2011 MBA bouncing ball issues

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Beachguy, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. Beachguy macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
    2011 MBA 13.3", 4GB, 128GB, OS X El Capitan

    I have a problem where when I am in a browser- doesn't matter if Safari, Chrome, or whatever- if I go to type something, I get a BAD beachball pause. I'm sure some of it comes from having ElCap installed, but not all over it. I did a reinstall of OS X but it made no difference.

  2. invisibleshoes macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2014
    Same here, but with a MBA 2013, 4GB 128GB. I definitely think it's a lack of ram and running El Capitan. Never had this problem with Yosemite so I might go back down.
  3. craig1024 macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2016
    It's not the ram unless you have too many programs open I have 4gb and I can run iTunes, mail and chrome with 15 tabs and I never see the beach ball.
  4. Beachguy thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
    I'm not thinking it is a RAM issue either, but it has been rather... unpleasant... since El Capitan cam along. Even so, I am not convinced it is El Cap that is the problem, but am just not sure. Perhaps some other ideas will pop up?
  5. craig1024 macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2016
    Maybe you could try reinstalling a clean copy of El Capitan and install the latest versions of your programs.
  6. Beachguy thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
    I've considered that, but I'd like to make sure the problems isn't elsewhere.
    Plus, reinstalling is such a pain!
  7. spronkey macrumors member

    May 28, 2009
    I have a 2011 Air (13" 1.7GHz) and it has beachball issues occasionally. In my case, the root cause is the battery, which is in poor health, and causes the system to do odd things like permanently reduce the CPU frequency.

    Do these issues occur when plugged in? Or only on battery power? Or both? More frequently on one or the other?

    I'd suggest doing a few things:
    1. Check the 'Console' for any obvious issues
    2. Check your memory pressure when such an event occurs
    3. Check whether your CPU is throttling up and down correctly
    4. Check the condition of your battery
    5. Check the condition of your SSD
    6. Finally, if you tend to just sleep your computer, restart it immediately the next time the beachballing occurs and see if it makes any difference.
    Check the Console for any obvious issues
    • Open Console (type it in spotlight) and read the 'All Logs' entry - look for any errors around when you are experiencing the lag
    To check memory pressure:
    If you're running out of memory and having to use paging on the SSD, your machine may lag. Check the 'memory pressure' to see whether this is the case.
    1. Open Activity Monitor (type it in spotlight) and click the "Memory" tab
    2. Check the memory pressure graph at the bottom left. If it's all green, you're not running into memory issues. If it's yellow or red, you may be.

    To check for CPU throttling:
    Your CPU should run at a low frequency when idling, and throttle up to a much higher frequency under load. On a 2011 Air, idle is <1GHz, and full load will be >1.5GHz.
    1. Download the Intel Power Gadget for Mac
    2. Open it up, and watch the 'Frequency' graph while the beachballing occurs
    3. If the graph remains steady at a low frequency with no spikes, your CPU is probably permanently throttled. If the graph is very spikey, and you are seeing >1.5GHz during load (i.e. loading a large web page) things are probably normal.
    If it's looking like you're permanently throttled, try in this order: a) plug in power, b) sleep then wake the machine, c) reset the SMC.

    To check battery condition:
    If your battery is in poor condition or behaving strangely, your Mac may be limiting it's power usage, or it may be running into odd issues with fluctuating power output.

    If your battery is the original battery, I can almost guarantee that it is at least somewhat worn (Lithium Ion batteries wear with time, even if not used). However, it's entirely possible that it is still fine, but we should check.
    1. Download CoconutBattery
    2. Open it up and have a look at the "OS X Battery status". A good battery will say "Good". A malfunctioning battery will probably say "Check Battery".
    3. Observe your 'Loadcycles' number - the Air's battery is designed to retain 80% of its usable capacity at 1000 cycles
    4. Observe your "Maximum Charge" graph (that's the second graph below "Design capacity" - the percentage here tells you how much life your battery has vs a new battery.
    If your battery status is not "Good", or your load cycles is getting high i.e. 700 or more, or your 'maximum charge' is less than 80%, your battery could be causing issues. It could be worth replacing the battery.

    To check the condition of your SSD
    If your SSD is having trouble reading or writing, it can cause the machine to lag as you describe. There are lots of ways to do this. Try Disk Utility first, and if that shows everything is fine you may need to dig into SMART utilities such as DriveX, or smartmontools from the command line.

    Hope this helps :)
  8. Beachguy thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
    That's a lot of info!! Thank you!

    Funny thing, the first time I replied, as soon as I pressed a key, I was in beachball hell again. That's how it always is- as soon as I touch a key, it does that. ONLY in a browser. Makes NO sense to me at this point.

    I think I'll remove and reinstall Chrome and such just in case there is a mess from that install. Then I'll check your list.

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