Does your Mac meet minimum system requirements to run macOS Sierra?

By , Jun 22, 2016

WWDC 2016 keynote macOS Sierra system requirements slide

During his WWDC 2016 keynote segment, Apple’s software boss Craig Federighi briefly flashed a slide listing Mac models that will be able to run the operating system out of the box when it releases publicly this fall (the macOS Preview webpage does not yet mention anything in terms of the minimum system requirements for the new OS).

It seems that Macs manufactured in 2008 and older models won’t be eligible for the new OS. But if your Mac is not on Apple’s list, an unofficial option might allow you to run macOS Sierra anyway, with some caveats.

Official macOS Sierra minimum system requirements

According to Federighi’s slide, the following Mac models will be officially supported by macOS Sierra:

  • iMac (late-2009 and later)
  • MacBook (late-2009 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2010 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2010 and later)
  • Mac mini (2010 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2010 and later)

It’s interesting that macOS Sierra marks the first time Apple has changed the system requirements for the Mac operating system 2012’s release of Mountain Lion.

“It was initially though that Sierra requires Intel chips with the SSE4.1 instruction set, removing machines with silicon older than the 45nm Penryn Core 2 Duo family of processors,” as per Stephen Hackett of 512pixels.

“However, if SSE4.1 was the hard cutoff, some older Mac Pros — that Apple has cut off — would be able to run macOS Sierra that Apple, so there may be other factors like GPU support in play as well.”

Running macOS Sierra unofficially

An unofficial workaround solution exists for those whose computer is not officially supported by macOS Sierra. In a nutshell, the solution involves using the macOS Post Install application from the installer image to choose the optimal patches for your particular Mac model.

macOS Post Install app Mac screenshot 001

When the app finishes patching, your computer should be able to boot into a fully working copy of macOS Sierra, although some owners of unsupported Macs may not be able to use Wi-Fi, or other OS features.

iOS 10, too, cuts off some older hardware, primarily iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices outfitted with Apple’s A5 system-on-a-chip: the iPhone 4s, the original iPad mini, the iPad 2 and the fifth-generation iPod touch.

Is your Mac model left behind this time around or will it run macOS Sierra?

Source: Apple, Stephen Hackett

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  • Burge

    Mini cuts the mustard it’s on it now.

  • FrankJL

    I have a mid 2012 MacBook Pro that I don’t want to give up. It is a phenomenal laptop even today. Considering the update cycle of Macs I think my MBP have a at least 2 upgrade cycles left.

    • Wiley

      I agree it has at least 2 left probably 3. I have a mid 2012 MacBook Pro as well and after adding in an SSD it still is an extremely capable machine. What amazed me about it is that it can manage to edit 4K video with Final Cut and Adobe Premiere.

    • Antonio

      I have a mid-2010 MBP and still going strong. Had to change a refrigerating fan a couple of months ago, though.

  • Elio Golfieri

    2009 MacBook it’s in the supported list and 2009 MacBook Pro not? What? It’s the same hardware :/

    • Burge

      It’s Apple showing its true rip off colours

      It’s not that the hardware can not run it it’s just Apple doesn’t want it on that device

      • Elio Golfieri

        definitely! Mmh..I’ve upgraded my MBP with 8gb ram and a 250gb SSD..I hope we can install Sierra also on us 2009 machines. I definitely don’t want to buy a new mac…

  • Grolubao

    No it’s not, but Apple insists on not releasing a new Macbook Pro so I can update…

    • Chris

      What about the 2015 refresh? I’ve had one since day one and it preforms extremely well compared to my old 2011 MBP.

      • Grolubao

        Really? Do you think it makes sense to buy old tech when there’s a new one coming very very soon? Only a fool would do so. I don’t care that it still performs well, it’s old

      • Chris

        One year is barely the definition of old, I wouldn’t consider 2-3 years to be old as current generation technologies are designed to last for years.

        If you always need new hardware – just because – you’re wasting money.

      • Wiley

        He’s talking about the MacBook Pro refresh that coming soon that will make nearly any MacBook Pro seem obsolete since they won’t have USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, new CPUs and GPUs, faster SSDs, and longer battery life. I guess if those features don’t affect you then the current machines are great, but I too would rather wait until the next refresh.

  • Mac Mini & Macbook 12 both are able to be upgraded… my imac 2009… ahh it’s an early 2009 so unfortunately no that won’t work. But it’s not like it’s a bad machine and I’ll just keep using it as it will still be compatible with what I do on my phone now. I’ll go another year or two before I decide to get a new machine for my desk or just stick with macbook’s.

  • siddique

    Forget the seirra What about just Siri feature ? Will work with macbook pro 2012 model ? Core i5 13″

    • Christopher Lim

      Siri comes with macOS Sierra. If Sierra runs, it’s safe to assume Siri will run.

      • siddique

        El Captain some features like multi-taking Don’t work in such macbooks

  • Agneev Mukherjee

    Luckily, I have the Early 2015 MBP.

  • CltrAltDelicious

    I’m running MacOS Sierra on my Mid-2012 Macbook Pro with 256 SSD and 16GB of RAM and its smooth as butter.

  • itsknotme

    Well, it’s a single upgrade for me. And, three formerly mac OS computers to be running Ubuntu LINUX. I already have multiple OS booting PC’s. Why not my macs, too.

  • This sucks. My computer’s no longer supported for the latest macOS Sierra. And no way am I downloading some dangerous hack to run a macOS version that isn’t officially supported where it’s very very likely the WiFi won’t work and it might make the entire machine useless in the worst case scenario. So obviously I’m sticking with Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan for now. As for what will happen to this computer in a year or two or three, I’m not sure, if the hardware stops working that will be the end of that, but if it keeps working, it’s possible I might switch to a different operating system on this computer in a few years. It wouldn’t work well with Windows since the touchpad is 1-button and the keyboard layout is a Mac German layout so given the importance of right-clicks in Windows that seems kinda problematic. So maybe Linux, if the software for Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan stops being updated? I’m not sure… I use the homebrew package manager for a lot of stuff and their policy is to support the most recent 3 versions of Mac OS X, currently 10.9 thru 10.11. So since 10.9 computer still work fine, I am guessing this computer will keep working fine until around the time version 10.14 comes out and 10.11 gets into the place where 10.8 is now. So I am guessing this computer will work as a Mac until the fall of 2018 and then I’ll do something else with it if the hardware still works and it isn’t dead yet. That’s 2 years from now so in the meantime I’ll get a new computer to use as my main one, probably a cheap desktop.

  • Dan Czarnecki

    Mine just makes the cut! I’ve got a late-2009 MacBook (the plastic unibody one). Still very respectable specs for this day and age (2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and a 240GB SSD), and it runs El Capitan very well.

    As expected, due to other factors like a graphics card with as measly amount of integrated memory compared to today, there are some things that don’t work well on it like watching videos in 1080p60 on YouTube (regular 1080p and 720p60 work just fine though). Still though, as I mentioned just earlier, it runs El Capitan very well and I bet that Sierra will run just as well on it. That being said though, I think it’s a safe bet that Apple will be cutting off late-2009 MacBooks after this update. Or who knows, maybe I could be wrong since as this article states, it’s been the first time since 2012 that Apple has changed system requirements for a Mac operating system.

  • Blender of Cheese

    Sniff whimper 🙁

    Model Name: Mac Pro

    Model Identifier: MacPro3,1

    Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon

    Processor Speed: 3.2 GHz

    Number of Processors: 2

    Total Number of Cores: 8

    L2 Cache (per Processor): 12 MB

    Memory: 16 GB

  • Florian Cokl

    I’ve just given it a try on an MBP5,3 – works – with a little “help”! For specs take a look at the picture. What I found impressive is the boot-time. Installed on an external HDD, connected via Firewire800, it took less than a minute?! I wonder how fast it would be on the internal SSD? I don’t see why this MBP is cut off?! Turn in his grave – that’s what Steven would do if he knew.

    • PaulB

      Hi Florian, may I ask what “help” was needed? I happen to have the same machine. many thanks, Paul

  • marcusjd

    My iMac early 2008 is running strong and has solid wifi performance, so I’m not going to risk it. I guess I’ll let it ride and remember the next upgrade will be the full monty.

    • Sun_Zeneise

      The Rule that “Pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered,” might apply in this circumstance. I don’t think it’s not worth the risks. Trade off is not worth it. This baby hums: 5,1 Aluminum Unibody with 8 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 and 240 GB SSD. (I’ll probably get a new MBP in a year.)

  • Sun_Zeneise

    This is a bit disconcerting, because I’d like to know beforehand if my system will be degraded. Could someone please advise:
    I have a MacBook 5,1 Unibody (2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo) upgraded with 8 GB Memory, and 240GB SSD Start-Up Disk.

    Will I experience system the degradation as indicated, or otherwise?

    “When the app finishes patching, your computer should be able to boot into a fully working copy of macOS Sierra, although some owners of unsupported Macs may not be able to use Wi-Fi, or other OS features.

    “iOS 10, too, cuts off some older hardware, primarily iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices outfitted with Apple’s A5 system-on-a-chip: the iPhone 4s, the original iPad mini, the iPad 2 and the fifth-generation iPod touch.”