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Can a base model i3 8GB MBA remain useable for 8-10 years for a basic user?

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Hi guys first post here, I'm in the market for a base model MBA i3 8GB, I’m a super basic user, literally will just use the laptop for a bit of basic internet browsing, office, netflix, apple tv: that kind of thing, hence why i want to go for the base air. I understand that laptops don’t slowdown by themselves but apps and websites become more demanding over time etc. In light of my basic use, will the laptop remain relatively fast and snappy for 8-10 years for these basic tasks?? I appreciate after a while i wont be able to get all the system updates and the battery would probably need changing in that time frame. But purely in terms of my very basic needs can an i3 8GB remain relatively fast and snappy for these basic tasks for that sort of time frame??

Thanks a lot for any help ☺☺
 

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I would definitely say "Yes"

The 2012 MacMini I'm using right now is my oldest active Mac, going on 8 years and the current macOS is still supported on it.
 

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But purely in terms of my very basic needs can an i3 8GB remain relatively fast and snappy for these basic tasks for that sort of time frame??
Will a 2020 MacBook Air be useable for some computing tasks 8-10 years from now...probably. But will it be "fast & snappy" for basic tasks...probably not. Kind of like asking the same question back in 2010...if a 2010 MacBook Air will be "fast & snappy" for basic tasks in 2020.

The reasons for this are:

- 8-10 years from now the newest OS at that time that a 2020 MacBook Air can run will be more demanding.
- The internet of today will not be the same...it will be more demanding.
- There will be unknown computing factors between now & then we can't even predict that may effect performance of a 2020 MacBook Air.

Bottom line is (as it always has)...purchase as much computer as you can now...then see how it goes as the computing environment changes & evolves...and as your computing demands change & evolve.:)

- Nick
 

Raz0rEdge

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The Office suite is quite a demanding set of applications and streaming video requires a good GPU that will tax the system. The problem you are going to run into is going to be external dependencies that will force an upgrade for you. The ONLY way to keep something for an extended period of time is lock down what you use on that machine and what you connect to it. Don't ever change that and you MIGHT be OK.

At the rate technology is changing, that's very hard to do.

Do NOT buy a machine anticipating on keeping it for 10 years, buy the BEST machine you are buy that will serve you well now and it might last you some length of time. Buy something that will essentially be obsolete in a year or two and you are not getting anywhere near that 10 year mark.

If money is an issue, go refurb. If you are going to buy an older machine for whatever reason, expect to update every 2-3 years to stay relevant.
 

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Buy something that will essentially be obsolete in a year or two and you are not getting anywhere near that 10 year mark.
Are you suggesting that the MBa the OP is asking about would be obsolete in a year or two?
That seems awfully pessimistic.

If I was looking for a computer to just last me a year or two I would go for a $400.- Windows machine.
 

Raz0rEdge

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Are you suggesting that the MBa the OP is asking about would be obsolete in a year or two?
That seems awfully pessimistic.

If I was looking for a computer to just last me a year or two I would go for a $400.- Windows machine.
No, I'm saying that buying something that is say from 2015 or 2017 means that you are going to feel the lack of performance/support in a couple of years and start looking to upgrade again. So you are better of buying something that is good for now and a bit more so that you can use it in the future.

You can know what your current use case is and what apps you are using, you can't predict how those apps and use cases will change in the future.

The most important thing is to look at your budget and by the MOST computer you can for that budget.
 

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No, I'm saying that buying something that is say from 2015 or 2017........
In the original post, the OP is asking about a MBa i3 - these ar all 2020 models, there is no older MBa i3
So the question is would a 2020 MBa i3 last for 8 to 10 years.
 
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Hi guys first post here, I'm in the market for a base model MBA i3 8GB, I’m a super basic user, literally will just use the laptop for a bit of basic internet browsing, office, netflix, apple tv: that kind of thing, hence why i want to go for the base air. I understand that laptops don’t slowdown by themselves but apps and websites become more demanding over time etc....will the laptop remain relatively fast and snappy for 8-10 years for these basic tasks?
IF you don't go crazy updating your software to newer, more demanding versions, and IF you do a minimum of routine maintenance, your Mac should be as snappy 10 years from now as it was the first year you had it.

I have a 12 year old iMac in my office, still running OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" (I maintain it mostly for running legacy PowerPC software that was never updated), and for most things, including running Microsoft Office (an older version) and Web surfing (Safari is too outdated, but there is a version of Firefox that runs really well), it is still surprisingly snappy. Often I'm happy to use it for my regular work all day. That said, it's been babied. It is attached to a really good UPS, and it has been maintained really well (I've literally written a Web site on Mac routine maintenance.)

Laptops statistically tend not to last as long as desktops, because they tend to lead much harder lives. They also have batteries that wear out and which need to be replaced.

You should know that the i3 processor in the latest MBA is a bit of a dog. Fine for really basic stuff, but for only $100 more you can move up to an i5 that will give you significantly better performance.

Note that if you really only need to do the most basic stuff, and you are tight for funds, you can probably get away with using a $250 Chromebook. E.g.:
Robot Check
It won't be a Macintosh, but it will be fine for doing the things that you mentioned. Something to think about.
 

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In the original post, the OP is asking about a MBa i3 - these ar all 2020 models, there is no older MBa i3
So the question is would a 2020 MBa i3 last for 8 to 10 years.
I think Ashwin was throwing out the possibility that if we gave the OP feedback that a 2020 MBA i3...would not last 8-10 years (fast & snappy)...and if the OP then decided to purchase something else (used for example)...MacBook Air or otherwise...that then OP would be upgrading more often.

If fewest upgrades over the years is the OP's goal...best option is to buy new & buy as much computer as the budget will allow. My main point was...don't expect a 2020 computer in 8-10 years to remain "fast & snappy".

Still useable in 8-10 years (yes)...but still "fast & snappy"...I wouldn't want to guarantee.

- Nick
 
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My main point was...don't expect a 2020 computer in 8-10 years to remain "fast & snappy".

Still useable in 8-10 years (yes)...but still "fast & snappy"...I wouldn't want to guarantee.
If his computer is "fast and snappy" this year, and if his software (both OS and apps) are substantially similar 10 years from now to what he is using now, I think that his computer can easily be just as "fast and snappy" in 10 years as it is now.

My 12 year old iMac is just as fast and snappy now as it was 12 years ago. Some things, like Safari, run horribly (not because of a lack of speed, but because of a change in the technology encountered on the Web), and had to be replaced with newer (but not the latest) software that runs great. I'm not running hardly any of the very latest apps, and the machine wasn't a speed demon even 12 years ago running CPU intensive apps like 3D modeling apps or video editing apps. But for word processing, database use, e-mail, and Web surfing it's still a joy to use. No slower than 12 years ago.

Macs don't slow down just because they are old. At least they don't if you do some minor routine maintenance.

Okay...there is one caveat. You can't let your hard drive fill up to anywhere approaching 80%. That was a rule for RDHD's and I've since learned that it is even more important for SSD's. So be sure to get an internal hard drive bigger than you think that you will ever need in the next 10 years. Or get an external hard drive to offload things to.
 
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Raz0rEdge

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In the original post, the OP is asking about a MBa i3 - these ar all 2020 models, there is no older MBa i3
So the question is would a 2020 MBa i3 last for 8 to 10 years.
AS the others have eluded, if you are specific about what you install and your use case doesn't dramatically change, then yes. But people tend to always update their applications as new versions come out and developers tend to focus on supporting hardware/OS's that fairly recent and not care much about how poorly it might perform on a 10 year old machine.

So if you stay stuck in time (largely) then the machine will be JUST as snappy 100 years from now as it is today. But no-one is going to do that and thus the dilemma.

To this day there are some very key systems around the world running on very old machines (I'm going to ignore the entire banking infrastructure running on 60's-70's era machine & Cobol) running old versions of Windows very reliably day-in, day-out for decades. These machines behave the way they do because they are locked in time, the software on there will be updated, nothing will ever change on these machines, so they perform with the same consistency for all of time.
 
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Okay...there is one caveat. You can't let your hard drive fill up to anywhere approaching 80%. That was a rule for RDHD's and I've since learned that it is even more important for SSD's.
Randy, can you elaborate on that, please? I'm not challenging it, but that's the first time I've heard that said. I had read a few months ago the exact opposite, that because SSDs don't suffer speed impacts from fragmentation the way spinners do, one could safely go as low as 5% remaining on an SSD. Can you expand on that, perhaps with where you heard it might be exactly the opposite? I think it's important for all of us to know as more and more of us are moving to all-SSD equipment. Thanks!
 

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If his computer is "fast and snappy" this year, and if his software (both OS and apps) are substantially similar 10 years from now to what he is using now, I think that his computer can easily be just as "fast and snappy" in 10 years as it is now.
This is true...and I completely agree.:) But as mentioned...this 12 year old iMac running Snow Leopard...is kind of a dedicated purpose machine for running legacy PowerPC software. And as mentioned...Safari runs kind of terrible (since the demands of the internet in 2020 are a lot different than 2008).

Very very few users purchase a new computer (as their main computer)...and 8-10 years later that computer is still that users main computer...and is still running basically the same macOS version, same apps, and same app versions (or very similar vintage). Many users update their computers OS the very day (or soon after) a new update/upgrade is released (and Apple sort of forces this on us...with all of the update reminders). Lol

Even if the OP didn't change anything about this 2020 MacBook Air (same macOS and same installed apps)...in 8-10 years internet performance will surely be reduced...and wouldn't be as "fast & snappy" as it was in 2020. This is also assuming in 8-10 years this 2020 MacBook Air would still be considered the OP's "main" computer.:)

- Nick
 
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Randy, can you elaborate on that, please? I'm not challenging it, but that's the first time I've heard that said. I had read a few months ago the exact opposite, that because SSDs don't suffer speed impacts from fragmentation the way spinners do, one could safely go as low as 5% remaining on an SSD. Can you expand on that, perhaps with where you heard it might be exactly the opposite? I think it's important for all of us to know as more and more of us are moving to all-SSD equipment. Thanks!
I forget where I was where there was just an entire in-depth discussion on this. The thing is, as you know, that each block of an SSD is only good for a certain number of reads and writes. Somewhere around 8. Wear leveling holds off blocks from dying as long as possible by making sure that all blocks on the drive are used equally. As blocks finally wear out and die, new ones are substituted for the dead ones. An SSD usually has a higher capacity than the rated capacity, to provide more blocks for just this purpose. This is called over-provisioning.

The thing is, there isn't as much over-provisioning now, on newer, cheaper SSD's. So, once blocks start dying, blocks from less used portions of the drive are used instead, as part of the wear-leveling process. But as you fill up an SSD more and more, there are fewer and fewer spare blocks available, and your drive gets closer and closer to being full, even though your SSD would seem to have a lot of it's rated capacity left.

So it's not due to fragmentation at all. And if your drive is fairly new, sure, you can fill it up all the way to 100% full and it will be fine. But the combination of time and filling your drive up too much will lead to your drive being full with a lot of drive capacity seemingly still available.

This is going to come as a bit of really bad news, but as the price of SSD's comes down, they are becoming less and less reliable, and they are also becoming slower and slower. The latter is because another cost cutting measure is to entirely leave the DRAM out of SSD's. See:
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A bit of philosophical meanderings on how technology changes over time. Way back in the day of hard wiring business machines for punch card process (Yes, I go that far back, albeit through my Dad, who was just such a programmer on IBM 700 series.) the programmer's job was not just to figure out the order to process the cards to get to the desired solution, it was also to do that job as quickly as possible. So an efficient programmer could get to the result faster than an inefficient one.

When wiring panels were replaced with logic code (I think in the IBM 1403 series, but that was a long time ago and brain cells die.) the programmer still looked for efficiency in the code, using Assembler to move data from register to register to storage to output, etc. Again, an efficient programmer (and program) could solve the problem sooner, which allowed for more processing on the hardware. Milliseconds mattered because sufficient milliseconds wasted added up to seconds, and seconds to minutes. Time is money in business, so getting more done faster was the goal.

In the early days of personal computing the communications were over slow modems and phone lines. I started at 110 Baud, graduated to 300, then 1200, then 4800. Now I'm on an intermediate 200Mbps cable system. In the early days you never tried to download a megabyte of data, it too too long. Today I routinely move gigabytes around without thinking about it.

Similarly, my first "pc" was a breadboard homebuilt thing with 4,000 bytes of memory for program and storage while working, so my programs needed to be efficient and space saving or they would not run, period. When I upgraded to 64K memory, I felt like I had reached Nirvana--so much room!

Storage, too, grew. Originally storage was zero, the program ran, you manually entered data and the results showed on a strip of 8 Nixie tubes (remember them?), then cassette tape allowed for data storage (and programs). Floppy disks came along with an amazing 128K of storage, then double-sided made it 256K. The first hard drive, as I recall, was a Winchester drive from IBM that had, I think, 10 megabytes of storage for a paltry $5,000 (more than the cost of a car at the time).

Programmers no longer cared about saving a byte here or there, or trimming a bit of time here or there. CPUs and RAM sizes were accelerating in speed to the point where saving a cycle or two or a few bytes of code didn't matter any more. What became the focus was to get the code done the fastest, to beat your competitor to the market with it, even if it was full of inefficient code. Nobody cared about register to register transfers any more as higher level languages allowed faster development with large libraries of code to do things for you. But the resulting machine code was really inefficient compared to the "good old days" of Assembler. Nobody cared because the inefficiency was covered up by technology growth.

So why that trip down memory lane?

Because no matter what you buy now, technology will move on from where you are and in 10 years that "snappy" machine will SEEM to be less snappy, even if the CPU, drives, etc, are all just fine. What will have moved will be the rest of the world. Today's "hot thing" will be pretty lame in 10 years if technology continues to grow. That is just how it is.

That said, the best advice is to buy as much machine today as you can afford. That way when the world moves on to Petabyte storage, 3d display, terahertz processors, Tbps connectivity, 128 bit programming and whatever unimaginable applications will be around in ten years, that machine just might be able to be used, although it won't feel snappy because the software will get even more inefficient and bloated than it is now. That is just the way it is.
 

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Way back in the day of hard wiring business machines for punch card process...
To add to the trip down memory lane.:)

I seem to remember seeing some sort of list (maybe it was somewhere during the 1980's) that was titled "Jobs that you won't see in 5 years" (or something like that). And punchcard operator was listed. I'm guessing in the 1980's...anyone that was a punchcard operator...knew the end was VERY near. Lol

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I forget where I was where there was just an entire in-depth discussion on this. The thing is, as you know, that each block of an SSD is only good for a certain number of reads and writes. Somewhere around 8.
Not getting argumentative, but this article SSD Lifespan: How Long Will Your SSD Work? says the average single-level cell NAND supports 50,000 to 100,000 write cycles. MLC and TLC flash is lower, but in the 3000 to 10,000 write cycle range. I know that cell writes and block writes are two different animals, but the idea that a block is unusable after only 8 write cycles just seems very, very strange.
 
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This is true...and I completely agree.:) But as mentioned...this 12 year old iMac running Snow Leopard...is kind of a dedicated purpose machine for running legacy PowerPC software.
No, it isn't. While it isn't running all of the latest apps, it is still running some of the latest apps. And of the apps that it is running, quite a few of them have been updated at some point since the iMac was new. Some of them have even been updated many times.

The fact that I've kept such an old Mac running an old version of the Mac OS is because I want to be able to run a few pieces of legacy software. But I have no doubt that this iMac would be just as fast, or faster, if I were to upgrade it to a newer version of the Mac OS. (I would just lose all my legacy PowerPC apps.)

Newer versions of the Mac OS aren't slower than older versions. They are usually faster, as long as one does a clean install when upgrading.

And as mentioned...Safari runs kind of terrible (since the demands of the internet in 2020 are a lot different than 2008).
Safari from OS X 10.6 runs terribly because of new technology used on the Web. But as I said, that didn't make Safari slower, it just made it flaky. Note that I had no problems finding a newer alternate browser that is fast and sufficiently compatible with modern Web technology.

Many users update their computers OS the very day (or soon after) a new update/upgrade is released (and Apple sort of forces this on us...with all of the update reminders).
I know. I've begun to strongly suggest that folks stop doing that. I almost begged folks not to do it with Catalina. There is little reason why doing that is necessary. The standard reason that folks give is for the increased security. But I've yet to hear from a single Mac user running an older Mac OS who has suffered because of a security problem that they could have avoided by having run a newer version of the Mac OS.

On the other hand, there is an entire thread going on right as we speak on the Mac consultant's list on how Catalina's security can, in certain situations, lead to a bricked Mac, or a Mac that has to be thrown away rather than it being able to be repaired. (Mostly in combination with the T2 chip in some Macs.) So I'm not sure that we all want as much new security as Apple is offering.

Even if the OP didn't change anything about this 2020 MacBook Air (same macOS and same installed apps)...in 8-10 years internet performance will surely be reduced...and wouldn't be as "fast & snappy" as it was in 2020.
I don't see any sign that internet performance will "surely" be reduced at any point in the future. A change in technology doesn't mean that things necessarily have to get slower. Upgrading one's browser doesn't mean that the new browser has to be slower. The version of Firefox that runs on my 12 year old iMac is at least as fast as the older version of Safari it replaced.


This is also assuming in 8-10 years this 2020 MacBook Air would still be considered the OP's "main" computer.:)
I don't see why it couldn't be his main computer in 10 years. I can use my 12 year old iMac all day, everyday, if I want to. In fact, thanks to two or three older apps that were never updated for Intel, my workflow on my old iMac can be more efficient if I stick to using it all day, and some days I do.

This discussion is starting to become circular. The OP wanted to know if he purchased a Mac now, could it be used for 10 years and still have good performance for all that time. My 12 year old iMac shows that it is certainly possible. Can he do it without sacrificing some things...probably not. A decade old Mac will never be the same as a new, or even just a newer, Mac. I'm not trying to say that it is. To keep a Mac running well for a decade he'll have to decide what things are a good idea to upgrade, and which aren't. He may even have to do without some new technology or feature that appears at some point. But it's not at all a sure thing that his Mac will slow down, and he doesn't have to go 10 years without upgrading his OS, or upgrading many of his apps, to keep it from slowing down.
 
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I will jump in here and say when I upgrade I go for the most beefy to hopefully future proof as much as possible.

BUT - I have a 2009 Macbook with 4GB of memory running Windows 10 in bootcamp and she is still snappy and going strong. I did have to install in an SSD, re-thermal pasted the CPU and replaced the battery but she still does her job.

I also gave my 13" Macbook Air to a friend. It has 8Gb of memory. She is also going strong.

That said - keep in mind the Macbook Air you are looking at is NOT upgradeable by the average user. So all the stuff I did to the 2009 MB would not be possible on a new MBA - unless you have real skills and a love of soldering.

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Don't get tempted to overthink this. You'll be fine with the base model. My base model 2013 MacBook Air with half the RAM and a much older i5 processor (which I'm sure is slower than the newer i3 in a 2020 MBA) is still going strong for basic tasks like you described. MS Office was mentioned as being "demanding." Well, my 7-year-old MBA handles even the latest versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint just fine. For instance, I run animation-heavy PowerPoints on it with no issues (and I mean anywhere from 2-10 animations run simultaneously with no hiccups).
 
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