Should I Replace or Update My Mac?

When to Replace or Update a Mac

Are you running an old MacBook Pro, a slow iMac or just an Apple Mac that feels like it’s past its use-by-date? Take some time to consider your options as to whether you should replace or update your Mac, and if necessary, get some objective advice, rather than just the sales hype.

In a previous article, we have discussed how long you can expect your iMac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air to last, but there are other equally import things you need to take into account before you buy your new Mac computer, or spend money to update your existing machine.  So, if you are questioning if you should replace or update your Mac, let’s begin with an often overlooked or least considered factor – the MacOS.

Mac OS Updates

With the launch of Apple’s next MacOS (Mojave 10.14) only weeks away, it may be a good time to assess how the imminent arrival of Apple’s latest operating system may impact on you and whether you should replace or update your Mac. Let’s start with the good news first. According to information currently available, if you have one of the following devices (listed below), you should be able to successfully update your Mac and install and run MacOS Mojave.  They are:

  • MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Mid 2012 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac (Late 2012 or newer)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013, plus mid-2010 and mid-2012 models with recommended Metal-capable GPU)

Is Mac Update Possible?

However, according to the same sources, if your Apple Mac computer is one of the older 2010 and 2011 machines (or Late 2009 in the case of the iMac and MacBook) that were able to run MacOS High Sierra (10.13), it will not be upgradeable and thus cannot be updated to MacOS Mojave.

If you are in this situation and already running MacOS 10.13, the news really isn’t that tragic. So long as your system is performing well, is stable and is regularly backed up (preferably using Time Machine), you should be able to keep your Mac running for at least the next 18 months to 2 years through regular updates from Apple (including security updates & patches) and from third-party vendors like Google (Chrome browser); Microsoft (for Office 2016 & 365 products) and Adobe (for their Creative Cloud applications like Photoshop) to name but a few. Of course, extending the life of your Mac depends a lot on the serviceability of the hardware. Things like the GPU (video/ graphics), the logic board (motherboard), RAM (memory) and PSU (power supply) in particular.

Update to MacOS High Sierra

If you are running a Mac with a version of the MacOS older than 10.13 High Sierra, and have a need to run current/up-to-date versions of productivity software like those mentioned above – and want to extend the useful life of your Apple computer (hardware permitting) – then you should consider updating to MacOS High Sierra in the next few weeks, before the official release of MacOS Mojave.

By doing so now, you are getting a more stable and reliable version of High Sierra (10.13.6), compared to the version that was released nearly 12 months ago. But be sure to back up your system first using Time Machine, and be you have all the necessary product installation codes/ keys, passwords, etc, in case something goes wrong.

Of course, you may be happy using MacOS Snow Leopard (10.6.8), Lion (10.7.5), Yosemite (10.10.5), etc, and not feel the need to change. At the other end of the scale, you may be a person who regularly updates their computer with each new MacOS as they are released, hence being at the cutting edge so to speak.

Mac Update Issues

Neither of these strategies is an ideal solution when considering whether to replace or update your Mac as they both impact on software compatibility, system stability and security. At one end of the scale, your system will become more un-useable and less secure over time, whilst at the other end of the scale, your system may suffer compatibility and stability issues over the short-term (until these problems get addressed).

Mac OS Update and Product Cycle

Apple’s current product development cycle means that a new version of its Mac operating system is released annually, and this will impact on your decision whether to replace or update your Mac, with significant product improvements over the following 12 months, before the cycle is repeated again in approximately 12 months’ time. With each new MacOS release comes the end of product support for an earlier version – not only from Apple, but third-party vendors like Google and Microsoft – and this may impact on your computer system’s hardware.

This product cycle is more to the advantage of Apple and its third-party partners by pushing sales of both software and hardware, and not necessarily to the advantage of the average consumer.

Replace or Update Mac?

Nevertheless, based on the information above, it may be reasonable to assume that various models of Mac computers 6 years old or less will be (or should be) able to run the latest MacOS release and that systems 8 to 9 years old should be able to run earlier (but still officially-supported) versions of the MacOS to assist in your decision whether to replace or update your Mac. If that is the case, does the cost of upgrading hardware make sense and can you justify spending money updating your Mac? The short answer is more than likely, but it all depends on your particular needs and circumstances.

Keep Buying New

If you can afford (or simply prefer) to buy a new Apple Mac computer every 5 to 6 years, then this may be the optimal solution for you. With current prices for default configurations of the most popular Mac models ranging from the MacBook Air ($1,500 to $1,900), the 13 and 15-inch models of the MacBookPro ($1,900 to $4,100) and, the 21.5 and 27 inch iMac ($1,600 to $3,500), a purchase like this may be reasonable for something that will last you around 5 to 6 years, and probably more.

Of course, these prices are for off-the-shelf configurations. If, for example, you need 512 Gb or 1 Tb of storage and 16 Gb of RAM/ memory on your new MacBook Pro, it will cost you a lot more.  You may be thinking that, as in the past, these upgrades can be deferred down the track. Unfortunately, since the release of the late 2012 models in both the MacBook Pro and iMac ranges, many of these component upgrades can be difficult, expensive and in some cases, no longer possible. Looking at it from this angle may make it a little harder in deciding whether or not to replace or update a Mac.

For more information on whether you should replace or update your Mac, contact us at Affordable Computer Repairs and Service in Brisbane on 3397 1215 or 0409 974 707.


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