OS X El Capitan System Requirements & Compatible Mac List


With an emphasis on performance and reliability, OS X El Capitan is expected to be a great system software update for Mac users. Of course, updating to the next version of Mac OS X will only be possible if the Mac hardware supports the new version. Fortunately for those wanting to update to OS X El Capitan, the system requirements are quite forgiving, and basically if your Mac can run OS X Yosemite or OS X Mavericks, it will almost certainly be able to run OS X El Capitan as well.


For optimal performance, the newest Mac hardware will run the best, but that doesn’t mean you need a brand new computer to run OS X 10.11 when it’s out. In fact, all Macs released over the past five years or so are easily supported, in addition to many that are considerably older than that (some nearly a decade old).


Specifically, the supported minimum Mac model list includes the following hardware:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or newer), (15-inch, Mid / Late 2007 or newer), (17-inch, Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

A common thread is the Mac must have a 64-bit CPU, which is typically an Intel Core 2 Duo or newer processor. Beyond that, the requirements are pretty soft and forgiving. You’ll also need a few GB of available disk space to install the final version on your Mac, which is typical for updating any system software.

If you aren’t sure, you can quickly find out what Mac model year the hardware was built is by going to the  Apple menu > About this Mac > Overview, and look for the Mac name and year


You may notice that requirements to run OS X El Capitan on a Mac matches the list of supported hardware for OS X Yosemite, which matched OS X Mavericks, and that’s intentional, as Apple addressed in the El Capitan debut, where they stated that the Mac OS X 10.11 update would specifically support all Mac hardware that is able to run the previous version of OS X system software. But Apple went further, strongly suggesting that OS X El Capitan will have better performance on the same hardware when compared to the prior version of OS X, with up to 2x faster performance switching apps, 1.4x faster performance launching apps, and other sizable speed gains achieved by system-level optimization.


So that’s the minimum system requirements, but what about optimal requirements for superior performance? That’s going to be more of a generalization, but basically the newer the Mac the better the software will run, just like any PC for that matter. More RAM is always a good thing, and for optimal performance of any OS, you should always aim to have as much RAM as possible. A super fast SSD disk drive will also dramatically boost performance of any computer. Even without all the latest and greatest hardware, it’s a fairly good bet that OS X El Capitan is going to run faster than OS X Yosemite did on the same Mac, a that seemed to be one of the focus areas of the release.

OS X El Capitan is currently in beta, the final version will debut this fall as a free download for all eligible Mac

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