Is your Mac ready for Mavericks? Find out here

Is your Mac ready for Mavericks? Find out here

OS X 10.9 Mavericks has gone gold master and it shouldn't be too long before it's out in the world. We're still waiting for a few final pieces in the puzzle, like an official announcement from Apple about when Mavericks will be available, but until then, there's plenty you can do to prepare for the transition. And the first order of business is to know whether you can install it.

Apple hasn't posted final system requirements yet, but based on my experience with the beta, it appears that just about any Mac that can run OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion should be able to run Mavericks as well. Assuming that's the case, here's the list of compatible machines, straight from Apple:

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)

How well that Mac will be able to run it is a different story, though. I've been using Mavericks on a late 2010 MacBook Air with 2 GB of RAM, for example. That's certainly in the list of supported machines for Mountain Lion, and it runs Mountain Lion like a champ. It works with Mavericks too, but the system overhead doesn't really give me a lot of room to do much without bumping up against a lot of memory swap. That's not a huge deal because the MacBook Air uses an SSD, but it still slows things down. Having said that, Mavericks is way more efficient than Mountain Lion at managing memory, so it's not as bad as it might sound at first.

The bottom line is that I think 4 GB of RAM should be a safe amount for most people. That's how June's MacBook Airs are set up in their standard configuration, for example. Anything with more than 4 GB should be in fine shape.

You'll also need to be running at least OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) in order to get Mavericks, since it'll only be available for download through the Mac App Store. If you are running Snow Leopard, this may be a pretty significant transition - like Lion and Mountain Lion before it, Mavericks is a 64-bit operating system - some software won't work without being patched, so make sure you're running the latest versions of critical apps. That's doubly important for the OS - make sure you've applied any system patches and updates available through the Software Update system preference.

Another key difference for Snow Leopard users - Rosetta, the translator that enables you to run apps designed for the PowerPC - disappeared with Lion's release. So if you're still running apps designed for pre-Intel Macs, be prepared to say goodbye.

You'll also need enough hard disk space to install Mavericks. The installer will tell you if you don't have enough, but you might want to use this excuse to do some spring cleaning and archive what you don't need onto some form of external storage.

I'll update this article with more details on what your Mac needs to be Mavericks ready as such details become available.

Are you getting ready for Mavericks? Will your machine make the cut or is this an incentive for you to buy new Mac hardware? Let me know in the comments.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Is your Mac ready for Mavericks? Find out here


Probably the last full upgrade this MacBook Pro circa 2008 will see... better start saving for a new one... :)

does anyone know if apple maps will be available stand alone in the appstore if we dont upgrade to mavericks?

I doubt it. Since Maps is a key feature to differentiate Mavericks from Mountain Lion, Apple has an incentive to keep it a Mavericks-only feature.

ok cool. im leary of upgrading mine since when i updated my mini to ML it slowed down big time. ill just have to wait and see what people say

Speculating here, but at this point, I'd strongly suspect that new Macs shipping with Mountain Lion will be eligible for Apple's Up-to-Date program. And that any new Mac models delivered after Mavericks' release will have Mavericks pre-installed.

Just wondering what the price would Mavericks be. $9.99? The Lion was $29.99 and Mountain Lion was $19.99.

I'm on a Mid 2010 MBP but I've maxed out RAM at 8GB and run an SSD. So my system runs it no problem. I have been running the betas and I'm ready for the release :0)

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Mavericks certainly offers a lot in the way of system performance options. If I had $3k to put into an updated iMac, I'd be taking that route. Since I lack the needed funding for such an endeavor, I have no choice but to upgrade my 2008 iMac's OS. I'm sure this will be its final OS upgrade. It's been a good computer especially considering that I abuse it with architectural renders and Starcraft II - I've only had to replace the graphics set once!

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Peter- I have the same set up on my mac air as you do- late 2010 with 2g ram- I have the latest mountain lion on there now- So I wont see too much lag?

It's not optimal. I've definitely seen a degradation in performance in Mavericks compared to ML. But it's still useable.

That's weird, I thought that Mavericks is the most polished/optimized OSX and with compressed RAM & power saving apps they focused on efficiency.

I've got a mid 2010 MBP, 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5 Processor, and 4GB of Memory. I'm currently running Lion 10.7.5. Do i need to upgrade to Mountain Lion, and then Mavericks, or can i skip ML and go straight to Mavericks? Thanks.

Anyone have any information regarding a new MacBook purchase? Meaning, will it be a free upgrade since I've only had my MacBook for less than three months?

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So this means that my 2008 24" iMac technically should be able to run Mavericks. But I don't want to put Mavericks on it only to have it not run right. I have 4 GB of RAM in it but it ran like absolute crap on Mountain Lion, so I rolled it back to Snow Leopard (10.6.8) and it's been fine. So maybe I'll just leave Mavericks alone.

I already have Mavericks running on my Retina MacBook Pro... it runs fine... not that huge of an upgrade...

It's probable that Mavericks will be free for you, if you try the Apple Up-To-Date program. If you bought it before Sept.22nd, you may have to pay. If you need to pay just because you bought the iMac a week too early, contact Apple Support, and tell them your problem. They should let you get it for free.

I have a late 2012 Mac mini, so it should work just fine. However, I am getting more RAM for the computer (4 to 16 GB) so it should be running optimally under Mavericks.

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Get lost with your Hackintosh, That's lame. Buy a Mac if you want to run both Windows and OS X