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How Long Do MacBooks Last

How Long Does A MacBook or MacBook Pro Last?

A question that many people have is how long do MacBooks last? There are a lot of different factors that go into how long a laptop lasts, but we will be going over what you can expect from your MacBook or MacBook Pro. Many people don't know how to tell if their computer is on the verge of breaking down or not, so they just keep using it until it's no longer usable. This article will give you some tips on how to know when your Mac needs help and how to prolong its lifespan for many years to come.

The Average Life Expectancy of A MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

A MacBook lasts three to six years on average which many users reported that their devices have lasted significantly longer. This is how long your MacBook Pro could last if you take care of it well, but there is no way to give you an exact answer. With over 20M Macs sold every year, it is impossible to give you a finite answer on how long Macs last as your MacBook may experience issues before another customer with the same computer setup.

This goes for all sorts of Apple MacBook models including:

  • Apple MacBook
  • Apple MacBook Pro
  • Apple MacBook Air

One way to make sure that your MacBook Pro lasts for this three-year period is to get the AppleCare Protection Plan which includes an additional two years beyond the standard one-year warranty. If something major happens, like a screen replacement or logic board repair, then the warranty will cover that at no extra cost.

MacBook Pro and MacBook Airs tend to outlast their other counterparts because they are made with higher-quality materials, but any laptop can last a long time if you treat it well and follow general guidelines on how to maintain it.

In some cases, you may be better off just buying a new MacBook over trying to salvage an old MacBook that is truly at the end of its life. When time passes, the technical specifications found on an old Mac can have a tough time keeping up with the latest macOS updates or application updates especially for those doing any highly intensive tasks like photo or video editing.

How to Keep Your MacBook Healthy & Operating Smoothly

guy using Macbook

While defects and malfunctions can happen to anyone at any time, there are some precautions as Mac users that you can take part in to help ensure your machine lasts for as long as possible:

Taking Good General Care

The most obvious tip for caring for and extending the lifespan of your MacBook or MacBook Pro is going to be related to the general care and handling of the machine on a day-to-day basis. This includes proper storage such as a padded computer bag or backpack when the machine is not in use or being transported from location to location as it can suffer serious physical damage pretty easily if you aren't careful.

In some cases, you'll want to purchase a hardshell exterior case for your MacBook like you would for your smartphone especially if you tend to be a clumsy person. Most MacBooks aren't necessary to have a screen protector on them, but we would recommend cleaning the screen regularly with a proper screen cleaner solvent (ABSOLUTELY DO NOT USE WINDEX) to keep the panel in great shape over the years.

Frequent macOS Maintenance & Cleaning

As time goes on, your MacBook or MacBook Pro will begin to slow down naturally as it becomes cluttered with temporary internet files, logs, and system caches. For the best overall system performance and user experience possible when using your Apple laptop, you'll want to make sure you find and clear out all of these temporary files to clear up some valuable free space from time to time.

This can be done manually at no charge, however, we recommend a reliable Mac Cleaning application to get this job done instead as it is affordable, convenient, and thorough compared to the manual maintenance tasks carried out yourself for free. Our top choice for Mac Cleaning is MacPaw's CleanMyMac X which is sold by a single license or as part of their valuable Setapp subscription (free 7-day trial available).

Not Overcharging the Internal Battery

With any form of electronic, the battery life over time will dwindle down to a point where it needs replacement. In the case of laptops, this is often occurring at least once throughout ownership because people forget how long or how often they have been charging their MacBook or MacBook Pro.

This charging routine could result in degradation of the Macbook batteries as they last longest when operating at 20% and 60%. If you keep your Mac plugged in 24/7 and keep the battery always charged to 100%, you will subsequently be hindering the lifespan of your MacBook's battery.

So what's the solution? If you are on an older version of macOS operating systems, then we'd recommend keeping track of your battery percentage and making sure you aren't overcharging it. This simply means you manually unplug it when you are not using the machine or when you are using it at 100% battery.

charging macbook pro scaled
MacBooks should be unplugged when not in use or when reaching full charge.

If you are using the latest version of macOS 11 Big Sur, there is a helpful third-party software application called AlDente which is a charging manager app for MacBook owners. There is a free version of the AlDente software, but the premium version (included in Setapp's subscription) gives you a lot more options to prolong the lifespan of your MacBook battery.

It works in a way where it will optimize your charging schedule, maximum capacity, and heat protection to provide the most optimal care of your internal battery to ensure it stays functional for many years to come.

Purchasing Applecare+ Warranty

As we've stated before, if you are going to drop the premium price tag on one of the newest Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro models then opting for their warranty plan isn't a bad idea to protect your investment for years to come. The Applecare warranty program will protect your machine from manufacturer defects or other types of hardware failures that arise as the result of normal day-to-day usage.

It is quite costly to get the full Applecare warranty, but it does provide a good amount of security and peace of mind if something were to happen to your Macbook. Applecare covers two unique incidents throughout the duration of ownership, so it is recommended to find out how long the Applecare warranty is for your MacBook or MacBook Pro before making a purchase.

Your standard Applecare warranty is only valid for one year, meaning you can only rely on it for the first 12 months of your Mac purchase. It's very important to find out how long the warranty is for your specific Mac model and you can do so via the ‘Check Coverage' page on Apple's website or by visiting an Apple Store with your machine.

For those who opt to purchase Applecare+, it will cover two incidents of a hardware malfunction or accidental damage protection per year. Some repairs such as screen damage, external enclosure damage or select other issues are subject to service fees from $99-299 on top of the AppleCare+ cost which is a downside but still cheaper than purchasing the part and repairing it yourself in most cases.

For example, if you purchase Applecare+ for my 16″ MacBook Pro my screen fails, I'm stuck paying a whopping $899.99 for the equivalent OEM panel. Once I receive that replacement part, I'm going to have to install it myself or pay someone else to do it for me.

With AppleCare+, I'll be dishing out $379 up-front for the warranty, however, in the event that my 16″ Retina display panel malfunctions, gets damaged or no longer powers on within the first three years, I'll simply pay a $99 deductible and be as good as new with Apple technicians completing the repairs for me. That would be $478 out of pocket for the repair service and Applecare+ versus $899 for the panel and the hassle of having to find someone competent to carry out the repair.

Which MacBook Pro Computer Parts Tend to Fail First?

While every unit is different in terms of what component may end up failing first, there are some parts or components that you should watch out for failing long-term:

macbook in use

MacBook Pro Battery

The first thing to look at is how old your battery is and how much charge it holds compared to how it used to. If your battery is dying quickly and not holding a charge like it used to then you may need to get a new battery. Be sure to check the MacBook power cord before diagnosing a battery issue, as sometimes that is the root cause of the problem and not the actual battery itself.

Keep in mind, the MacBook battery life will be fluid and fluctuate in terms of performance depending on the task at hand. Surfing the web and answering emails will use significantly less power consumption than doing something very resource-intensive like gaming or multimedia editing so don't mistake a change in battery performance under a task change for a failing battery.

In the past, a MacBook or MacBook Pro battery replacement was significantly easier to purchase yourself and carry out the task. Now that the models contain so much more technology in a slim profile this is not as easily doable by the standard consumer anymore, but if you go to Apple they will offer a battery replacement if it is under warranty for free or out of warranty for an additional fee.

MacBook Pro Screen & Display

Another part of your MacBook Pro that you should keep an eye on is how the screen is looking and performing over time. If you start noticing a decline in how it looks or performs (color change, backlight issues or dead/stuck pixels) then your display's panel or the cable connection to your motherboard may be experiencing malfunctions overtime.

This is one of the main selling points for Applecare as your standard Retina display panel from Apple (using in most MacBook Pro models and later MacBook Air models) is going to be very expensive to purchase. For example, to replace the screen on my 16″ MacBook Pro, I'm looking at a whopping $899.99 for the panel alone and then have to replace it myself to pay for an Apple service provider to do so professionally.

For those with a newer MacBook Pro with TouchBar, you may find issues with the Touch Bar malfunctioning over time. Since this is another display and a touchscreen display at that, there are many potential issues that can arise in performance which would be near impossible to fix yourself and thus another reason why AppleCare+ is recommended for high end MacBook purchases.

Motherboard aka Logic Board

For more than a decade, one of the biggest reasons why MacBooks and MacBook Pros no longer work are related to the motherboard or logic board of the laptop malfunctioning or burning out over time. With a non-function motherboard, you'll be sacrificing any functionality of the entire system as were is no workaround to

In most cases of random shutdowns of your MacBook Pro, it is going to be something with the hard drive or MacOS corruption or a failing motherboard. In both cases, these can get expensive to fix, but replacing the motherboard will be a much more expensive and time intensive task so Apple Care really pays for its worth if this event occurs.

macbook pro side view scaled

Hard Drive

Depending on what malfunctions with the hard drive, you'll be dealing with either a physical failure (more expensive to deal with) or a more simple macOS issue which can be sorted by a clean install of the operating system or through the use of a Mac Cleaner. Replacing the hard drive on most Macs used to be a much simpler and straight forward process, but it has become complex and expensive as Apple shrunk their new computer models and jam packed them in advanced technology.

Graphics Card

Many of the newest MacBooks utilize integrated graphics cards which means that you will never have to worry about a failing graphics card on your MacBook. For those who purchased newer MacBook Pros your computer offers hybrid graphics which utilizes integrated graphics for basic tasks like web browsing or email while it Apple offers a dedicated graphics card for more process intensive situations.

From time to time, a graphics card in these MacBook Pros may fail and need to be replaced. Unlike a desktop graphics card, you can't simply go out and purchase a new one yourself. Replacing the graphics card in a MacBook will require you to send it into Apple for service or buying an entirely brand new Mac computer.

Processor or CPU

While it isn't overly common for a CPU to fail in a MacBook, it is entirely possible especially over time as often the thermal paste on the processor begins to break down and the processor will start to overheat frequently. Up until last year, Apple's MacBook models always offered intel processors which have been reliable and widely adopted across laptop manufacturers.

More recently, the company has been shooting to has been shifting to their own Apple silicon chips which are produced natively by the company and resulting for better performance at a cheaper manufacturing cost.

Final Verdict

While MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro models should last you many years to come, taking good care of your machine both physically and from a software standpoint can you from needing to replace your Mac sooner.

In select cases such as if your MacBook is more than 5 years old, the cost of fixing it may not be worth pursuing and you are likely just better off saving for a new MacBook or an alternative laptop PC that is more modern and capable of living up to today's everyday usage standards.