I am thinking of buying a new workstation computer, and Mac Pro is like the first thing I thought of buying.

I know Apple supports their computers for quite a generous time period, like the mid-2007 iMac is still supported in Yosemite. However, I see that only models going forward from Early 2008 are supported for Mac Pro(source: http://www.ibtimes.com/os-x-yosemite-compatibility-find-out-if-your-mac-will-be-able-update-1594262).

So are Mac Pro's not supported for as long as iMac's or is there a different reason? How long are Mac Pro's generally supported for? Thanks in advance.

  • 2006-2007 Mac Pro's are not supported for Mountain Lion+ because their main logic boards did not support the 64bit drivers and 32bit drivers were not developed. Apple will generally be able to repair any models that are less than 6 years old.
    – Fyrefly
    Jul 2, 2014 at 15:48
  • I just upgraded to a macpro6,1. My last mac was a macpro2,1 (2007). Expensive at the time. I never had any issues, and only added a bit of RAM, thats 7 years without a glitch. Its still works, only it doesn't run latest OSX (And thats because it doesn't have a 64 bit EFI). Compared to my PC upgrade's every 2 years (< 2007)....
    – Roger
    Jul 3, 2014 at 18:46

4 Answers 4


Well, the Mac Pro went through quite a long period of stagnancy recently, which is likely the cause of the disparity you see between the iMac and Mac Pro in terms of software compatibility.

According to the MacRumors Buyer's Guide, the Mac Pro has by far the largest average time between refreshes (449 days), so new models are sparse.

Because of that, it's a good time to buy, if that's what you're asking. Though there could be a minor spec bump or price drop at any time (those are more or less unpredictable from afar), it's not worth the risk of waiting for one. The December 2013 update is likely the only major refresh we'll see for quite a while.

As far as average lifetime goes, the Early 2008 Mac Pro shipped with OS X Leopard (10.5), and is still supported in Yosemite (10.10), so it has received five software updates so far (and there could still be more).

Based on that, you could expect software compatibility to last for upwards of 6 years on a Mac Pro bought today, if that's how you define lifetime. However, the Mac will of course function on old software for much longer than that.

  • Yes, whether I should buy one now was one thing I was trying to determine. 6 years is quite a good number. Windows PCs start showing their age in just 2 or so years. I've used the 2008 iMac with Mavericks and it still works like a charm. Yes, software compatibility is what I meant by lifetime. Thanks a lot for your answer, I found it very useful.
    – Nik Barres
    Jul 2, 2014 at 16:17
  • @A.D. I'm glad it helped and yes, Macs are known for their extensive lifetimes in both functionality and software compatibility, so it's a good choice in either department.
    – AstroCB
    Jul 2, 2014 at 16:21

Typically, based on my personal experience, I'll expect between 5-8 years out of a Mac.

To dive deeper though you can see my answer to a previous question, concerning fixing older Macs, that explains Apple's three life cycles when dealing with Macs.

Basically Apple supports Macs for a minimum of 5 years, though often longer, from a software standpoint. Third party software vendors (Adobe, Microsoft, etc) typically follow this time frame as well.

On the hardware side of things Apple considers Macs age 0-5 to be current, meaning replacement parts and services are readily available if needed. When a Mac is between 5 - 7 years old Apple considers it vintage, meaning they stop actively producing replacement parts and software support might start to trickle off. When a Mac is over 7 years old it hits Obsolete status in Apple's system. Obsolete Macs often have a hard time working with modern software, parts are scarce and more often than not unavailable from Apple and all support services from Apple cease.

Specific model Macs rarely deviate from these timelines, though as you found the early Mac Pro is one example in regards to software support. This was one of those odd instances where it simply lacked the required architecture for 64 bit operating systems. It's unlikely to see such a paradigm shift going forward, at least for the next 6-7 years.

Hopefully that explains it a bit better.

Source - I worked in the Apple break/fix ecosystem for 6 years, for both an AASP and as a Mac Genius.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. Very helpful. I read your other answer as well, and the fact that iFixit still sells parts for 10 year old Macs is just great. I don't ever use a computer for more than 4 years, but with a computer as powerful as a Mac Pro, I am sure I could.
    – Nik Barres
    Jul 2, 2014 at 17:12

Yosemite's system requirements are the same as those for Mavericks and Mountain Lion. According to Wikipedia:

The technical basis for these requirements is incompatibility with 32-bit EFI and 32-bit kernel extensions (most importantly, drivers for GPUs shipped in some older Macs).

If you look at this list, you can see that the earliest Mac Pro supported by Yosemite (2008) is the first one that has 64-bit EFI and can boot in 64-bit mode.

So the support cutoff has nothing to do with it being a Mac Pro vs. an iMac or anything else; it just happens to be that the 2008 model is the first one that's technically compatible.

  • Right, makes sense. So I guess the 2008 Mac Pro could end up being supported for a year or so more.
    – Nik Barres
    Jul 3, 2014 at 0:42

The inclusion of Hyperthreading and Turbo Boost technologies as well as supporting DDR3 RAM and SATA HD's in a fully realized 64bit system with Quadcore processor(s) is the current benchmark for a Modern Desktop. Performance with these features, even at the first entry as can be seen in the stark differences between the 2008 2x2.8 Quad & 2009 2x2.93 Quad. Gains of 50% and higher are realized with a system that allows maximum expandibility (note here the 2014 MP powerhouse with no internal expansion) with a redesign that takes advantage of the technologies now commonplace in modern computing solutions. Hitting the thermal barrier, soon broken with the Skylake series of 16nm processors, multicore-multithreaded processors with smarttek such as Turbo allowing for single core clock gains of +30% are the current gold standard for processor evolution.

It's interesting to note that in 2009 we had off the shelf consumer desktops with near 3.0ghz base clock speeds in Quadcore HT, TB Intel (x2) set ups supporting 64gb of RAM realizing dual 2x wide PCI GPU monsters, 4x1TB HD's and twin optical drives that allowed even more expansion with all the I/O needed. Dollar for dollar it was a golden era of expandable decade long lasting computing solutions.

But, come this fall my mobile will have the computing power of the entry level 09' laptops, so we are progressing!

  • While this is all good information, it doesn't really answer the question being asked: how long does Apple support the Mac Pro platform?
    – Ian C.
    Sep 3, 2014 at 3:15

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