How Long Do MacBooks Last?

If you are considering purchasing a new or even a used MacBook, you’ll probably want to know how long that investment will last. It’s a great question to ask when researching any new purchase, especially one like the MacBook for which you will pay a premium price (learn why from this article).

In general, an average MacBook can last around 7 years. The actual lifespan will depend on a number of factors and many users will find themselves wanting to replace it well before that even if it is still functioning well.

My name is Eric, I have been working with computers since I was a kid. I have watched technology evolve over the past 40 years. Most devices have a limited lifespan. I have seen some that last for decades and others for only a couple of years.

MacBooks fall into the middle or lower end of this range. If you would like to find out why and how long your MacBook will possibly last, keep reading and we will dig into some of the factors that can lengthen or shorten its lifespan.

2008 MacBook Still Running Strong
My Old 2008 MacBook Is Still Running Strong.

User vs. Technology

The 7 year average of a MacBook is just that. It is an average. Some will last longer and others will have a shorter time span. There’s no way to confidently predict how long your’s will be a viable tool that you can use for normal activities, but there are some things we can look at.

There are, of course, many factors that will determine how long your MacBook will last. This is true for any laptop or even a desktop computer. Some of these factors depend on you, the user, while other factors such as technology are really out of your control.

Let’s take a look at these two different categories of factors that will determine the lifespan of your MacBook.

User Factors

These are things that, for the most part, you the user can control and will affect the life of your MacBook. 

1. Wear and Tear

As with any product you purchase, how you take care of it, will be a major factor in how long that product lasts. MacBooks are no different. If you protect your investment and make sure you don’t drop it, throw it around or spill drinks on it, it will last longer.

If you travel with it often, use it in harsh environments outdoors, and don’t keep the surfaces clean, there’s a chance that you will be replacing it sooner rather than later. 

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use it for whatever you need it for, just keep in mind that some types of usage may shorten its lifespan, and taking good care of it will lengthen it. Just like most other products you purchase and use.

2. Type of User

The type of user you are may also determine how long you can use your MacBook. If you are a light user, that just uses the computer for word processing and maybe some light internet surfing, your MacBook will be able to keep up with you over time.

If you are a heavy user who runs processor-intensive applications, performs large file transfers, or runs graphic-intensive games or video, you will begin to notice your system slowing down the older it is. 

Your hardware will no longer be able to keep up with the newer technology that is used for these types of applications.

If you are a user who relies on these types of apps you will see the effects of your hardware not keeping up with the software much sooner than a light user who uses it for only simple tasks.

3. Comfort

How long are you able to comfortably use the system as it begins getting older and slowing down? This can make a big difference to many users. A laptop that does not perform well can often be frustrating and cause more stress than needed.

Once your system gets to this point it may be time to think about purchasing a new one.

4. A New Job or Task

It’s possible that you may start a new job or task that requires you to have more processing power, disk space, memory, etc. This is common and will often require you to look into purchasing a new MacBook if the old one cannot keep up.

5. Technology Envy

This may be the number one reason that tech junkies need to upgrade more often than average users. We see new technology rolled out and others beginning to use it. We can’t stand that others have a better and more powerful system than ours.

The current device we are using is probably still fine and works adequately but we often feel the need to have the latest and greatest technology, so we end up purchasing a new MacBook even though our old one is probably still in great condition.

Technology Factors

1. Apple

Many Apple enthusiasts may hate me for pointing this out but Apple does tend to design things so they are hard to upgrade. I’m not trying to put them down for this, it is a great business strategy and has worked very well.

There’s no denying that Apple products, including the MacBook, are designed and made to last, but upgrading the hardware in them yourself can be extremely painful and in some cases almost impossible. In the long run, it is easier to just purchase a new one.

2. Battery

The battery is one of the first things that will begin to wear out. It doesn’t mean that you need to go out and replace the laptop immediately. There are tutorials that can help you replace the battery or you can take it to an Apple store to get it replaced.

The average batteries last about 4 to 5 years so once you replace them you will probably be good to go for the rest of your MacBook’s lifespan.

3. Cost to Upgrade

Although it may be difficult and costly, a MacBook can be upgraded to a certain point. As an older one begins to lag behind in technology, there are some parts, depending on the model that can be upgraded to keep it going. 

As mentioned above, these upgrades can be difficult and may need to be done by a professional. Therefore they can be costly. You’ll have to weigh the cost of upgrades against the cost and benefits of just purchasing a new one.

4. Available Parts

At some point, the availability of parts that are compatible with an older model will become an issue. Newer hardware is often not compatible with older systems and it will be hard to find older hardware that is no longer being produced.

5. Technology and Operating Systems

This happens to every computer system. Technology eventually moves ahead of that great system you purchased. There’s nothing any of us can do about it. As technology advances at ever-increasing rates, our system becomes outdated even quicker.

Operating systems move forward and eventually, an older system is not able to upgrade to the newer OS. Most Macs that are older than 2012 are not able to upgrade to the latest macOS, leaving them in the dust.

Without OS upgrades, you will run into many apps that you are no longer able to run on your system. This will also create many connectivity and compatibility problems for you making it necessary to upgrade to a new MacBook.

Final Words

As mentioned at the start of the article, the average lifespan for a MacBook is about 7 years. Due to the factors mentioned above, it might make more sense to look at this lifespan as a range that can be anywhere from about 4 to 9 years.

Personally, I have an old 2008 MacBook that I still use periodically. It still works for many simple things such as word processing. 

What is the longest you have ever been able to use a MacBook? Let us know, we would love to hear from you.

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