4GB)) running OSX 10.7.5 . The only thing I did to it some years ago was replacing the disk with a 256 Gb SSD.

    This thing is fast enough for day to day work.
    I am now not able anymore to upgrade the OS, and that also makes I can't update LibreOffice anymore.

    I've still on my planning to see if I can tweak the system to accept OSX updates.. Don't know if that's possible, but I am going to give it a try.

  7. Charles Dale
    February 4, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I had a PC for 5 years and it was good but then I decided to try Apple so I bought an iMac and had it for 5 years. I then bought my second iMac and it is now 5 years old and running like a top. I will someday get my third iMac since I do like Apple better. The software is great and the hardware is top notch.

  8. J. Smith
    February 4, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Upgade to a real PC. You won't regret it!

    • Rocco Rizzo
      February 19, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      When Windows "edition 7" came out, I did the ver command against it. I found out that it was actually VERSION 6.1. I said to myself, this stinks! Vista with a point upgrade. I had always wanted to try a Mac, but they are costly, and I didn't have the money. When Windows Edition 7 came out, that changed. I had the money, and saw a place that had a great discount on a MBP 13". It was $300 off retail for a brand new one, so I bought it.
      Though this a core 2 duo, I have upgraded the RAM to 16GB, and got a big honkin' SDD that I found on sale.

      This laptop has been back and forth to work for what, five, six years, and still does a great job. The battery life is decent at 4 hours, and applications work fine. I often use it to troubleshoot PCs and our network. Users are awed when they see Windows running on it (through VMWare Fusion). The battery is getting long in the tooth, but I can replace that easily. Other than the battery, it has taken a licking, and keeps on ticking. It even has battle scars from the times when I nicked the metal case, but the insides are fine. This kind of reminds me of the old Think Pads, which were built like a brick outhouse. Alas, today's version of the Think Pads, I now call Stink Pads. The quality has gone downhill since IBM sold the division, and it just keeps getting worse as far as durability is concerned.

      Since I got my first Mac, I have gradually replaced the PCs at home with Macs, and am finding that I have much more time at home to do other things, rather than maintain my PC. Yes, I still have a Linux server, running FreeBSD, but the rest of the stuff will eventually be all Apple.

      All in all, the investment that I made in the one MBP, five years ago, has paid for itself. In those five years. I probably would have gone through three or four three hundred dollar laptops in that time. I am very pleased with the product line, and only and saddened that even Apple is cutting things out of their laptops, like DVDs.

      Most recently, I went to the Apple refurbished store online (it's at the bottom of their page) and picked up a year old model of the MBAir with 8GB RAM and a 500GB SSD and an i7 processor. This little lightweight wonder screams! The battery lasts at least ten hours, and it does everything but play DVDs. At half the weight of the MBP, and half the thickness, it is not a pain to carry around in the backpack. The material build is still rock solid. I got it for taking on plane trips, so weight and size were a major concern. I am not one bit disappointed with this one either.

      Oh, did I mention that the Apple refurbs have the same warranty as a new model? They just come in a white box with no pictures on it.

      So, to the comment by J. Smith, I have upgraded to a real PC, and it has an Apple logo on it. I shall NEVER EVER regret it!

  9. alantech
    February 4, 2016 at 3:26 am

    You have a MAC, good enough reason to replace it.

  10. david wagg
    February 4, 2016 at 3:22 am

    Upgrade your old Mac to modern Linux

  11. makeuseof14
    February 3, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I'm still using a 2008 MacBook Pro, although I recently bought a replacement for it. I've upgraded the RAM to 6 GB (2 more than Apple recommends, but OWC said it works fine) and the hard drive to a 1 TB SSD. Apple replaced the logic board, battery, and power cable under warranty. I replaced the keyboard on my own when the original died. The machine still runs great, and I love the 17" screen. I only decided to replace it after reading that the Apple Store still sold 2012 MacBook Pros. So I decided to buy one of those brand new, with a 3-year Apple Care warranty.

    Why buy a 2012 model? Well, Bryan alluded to one of the reasons: it's the last model that can be user-upgraded, from what I understand. I got 16 GB of RAM for it and a 1 TB SSD. It has only a 13" non-Retina screen, but I plan to use a separate monitor with it anyway. I expect it to last me as long as my 2008. I love the MacBook Pro, Apple software, and software developed for the Mac, but I am not an Apple Fanboy.

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