How Long Does a MacBook Pro Last?

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On average, a MacBook Pro lasts for between five and nine years, but this is heavily dependent on how you use it, and how much you expect from your MacBook Pro.

I know from my own experience that due to the high price of a MacBook Pro, you want to be sure that you are choosing a model that will last you for as long as you need it, which means investigating the potential issues that MacBooks can experience to understand “how long does a MacBook Pro last?”.

But how long can a MacBook Pro last will also depend on how heavy a user you are, and whether you will be involved in complex work like video editing, or if you are just happy with word processing.

It might seem like an older model from a few years ago can be a good buy, as these are very cheap now, but is it?

This article will cover “how long do MacBook Pros last”, and the reasons why they have a finite lifespan.

I first used a MacBook nearly twenty years ago, and have a wealth of experience of all the quirks and bugs that they might possess, plus I have a very good understanding of the parts that most commonly limit the MacBook Pro’s life, which I’m going to lay out for you here.

Note: with the switch to Apple’s own silicon in the M1 chips, this means that by the end of 2022, there should be no more MacBook Pros for sale with Intel chips. This potentially means that Intel-based MacBook Pros might have a shorter lifespan if Apple chooses to concentrate their OS updates to their M1 products, although this is yet to be determined.


how long does a macbook pro last

How Long Can a MacBook Pro Last?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it varies depending on how you use your MacBook Pro and the conditions in which it is used. However, on average, a well-cared for MacBook Pro should last seven years.

However, there are many factors that can influence how many years does a MacBook Pro last – some people may find that their MacBook Pro lasts for up to nine years, whereas others may find that they need to upgrade after only five years.

This is because the lifespan of a MacBook Pro can depend on how heavy a user you are, and whether you require more from your laptop than just word processing and internet browsing. For example, those who use their MacBook Pro for video editing will find that they need to upgrade sooner, as the hardware is pushed to its limits.

When trying to determine how long do MacBooks last, it’s a good idea to consider three main areas:

  • Operating System Life
  • Hardware Life
  • MacBook Pro Real-World User Experience

Operating System Life

Mac OS Lifespan

One of the main issues that can shorten the lifespan of a MacBook Pro is if you are unable to keep up with software updates.

This is because, as time goes on, updates become more and more resource intensive – they require more storage, faster processors, and more RAM in order to be able to run properly.

If you are using an older operating system, it’s likely that a lot of the newer software will not be compatible, which means you will not be able to access certain features or could even cause your laptop to crash.

This is why it’s important to keep your MacBook Pro up to date with the latest operating system – not only will this make your laptop run faster and smoother, but it will also extend the life of your hardware.

OSX and macOS are well known for being very stable and having a long lifespan.

However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any potential dangers that can affect your MacBook Pro’s performance.

For example, if you are running an older operating system, you may be more vulnerable to malware attacks, as these will not have the same level of security as the latest updates.

In addition, if you are using drivers that are not optimized for the OS, this can cause your laptop to slow down as it tries to use features that are not compatible with the software.

Unfortunately, there are limits to how far you can upgrade the OS within a particular model of MacBook Pro. For example, MacBook Pros made before 2015 cannot use the latest MacOS Monterey, meaning models prior to 2015 are effectively now being retired.


Hardware Life

MacBook Pro hardware life

As well as being affected by software updates, the lifespan of a MacBook Pro can also be shortened by using outdated hardware.

For example, if you are using an old hard drive, this could mean that your laptop is not able to keep up with the demands of the latest software.

In addition, if you do not have enough RAM or an updated graphics card, this can also lead to a decrease in performance.

This is why Apple often releases updates to their hardware, as it allows users to keep up with the latest software and improve the overall performance of their laptop.

Hardware Failures

MacBook Pro Hardware Failures

Another issue that can affect how long a MacBook Pro lasts is hardware failures. This could be due to something as simple as faulty RAM, or as complex as an issue with the logic board.

If you’re experiencing regular errors, or your MacBook Pro keeps freezing, it’s likely that there is a hardware issue that needs to be fixed.

In some cases, you may be able to fix the issue yourself, but in other cases you may need to take your laptop into an Apple store for repair.

It’s important to remember that hardware failures can happen at any time, and are not always preventable.

This is why it’s important to have a backup plan in place, in case your MacBook Pro needs to be repaired or replaced.

One method of dealing with this is Applecare+.

Applecare+ is a service offered by Apple that gives users extended warranty and technical support for their MacBook Pro.

This includes up to two incidents of accidental damage every year, as well as 24/7 technical support from Apple experts, although you do pay a small, fixed amount for this service. Prices can be checked on Apple’s site.

Memory Limits

MacBook Pro RAM limit

One of the main factors that can affect the lifespan of a MacBook Pro is a lack of RAM. As time goes by, new programs inevitably require more RAM, meaning that the 8 or 16GB that was sufficient a few years ago, will now not let you use the newest programs.

When the laptop is running low on memory, it will start to use its hard drive as virtual memory, which can cause the laptop to slow down.

In addition, if you are using applications that require a lot of RAM, such as video editing software, this can also lead to a decrease in performance.

This is why I find it of crucial importance to always think ahead when buying a laptop, and go for more RAM than you think you will need. This will help to extend your MacBook’s lifespan.

The same issue can be found with SSDs, which are improving in terms of capacity with each year. This means that software manufacturers assume that their programs can get bigger with each new version and take up more SSD space.

This can be a real problem for a smaller SSD that is a few year’s old, particularly when the SSD is already at reduced capacity thanks to years of saving your personal files to it.

One way to combat this issue is to use an external hard drive. This will allow you to save your files offline, and means that you will not have to fill up your SSD with unnecessary data.


MacBook Pro Real-World User Experience

How long does macbook pro last

The third, and probably most imporant factor that affects how long a MacBook Pro lasts is how it’s used in the real world.

For example, if you are using your laptop for heavy-duty tasks, such as video editing or gaming, you will find that you need to upgrade sooner, as the hardware is pushed to its limits.

On the other hand, if you are only using your laptop for basic tasks such as browsing the internet and checking emails, then it will likely last longer.

This is because more intensive tasks require more resources from the hardware, which can lead to problems over time.

In addition, if your MacBook Pro is constantly being moved around or transported in a bag, this can also cause damage to the internal components and reduce its lifespan.

MacBook Pro Display Fading

As a MacBook Pro user myself, I have found that the display can fade over a few years. This is usually not a big issue, as the laptop can still be used for most tasks, but it can be slightly annoying when trying to work on projects that require a lot of screen estate.

In my experience, this fading usually starts to become more noticeable after 3 or 4 years of use.

MacBook Pro display fading

However, it’s important to note that this varies from person to person and may not be an issue for everyone.

If you are worried about your MacBook Pro’s display fading over time, there is not really anything that you can do to help prevent it, but you can use a screen protector to help keep the display from getting scratched or damaged, or always get the display replaced at an Apple store (although this is likely to be uneconomical for older MacBook Pros).

MacBook Pro Battery Life

The battery is one of the most important parts of a MacBook Pro, and it’s important to take care of it if you want to make it last as long as possible.

One of the most important things to remember is to only charge it to 80%, as this will help to extend its life.

In addition, you should try to unplug it from the charger when it’s not in use, as this will also help to keep the battery healthy.

These simple tips will help to ensure that your MacBook Pro battery lasts as long as possible, but it is likely that it will only last for around five years, even if you look after it.

If you don’t look after your battery, you can expect it to only last for 1 – 2 years.

MacBook Pro Battery Replacement

MacBook Pro Battery Replacement

MacBook Pro batteries are not meant to be replaced by third-parties. If there is a problem with your battery, you will need to take it to an Apple store in order to get it fixed.

Apple usually offers a one-year warranty on batteries, so you will be able to get a new battery if your old one fails within that time period.

However, if your battery is not covered by the warranty, or it has expired, then you will need to pay for a new battery yourself.

The cost of a new MacBook Pro battery varies depending on the model of MacBook Pro that you have.

For example, the battery for the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina costs $199, while the battery for the 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina costs $229.

MacBook Pro Upgradability

MacBook Pro Upgradability

It can be difficult to upgrade MacBook Pros, as many of the components, like RAM and storage, are not meant to be replaced by third-party companies and are soldered directly to the motherboard. The last user-upgradeable MacBook Pros were the mid-2012 versions, with this ability removed for all subsequent models.

It’s also the case that MacBooks over five years old tend to not have many parts available, meaning that even Apple cannot easily repair or upgrade these models.

MacBook Pro Sync Issues

MacBook Pro Sync Issues

Although MacBook Pro sync issues can vary depending on the Apple products you are syncing between and the ages of the respective models, one thing that many experience with older MacBook Pros is that they can be difficult to sync with other Apple products.

For example, MacBook Pros over 5 years old often do not sync properly with iPhones or iPads, as it either fails to connect or takes a long time to do so.

This can be frustrating, especially if you are trying to quickly transfer some files between devices, particularly as the seamless sync is a major feature of Apple’s ecosystem.

Physical Degradation

MacBook Pro keyboard life

MacBooks can begin look old and dirty after a while due to dirt accumulating on the keyboard, screen scratches and broken keys.

How much these issues affect your use of the laptop will depend on your personal situation, but these issues are generally not things that are worth fixing, but can make you more likely to want to upgrade your MacBook.


Average Life of MacBook Pro: Light and Heavy Users

average macbook pro life

For light users, a MacBook Pro should last around 7-9 years before they need to upgrade.

A light laptop user is someone who does not use their computer for extensive or strenuous tasks. This can include activities such as browsing the internet, checking email, and using basic software, and they probably will not be using their laptop every day.

Heavy users, on the other hand, will find that their MacBook Pro only lasts for around 5+ years before it starts to give them problems and needs to be upgraded.

This is because they are putting more stress on the system with their use and it can’t keep up with the demand.

A heavy user of laptops is someone who uses their computer for more strenuous tasks than a light user. This can include activities such as editing photos/videos, and gaming, and daily use of the laptop.

  • For people who are light laptop users, a MacBook Pro should last around seven to nine years.
  • For people who use their laptops heavily, a MacBook Pro should last around five plus years.

How Long Does MacBook Pro Battery Last?

how long does macbook pro battery last?

The average life of a MacBook Pro battery is around 1000 charges.

After that, the battery will start to lose its capacity and will not hold as much of a charge as it used to.

Once the battery has failed to charge to more than 80% three times, it is recommended that you replace the battery with a new one.

If your MacBook Pro is still under AppleCare warranty, then you can take it in for a free replacement battery, otherwise you are looking at a more costly replacement.

But, you can pretty much guarantee that the MacBook Pro battery will maintain 10+ hours of life for at least the first year (when it is under warranty), and will then start to degrade following this.

You can generally keep your battery lasting longer on a per-charge basis by using Safari (Apple’s own browser) rather than Chrome, and switching to other Apple versions of apps, which are much better optimized for battery life with the MacBook Pro.

Battery life is likely to be in the 4 – 5 hour range per charge within the first five years of ownership, but this is dependent on how much you over charge it – unplug it regularly when fully charged and don’t leave it plugged into the mains when the MacBook is switched off.

Good battery hygiene can keep battery life from degrading as fast, but it will still drop over time.


When Should I Replace My MacBook Pro?

When Should I Replace My MacBook Pro?

Some people might not need the latest and greatest technology and can be content with a laptop that is a few years old; others may feel like they need to have the newest model as soon as it comes out.

There are many things to consider when deciding whether or not to replace your MacBook Pro, but these are some of the main points:

  • How often does my laptop freeze/crash?
  • Can I keep up with software updates?
  • Is my Mac compatible with the latest operating system?
  • How much storage do I need?
  • How important is it for me have a retina display?
  • Are there any other features that are important to me?
  • How much am I willing to spend?

So, how long do Mac laptops last?

In general, light users can expect to have to replace their MacBook Pros within 9 years, assuming it is not used everyday and they are only performing basic tasks like web browsing or word processing.

Moderate users, who might use their MacBook Pros most of the week for photo editing in Photoshop and drawing in Illustrator, will probably need a replacement within 7 – 9 years, depending on individual use.

Heavy users can expect their MacBook Pro to need replacement at around the 5 year mark, assuming they are video editing every day, or doing similar intensive tasks.


How Long Should a MacBook Pro Last?

How Long Should a MacBook Pro Last?

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on how you use your MacBook Pro, and what type of user you are.

However, on average a well-cared for MacBook Pro should last between five and nine years.

It is important to keep up with software updates, ram upgrades, storage expansions and overall system health checks in order to get the most out of your laptop.

Keep in mind that how long your MacBook Pro will last also depends on how often you use it and what kind of tasks you put it through. Heavy laptop users will need to upgrade sooner than someone who only uses their MacBook Pro for light browsing and emails.

If you’re using an older model that is no longer being updated by Apple, then you’ll definitely want to upgrade after a few years, particularly if the frequency of freezing or other faults becomes too much to manage.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that upgrading isn’t always necessary. Sometimes all your Mac needs is a good cleaning! Make sure to dust out the inside and clean the screen with a microfiber cloth every once in awhile–this can do wonders for your device’s lifespan.

In conclusion, a MacBook Pro should last anywhere from five to nine years with proper care. If you’re a heavy user, you may need to upgrade sooner, but if you take care of your device and don’t put it through too much stress, then it should last a good while.


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Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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