Why is OS X not 'Zippy' or fast?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Dane D., Jul 19, 2005.

  1. Dane D. macrumors 6502a

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    ohio
    #1
    Just upgraded my son's eMac 1.25Ghz (OS X.3.9) model with 512MB RAM for a total of 768MB. I thought this would make the computer more 'zippy', but to my disappointment it didn't. Is there any way to speed up the computer? I feel that I should be able to control the VM ala OS 9 by shutting it off or turning back on. In OS 9 I NEVER ran VM, now I am and it just makes me wait. Love OS X but the memory management sucks. Call me old fashion but at least in OS 9 things were fast.
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #2
    OSX handles its own VM as a good Unix should.

    Upgrading the RAM will restore speed if you have lost performance through using more applications and data than the amount of physical RAM. If you are consistently under 512 Mb usage, then going 512 to 768 will make a minimal difference only.

    Likewise, if you are consistently over 768 Mb in app and data usage, going 512 to 768 will help some, but not dramatically, because you will still be having pageouts/ins.

    Your most noticeable improvement would be if you were consistently over 512 but under 768 in usage.
     
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    Aug 15, 2001
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    #3
    RAM can help with the "zip" you're talking about, but it isn't the only thing that affects performance in OSX. On your particular system, no matter what you do OSX is going to feel a little slower than OS9 because it is simply a beefier OS and the eye-candy takes longer to render onscreen than the visuals in OS9. Actual application-level tasks will run as fast as anything, but the "snap" to the interface isn't quite there.

    That said, a couple things that can help: Make sure you have a good chunk of free space on your startup hard drive; at 5-10GB is generally recommended. Restarting once a week or two generally helps as well, but then it sounds like you've restarted recently. If you don't have your Mac awake during the night running the periodic tasks manually can help a bit; there are applications like Panther/Tiger Cache Cleaner that will do it for you, or you can use the command line: Type "sudo periodic daily", "sudo periodic weekly" (this one can take a while), and "sudo periodic monthly". You can also use PCC/TCC to clean out other caches, which can sometimes help.

    Finally, on lower-end machines like yours, you can use TinkerTool to tweak the interface a bit and turn eye-candy off: shadows, zoomy-effects, etc. This can make a noticable difference, depending on what it is about the lack of "zip" that's bothering you.

    If all of the above fail, your computer just isn't fast enough for your taste or there's something wrong with your installation; reinstalling the most recent "combo" updater or reinstalling the OS from scratch (full reinstall, not just an upgrade) might be the only solution.

    Funny, though; 10.3.9 seems to run reasonably smoothly on an eMac 800 with 512MB of RAM, so unless you're sensitive to slowness in the UI perhaps there is something "wrong" with your system.

    On a related note, not to be insulting, but assuming that OSX's virtual memory system is why it feels slower than OS9 is patently ridiculous--you might try reading up a bit on how memory management works before assuming things like that.

    Were OSX to have a primitive memory management system like OS9 it MIGHT be a hair--emphasis on a hair--faster in situations where there was lots of RAM to spare. It would also usually crash systemwide when an application died, would be far slower re-starting applications or re-accessing previously used data, would waste monumental amounts of RAM when you had apps like Photoshop open without any documents, and would still be every much as much a pain to manage as it used to be. The ability to launch, say, Photoshop and have it take as much RAM as it needs at a particular moment--be it 100MB or 2GB--is more than a little handy.
     
  4. Soulstorm macrumors 68000

    Soulstorm

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    Feb 1, 2005
    #4
    OS X handles its vm as it should be. A transition from 512 RAM to 768 will have no noticeable effect, since OS X relies mostly on the processor to perform its functions.

    As for the memory management... have you ever seen any other OS running 4-5 memory-intensive progs and never crash?
     
  5. Capt Underpants macrumors 68030

    Capt Underpants

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    Jul 23, 2003
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    #5
    For CanadaRAM

    OK I have a question for you, CanadaRAM. Should I upgrade from 768 MB to 1.25 GB? I'm thinkin i would see a noticeable improvement if I upgraded, but I just wanted to make sure.

    I took a screeny of the activity monitor so you can see whatever info you need.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #6
    My guess is you probably won't have a 1.25 G4 processor give you a "zippy" feel. At least if I am interpreting correctly what you mean by zippy...

    It sounds to me like you are wanting "zippy" in a PC/Windows sort of way. For instance, the two tests most PC users test to see how fast a computer is: See how fast the Start Menu pops up and then win a game of Solitare to see how fast the cards fall.

    I installed developer tools on my powerbook and it installed a "Hardware" Preference Pane where I can turn on the L2 Cache on the processor (it stays off unless I turn it on with this pref pane). With that option on, things like menu response improve significantly. Maybe you can try that. But the computer being "zippy" has little to do with its real performance. It really matters little other than mentally for people who are looking for that PC style interface responsiveness.
     
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    May 19, 2002
    #7
    OS X also isn't a real time OS, meaning a click might not always be handled right now -- there may be a delay between when you make a click, and the action starts.

    But in return for OS 9s real time nature, and direct hardware access -- we got the ability to do a lot of stuff at the same time without OS 9s lack of stability.

    We are slightly slower (probably 10-30% on hw benchmarks due to OS X testing through the OS, and OS 9 directly testing the hw) but the way we work now certainly makes up for it.

    That zippyness came at a high price in OS 9, when you printed or rendered a big project -- you went for a coffee or smoke, because doing anything else would crash the system or be extremely painful and slow.
     
  8. dmw007 macrumors G4

    dmw007

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    #8
    Sorry to hear your experience with Mac OS X not being zippy/fast.
    To me Mac OS X seems very zippy - even if it were not there is no way that I would ever go back to using windows. So zippy or tardy, Mac OS is the OS for me! :D
     
  9. fiercetiger224 macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 27, 2004
    #9
    All I have to say is, if you're talking about Windows zippy, then OS X will not be as "zippy" as Windows. But hey, OS X multitasks much better than Windows does, where everything is still snappy when you have like 7 different programs running at once, and then when you use Windows, it starts to slow down and become less snappy.

    Remember, OS X is also a memory hog and has ALOT of processes offloaded to the processor and gpu. This is why Windows and OS 9 feels "zippy", because they don't have as many eyecandy processes as OS X does. Just wait, since developers are saying that the Intel based Macs are very "snappy and zippy" compared to the PowerPC based Macs. That might be telling us something. :rolleyes:
     
  10. Dane D. thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 16, 2004
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    ohio
    #10
    I see your points

    I can agree with you all on the overall system speed doing tasks such as Photoshop and other programs is better than OS 9. But I have been so used to OS 9's fast interface that it will take so getting used to. I like the suggestion of turning off the eye candy, to me I want less lag and more zip. I know that OS X is robust, I can run alot of programs and not crash system wide; although sometimes apps crash. I should have been more clear in what RAM I had started with-a 256MB chip, then added the 512 MB chip. I know the feeling of waiting for a intense task to complete in OS 9. Some of my layered Photoshop files exceed 1 GB when open. And waiting for a task to finish on an 4-color, 300 dpi, large dimension file (say 18" x 38") is a nice coffee break for me. I work in OS 9 all day than come home to OS X on the eMac. So that is my point of reference relative to 'zippy'.
     
  11. Rocksaurus macrumors 6502a

    Rocksaurus

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    #11
    L2 cache is disabled by default...?
     
  12. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #12
    Yeah I found it hard ot believe too, but the only way to turn it on is in the preference pane, and if you quit System Preferences it goes back to being off again. (You can switch preference panes and return and the setting will stay the same, but quitting System Preferences resets the L2 cache to off.)

    I know it sounds strange... I think its to keep the heat down, because when its on the fans come on almost immediately.

    Here are screen shots:
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #13
    BTW, I have my processor setting to "Highest" in Energy Saver, I really think its strange that the L2 cache would be off by default, but from what I'm seeing here, I don' tknow what else to think.
     
  14. altair macrumors regular

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    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #14

    Thats a lot of page ins/page outs. It also looks like you have a bunch of VM, so yeah, get more ram, get as much as you possibly can.

    I have a 1ghz powerbook with 1gig of ram, and I think its very zippy, the OS never feels slow to me.
     
  15. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #15
    I disagree 100%; if that Activity Monitor screenshot was taken during what you consider a standard workload, you definitely DON'T need more RAM.

    First of all, you still have 70MB free, which means the OS hasn't even gotten around to using it all (something it actively tries to do--that's what Inactive RAM is; not really in use, but holding something just in case). Furthermore, you have a big chunk of inactive RAM, meaning that there's still plenty of overhead if necessary. Only when you have little free and inactive RAM are you in trouble--there's a reason the "Used" total doesn't include either of those.

    Also, that screenshot shows very few pageouts, meaning that you're fine; those pageins are just from apps loading; it's only when pageouts (data swapped to disk due to lack of space) start going way up that you're in trouble.

    To offer an example, I have 2.5GB of RAM and after about 5 days of use, though I'm still showing 1.3GB free, I have 183K pageins, and I can watch the number go up every time I load an app. Pageouts, however, only about 7K, i the same range as what Capt. U is showing. Now, if your pageins are in the hundreds of thousands and you can see it cranking up every time you do something, you may be a bit short on RAM, or at least in need of a restart (OSX has good memory management, but it's not perfect, and it does build up annoyingly large swapfiles over time).
     
  16. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

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    Dec 9, 2004
    #16
    I work in OS 8.6 all day (which is faster than OS 9), and come home to OS X on a 2.5GHz Power Mac...it's many, many times zippier than the OS 8.6 Power Mac, but that's a 300MHz G3 so I guess that's to be expected. Still, maybe it's just the G5, but I don't see how OS X could really be any zippier on my machine. Once everything happens instantly, how do you get faster? ;)

    --Eric
     
  17. Dane D. thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    ohio
    #17
    What can I turn off?

    What can I turn off to gain a little speed in the interface. I already turned off the genie effect, but you mention shadows where is that? The HD has 15GBs open, I restart every other day.

    "As for the memory management... have you ever seen any other OS running 4-5 memory-intensive progs and never crash? "

    Yes my work computer runs 9.2.2, with Photoshop, ImageReady, Illustrator and QuarKXPress everyday, all day. I re-start when I go to lunch and rarely crash. BUT I don't try and do multiple things at once. I do one task and let it complete. The way I see it, the computer can do 1 thing faster, than waiting for it finish multiple tasks.
     
  18. mwpeters8182 macrumors 6502

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    Boston, MA
    #18
    I don't find X to actually be any slower than 9, other than in the interface. Tasks take roughly the same time to complete, and it's nice to be able to use the computer while I'm ripping a CD or running a matlab script or something (or both!).

    I thought the memory management on 9 was one of it's worst qualities, as a modern operating system should be smart enough to know and allocate what memory the programs need.
     
  19. Rocksaurus macrumors 6502a

    Rocksaurus

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    #19
    Where can I get the utility to turn it on? I'd have a hard time believing it's disabled by default on my G5, but I'm curious as heck now.
     
  20. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #20
    Install the Dev Tools; the control panel shown above is part of it. I agree that it sounds bizarre that the cache would be disabled, but perhaps it has something to do with it being a PowerBook. Either that, or what the control panel reports isn't accurate--you never know.
     
  21. Rocksaurus macrumors 6502a

    Rocksaurus

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    #21
    I installed the dev tools a great while back, and I've never had that control panel... Is this a Tiger only thing? (I'm on Panther)
     
  22. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

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    Dec 9, 2004
    #22
    No, I installed the dev tools on Panther and got the Processor control panel. I don't remember doing anything else special to get it.

    Anyway, my G5 doesn't even have the option to disable L2 cache, not that I ever would.

    --Eric
     
  23. MBHockey macrumors 68040

    MBHockey

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    #23
  24. Rocksaurus macrumors 6502a

    Rocksaurus

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    #24
    Beautiful, that's all I needs ta know.
     
  25. neoelectronaut macrumors 68020

    neoelectronaut

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    #25
    So, when has a 1.25Ghz G4 been considered low-end?
     

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