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 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, from emptying your trash can to removing entire libraries.
The number of Startup applications on your Mac can also slow it down. 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.
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. 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.
Apple releases a new version of OS X each fall. 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, 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.
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.
If you don’t need to replace your entire machine, consider upgrading the RAM in your Mac instead.
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