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Will your Mac run OS X 10.7 Lion?

OS X 10.7 "Lion" is due to be released any day now, but even if you have an Intel-based Mac you may not be able to install the new OS. Here is a quick way to determine if your Mac will run Lion.

Apple's newest release of OS X is just around the corner, and part of its advancements is that it will not only be Intel-only as was the case with Snow Leopard, but it will also run exclusively in 64-bit mode and therefore require a 64-bit CPU. Unfortunately, this means that some of the early Intel-based Macs will not be able to run Lion when it is released, so if you did purchase one of the first Intel Macs in 2006 (or purchased one second-hand) then you may not be able to install and run OS X 10.7.

About this Mac
This Mac will not run OS X Lion because it does not have an Intel processor.

Despite some 2006 Macs not being able to run Lion, others from that year have the capability to run it just fine, with the difference being that the deficient Macs were built with the 32-bit Intel "Core Duo" processors instead of the 64-bit capable "Core 2 Duo," "Xeon," or "Core i3/i5/i7" processors. A quick way to see whether or not your Mac has the appropriate processor is to select "About this Mac" from the Apple menu and look at the "Processor" section, and then see if the following criteria are met:

  1. It says "Intel" or "Core" somewhere in the name, and does not have "Solo" in its name

  2. If it has both "Core" and "Duo" in the name, then there is a number "2" between those two words (ie, "Core 2 Duo" and not "Core Duo").

This should be all that's needed to determine if your Mac will run Lion; however, if you need further verification that your computer will work, then you can open the Terminal application (in the /Applications/Utilities/ folder) and follow these steps:

  1. Copy and paste the following command to the Terminal, and press Enter:

    sysctl hw.model hw.machine

  2. Check the first line of the output, and see if it matches anything in the following table (models that will not run Lion):

    • iMac 4,1
    • iMac 4,2
    • Mac Mini 1,1
    • MacBook 1,1
    • MacBook Pro 1,1
    • MacBook Pro 1,2
sysctl running in Terminal
This Mac has all the processor capabilities needed to run OS X 10.7 Lion

If your Mac's model number matches one in the table then you will not be able to run Lion; however, if your Mac is not in the table then check the second line of the command output to see if it says "x86_64." If the second line says "x86_64" then you will be able to run OS X 10.7 Lion. If it says something else then as long as your model number is above those in the table then you should be good to go. For instance, if you have a "MacMini 2,1" then your system will run Lion.

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