How to best improve MacBook performance?

JonnyBlaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2008
161
49
UK
Hi,

I've got a 2008 MacBook 2.4GHz with 160GB HDD and 2GB RAM.

I know it's not going to be lightning fast, but I wondered how best to speed things up as I can't afford a new computer. It fine for general use, runs Lion smoothly, web browsing, spotify, movies etc, but really struggles when I try to process my Canon 50D images in Aperture.

Would I be best off buying more RAM, or a quicker HDD? I've been thinking about one of the seagate momentus XT hybrid things. I did end up with 1GB page outs after using aperture and photoshop on my last 30 photos, but I don't know which would be the best upgrade.

Any thoughts?
 

Nov 28, 2010
22,668
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Both RAM (6 GB) and an SSD will speed up things, but as Aperture is a bit graphic processor dependent, your integrated graphics processor (IGP) is still the slow component.

MacBook, MacBook Pro: Replacing the Hard Disk Drive, transferring data to the new HDD

the guide includes:
  • 0. Identify your MacBook or MacBook Pro
  • 1. Getting a new HDD
  • 2. Guides to replace the internal HDD with a newer one
  • 3. Transferring data from the old HDD to the new HDD
  • 4. Using the optical disk drive (ODD) slot for placing an SSD or HDD inside the MB/P (OPTIBAY)

Performance Tips For Mac OS X
 

JonnyBlaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2008
161
49
UK
Thanks for that. I did wonder about the graphics part of the machine being the limiting factor, but was hoping a cheap upgrade would still see an improvement.

I know ssd's are quick, but again it's the £££'s that's the issue. The 320gb momentous XT is about £80 and 4Gb ram is about £45. I don't want to spend much on an ageing machine especially if it's not going to make much difference.

Would I notice an improvement with either of those?
 
Nov 28, 2010
22,668
27
located
Thanks for that. I did wonder about the graphics part of the machine being the limiting factor, but was hoping a cheap upgrade would still see an improvement.

I know ssd's are quick, but again it's the £££'s that's the issue. The 320gb momentous XT is about £80 and 4Gb ram is about £45. I don't want to spend much on an ageing machine especially if it's not going to make much difference.

Would I notice an improvement with either of those?
You will see a difference, with the RAM at least.
 

east85

macrumors 65816
Jun 24, 2010
1,342
494
If you're willing to cut out some space you could upgrade to a SSD (got mine for $220 new on ebay, same size as yours, which is way less expensive than a new computer). If you go that route pick up an external enclosure for your old hard drive and just use it for backup.

But yeah RAM is the best thing you can do if you're only looking at one upgrade.
 
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JonnyBlaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2008
161
49
UK
Thanks for the clarification folks. I thought 6GB was the max, so I'll look at getting either 2 x 2GB or 4 + 2GB depending on prices. Just hoping it will speed things up enough to no longer take 30 seconds to apply photo adjustment settings in aperture!
 

AWallen90

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2009
351
5
Thanks for the clarification folks. I thought 6GB was the max, so I'll look at getting either 2 x 2GB or 4 + 2GB depending on prices. Just hoping it will speed things up enough to no longer take 30 seconds to apply photo adjustment settings in aperture!
2x2 will be faster for everyday tasks than 4 and 2
 

chiefpavvy

macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2008
705
0
I have a MacBook 5,1 (Late 2008 Unibody)

Just maxxed out the RAM to 8GB (from 4GB) and replaced the ancient Fujitsu 250GB 5400RPM drive with a shiny new Seagate Momentus XT 750GB.

Runs like a friggin' champ. I expect to get a couple years out of her yet!
 

JonnyBlaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2008
161
49
UK
I have a MacBook 5,1 (Late 2008 Unibody)

Just maxxed out the RAM to 8GB (from 4GB) and replaced the ancient Fujitsu 250GB 5400RPM drive with a shiny new Seagate Momentus XT 750GB.

Runs like a friggin' champ. I expect to get a couple years out of her yet!
Good to know. I've got 4gb's RAM on order so I'll see what difference that makes and then start saving the pennies for a momentous XT I think, have read very good things about them.
 

darrennie

macrumors newbie
Aug 21, 2010
14
0
Just over the horizon
Momentus decision

I put a shiny new Momentus XT 500GB into my MacBook 6,1 and love what it has done for performance. I also put 4GB Ram in, but the Momentus has had the biggest performance boost by far.
 

JonnyBlaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2008
161
49
UK
Thanks for that info, I'm still waiting for the RAM upgrade, as when it came through (from crucial), one of the modules was faulty. Awaiting replacement and hoping to see Aperture become useable again.

The momentous is definitely next on my list, but has to wait until the £££'s allow it. Good to hear that it made a big difference though
 

JonnyBlaze

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 5, 2008
161
49
UK
Have now got the new memory installed, and it has made a big difference. Definitely noticeable with multi-tasking, and as I was hoping, aperture is now useable. I don't tear my hair out waiting for effects to apply! Checking in on the Activity Monitor while I'm doing stuff, aperture can use up to 500MB on its own easily, and I go over the 2GB I used to have frequently.
Definitely a good call to increase to 4GB and I'm looking forward to getting an XT, but maybe next month, we'll see! Old memory going on eBay tomorrow, it all helps!

Thanks again for the advise, for a cheap boost, RAM's the way to go!