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.