Am I expecting to(o?) much out of my early 2011 13" MBP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by shoelessone, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. shoelessone macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    So, lately I've been very frusterated with my new(ish) early 2011 13" MBP. I have the 2.7 ghz i7 model with 4GB of memory. This was purchased new a month or so ago.

    Anyway, it basically feels like it runs VERY slow. I am a developer, and at any given time I'll have these application (windows) open:
    PHPStorm (IDE similar to Eclipse)

    Additionally, I'll normally have these system tray applications open:
    A few Java processes

    I also am driving a 24" LCD (but keep my laptop lid shut so I'm only driving the one display).

    As a list, it looks like quite a lot I guess, but the reality is that I'm running a pretty normal number of applications for a web/java/etc developer. The problem is things are painfully slow often times. ALT-tabbing can get ungodly slow, resizing windows can be painful, sometimes if I try to move too quickly (closing tabs, opening tabs, alt tab, typing, saving, alt tab, refreshing, alt tab, etc) things slow down and there will even be a small lag when typing.

    Should I have any trouble at all running these applications concurrently? Am I just moving to fast or trying to do too much at once?

    I did move over all of my applications/settings from an older iMac, so I'm wondering if this could have something to do with the problem?

    Currently I'm planning on reinstalling OSX (a clean install), and then selectively install applications as needed (basically the list above).

    Oh, and while I'm at it, is there anyway to completely and totally disable Lion's "reopen applications" option? I really am not happy with Lion, it seems generally less stable and slower then Snow Leopard.

    Thanks for reading and any input!
  2. fr4c macrumors 65816


    Jul 27, 2007
    Hamster wheel
    Upgrade to at least 8GB of RAM, and consider switching to a 7200RPM HD (500GB or 750GB) or even an SSD. I'm surprised with that much open you're still slugging by with the default 4GB.
  3. Ant.honey macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2008
    New York City
    What does Activity Monitor say? I imagine you could do with some more ram and an SSD never hurts.
  4. TexasChemE macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2011
    Interesting. How much ram is all of that using? That could be one of the reasons. But, to answer your question about reopening applications: System Preferences -> General -> "Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps"
  5. warvanov macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2011
    It seems pretty clear that with that many applications open that you would benefit from additional RAM. Crucial or OWC ( can hook you up with 8GB (2x4GB) for about $60.
  6. motoracer1486 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 26, 2006
    As previously mentioned - 8GB of RAM and a SSD will make you golden.
  7. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    No idea. Why don't you look at the resources you're using while you're running all this? That would quickly and definitively answer your question. I'd just be speculating.
  8. Spadoinkles macrumors regular

    May 5, 2011
    While running all those apps, open up Activity Monitor and give us your Page-ins and Page-outs... for all we know, the ram might not be the bottleneck.
  9. shoelessone thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    Thanks for the responses all!

    Page-ins: 16.15 GB
    Page-outs: 4.11 GB
    Swap Used: 4.92 GB

    Just now is an example behaviour I'm not happy with: I command tabbed from the activity monitor to Chrome where I'm typing this and opened a new tab (cmd+t) to search for "page-ins page-outs" but got the spinning beachball for half a second, and then was unable to type or do anything else for 1-3 seconds. This happens fairly often.

    It does feel like a memory issue, but it also seems like in the past I've had 4 GB of memory and never had this many frustrating issues.

    EDIT: Oh, and I guess I'd ask, I've read that ~20% page-out is not so terrible, obviously 4 page-out / 20 (total memory page hits) = ~20%. Do you think I would significantly reduce my frustration with more memory?
  10. Risasi macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2011
    If I had to pick I would choose SSD first, memory second. Even the 17" Macbook Pro I picked up a month or so ago felt sluggish with a standard HDD.
    You're obviously bottlenecking on memory, therefore it's caching to the hard drive, but only doing memory is no guarantee you aren't thrashing your hard drive too. The more crap I put on my HDD the more beachballs I saw. Paging to SSD will make it seem fast. That's why a 2GB Air can get by with so little memory. $250 will get you a 120GB SSD+8GB memory kit. It increases in price exponentially after that.

    How much drive space do you need, do you need an optical drive, and what's your budget?

    I recently put a 120GB OWC SSD drive in my 13" and it made a huge difference. But it left me a little short on space. If it gets real bad I'll pull out my optical drive and put my old 320GB HDD in that slot. So that's a third upgrade you could do to give you plenty of storage space but at a budget conscious price. You're probably looking at about $300-350 in parts for 120GB SSD, 8GB memory kit, optibay adapter for your old hard drive.

    You have options, you just need to decide what you're trying to achieve.

    P.S. Just curious, how many tabs do you normally have open in Chrome and Safari?

    Personally I like this feature in Lion, especially with an SSD.
  11. warvanov macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2011
    You're definitely seeing the effects of too little RAM. Your system is having to write lots of information to the hard drive and then retrieve it when you switch between open applications. An SSD sure wouldn't hurt as it would obviously speed up writing stuff too and from the hard drive from system memory, but that wouldn't solve the basic problem which is you're running out of memory.

    Installing an SSD would be the more costly option, not to mention it would be more of a hassle. It also comes with the side effect of significantly less storage space.

    Why not install memory in your system first to see if that helps or even solves your problems? It's cheaper, easier and doesn't come with the reduced storage side effect.
  12. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    Look in Activity Monitor at what's using RAM. Be sure to select Show All Processes, then sort by Real Mem. If there's anything out of the ordinary you might be able to correct that. Or just buy more RAM. A SSD won't help that much as long as you are getting page-outs.
  13. Spadoinkles macrumors regular

    May 5, 2011
    Yeah. Page-outs are normal. As is the browser lag. Chrome and Safari aren't too good at it and nothing seems to fix that (it happens on a 09 Mac Pro too)

    If that's the only problem, then it isn't worth worrying about. If it constantly bottlenecks though, I'd definitely give it a RAM boost. My page-outs sit at 25% when I'm basically idling / doing light work, it hits up 50-60% for more serious stuff. Anything more, it crashes. THis Mac has seen its days :p
  14. SatyMahajan macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2009
    Cambridge, MA
    I'm also a developer. I run at least that many apps if not more on my 2009 Core 2 Duo 2.26 and it has no problems. I have installed and definitely recommend 8 GB RAM and a 7200 RPM HD (or SSD if you can swing it).
  15. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010

    You confirmed that you're experiencing page outs. You may see periods of sluggish behavior. It doesn't mean it's slow all the time. If you have a copy of disk warrior that's compatible with Lion I would run it. It's not as necessary as it once was, but it still helps as the directories can get a bit messed up and cause unnecessary drive slowness. I'm not sure I'd buy it if you don't already have it.

    Are you viewing activity monitor when your machine is running slow? It can tell you quite a lot especially if you examine all running processes to see where resources are allocated at the time. I'd definitely go to 8GB simply because it's cheap and you are experiencing page outs. If you're running either 64 bit applications or the memory allocation is serving multiple allocations, this will help. If you're no longer experiencing many page outs and it still runs slow, it may require further investigation. An SSD only helps when you're accessing the hard drive. If you're willing to spend that much it's silly not to go for the ram as well.

    Why would anyone with memory pageouts consider an SSD before ram with the current price of memory? 8GB should alleviate a great deal of the memory headaches. You don't always notice ram shortages constantly. Sometimes you'll just have some serious periods of sluggish behavior when you're hitting page outs. I really don't care for the solution of using an ssd to supplement lack of sufficient memory. They aren't problem free.
  16. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    Page outs might be normal, but in my experience the computer tends to become unresponsive while data is being paged out. To avoid that, it's best to avoid using too much RAM or get enough RAM that page outs don't happen often. Anything more than a few MB paged out means that the computer ran out of space in RAM.
  17. BuckyN8 macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2011
    I am very happy to have seen this today. I run quite a few programs but my computer (with the same specs as the OP) has the spinning beach ball when I am in aperture 3. Does it quite often and noticed that it took a lot of memory. I have an 8GB kit on the way so hopefully that will fix it! Thanks for all of the great answers everyone!
  18. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    I forgot to mention earlier that with a 24" display attached, it might take up slightly more vram. With the integrated graphics model, the gpu does share main memory.
  19. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Sorry to sound like a snob, but what kind of a developer are you if you do not grasp the basics of how a computer works?


    I am not sure what you mean by normal, but personally I wouldn't call his memory situation acceptable to work with. The answers are painfully clear: more memory and a faster HDD(7200 or SSD) are necessary.
  20. .nox macrumors newbie

    Nov 11, 2011
  21. phyrexia macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2010
    yes, but that ram is shared only in that the system devotes a predetermined amount to the video card depending on how much system RAM you have. The amount used up by the video card does not very depending on what resolution you are using.

    I think we have beaten the OP's horse to death by now...
  22. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    You're quite obviously running out of RAM on a regular basis, an upgrade should be a no brainer.

    Get yourself a nice 8GB upgrade kit.
  23. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    I am also a developer. I use a similar set of programs but different ones like Eclipse, Opera, other servers. I get by fine with 4GB. Only when I launch the Windows VM which needs 1GB I get to the limits but the important stuff still stays in RAM.
    I also have an SSD thus loading stuff back from swap makes very little difference. I cannot ever feel serious slowdowns. Sometimes spaces/expose after I didn't use it for a while is choppy once only but when I switch frequently it stays fluid.
    More RAM will help you and not cost much
    but get an SSD it really helps with many developer stuff. We often need many small files which aren't held in RAM and here the SSD shines.
    Eclipse used to be a pain I always kept it running because starting it took for ever on an HDD. On an SSD it starts much faster and can finish many tasks much faster. It doesn't help with compile times which are still CPU bound but with all the other stuff in between.
  24. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    A SSD drive will speed up compiling quite a bit, unless your project consists of 4 classes.
  25. Steve's Barber macrumors 6502a

    Jul 5, 2011
    That's just how "free" and anonymous advice works around here.

    For any and all problems... install a SSD. Just throw money at it. :D

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