When Should You Upgrade to a New MacBook?

With a new MacBook releasing next month, you may be wondering if your current MacBook is in need of a replacement. Here’s what you need to know when it comes time for a MacBook upgrade.

Many times, users upgrade their MacBook before they need to, mostly since they want to have the latest and greatest computer even if their old one was still performing adequately. They usually want the new features and the slightly faster processor.

Of course, if you’re on a tight budget, you can’t exactly upgrade whenever you want, and you have to be careful as far upgrading your MacBook too soon, but when is “too soon” and when is the right time to upgrade?

Here are a few things that you should keep in mind if you think it’s time to upgrade to a new MacBook.

Upgrade Your Current MacBook First

If  your MacBook was built before 2012, then it has user-replaceable memory and a hard drive that you can easily switch out. One of the best upgrades you can do for an older MacBook is to install more memory and swap out the old hard drive for a solid-state drive.

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These two things alone can breathe new life into an older MacBook, and it shouldn’t cost that much either. You can upgrade your memory to 8GB for around $70, while a new solid-state drive can cost as little as $50 or so, depending on how much storage you need.

While you may think that upgrading the memory and storage drive in your MacBook is a difficult task only meant for professional technicians to do, you’d be wrong. In fact, replacing the memory is one of the easiest tasks to perform when it comes to messing with the internal components in a MacBook.

All you need to do is remove a handful of screws from the bottom plate of your MacBook and you’ll have easy access to the memory modules. From there, you simply slide out the memory sticks and slide the new ones into the slots. Honestly, the hardest part is simply making sure you don’t lose the screws to the bottom plate.

Reinstall OS X

One great way to upgrade your MacBook doesn’t require any hardware improvements at all, and it doesn’t require any money. It’s a simple OS X reinstallation that can seriously rejuvenate a MacBook.

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Over the years, your MacBook builds up a huge bank of files and apps. Before long, you have a ton of stuff taking up space on your MacBook and everything is disorganized. However, by reinstalling OS X and starting fresh, you’ve just given your MacBook a whole new life, and it’s like you just took it out of the box.

Installing a fresh copy of OS X Yosemite is a little tricky, as it requires you to make a bootable USB drive, but we have a handy guide that takes you through the process.

If It’s Time, You’ll Know It

In the end, if your MacBook is still sluggish, even after upgrading the memory and hard drive, as well as reinstalling OS X, it may very well be time for a new MacBook.

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If apps take forever to open and everything is just really slow and sluggish, even after reinstalling OS X, you might be in for a new MacBook. However, be sure you know when the MacBook was built. If it’s a fairly newer MacBook (2012 or newer, roughly) and it’s acting really slow, it might warrant a trip to the Apple Store to get it looked at, but if your MacBook is creeping up on 5-6 years of use, you might want to think about getting a new one, depending on how it’s performing.

Of course, many users are still rocking 2008 and even 2007 MacBooks without a problem, usually after doing their own upgrades to it, but even that kind of performance is still only good for casual users. If you need your MacBook to do anything more than casual web browsing and email, you might want to consider upgrading every 4-5 years to get the best performance possible. And if you rely on your MacBook for work, consider upgrading every 2-3 years.

I always like to tell users to buy a new MacBook with the purpose of getting every last use out of it — not with the purpose of upgrading it in a year. It’ll save you money in the long run.

3 Comments

  1. Matt Mendez

    03/23/2015 at 10:17 am

    I just found out about this site a few mintutes ago and I like it by the way. But the main reason I am replying to this article is because I feel that he last few statements you said about when consumers should grab a new MacBook are a little off in my own opinion. You stated that if consumers are using there MacBook for work that they should replace it every 2-3 years!? I feel with that statement, it defeats one of the main purposes of getting a Mac. I mean if you have the money then by all means upgrade when ever, but the main reason I got my MacBook Air was because my MacBook Pro is hitting 6 years old and still running great. I got it because I haven’t needed to get a new laptop since my time in college.
    Just a discussion topic for the post. And curious to see if anybody else agrees or disagrees.
    Great post!

    Reply

    • Craig Lloyd

      03/23/2015 at 1:53 pm

      When you use a MacBook for work, you most likely have to upgrade it more often because you’re using it more than most casual users would. Obviously though, it depends on the work you do. Casual users can go longer without upgrading, since they probably only do web browsing, email, etc.

      I know people who upgrade their Macs every year when a new one comes out, which just seems ludicrous. 2-3 years is a better upgrade cycle since Apple usually introduces big refreshes in that timeframe (like an all-new processor or design changes).

      This is just my opinion, though. Adjust your own upgrade cycle accordingly based on how you use your MacBook and how much wear and tear it gets.

      Reply

  2. Bill Dean

    09/13/2015 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks for advice, Craig. I own a very slow performing, late 2008 aluminum 2GB MacBook 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. I only use it for email, web, and the occasional Office doc, but it can’t even handle that very well anymore. It also doesn’t hold a charge for more than 20 minutes (original battery). Worth upgrading or just too old?

    Reply

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