Average Life of an Apple Computer


macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jan 23, 2005
Just wondering, what is the average life of an Apple computer?

I am asking because - get this - my friend was working on something and I said woah what linux version is that and he said this isn't Linux, its Windows 3.1... which I dropped my jaw, wondering how the hell a WINDOWS machine could last that long...

So I was wondering, how long could an Apple computer last? Like, is there anyone here on like OS8 or and like a G2 or w/e - does that even exist?


Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
Andover, MA
I have a Mac IIci running System 7 on a 25MHz 68030 (boosted to 40MHz with a daughtercard). Still works. 14 years old. And it's young compared to what others have around here.


macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
Washington, DC
A friend of mine has a Mac SE that still runs, probably system 6 (or maybe 7). It's a 68000, and it's, I think, 16 years old.

On the other hand his 4.5 year old iMac DC+ just died recently.

My Centris ran without any maintenance from 1993, when I bought it, until 1999, when I stopped using it. I'm sure it would still run if I still had it.


macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2004
Essex, United Kingdom
I've got a Mac Plus with 4mb ram, 20mb HD, that still runs on System 6.08, it's rock solid, and I use it for playing old games, and occasionaly for text entry.

It has the added attraction of having the fastest boot time of any of my mac's.


Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
Portland, OR
As of two years ago, my ancient Apple //e was still functioning. From 1983. It's now back to hiding in a corner of my parent's basement.

Maybe you should have asked "What's the average USEFUL life of an Apple Computer?" :)


macrumors 6502
Apr 7, 2003
state of confusion.
Macintosh SE

I've been using a Macintosh SE (1987). For complete spects (on EVERY Mac ever made) go to Apple-History.com. But for mine, see Macintosh SE. The spects are that the minimum system is OS 3.0/Finder 5.1, but I've run Finder 1.1 with no problems. :) It's so fun to play the original games like HotAir Balloon, and Stunt Copter, and my favorite - Airborne! woo hoo! I gotta fire that baby up now...see you all later!


macrumors 603
Jul 17, 2004
We have a "Fat Mac" sitting around... upgraded to 1 MB of RAM. 100 MB external SCSI hard drive. Internal 800k floppy drive.

And it works great! Type up a report and print it. Voilá!


macrumors 68040
Nov 9, 2004
Salt Lake City, UT
We have a Macintosh II running System 6. It's plugged in and ready to go. I use it occasionally to play old games, and everything about it works fine. That said, we also have an 8086 PC that works fine and I've got a Commodore 64, Timex Sinclair and an Atari 800 all of which work great. It's not just Macs that can run for a long time. My experience with newer PCs tells me that they're less likely to last that long than the older stuff was. My newest Windows PC (~3 years old) has literally had almost every single piece of hardware in in replaced. The only original components are the case, power supply and graphics cards.


macrumors member
May 25, 2003
Aus, Sydney
Performa TV

I had an old PowerMac 5500, i got a Video/TV in card for it, and with a remote and only the essential extensions, you got a TV/CD player.

The Motherboard in the 5500 died a little while ago, so I got an even older Performa 580's board, slid it into the 5500 case and BOOM, it works right away, new higher screen res, in built CD and TV tuner card (These things do not exist in the 580 but work when its in the 5500 case with NO further software)

Im sure it still runs other apps just fine, but as it starts up in only 5 seconds and can be controlled completely by IR Remote to play TV/Video and CDs without a keyboard or mouse, its the perfect spare room TV. =)


macrumors regular
Jan 6, 2005
we still have an original macintosh in my house. It doesnt get turned on, or even come out of its box, but when we put it away, it still worked. that was last year. talk about a piece of history.. i love that thing. and will keep it until its worth a million bucks, at which point i will sell it.


macrumors regular
May 2, 2003
My art teacher still uses mac classics, stock for showing grades to parents at conferences. She just picks it up and takes it down to the table she presents at. Not that impressive, but pretty damn good. Usability wise, a computer has almost infinite life with good maintenance and no contact wiht the outside world. You aren't going to fill up the HD with programs if you never load any. Most computers do quite well at what they orig. could do. When you upgrade that OS, and most applications to bigger, more demanding ones, you'll start to slow fast. We had some 333 iMacs that got about 6 years of demanding usage before we HAD to upgrade. Prime time for a medium/high demand user is less than 4 years though. More ram, better drives, etc help to scrape that butter over more toast (I feel stretched thin... like butter scraped over too much toast) :D but eventually if you keep demanding more and more, like most users do, any computer will fail. Then again, my family does a lot more than surf the web, use IM, and word process all at the same time (or at least I do...). My 3yo 12"PB is showing its age :( however, I use Photoshop like you've never seen. 19000x1800px images being layer masked full time with a tablet->enough to slow down most anything. I'm rambling again, aren't I?


macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2001
The Cool Part of CA, USA
Let's see... as far as being actually doing useful work I recently fixed a minor problem with the computer of a writer who had I believe a Performa 636 with one of those Radius portrait displays.

That would be about 10 years old now, running on a 33MHz '040 LC with System 7. Not bad.

I also know an artist who's still getting by with a decked-out 7500 running OS9. That's around 9 years old but a bit less impressive, as it's been upgraded with a USB card, a G3, and some fairly beefy peripherals, but then again she's doing some pretty nice scanning and printing work with it.

My lab also has a bunch of first-gen G4 towers, about 5 1/2 years old now, that are in active service running 10.3 with nothing more than hard drive and RAM upgrades, but those are pretty modern.

If you just want working Macs, I have a 15-year-old first-generation LCs around with System 6 that still runs, as well as an Apple //c+ that I've busted out to play Ultima 5 recently (the 5.25" floppies still worked!).


Jul 9, 2000
techie's viewpoint

for most people, any mac you buy can be tops for nearly two years

longer if you only need the computer for email, internet, and word processing

less if you use it for photoshop level graphics, video editing, and most games

hardcore gamers can expect 18 months of decent usage before they will be "jones-ing" for something faster

and some gaming addicts (with money) buy, or want to buy, a new machine every 12 months

personally, i can use a mac for four years....yes FOUR years and be quite happy since i use the internet and almost never download anything, and i use appleworks or microsoft word, and i use email just for light correspondence

the ibook i bought in december 1999 is pretty much tapped out since i am now on a dual 500 mhz G4 power mac...but for the PC side, i am ok with my 1999 era 366 mhz compaq presario 1272 laptop for word 97 and mozilla web browser...and i don't dare download anything since it would prolly melt that laptop these days ;)

as a techie and computer geek, i am interested in how my nearly six year old pc laptop will be working at the six year mark, and at the seven year mark...i have not seen any working laptops older than seven years old


macrumors 6502
Apr 5, 2004
The Alpha Quadrant
I have a Blue & White G3 350 MHZ w/ 256mb RAM 60GB HD running 10.2 that was my primary computer for photoshop, dreamweaver, surfing, and e-mail until Summer 2004 at which point I got my iBook. I'm not sure how old the computer actually is--maybe 5 or 6 years?? It was a decent machine, you just had to be patient once in awhile. I only got a new machine because I needed portability for school and had some extra scholarship money. Now I've bequeathed it to my family who use it for e-mail, websurfing, childrens' educational games, and such. It's very competent still.


macrumors 65816
Nov 21, 2004
Washington, D.C.
I'm going to say the average life really depends on how you look at it. If life means the processor and system work, I'm going to say about 10 years. I've seen some last 15 (my friend has one that's like.. 18), and I've also seen some go after 4 or 5.

The average useful life depends. I use the following formula which determines your usage:

100 divided by HOURS USED PER WEEK times processor speed in Ghz (only works for machines over 1 ghz)

Example - I use my 1.25 Ghz iMac 40 hours a week

100/40 = 2.5 x 1.25 = 3.125

That sounds about right for an iMac G4.

Or, I'm a professional with a 2.0 G5

100/60 = 1.67 x 2 = 3.333 years

This formula expires when the 3Ghz barrier is broken.

Just having fun. LOL.


macrumors 65816
Jun 26, 2004
4 to 5 years is really about the limit of a middle of the road computer boughten. that general goes for Macs and PCs. after about 4-5 years they have become really 2 weak to do a lot of the more modern stuff


macrumors 603
Jul 17, 2004
StarbucksSam said:
Or, I'm a professional with a 2.0 G5

100/60 = 1.67 x 2 = 3.333 years

This formula expires when the 3Ghz barrier is broken.

Just having fun. LOL.
Eh, CRAP! :p

100/80 (80 hour workweek. Pro, after all, would use it for that much MINIMUM.)
1.25 * 2 * 2 (dual processor...) =5 years

That MAY work, but I know a number of pros that upgrade yearly, or at least every 2 years or so. 5 years is a long time.

And RAM, HD speed+size, all factor in. GPU does too on non-upgradable computers.

So you maybe having fun, but its pretty useless...


macrumors 6502
Aug 1, 2004
Nara, Japan
We have a SE 30 in the other room, the screen has a loose connection, but it is still going strong after 15 years of use, running OS 7.5.1 I think. On the other hand we had a LC630 I think it was, just died after 8 years, Also an iMac 266 Mhz Rev C I think running OS 8.5.1 bit the dust last year, but it worked hard everyday for 5 years. My G4 PowerBook is still running strong after 4 years of everyday use, runs 10.3.8



macrumors 68040
Oct 7, 2004
somewhere between here and there.
Money has a hugh factor for consumer on they upgrade cycle, since many a times if it runs and not broken theory then there is no need to buy new or replace always works in.

I usually upgrade my notebooks every 1-3 years, depending on what model I buy and what work I am doing, advances in technology and if the system does not feel slow in general with all the new apps I use. :)

Each have they own upgrade time.

Tiger will run fine on a G3, meaning it supports a 5+ year old computer on release. This means you can get away not upgrading your hardware for another 2 year making it a total of 7+ years in use. CRAZY. :eek: ;) :)


macrumors member
Mar 5, 2004

I have a Powermac 5215 CD running OS 7.5.1. Quark Xpress 4.1 runs quite handily on it, which is great because I have clients that require it. It also gives me access to a floppy drive which will read about 4X faster than my OSX machine. She gets a little cranky in the wintertime for some reason, but that is nothing to complain about - considering it is 10 years old this year.

Happy Buildday Little One! :D


macrumors G5
Dec 22, 2004
Chicago, Illinois
I can tell you this-and maybe I just got lucky. I bought a PowerMac G4 350MHz AGP a little over 4 years ago. I got it from Ebay for $900 and upgraded the HDD and video card right away. It's always run OSX OK, but not as well as I would have liked. So, I recently upgraded the processor to 1 GHz and now it flies! I think I'll get another 2-3 years out of it before it can no longer keep up with current technology. It's now slightly faster than my iBook G4 1 GHz. I hope to have it for a while too. BTW-The video card upgrade was an ATI Radeon with 64 Mb video RAM. Point is-the desktops are very upgradeable and last a long time. Oh-and I'm running all current apps: Adobe CS, Quark 6, and Microsoft Office X- they work very well. :)


macrumors 65816
Jun 26, 2004
another way at looking at this is
CPU has a 10+year lifespan same for the ram and mobo

Stuff with moving parts have a shorter life span

Hard drives should not be trusted after 5 year. At 5 years they start wearing out and breaking and general they are hte first thing to give out.

OSX and Windows is just an OS. THe hardware is not effect by that and genearl have the same life span. Hell the only real diffence hardware wise bettween a Mac and a PC is that the PC CPU is x86 and the mac's is PPC other wise they use basicly the same parts and have the same limition on those parts.


macrumors 68000
Jan 18, 2005
I have a Mac Plus with external 20mb SCSI HD. Still works perfectly - I bought it new in '87.

18 years ain't bad for a computer, is my thinking :D