How long does a MacBook Air last? This depends heavily on exactly what set of tasks you are using your laptop for. I’ve researched this over the years and found a clear answer for the average lifespan of a Macbook Air.
So, how long does a MacBook Air last?
According to experts, a MacBook Air will last 7 years on average before needing to replace it. If you’re using your MacBook Air for animation, photo editing, or gaming it will likely last a year or two less due to its RAM and storage limitations.
Update: To this day, the MacBook Air still lasts on average 7 years according to our data, for the reasons you’ll see below.
Related (compare): How Long a MacBook Pro Lasts (the truth)
A MacBook Air will last you longer than most laptops if you’re web browsing, binging Netflix, or watching youtube. However, if you’re gaming, photo editing, animating for the next few years then you might want to consider grabbing the MacBook Pro with a M1 or M2 chip.
The lifespan of a MacBook Air (my personal experience):
- 4 years in your MacBook Air will be slowing down a bit, but still very useable.
- 5 years in the battery will likely need to be replaced and new shiny Macbooks will begin to catch your eye. Many replace their MacBook Air at this point instead of spending money on a new battery.
- 7 years in you’ll feel the urge to upgrade… especially if you use your laptop for anything beyond a web browser.
Side-note: The New MacBook Air has one of the strongest batteries amongst all the laptops I’ve checked out:
I’ll be covering the necessary details on how long a MacBook Air will last and why the numbers may vary based on how you personally use your laptop. This should help you determine your laptop upgrade or replacement decision.
- How many years do Macbook Airs last on average
- MacBook Air Lifespan: Heavy vs light usage
- You can't upgrade the RAM, storage, or graphics card in the MacBook Air/Pro
- Your Macbook Air no longer supports the latest MacOS
- Apps on Macbook Air begin slowing down.
- Battery replacement becomes too difficult or expensive to replace
- Your MacBook Air just looks old now
- Should I get a new MacBook Air battery or upgrade to a new laptop?
- It doesn't sync to other Apple products anymore
- How Durable is a MacBook Air (M1 & M2)
- Will a MacBook Air with a M2 Chip last longer?
- Is it Difficult to repair a MacBook Air beyond the 5-year mark?
- How long will a MacBook Air battery last?
How long will a well-cared for MacBook Air last?
How long a well-cared for Macbook Air will last strongly depends on how you use it. Certain uses such as CPU-intensive tasks or animation can shave years off its life expectancy because software will require increasingly more storage and memory as technology advances and the bar is set higher.
How many years do Macbook Airs last on average
A well-cared for MacBook Air will likely last 5-7 years! However, can it keep up with software updates, RAM & storage requirements, error and updates? This is why so many Apple consumers feel the need to replace their Macbook Air after 5-7 years and this is indeed the case with most laptops in general.
MacBook Air Lifespan: Heavy vs light usage
- Light use: If you are using your MacBook Air for strictly web browsing and non CPU-intensive tasks, then expect your MacBook Air to last longer than 5-7 years.
- Heavy use: If you plan to use your MacBook Air for photoshop, illustrator, animation, gaming, or connected to a second display as your main computer then expect a lifespan of 5 years or less on average… in this case, a MacBook Pro may actually be a better choice.
My MacBooks have lasted me much longer than my windows based laptops I’ve purchased. (I’ve purchased and tested several laptops over the years)
Is the Macbook Air worth buying for heavy usage?
Your Macbook Air will survive roughly 5 years or less with very heavy use (on average). If you purchased the optional upgrades of more RAM and better graphics card, then it will last you longer.
First, determine if you’re a heavy laptop user or not:
- Heavy users are commonly considered as those who use their laptops for gaming, video, editing, animation, or similar CPU-intensive tasks.
- Heavy users are those who consider a laptop to be their “workhorse”.
- Heavy users typically use their laptop more than 3.5 hours per day.
I tested both over the years and I’d use the Macbook Pro 16 inch (Amazon) over the Air. However, I do a lot of photo editing/animation… If I didn’t I would use the Air since a Pro wouldn’t be necessary. I have yet to experience even one issue. I love this laptop. Compared to the Air, the Macbook Pro could be expected to last 7 years or so with minimal issues… it’s simply stronger than the MacBook Air as far as specs.
The MacBook Pro is usually overkill for most working on google sheets, documents. emails, or watching youtube.
Moderate usage? I’d personally get this version Macbook Air (Amazon). It easily handles multiple-tab web browsing, work & school documents, and Netflix/Youtube for many more years than my windows laptop will (5-7 years).
With Apple, it’s tough to go wrong, their products are very well made.
However, if you were a fan of the Apple ecosystem and enjoy using Siri, and the MacBook Air is a strong choice. This is because the information that Siri gathers via iPhone and your iCloud account will also transfer over to the voice recognition on the MacBook Air (Siri).
When you use many multiple apps and heavy software for several hours a day you’re RAM, battery, graphics card, or operating systems may struggle to keep up properly… typically at the 5-year mark. This is natural for almost any light laptop (like the air) as different types of technologies are always raising the bar each year.
How long will a MacBook Air last for gaming?
Stronger graphics, RAM & storage can be installed only during initial purchase
Apple has not made it possible to upgrade the graphics or RAM on the Macbook Air/Pro after you’ve already purchased.
If you’re gaming and want a Mac laptop that will last, then your best bet is to grab the MacBook Pro rather than the MacBook Air. The Pro will play new games that come out for a longer period of time as it can handle most of today’s games or video software with ease.
The Air can handle a bit of gaming, but it’s not really designed to play games like the Pro can.
When you check out a Macbook Air on Amazon you’ll see the optional upgrades to the memory and graphics to choose from. You might need these if you plan to game (you can’t install these later on)
You can’t upgrade the RAM, storage, or graphics card in the MacBook Air/Pro
How long will a Macbook Air last on average for gaming? The real issue as I’ve outlined is that you can’t upgrade graphics or Ram on an Apple MacBook Air after you’ve purchased it.
MacBook Pro laptops with non upgradable RAM (working memory)
|iMac Pro: All|
|Mac Mini: 2014 and 2018|
|MacBook Pro with Retina display or Touch Bar: all models|
|MacBook Air: All models|
|12" MacBook: All models|
If you are set on getting the MacBook Air (not the Pro) and want to play video games on it, then it is important to upgrade the graphics and RAM at the initial time of purchase since you can’t later on. I can’t stress this enough.
For gaming & video editing, simply get a RAM or graphics upgrade when you initially purchase the MacBook. Most tend to not have a problem with this lasting them since MacBooks are already very strong.
If you already bought a Macbook Air you and want to upgrade for gaming, then you can grab the Razer Core X Chroma which is an external graphics enclosure that connects to your Macbook Air or Pro and gives it the strength of a gaming desktop PC (but for much less). (source)
When will I need to replace my MacBook Air?
Replacing your Macbook Air (to a newer Air or Pro) depends on if you use your laptop for simple tasks like browsing the web, work documents, and YouTube. In most cases, replacing a MacBook Air (with no initial upgrades) over 5 years old is likely necessary when you’re using it for gaming, or video software.
There are of course other reasons to replace your Mac which I’ll be explaining in further detail below.
Your Macbook Air no longer supports the latest MacOS
A Macbook Pro without an updated OS could be highly vulnerable to viruses, malware and may have issues running certain software.
Did you know the Macbook Air/Pro modules before 2012 can not update to the latest MacOS, Catalina? (Catalina was released back in late 2019)
When your Macbook Air lasts over 7 or 8 years old Apple may not support updating the operating software anymore. This means some software may end up not working correctly as well when it can’t be updated.
See our post: Top 3 MacBooks for Music Production [Buyers guide]
A Macbook laptop with an outdated operating system is known to be vulnerable to viruses, malware, and more. (all outdated laptops can be vulnerable, Apple is not the only one) This means an upgrade is definitely needed and this is one reason why a Macbook Air typically lasts 5-7 years on average.
Apps on Macbook Air begin slowing down.
When the apps begin to slow down on any laptop, then it might be time to upgrade or replace it. A reformat could help speed it up if you’re not in the market for a new laptop.
You can of course try reformatting/reinstalling the Macbook Air to make it last longer, but if the apps slow down soon after, then you can look into replacing your Macbook Air.
Apps slowing down on your MacBook Air is not always a clear sign to replace… but rather a checkpoint for you to see if your laptop no longer can handle what you want to use it for. For safety and legitimacy reasons, you may want to run a software, such as Clean My Mac. See, if CleanMyMac is safe for your purposes.
When my MacBook was about 7 years old, it began to run so slow that I used a Roku internet browser instead of the safari browser.
The fact I had to use a Roku streaming device in order to launch a web browser made me question whether I should replace the device or not. Alternatively, I had the option to use an app like CleanMyMac to help optimize the speed. I ended up replacing the mac.
There are always ways to clean up your laptop such as reformatting or using an app without upgrading… but, if you find the apps and basic functions are slow no matter what you do then a replacement could be needed.
Battery replacement becomes too difficult or expensive to replace
Many customers claim their MacBook Air battery lasts them 4-5 or so years before the battery becomes seriously troublesome for daily use.
Instead of spending money on an expensive replacement battery many are deciding to just upgrade to a new MacBook… this isn’t always necessary. They see the new shiny features and they figure it’s about time for an upgrade (even when its really not)
A battery replacement could prove difficult or expensive to replace as time goes on. The reason for this is because Apple is now making their batteries on the Pro and Air more difficult for third-party repair.
See our post, How long does a MacBook Pro battery last?
In other words, you’ll have to go back to Apple and not the inexpensive local computer repair shop to replace your Apple in the future.
Apple has built the new Macbook Air and Pros in a way where accessing replacement parts, such as the battery, is now much more complex than ever before. Experts (iFixit) point out that you’ll need custom tools and new adhesive just to remove the parts. They gave it a 4 out of 10 for replacement ease.
If you’re simply just using your Macbook for watching Netflix, then instead of upgrading you could simply choose between one of the best tablets For Netflix in our guide we created based on my personal testing and research amongst various devices.
Your MacBook Air just looks old now
The Macbook Air will last you many years, but may appear aesthetically old after a few years… no matter how well you take of it.
Crumbs will fall in the keyboard, dirt will accumulate, odd scratches just occur. I’ve seen people just buy entire new laptops because it didn’t look nice anymore (yes, it happens often)
You can prevent this like I did. I personally use this Macbook case from Amazon. However, most basic, inexpensive covers on Amazon will surprisingly do a good job of protecting your device. What’s most important is that you simply have one on your MacBook Air.
Should I get a new MacBook Air battery or upgrade to a new laptop?
After 5 years or so you’re MacBook Air should still be in good shape… but will likely need a new battery. I personally wouldn’t upgrade to a new laptop if the only issue I predict to have in the next few years is a battery that is draining quickly.
A new laptop is likely unnecessary when the battery is the only issue. I’ve seen those with no budget often justify an aging battery as an excuse to upgrade to the newer model with new features.
The MacBook Air has an outstanding battery capacity, strong battery lifespan per charge/session, it charges very rapidly when plugged in, and lasts long over the years. Its longevity competes with many of the popular lenovo 2-in-1 laptops and tablets, such as the Lenovo ThinkBook and IdeaPad.
Laptops will naturally begin to appear [aesthetically] old after 4-5 years. Even if it’s well-cared for. It’s going gets scratched up in one way or another over time. A simple case does the job of preventing this.
Perhaps you enjoy your devices to look new for years to come… or if you plan to sell it in the future you’ll want to at least keep it protected from aesthetic damage.
I personally have used CleanMyMac X in the past when I refused to upgrade and it did speed up and clean the Mac, but it didn’t help with the battery. View our in depth review and see Is CleanMyMac X Worth it? (The Truth) Full Review
My MacBook Air has always looked aesthetically pleasing even years after I bought it, the screen quality never has had issues that were easily structurally damaged, compared to the more low-cost alternatives which did not hold up the same way.
This includes keys not working and the occasional touchpad or minor screen crack. Some may not want to spend money replacing these parts and will opt to replace the entire Macbook itself, which may be warranted anyway 5+ years in.
It doesn’t sync to other Apple products anymore
A Macbook Air (or Pro) that is outdated could cause a lack of synchronicity between all your devices (ex. Apple TV, iPhone, Apple Watch and more).
Why is this is a big deal? Well, one of the biggest pros to mac is that it can sync seamlessly with nearly all your other Apple devices.
While there’s no real way to predict the future of this… I’ve seen the sync between all my Apple products to last 5-7 years on average. In many cases, longer. This is better than many other brands I’ve seen that boast multiple devices syncing.
How much does it cost to repair a MacBook Air?
The MacBook Air comes with a one year warranty for hardware repairs, which is mainly for hardware defects. If you drop and break your screen, you’re looking at a hefty cost.
Here’s how much a broken MacBook Air screen could cost you:
- Without AppleCare, the estimated average cost for a cracked or broken screen is $610 to repair.
- With Apple Care, the estimated average cost for a cracked or broken screen is $350.
A single, broken key on the Macbook could cost you up to $475, according to Tom Henderson of Network World who broke his ‘S’ key. The cost of repair on a Macbook is no joke.
This is all the more reason to grab a Macbook Air case as mentioned earlier. It’s a low cost solution to a potentially costly issue.
How Durable is a MacBook Air (M1 & M2)
Both the MacBook Air and Pro with an M1 or M2 chip are quite durable compared to other laptops as well as previous models. This is because the enclosure is made of 100% certified recycled aluminum, which is aluminum alloy in the MacBook.
The aluminum alloy allows the MacBook Air and pro to survive and remain functional when it is dropped, banged, or hit against objects. Even though the Macbook Air has a very thin structure, it is still designed with durability in mind.
For example you can cause dents and dings in the physical MacBook Air enclosure, even if it is in clamshell mode, but the computer and tasks it can perform should remain the same in most cases.
Over the years, I’ve observed my MacBook Air durability first-hand. It was dropped from a high location, a second story building. However, the logic board still remained intact afterwards.
This means that the computer was not completely broken since the MacBook logic board is harder to damage with the way it is designed; small and without a fan.
Common things that happen are people tripping over the power cord, or the MacBook falling from a table at a coffee or a café shop. In these cases it’s possible the display could be scratched or shattered, but the functionality of the laptop will remain just fine in these scenarios.
If you don’t want to risk dents and dings on the physical MacBook Air metal components, then you can always use a case.
A protective case will also help prevent the MacBook Air display from getting damaged, which is a very valuable part of the MacBook that most want to protect. You can also learn how to take care of your MacBook properly and also get AppleCare if you are truly worried about the durability of your laptop.
Alternative solutions also include backing up the contents of your MacBook into the cloud. For example you can back up the files, documents, and media files using iCloud or a similar cloud solution. This way if the durability is compromised, you’ll still have your important files for work or school.
Overall the MacBook Air durability is quite impressive and can handle drops and dents without breaking the entire computer. It’s usually when your MacBook is outside of your normal working office or home when it’s durability is challenged. Keeping your MacBook in an environment where you don’t predict threats is also a good idea if you choose not to get AppleCare, Asurion or a protective case.
I also cover how long an iPad lasts based on extensive testing.
Will a MacBook Air with a M2 Chip last longer?
Compared to prior-generation Intel based Apple Macs, the M2 Mac’s battery lasts up to two times longer. In our poll, we found that battery repair was one of the main reasons users reportedly replaced their mac with a new model.
Our team identified that this is a clear indicator the M1 and M2 Macs will have an advantage (at least when it comes to overall device lifespan and replacement in the eyes of its audience).
We tested the new MacBook Air M2 and found that it has a significantly longer battery life than the previous model, although Apple doesn’t advertise it as such
The 13-inch MacBook Pro has the longest battery life, lasting up to 20.5 hours. In comparison to the last Intel-based model, that’s double the battery life.
As for battery life, Apple claims M2 gets up to 18-19 hours of use without sacrificing processing speed & performance.
Is it Difficult to repair a MacBook Air beyond the 5-year mark?
Repairing certain parts of a MacBook Air (or Pro) over 5 years old could be difficult. For older Macs, many find themselves on eBay; salvaging faulty parts since Apple doesn’t have them available for repair anymore.
This means it may be up to you to salvage the broken part on your own and try to get an Apple service provider to assist you in replacing it. This is costly.
Sometimes AppleCare won’t be able to help as vintage parts aren’t always available/covered.
How long will a MacBook Air battery last?
The average MacBook Air (with M2 chip) battery charge will last a few hours short of what’s advertised from Apple (18 hours). Apple claims “all-day” lithium-polymer battery, but the truth is this: It depends on what your using your Mac for.
I found that web browsing on google chrome with a MacBook Air made the battery last significantly less than when I used Safari, which is Apple’s built in browser.
Safari was built by Apple, so it’s no surprise to see it uses less resources than Chrome on a MacBook Pro.
The reason for this is that Safari is apparently much less CPU-intensive when used on a Mac (they’re both made by apple and work better together). Luckily for Macbook users, the Safari browser has significantly improved in recent years. I use it over chrome now and love it because my battery drains very slowly
Smart consumers will ask themselves how long can a Macbook air last on average before they need to upgrade rather than how long Apple boasts it will last you. I’ve found that 5-7 years on average is how long a Macbook Air will last. The battery will die out sooner than this and need to be replaced.
Along with technology advancing quickly, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a laptop without upgrades outdated in 5-7 years… especially if you’re using your laptop for more than just web browsing and google docs.
I saw the Macbook Air begin to slow down slightly at the 4-5 year mark. It lasted much longer than most laptops I’ve tested. This is a positive reflection of its higher price point.