How long does a Mac last compared to a PC?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by KadMac, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. KadMac macrumors regular

    Sep 13, 2009
    I just wanted to present the question to those of you who have been using Macs for a while on how long they typically last? I know each case can be different and perhaps the type of computer can come into play, but I am thinking about purchasing a Mac and I want to be sure that it lasts for a long time.

    I have been a PC user to date and I have had a chance to try out the OSX operating system. It seems pretty good but I also know there is a lot of things I don't know how to do because I am use to Windows, not OSX. Anyway, I built my own computer about six years ago. Here are the specs:

    Athlon 64 3400
    2 Gigs of DRR Ram
    250 SATA 7200 Hard Drive
    Geforce 6800 Video Card
    Windows XP

    This computer has lasted me a long time and its still going strong. Now, I will admit I have had to reinstalled Windows XP numerous times over the course of six years because of the areas that can plague the Windows operating system. I usually use AVG to combat any viruses and I would say I reformat every 9 months to possibly 1 year and 1/2. During that time though, my computer really isn't slow and doesn't bog down too bad. I have also taken the time to clean out my computer when it comes to dust. I have dismantled the CPU before to get dust out of the heat sink so it can properly cool my computer.

    I have also cleaned out the video card fan at least once during this time to get it cool as well. The computer is still great and suits my needs really well. Although its six years old, I have a hard time justifying to buy a new computer because the hardware is still running with no issues. I guess proper maintanence has made the difference.

    So my question is, do you think a Mac will last this long? I see posts in many areas where hard drives are dying or the computer is dead after three years. I can't help but wonder if the user is giving proper maintance to their computers like cleaning out dust so that fans can run properly in cooling their systems with the heat and all.

    Anyway, I am not trying to start a debate on Mac vs PC. Macs are great. Just wondering what your experiences have been. Thanks.
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    It completely depends on how you take care of it. Both Macs and PCs can last many years, if properly cared for. As far as what you read in posts here, remember that those who aren't having any problems aren't usually going to post and say so. Only the minority that have problems will post about it. There are many in this forum who have Macs that are many years old and still going strong.
  3. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    The thing is, 6 years ago macs used powerpc instead of intel processors. This makes anything built 6 years ago pretty much unsuitable for anything but the most basic tasks. The current computers apple sells now, though, should last just as long as any comparable pc b\c they now use the same parts as pcs.

    Really, the only difference between a mac and a pc is a shinier case, OSX, and generally a bigger price tag :).
  4. jpyc7 macrumors 6502

    Mar 8, 2009
    Denver, CO
    All my computers have lasted for long periods of time (more than 4-5 years). I have used Macs at home since about 1993 and owned 4 of them. That works out to about replacing every 4 years, which I did to get a faster computer not because of failure.

    My work computers have always lasted as well except for one hard drive in my Dell laptop which failed about 3 years old. I wasn't as careful with this laptop and had subjected it to greater temperature changes. Basically, I sometimes left it overnight in my car when it was cold. I don't do that anymore and the IT department replaced the hard drive.

    Anyway, they say that failures will generally be graphed as a bathtub curve. That means a lot of failures early in time (for a given population), then low number of failures for a period of time, and then the failures increase again.

    I would guess that failure rates for Macs vs PCs is probably about the same. If there was a noticeable consistent difference, I think it would have been reported by now. At the end of the day, you will own one computer and the population statistics won't really matter. You only care if your own computer fails.
  5. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

    Nov 17, 2005
    Halifax, Canada
    I bought my 2x1.8GHz PMG5 in January 2004, and used it until March 2009, when I replaced it with a used Mac Pro. The major reason for the upgrade was that I wanted Aperture to be faster, but also because I felt more and more software was going to be Intel-only.

    It was still perfectly fast for Garageband, Photoshop, Illustrator et al. I expect to get at least three more years out of my 2006 Mac Pro.
  6. ZebOfMac macrumors regular


    Feb 13, 2010
    Like everyone has said it all depends on how you use the computer. Desktops will always outlast a notebook, it just goes with being carried around and used in the bot so best conditions. My last apple notebook was abused I know, and it lasted almost 2 years but apple sent me a new one so I am still going strong! I am a geology major is school and my computer is out in the field and gets dirty so this will reduce the life span dramatically. IF you keep the laptop in the house and treat it well, they should last at least 5 years, of course with the way speeds are going these days as longs as it is running you should be fine up to 6 years on a laptop or desktop.

    I am using an early 80's apple 2 (hope thats the right name) to run software in a chem lab and it works great.
  7. andalusia macrumors 68030


    Apr 10, 2009
    Manchester, UK
    We still have a fifteen year old Powermac being used daily as an invoice book. When an above poster said that PowerPC processors can only be used for the most basic of tasks, it's not true. I'll partially agree that they can't handle much in the way of today's applications, however with applications from 3-4 years ago the PowerPC processors will handle rather a lot, and you don't always need updated software to be able to complete tasks. Pro Tools 6 is perfectly adequate for the work I do on it, and my Powermac G4 of 7 years runs it marvelously. OP, it all depends on what you're going to use it for. I bought this Macbook around a year ago, and it was brilliant and super fast at the time, but now it's starting to bog down as I have become more of a powerful user and I'm intending to buy a new model in another year or so's time. So, it's all very different. 15 years and still going for simple tasks, 7 years and still going for relatively powerful apps, and 1 year with another year left for very powerful apps.
  8. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    I disagree. Up until last year, we still had a PowerMac G4 using Avid Media Composer for editing SD video for national broadcast television.
    It was slower (effects rendering), but it got the work done.

    We also use a PowerMac G5 for editing assistance and minor editing jobs.
    It is still going strong, even with a project consisting of 1300 tapes.

    Does that mean only PC parts can last up to several years?
    The PowerPC Macs were as strong as many PCs in their days, and outlast many PCs I've seen.

    Which has been discussed to death - Total Cost of Ownership.
  9. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Well..I own a decked out 12" powerbook (1.5 ghz, 1.25 gb of ram, 80 gb 5400rpm hd) and it can barely do low-resolution youtube with every other application closed (that takes 100% of the CPU). If I bump it up to a higher resolution in youtube, the video stutters. That's a ~5 year old decked out mac laptop. It also can't handle 480p or higher video files at steady framerate. It's great for basic web browsing and email though. The case is also built like a tank and has an amazing keyboard. My macbook pro, though, can do 1080p video + 5 other things at the same time without too much trouble.
  10. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
    That's Flash. That can not be compared to working environments.

    If you would watch the same video via HTML5 or ClickToFlash, you would not have 100% CPU usage.

    And video editing is something else entirely. It does not use Flash.

    Besides I could watch Divx/Xvid and H264 encoded video on my iBook (1GHz, 1.25GB, 10.4.11) as long as it was in SD (not larger than 720/68 x 576 pixel).
  11. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    If we exclude hard drive failures, yes it should last at least 6 years. Hard drive WILL fail at some point. Sometimes it's after couple of hours but sometimes it takes over 10 years. HD failures depend on your usage as well. If you just surf on the net and sleep your computer (=very little stress on HD) it will last longer but if you write big files all the time, it eats the HD faster because all HDs have certain amount of times that data can be written in it.

    Macs and PCs use the same hardware so..
  12. fruitpunch.ben macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2008
    Surrey, BC
    I have a PowerBook G4 1.65GHz that I bought in February 2005, 1GB RAM it is still going strong. It's fairly slow for anything other than web browsing and word processing, etc. but that's fine because I only use it when I'm at school, when i get home home I switch to my iMac. It had one problem with the top case that affected the mouse, this was replaced under warranty as it happened within 12 months.
    I've also had to replace the power cord a couple of times, the original apple one frayed because i wrapped the cord too tight around the transformer brick too many times, I bought non-apple ones of ebay ever since (worth $50 while Apple charges $150) and have had to replace them twice.
    The battery has been recalled twice which helped beacuse when it was recalled it only had 50% capacity left.
    The dvd burner stopped working about 18 months ago
    But otherwise I am very happy with it, still happy to use it now.
    My brother bought the same computer at the same time, he has had even less problems with it, never had it repaired or had anything break on it.
    My Dad bought an iMac at the same time, it had the power supply fail after 4 years and it is now dead (probably HDD failure).
    So like any computer it depends, but I would say you should expect to get at least 5 years out of a Mac. Of course you could probably get 5 years out of a PC as well but it would need to be reformatted often (our macs have never been reformated at all)
  13. mabaker macrumors 65816


    Jan 19, 2008
    Still using quicksilver dual 800 from 2001. My sister’s laptop is the G4 Titanium from 2002. STILL going strong. Also for Flash which has to be configured properly to be viewed but it can be done. :)

    I mean I can’t get over the fact how many video processing hobbyists this forum has that they can’t wait 10 or 20 minutes longer for the video to be done! :p
  14. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    My first Mac was a 1 GHz 12" PowerBook in 2003. I used it every day right up until mid 2007, when the hard drive started to act up. It never truly "died" but it was obviously time to replace the drive. At that point I bought a new intel iMac because the PowerBook was starting to feel slow. It was definitely feeling slow for certain things (loading large iPhoto libraries, or rendering video, for example) but still OK for day-to-day use like email and surfing the web. It was happiest running Tiger, though -- Leopard was just a bit too much. I eventually sold the PowerBook in 2008. I also sold the iMac in favour of a MacBook Pro (but don't count that in the "how long will it last?" calculation because that was more of a "I changed my mind" than "I needed a new machine").

    So my PowerBook lasted about 5 years, and I expect the MacBook Pro to do about the same (I am going to upgrade the hard drive and finally upgrade to Snow Leopard soon).

    For reference, I had a couple of Dell laptops prior to buying the Mac, and each one lasted about 3 years before I felt the urge to upgrade. I have an Asus netbook running Windows XP that I bought one year ago and I already want to upgrade it to something faster.

    My conclusion is that the Mac -- barring unforeseen hardware failures -- has a considerably longer "useful" operating life than a typical PC. Note that I have not had to open anything up for cleaning, nor reinstall the system every year -- things which the OP has notably spent a lot of time doing. Remember to factor this in as well when you look at the total cost of ownership.

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