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Early 2011 MBP: advice on speeding things up until I can get more RAM, etc.

caspian915

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 3, 2006
56
4
New Orleans, LA, USA
Hey all,

My Early 2011 MacBook Pro has been god-awfully slow as of late: beachball at every click of the mouse or typing of the keyboard kinda nonsense. Restarting doesn't even flush the memory enough to help much. It really is a chore to get things done.

I plan on buying more RAM and upgrading to an SSD in the near future, but until I can put away the money for that I need some solutions.

Specs:
2.7 GHz Intel Core i7
4GB 1333 MHz DDR3
Intel HD Graphics 3000 384MB
OS X 10.9.5 (13F1077)

Also, we have two accounts on it. We rarely keep one running in the background. Usually we close everything and restart before going to the other user's side.

1) What kind of optimization, if any, can I do to until I can upgrade?

2) When I can upgrade, how much RAM can she hold?

3) Even if I upgrade the RAM and change to an SSD, I'm going to be really limited by that graphics card?


Thanks for any help!
 

Dark Void

macrumors 68030
Jun 1, 2011
2,614
478
Not much beyond the new hardware in all honesty. Fresh installation of OS X possibly but OS X isn't really the type of operating system where it can't look after itself in this regard, therefore a fresh install won't make a significant difference, if at all. I'm just stating this before anyone else mentions that it will improve your experience - as it more than likely won't.

Your model will accept 16 GB but it's probably okay to just go with 8 GB unless you have a specific need for more, and you won't be limited by the GPU unless you are running GPU intensive tasks specifically - such as gaming or using graphic design applications. If your GPU is just pushing the display of the laptop, or even that of an external monitor - it won't make a difference in terms of fluidity.

I hope this helps.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
231
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Hey all,

My Early 2011 MacBook Pro has been god-awfully slow as of late: beachball at every click of the mouse or typing of the keyboard kinda nonsense. Restarting doesn't even flush the memory enough to help much. It really is a chore to get things done.

I plan on buying more RAM and upgrading to an SSD in the near future, but until I can put away the money for that I need some solutions.

Specs:
2.7 GHz Intel Core i7
4GB 1333 MHz DDR3
Intel HD Graphics 3000 384MB
OS X 10.9.5 (13F1077)

Also, we have two accounts on it. We rarely keep one running in the background. Usually we close everything and restart before going to the other user's side.

1) What kind of optimization, if any, can I do to until I can upgrade?

2) When I can upgrade, how much RAM can she hold?

3) Even if I upgrade the RAM and change to an SSD, I'm going to be really limited by that graphics card?


Thanks for any help!
1. None. Besides a clean install.
2. 16GB, but you don't need that much.
3. Not really, if you don't do graphics-intensive tasks.

You should upgrade the RAM first before going to an SSD.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,904
10,692
California
My Early 2011 MacBook Pro has been god-awfully slow as of late: beachball at every click of the mouse or typing of the keyboard kinda nonsense.

Can you clarify, it never did this before and now it is? What you are describing sounds like a hard drive failing. Less common, but is could also be the drive cable.
 

SamIchi

macrumors 68030
Aug 1, 2004
2,710
135
Can you clarify, it never did this before and now it is? What you are describing sounds like a hard drive failing. Less common, but is could also be the drive cable.

What weasel said, and check with disk utility, select your HDD, and look at the Disk status. Mine was in the RED before I upgraded to an SSD. There was nothing really out of the ordinary, but according to that, it was about to fail.
 
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zombiecakes

macrumors regular
Jul 11, 2012
200
59
Format the HDD and clean install, then only install apps you actually use. An SSD upgrade would make the computer feel like new.
 

jebaxr1

macrumors newbie
Feb 4, 2014
4
0
I am kind of a power user. I have mid 2010 15 inch MBP. I used to get beach ball a lot of the times, rebooting used to take a long time. I needed a large disk space. I could not change the machine due to financial restrains. SO i have done the following and works well now.

1. Changed the 500 GB HDD to 1TB hybrid drive. (made a lot of diff in repeatedly used programs after about 2-3 weeks of upgrade.
2. Increased RAM from 4GB to 8GB
3. Added an SSD inplace of the DVD drive, and the DVD drive went in to a caddy as an external drive.
Hope it helps.
 

happyfrappy

macrumors 6502
Oct 14, 2007
343
49
Location eh?
Cheapest solution is replace the HDD with a modern one, may it be a 7200 RPM or a Seagate Hybrid, they're a huge improvement from the 4yr old 5400 RPM drive in your Mac. Also even older 7200 RPM drives are worth replacing if they never had a SMART alert/warning, many "early" 7200 SATA models had either 2-8 MB cache until Western Digital Scorpio Black 320/500GB models hit the market with 16MB cache. Newer Hitachi drives have 32mb cache like Samsung Spinpoint M9T which helps.

While I do own a newer MBP, stuck a Spinpoint M9T into my 2010 to see how 32mb cache 2TB drive would compare to a Western Digital Scorpio Black 750GB and that extra cache actually benefits Mavericks/Yosemite heavier random disk usage... cold boot/reboot, 5400 RPM is a bit of a drag but can't beat 2TB of storage.
 

Toutou

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2015
673
958
Prague, Czech Republic
I still can't believe how people think a computer works like a car -- 100 % horsepower when it's new, then gradually getting worse. It just doesn't work like that. What you're describing is clearly a malfunction. Either your HDD is dying or your OS X installation is an absolute mess. Do something about it, run some diagnostics or perform a clean install. You can't help a malfunctioning system with a random upgrade.
 

Dark Void

macrumors 68030
Jun 1, 2011
2,614
478
I still can't believe how people think a computer works like a car -- 100 % horsepower when it's new, then gradually getting worse. It just doesn't work like that. What you're describing is clearly a malfunction. Either your HDD is dying or your OS X installation is an absolute mess. Do something about it, run some diagnostics or perform a clean install. You can't help a malfunctioning system with a random upgrade.

How exactly would a clean install of OS X improve performance?
 

Toutou

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2015
673
958
Prague, Czech Republic
Come on, it's not a unicorn, it's an OS. OS X, just like any other OS out there, can get cluttered with forgotten files, caches, kexts... 3rd party drivers can collide with each other, a stupid user can paste into Terminal whatever he finds on the internet and in this case, a clean install is a blessing. I'm not saying this is the case. But something is definitely WRONG with OP's computer. You don't buy a supercharger kit for a car whose wheels are missing.
 

Dark Void

macrumors 68030
Jun 1, 2011
2,614
478
Come on, it's not a unicorn, it's an OS. OS X, just like any other OS out there, can get cluttered with forgotten files, caches, kexts... 3rd party drivers can collide with each other, a stupid user can paste into Terminal whatever he finds on the internet and in this case, a clean install is a blessing. I'm not saying this is the case. But something is definitely WRONG with OP's computer. You don't buy a supercharger kit for a car whose wheels are missing.

How do those files and caches affect anything other than storage space? Unless something is running (which wouldn't require a clean installation to remedy) then it isn't affecting the fluidity of the system.

You keep using car analogies, but initially stated how you can't believe people think that it can work similarly in comparison to a car.

Clean installation won't do anything unless you would rather do that then simply look at Activity Monitor and diagnose the issue if it is in fact software related and not a failing drive or RAM bottleneck.
 
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OrangeInc

macrumors regular
Jul 31, 2013
110
30
1) What kind of optimization, if any, can I do to until I can upgrade?

I'm not sure if you can do a defrag on OSX like on windows but if you have bootcamp installed then do a disk defragmentation on the windows side. This will clump all your data sectors on your harddrive together instead of them being spaced out so read times will faster since the harddrive doesn't have to search all over the disk to put information together. It should also put the bad sectors at the end of all the data sectors.

2) When I can upgrade, how much RAM can she hold?

16GB is the max it can hold.

3) Even if I upgrade the RAM and change to an SSD, I'm going to be really limited by that graphics card?

No, the intel hd3000 is decent. I watch 1080P video with no problem even though the laptop screen is only 720P. It's terrible with real games (ie not flash based games). It's decent with video editing also. Can render a 5 min video in 1080P and 60FPS in 25 minutes which isn't fast but hey, this is a 5 year old computer. Since it can output 1080P video, it only makes sense that the max video output it supports on an external monitor is 1080P (1920 x 1200). Overall I think it's a decent procesor/igpu for being 5 years old.

I have the same macbook but the i5 edition. I have 500gb hdd and 8gb ram and it still runs pretty flawlessly. I plan on upgrading to an ssd soon as the prices are now what hdd prices were 5 years ago. The hd3000 rendering numbers I gave is for the i5. The i7 will be slightly faster by 5-10 minutes.
 
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yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
231
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
I have the same macbook but the i5 edition. I have 500gb hdd and 8gb ram and it still runs pretty flawlessly. I plan on upgrading to an ssd soon as the prices are now what hdd prices were 5 years ago. The hd3000 rendering numbers I gave is for the i5. The i7 will be slightly faster by 5-10 minutes.
If you look at Crucial's budget offerings (like the BX100), the prices are pretty decent.

$85 for a 250GB BX100 isn't bad (Amazon pricing before taxes and delivery). And it's pretty fast with MLC NAND.
 

snaky69

macrumors 603
Mar 14, 2008
5,904
484
Hey all,

My Early 2011 MacBook Pro has been god-awfully slow as of late: beachball at every click of the mouse or typing of the keyboard kinda nonsense. Restarting doesn't even flush the memory enough to help much. It really is a chore to get things done.

I plan on buying more RAM and upgrading to an SSD in the near future, but until I can put away the money for that I need some solutions.

Specs:
2.7 GHz Intel Core i7
4GB 1333 MHz DDR3
Intel HD Graphics 3000 384MB
OS X 10.9.5 (13F1077)

Also, we have two accounts on it. We rarely keep one running in the background. Usually we close everything and restart before going to the other user's side.

1) What kind of optimization, if any, can I do to until I can upgrade?

2) When I can upgrade, how much RAM can she hold?

3) Even if I upgrade the RAM and change to an SSD, I'm going to be really limited by that graphics card?


Thanks for any help!
Your hard drive is likely about to die. They tend to have the symptoms you describe (everything slowing to a crawl) before finally croaking.
 
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OrangeInc

macrumors regular
Jul 31, 2013
110
30
If you look at Crucial's budget offerings (like the BX100), the prices are pretty decent.

$85 for a 250GB BX100 isn't bad (Amazon pricing before taxes and delivery). And it's pretty fast with MLC NAND.
I know the prices are so affordable now. I remember when they first came out a 500GB SSD would be about at least a grand lol. I think I'm going to get a 1 or 2 TB HDD for media (music and movies) and maybe a 120-250 SSD to replace the DVD drive and run my OS and apps.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
231
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
If you're using an early 2011 MBP, you won't get full speeds out of the SSD from the DVD drive since the SATA connector there is only 3Gb/s. Late-2011 MBPs have a 6Gb/s SATA connector in the DVD slot.

So I suggest you stick the SSD into the main hard drive bay and the HDD into the DVD drive bay instead.
 
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OrangeInc

macrumors regular
Jul 31, 2013
110
30
If you're using an early 2011 MBP, you won't get full speeds out of the SSD from the DVD drive since the SATA connector there is only 3Gb/s. Late-2011 MBPs have a 6Gb/s SATA connector in the DVD slot.

So I suggest you stick the SSD into the main hard drive bay and the HDD into the DVD drive bay instead.

Yes I had read that a while ago. The main SATA connector to the HDD is 6Gb/s and the SATA connector to the DVD drive is 3Gb/s. The 6Gb/s should saturate most SSD's I believe. Also, the max output resolution for the HD3000 is 2560x1600. My only concern with SSD's is that they have a finite number of reads/writes but I guess the trade-off for the speed is worth it.

I get real detailed technical information on macbooks from this site:

http://www.everymac.com/systems/app...2011-unibody-thunderbolt-specs.html#macspecs1
 

dza

macrumors member
Nov 17, 2013
48
5
SSD - the only upgrade you need.
And forget about the limited reads/writes it's absolutely unheard of that SSDs in consumer products wear out with normal usage. Read on google.. It's ridicolously high usage..
 
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yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
231
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Yes I had read that a while ago. The main SATA connector to the HDD is 6Gb/s and the SATA connector to the DVD drive is 3Gb/s. The 6Gb/s should saturate most SSD's I believe. Also, the max output resolution for the HD3000 is 2560x1600. My only concern with SSD's is that they have a finite number of reads/writes but I guess the trade-off for the speed is worth it.

I get real detailed technical information on macbooks from this site:

http://www.everymac.com/systems/app...2011-unibody-thunderbolt-specs.html#macspecs1
Screw limited writes. It'll take years before you blow the drive up.

Read no other than this: http://techreport.com/review/27909/the-ssd-endurance-experiment-theyre-all-dead

Even the cheaper TLC SSDs could rack up hundreds of terabytes of writes before biting the dust.

Let's start off with a relatively heavy usage of 100GB of writes a day. It'd take 2.74 years for one to write 100TB to the drive. Multiply that by 3 to achieve 300TB of writes (assuming that the drive uses cheap TLC NAND like the Samsung 840 tested in the link) and by that time, the MacBook will be long gone already before the SSD bites the dust.
 
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dza

macrumors member
Nov 17, 2013
48
5
Its true. Limited writes - the least of your problems.

SSD - the best overall upgrade in any computer with mechanical disks. You won't go back!

Many people falsely assume RAM will have impact on general performance - it will not if it is not very close to full already!

Forget RAM, get SSD, be happy.
 
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caspian915

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 3, 2006
56
4
New Orleans, LA, USA
Thanks you all for the replies. For the moment I ran Disk Utility, got a warning to repair the disk from the recovery partition, did that and it now says "repaired", for whatever that's worth. I'll aim for getting an SSD first.

2 follow up questions:

1) Any recent review articles on the best SSD's across a range of prices and sizes? What to look for, what to ignore/what comments/misinformation to ignore (e.g., things like how megapixels were always the selling point once upon a time but weren't the most crucial element to comparison shop).

2) If I put the SSD in the hard drive bay and I'm interested in putting the current hard drive in the DVD bay, how can I know whether I should trust it with my data? Or is the fact that it's currently giving me some issues enough evidence to get rid of it? (man, I hope they have recycling somewhere near me for that kind of thing...)
 

Dark Void

macrumors 68030
Jun 1, 2011
2,614
478
1) Any recent review articles on the best SSD's across a range of prices and sizes? What to look for, what to ignore/what comments/misinformation to ignore (e.g., things like how megapixels were always the selling point once upon a time but weren't the most crucial element to comparison shop).

2) If I put the SSD in the hard drive bay and I'm interested in putting the current hard drive in the DVD bay, how can I know whether I should trust it with my data? Or is the fact that it's currently giving me some issues enough evidence to get rid of it? (man, I hope they have recycling somewhere near me for that kind of thing...)

1. There are definitely comparisons and such out there but I wouldn't overthink this too much. I'd personally recommend Crucial, as would others I'm sure - and Samsung seems to be a very popular choice as well, although I can't comment on their drives personally. I have read about Kingston drives not living up to their advertised read/write speeds despite positive reviews, so that is something that I would avoid to prevent any possible disappointment.

2. I'm not entirely sure what you mean here - but if you're asking if an optical bay drive is reliable - then yes, it is. It's no less reliable than any other mechanical drive, for that matter. If your particular drive will remain reliable or not - not really sure if it was ever determined that the HDD was your issue after all. It depends, but in any case if you're looking for optical bay solutions for more storage - mechanical drives are quite cheap.
 
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caspian915

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 3, 2006
56
4
New Orleans, LA, USA
1) I was referring to a comment above that said the Samsung 840 used relatively cheap flash, so I wanted to stay within a budget but not get the cheapo stuff. Are there noticeable, real-world performance differences when you go up a level in cost? And what the best metric to comparison shop is.

I'll add that we don't do really any gaming (though I would love to get back into Sim City...but anyway), but my girlfriend does do photo editing on this computer for a side professional business. Until I can finish saving up for building a power desktop, this is the best machine we have.

2) On this, I was more curious how I could know/trust the current HDD if I wanted to transfer it to the other bay and use it for data. Obviously, I don't want to put important data on it if it's gonna fail, but except for the Disk Utility, what battery of tests can I run? Seems silly to get rid of electronics (and adding to the disturbing piles of discarded electronics) based only on a hunch.

[Note: so I did run Disk Utility, than the Recovery partition disk utility to repair the disk, but I still get beachballs and apps like Spotify take about 5 minutes to load if they do so at all]
 
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Samuelsan2001

macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
7,694
2,123
1) I was referring to a comment above that said the Samsung 840 used relatively cheap flash, so I wanted to stay within a budget but not get the cheapo stuff. Are there noticeable, real-world performance differences when you go up a level in cost? And what the best metric to comparison shop is.

I'll add that we don't do really any gaming (though I would love to get back into Sim City...but anyway), but my girlfriend does do photo editing on this computer for a side professional business. Until I can finish saving up for building a power desktop, this is the best machine we have.

2) On this, I was more curious how I could know/trust the current HDD if I wanted to transfer it to the other bay and use it for data. Obviously, I don't want to put important data on it if it's gonna fail, but except for the Disk Utility, what battery of tests can I run? Seems silly to get rid of electronics (and adding to the disturbing piles of discarded electronics) based only on a hunch.

[Note: so I did run Disk Utility, than the Recovery partition disk utility to repair the disk, but I still get beachballs and apps like Spotify take about 5 minutes to load if they do so at all]

Cheaper flash is found in most consumer SSD's it doesn't last quite as long but we are talking at least 10 years on average usage so don't overthink it. The Crucial MX100 or MX200 series should be just about the best performance/price reliability ease of use compromise you can currently buy.

You can't trust any hard drive (or SSD for that matter) they can all fail at any time. That is why backups of your system are essential.
 
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