Thinking of buying a used Apple MacBook and wanted to know the best way to tell based on the hardware specs provided by Apple online by entering in the serial number for the MacBook here:

After pulling up the specs for the hardware on Apple, how do I figure out what the feasibility of running a newer version of OS X on that used Mac is?


As long as it is a Core 2 Duo processor or better (read: 64-bit architecture), you can put Lion on it. The sole exception seems to be early 2006 model with an Intel Core Duo (32-bit); this one will only support Snow Leopard.

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacBook

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    Actually 32 bit intel processors CAN run lion, they're just not supposed to by restriction set by apple, which can easily be changed by editing this once text file inside the installer of lion. – Alexander - Reinstate Monica Feb 12 '12 at 17:10

As long as you have minimum 2 GB of ram, sufficient disk space, and any mac within the past few years (mine is almost 3 years old running lion like a charm), you'll be fine. 4Gb of ram REALLY helps though.


What do you mean by how will the hardware respond? If you're trying to install a previous version of os x on a mac that shipped after lion shipped, you won't be able to. You can only revert back to the version of os x a mac came with.

The reason for this, I believe, is old versions of os x won't have newer firmware and drivers for new machines.

  • +1 @W Dyson: By how will the hardware respond, I mean if I plug in a serial number for the MacBook into Apple's specs page and look at the hardware specs returned, how do I relate those specs to what version of OSX the hardware is updatable to; meaning the highest version of OSX the hardware will support. I am not looking to install an older version of OSX than the one originally shipped with the hardware, only a newer versions. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks! – blunders Feb 12 '12 at 16:04

It really depends on the model of the used Mac you are thinking of buying.

For example, I have a Mac Pro from 2006 or 2007 that will not update past 10.7.5, though it has plenty of disk space, RAM, and has a dual-core Intel Xeon processor. I see no reason why it won't update beyond 10.7.5, but Apple has restrictions in place....

I think your best bet would be to ask the seller if they know. If it's an Authorized Apple Reseller, they ought to know, or should be able to find out quickly enough. If the seller isn't savvy to that knowledge, contact Apple directly, perhaps by dropping by an Apple Store.

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