If you're in the market for a new laptop, one of the most important things to consider is how long the battery will last, not just in terms of its charge life but also how many years it will serve you.
In this article, we'll compare Mac laptops in terms of overall lifespan, battery charge capacity, and battery life. It's essential to know how your laptop stacks up. If it's running way below the average, there might be a way to improve its performance metrics with some maintenance and fine-tuning.
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What Determines Battery Life?
When we're talking about battery life, there are two main things that we could be referring to.
First, the battery's immediate charge capacity or short-term battery life refers to how long it lasts after receiving a full charge.
Many things can influence how many hours your laptop's battery might last, but primarily it has to do with what settings you're running it on and its charge capacity.
One of the best ways to check how long your battery might last is by finding out your battery's mAH (milliamps per hour). This is the measure of how much power your battery can hold on a full charge. You can find this number on the battery's labeling or in your laptop's full manual.
Brightness settings also have a huge impact on how many hours a full charge will last.
If you usually have your brightness settings at maximum or near to it, your battery will not run for nearly as long as at a lower setting. Your computer uses far more power to keep the screen that bright, draining the battery much more quickly than usual.
Further, a laptop battery is heavily impacted by the computer's cooling system. Laptops that naturally run hotter than others will use the battery capacity more quickly than one with an intensive cooling system in place.
The temperature makes the battery consume more energy to keep the laptop running, so it's better to go for a computer that has a sophisticated fan system or even liquid cooling technology if you can afford it.
The second thing we could refer to when we say "battery life" is how many years the battery is able to function.
Many of you have probably encountered this problem. A few years after you purchase your laptop, the battery starts lasting fewer and fewer hours. Eventually, it might not be able to function without being plugged into the charging adaptor.
Overall, battery life is determined by the quality of the laptop battery, your charging habits, and whether it's sustained any damage during the time you've been using it.
Some laptop batteries might naturally last longer than others, influenced by the quality of manufacturing and the durability of the parts used in the construction.
What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Mac Laptop?
Macs are known to have a longer lifespan than other laptops, especially the Mac battery. However, the average lifespan will depend on what kind of Macbook you're using and how old it might be.
Older models tend to last a shorter period than newer versions due to better internal hardware and battery technology.
An important thing to note before we hop into Mac's average lifespan is that Apple generally considers Macbooks older than 7 years to be obsolete. That means that those models won't have regular software updates and may run on outdated processing units that can no longer be repaired.
Even if your Mac is functioning after 7 years, the lack of security and software updates could leave it vulnerable to hacking or viruses. You may end up having to replace it, even if you don't want to.
Also, Apple has another qualified known as "vintage," meaning they still service these laptop models but don't necessarily have replacement parts for them.
Vintage laptops are generally considered to be between five and seven years of age. However, some models older than seven years are classified as vintage, but these are the exceptions to the rule.
To answer the question, "how long do Mac laptops last," our team would like to say five to eight years on average. Your laptop has the potential to outlast eight years if you take care of it, but the inability to obtain replacement parts after five years can be detrimental to its lifespan.
To ensure your Mac lasts up to eight years, clean it regularly, maintain good charging habits, and take it to a computer specialist for a checkup once every couple of years.
What Is The Average Lifespan Of A PC?
However, the real differences in average lifespan occur depending on the quality and initial price tag of a laptop. A budget PC for under $300 is probably not going to last nearly as long as an expensive gaming laptop running for $1500.
On average, you can expect PC laptops to last around three to five years. Your PC might last longer or shorter, depending on the quality of care you give it, but five years is a good benchmark to expect.
How Long Is The Battery Life For A Mac?
The battery life for your Macbook will depend entirely on what model you own. Each model improves on the tech from the previous one, and with innovations in battery capacity technology, you can expect newer models to perform better than older ones.
For example, the 13-inch Intel-based model will last around 10 hours, while the 16-inch Intel-based model will go for about 11 hours.
Brand new 13-inch Macbook Pro models running on the M1 processor will last for an astounding 17 hours, the longest out of the entire range of available Macbooks.
Also, new Macbook Air models are advertised to last around 18 hours. However, in our tests, we found that they typically run for about 13 or 14, still an impressive figure.
These are estimates and depend entirely on how well you take care of your computer and how hard you run the hardware. If you're not meeting these average battery life numbers, then you might be able to tool around with the display specs or alter your own behavior to improve its performance.
How Long Is The Battery Life For PCs?
When comparing a Macbook to a PC, you might be getting frustrated by the different information that's out there, especially on the internet.
The truth of the matter is that it's harder to gauge the average lifespan of a PC than it is a Mac because there are just so many different brands and models of PCs on the market.
High-performance PCs, especially gaming laptops, are designed to have an incredibly long-lasting battery. A PC battery can last up to 17 hours or more on lower consumption settings in some cases.
However, a majority of mid-range PCs can't last nearly as long. On average, a PC battery has a short-term battery life of around 5 to 10 hours. Older models will probably last even shorter, around 1 to 3 hours.
How Do I Check My Mac's Battery Status?
If your Macbook has been experiencing a reduced short-term battery life recently, you may be worried that it's on its way out.
However, don't start browsing the new Macbook selection quite just yet. You can always take it to an Apple store to get it checked out, but there are methods you can use to check battery performance on your own.
One tried and true way to check your Macbook's battery performance is the walk-away method. Essentially, use your laptop for an hour or so and note down how much the battery life reduced in that time.
Then, keep your laptop running and walk away. Come back after an hour or so and take note of the difference in battery life. If it is more than when you were using it, then the computer is operating normally. However, if it's the same or less, then you know you might have a problem.
Sometimes, all your Macbook needs is a good reboot. Many of us leave our laptops constantly running, never turning them off or restarting them. This might lead to your processor stacking applications, draining the battery more quickly than it should be.
Restart your computer and check to see if the battery performance has gone back to normal. If it hasn't, then you may need to improve its performance in other ways.
However, the best way to check your Macbook's battery status is to find out how many battery cycles it's been through. Battery cycles are the number of times the charge is completely drained and then recharged.
According to Apple, your Macbook's battery is designed to retain 80% of its charge capacity after its maximum cycle count.
Apple makes checking your battery health on a Macbook very easy. Simply click on the battery icon in your menu bar and then select Battery Preferences. At the bottom of the window, there is a Battery Health button.
Once you click on that, a new window will pop up, giving you the cycle count and battery status. Also, this will tell you if you should replace your battery or not.
How Can I Improve My Mac's Battery Performance?
There are ways to improve your Macbook's short-term battery life without buying a brand new battery. However, it could be that the charge cell has degraded too much to improve it whatsoever.
In this case, you may have to replace the battery or the laptop if the battery is too expensive.
If you have a fancy new M1 Macbook, then you can try deleting old applications and re-downloading the M1-optimized versions of them.
While almost all apps on the Apple store will work regardless, apps that haven't been optimized tend to put a drain on battery life. This is due to them being developed around an Intel processor, not the M1.
Another way to improve battery performance is by turning down the display settings. Brightness is a significant drain, but a high resolution can kill battery life as well. Netflix on your Macbook might look better on high settings, but your battery life will suffer as a result.
It would help if you also keep your computer up to date with the latest software updates. These often optimize the overall performance of the hardware, leading to more efficient use of battery power.
Should I Replace My Mac Laptop Battery?
Laptop batteries are expensive, regardless of which brand you use. Mac laptop parts are especially expensive when compared to PCs because Apple owns a monopoly on their replacements.
On the other hand, PCs often have generic alternatives that wind up being cheaper than the original parts. However, even if you're looking at generic replacements, the price tag will still probably be higher than you'd like to pay.
Whether it's worth it or not to replace your Mac laptop's battery will depend on a few things.
How old is your laptop? If it's a newer model, chances are it was pretty expensive. If that's the case, replacing the battery could amount to far less than getting a replacement laptop that's the same model, or at the very least, the same quality.
Another thing to think about is whether your battery really needs replacing, or you can adjust your laptop usage habits to lengthen the battery life.
For example, if you always keep your laptop on the highest brightness settings, consider turning it down a notch, and you might be surprised at how long your battery lasts.
If battery life is one of your main buying points when looking at different computers, try to find a laptop that balances charge capacity and processor performance.
Even if a laptop like the Macbook Air has a great battery life, it might not be up to the specs you need for your job or fun applications.
If you prefer Macbooks over PCs, we recommend purchasing the newest Macbook Pro models to maximize battery life and hardware performance.
They might be expensive, but you can trust that the laptop will last a long time, both in terms of functionality and battery life, as well as manufacturer updates and parts maintenance.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.