When To Upgrade The Mac

The lack of Macintosh updates over the last year or so gives me something to think about regarding upgrading my Late 2012 iMac. Cannot decide whether to wait and buy a new iMac or just upgrade my current machine. If you are in Mac update limbo then read on, maybe we can work through this together.

Update Or Not To Update

My 27″ Late 2012 iMac will be four years old January of 2017. It is still running well, but more on that in a minute. I usually update my iMac every 5-6 years or so, depending on when new iMacs are released. You may be asking, “is Apple ever going to release updated iMacs?” Yes, I believe they will release new iMacs, eventually. My best guess on that, and it is only a guess, would be Spring 2017 or perhaps at the Developers Conference in June 2017.

I have been considering installing a Crucial 2TB SSD drive in my current iMac to gain more storage space, but also improve the speed. This upgrade would cost about $600 when finished. At least, I was considering it until macOS Sierra arrived. OS Sierra definitely sped up my iMac. It really is snappy. I noticed this snappiness in the Sierra beta when I was testing it. However, I did not know if that speed translated to my main iMac for real-world use. It seems to have done that. I am very happy with the result.

Because of this increased responsiveness, I have decided to put off upgrading my iMac to a faster SSD. I think I am going to keep it until the next iMac release. Then, at that time, I will upgrade it to a smaller SSD and give it to family or perhaps a charity. I will get a new iMac.

Reasons For A New Mac

The reasons for updating to a new Mac are pretty obvious and are similar for whatever model of Mac you are using:

1. New Features – This can be compelling to some, not as important as other improvements to other people.
2. Speed – This is one of the main reasons why I and many other people update our Macs. However, the speed increases over the last couple of years have been incremental, nothing astounding here. However, with increased SSD, Graphics and motherboard component speeds, this can be a compelling reason to upgrade to a new Mac.
3. Graphics – My iMac has a regular display. I know the Retina display is a good improvement. However, for me, my original iMac screen is adequate. I would not update for improved Graphics alone, but it could be helpful.
4. Operating System – Do you think about this? Your Mac will only work with new macOS updates for so many years into the future. Based on Apple’s history, I think my iMac will go another 3-4 years of OS updates. Then Apple will drop it from the list of machines that will work with their new OS. This is an important consideration if you are thinking about investing a bunch of money to upgrade an older Mac. What is the longevity of that machine? Yes, it may be working for many years to come, but it will not run the latest OS forever. That may be important to some and not so valuable to others. I guess we could call that the “OS Lifespan” of the computer.

Reasons to Upgrade The Old Mac

1. Money – New Macs are not cheap!! This goes without saying, but money is a big consideration to the timing of buying a new Mac. We want to get the most bang for our buck. A new iMac, for instance, would cost around $2,000+. Sometimes we just cannot afford to buy a new Mac. However, depending upon the needs of our workflow, sometimes we cannot afford NOT to buy a new Mac.
2. Your Workflow – If your current Mac is adequate for your current workflow then why not keep it a little longer. Some of us do not need all the latest bells and whistles.
3. Upgradeability – Is your current Mac upgradeable? Many of the new Macs today do not have upgradeable hard drives and RAM. The specs that you buy them at are the way they are going to stay. I was really happy to see that the SSD on the new low end MacBook Pro is removable and thus upgradeable. That is a step in the right direction as far as I am concerned. Yes, I can get into my Late 2012 iMac, but the take-apart repair is very complicated. Most people would not be able to do it.
4. Other Considerations – There may be other minor considerations for updating an older Mac. How about keeping it in the family. I hand down my older Macs to family members all the time. They are very happy to get them. I take really good care of my stuff, and I usually upgrade the machine as far as it can go. Or, maybe you can sell the old Mac and put the money toward the new one. Macs have good resale value. Not everyone needs the latest and the greatest. In my opinion, an older Mac is far better than a newer PC with all the virus and malware grief.

I want to mention one more thing in this section. The compatibility of your peripheral devices can be a compelling reason to upgrade the old Mac in lieu of a new one. Sometimes our printers, scanners, etc will not work with a new machine. Perhaps the Vendor is not going to upgrade that device any time soon. If the device you are using is crucial enough for you, then you might put off buying a new Mac until the device is upgraded, or until you can find a replacement that will work.


So, what do you think? Are you in the market for a new Mac? If you have any ideas to contribute to this discussion please feel free to comment. Not my usual type of article, but I just felt like rambling a bit on this subject. Hopefully, Apple will get it’s Mac lineup updated sooner than later. Then we will all have more choices.