Inherit a computer and want to know how old it is? Bought a used Windows PC and want to know when it was made? Have a Mac and want to know its date of manufacture? It may take a little detective work but you can tell roughly when a computer was built.
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There are a few things to be aware of though. If it’s a Windows PC, there may have been upgrades that will throw off the date a little. We can tell roughly when it would have been put together or manufactured from the components and from the BIOS but if the motherboard or processor has been upgraded, the rest of the computer may be a bit older.
Apple computers are a little easier as they are not upgradeable to the same degree as a Windows PC.
How to tell how old your Apple computer is
There are a couple of ways to tell how old your Mac is. As Mac OS may have been upgraded during the life of the computer, we will use the Model Identifier and/or serial number.
Select the Apple logo on the desktop and About This Mac. The window that appears will show you exactly when the Mac was manufactured, for example, it might say MacBook Pro (Late 2015). In the results.
You can also generate a System Report from the same window. Use the Model Identifier on this page to see when yours was made.
Finally, you can use the serial number from the About This Mac window or the sticker on the case to identify its age. Paste your serial number into this page to learn more about your computer.
How to tell how old your Windows computer is
Identifying the age of a Windows computer may be simple or more complex. If it was a manufactured PC that hasn’t been upgraded, it will be simple. If it was a self-built or custom job then it becomes more complicated.
Check for serial numbers
Many manufactured PCs from the likes of HP, Compaq, Dell and others will have serial number stickers somewhere on the case. This may tell you the date, or a quick Google of that serial number will show you the model and approximate time it was on sale.
If you have a laptop, there should be a serial number underneath or by the battery compartment. If you’re lucky, it will have a date. If you’re not, just Google the serial number and see what dates correspond to it.
Check the BIOS
Assuming the BIOS has not been updated, it will give you a rough idea of when the motherboard was installed. This is a good indication of when the computer was put together. You can check the BIOS if you like but Windows can tell you.
Type ‘sysinfo’ into the Cortana/Search Windows box and hit enter. Select System Information and look for BIOS Version/Date. This isn’t definitive but it will give you an idea.
Check the motherboard type
Alongside the processor, the motherboard is at the core of any computer. Knowing when it was manufactured will tell you approximately how old the computer is. Typically, when upgrading a motherboard, you also upgrade the processor and RAM so they will be of a similar age.
You can use sysinfo as above to identify your motherboard. It will be listed as System Manufacturer and System Model. This isn’t always true so you may have to look elsewhere. Open a CMD window as an administrator and type ‘wmic bios get serialnumber’. If your motherboard is set up correctly this should list the serial number for you to trace.
If not, reboot your computer into the BIOS and look there. You should see the system model and product number on the main page. If it doesn’t show a manufacture date, put the serial number into a search engine to see when it was manufactured.
Otherwise, you will need to look inside the computer. Find the motherboard series sticker and put that into Google. Look at when the motherboard was on sale or the dates of any corresponding blog posts or forum posts. This should give you an idea rather than a concrete date. You can do the same for the processor if you like.
Dating an Apple device is much more accurate than dating a Windows one. Even though newer Macs are upgradeable, the motherboard is still not so will always be the same one sold originally. Windows PCs are infinitely upgradeable so may be much older than you initially thought. If you can identify the approximate manufacturing date of the motherboard or processor, you have a ballpark figure of the key components, which is occasionally as close as you can get.