I'm trying to speed up my MacBook

lukefinch

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 6, 2009
404
0
South Yorkshire, England
Hi everyone.

I have a 2.13GHz White Macbook, bought the day before the white uni-bodies were released, and I have noticed with OS X Lion it has begun to slow down.

I use my macbook mainly for web browsing, listening to music and editing photo's with iPhoto, Photoshop CS4 and lightroom. It has got to the point where i can only have one of the photo editing applications open at a time as well as a few tabs open in safari or the whole computer slows down a lot.

What I am planning to do is upgrade the 2gb of RAM to 4gb and then install an SSD where the 500gb HDD is at the moment.

I would just like to know how much of a noticeable difference that will make to the speed of my mac.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,427
762
What I am planning to do is upgrade the 2gb of RAM to 4gb and then install an SSD where the 500gb HDD is at the moment.

I would just like to know how much of a noticeable difference that will make to the speed of my mac.
It's tough to measure, since everyone's usage is different. The SSD will make a notable improvement in boot up and app launch times. While it's likely more RAM will help, it depends on how much you're using your RAM now. To determine if you can benefit from more RAM, launch Activity Monitor and click the System Memory tab at the bottom to check your page outs. Page outs are cumulative since your last restart, so the best way to check is to restart your computer and track page outs under your normal workload (the apps, browser pages and documents you normally would have open). If your page outs are significant (say 1GB or more) under normal use, you may benefit from more RAM. If your page outs are zero or very low during normal use, you probably won't see any performance improvement from adding RAM.

Mac OS X: Reading system memory usage in Activity Monitor

There are also non-hardware improvements you can make: Performance Tips For Mac OS X
 

lukefinch

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 6, 2009
404
0
South Yorkshire, England
Thanks very much for your help and suggestions.

I did as you said and here is the activity monitor whilst running everything i would like to run at once. Safari with 8 tabs open, iPhoto, photoshop cs4 and lightroom.

 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,427
762
I did as you said and here is the activity monitor whilst running everything i would like to run at once. Safari with 8 tabs open, iPhoto, photoshop cs4 and lightroom.
First, change the "My Processes" at the top to "All Processes". Second, sort by CPU in descending order (arrow points down). Also, did you restart your Mac, as instructed?
 

definitive

macrumors 68000
Aug 4, 2008
1,969
718
Increasing the RAM to 4GB will definitely improve the performance of Lion and Photoshop.

Not sure how the hard drive will do. Could you check in About This Mac > More Info > System Report > Serial-ATA what the Link Speed and Negotiated Link speed display?
 

lukefinch

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 6, 2009
404
0
South Yorkshire, England
OK, I will do that and post another screenshot ASAP. And I missed the part about restarting the mac. I'll do that too.
Right, I did what you recommended and ran everything for 15 minutes. Here are the results.




On my white MacBook putting in 4gb of ram and an ssd made a huge difference. This thing flies now.
Thats good to know :)

Increasing the RAM to 4GB will definitely improve the performance of Lion and Photoshop.

Not sure how the hard drive will do. Could you check in About This Mac > More Info > System Report > Serial-ATA what the Link Speed and Negotiated Link speed display?
Both say 3 Gigabit
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,427
762
Right, I did what you recommended and ran everything for 15 minutes. Here are the results.
Yep, you definitely have some paging going on, so adding RAM will help. Also, read items 8-10 on the Performance Tips link for dealing with Flash, which is consuming system resources.
 

lukefinch

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 6, 2009
404
0
South Yorkshire, England
I've just taken the plunge and bought a Kingston 120GB SSD and 4GB of RAM from Crucial.

They should both be here tomorrow and i'm looking forward to seeing how much of a difference these two upgrades will make.

When they arrive, I am going to do a speed comparison between the Lion install on my current HDD, a clean snow leopard install on the SSD, a clean lion install on the SSD and then my current lion installation duplicated onto the SSD.

I'll then post up the results for anyone interested.
 

lukefinch

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 6, 2009
404
0
South Yorkshire, England
Ive just received the 4gb of RAM and can already see a difference. The MacBook seems to be a lot snappier now, especially when running a lot of apps.

I can't wait for the SSD to arrive in a couple of hours.
 

HishamAkhtar

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2011
510
1
I've just taken the plunge and bought a Kingston 120GB SSD and 4GB of RAM from Crucial.

They should both be here tomorrow and i'm looking forward to seeing how much of a difference these two upgrades will make.

When they arrive, I am going to do a speed comparison between the Lion install on my current HDD, a clean snow leopard install on the SSD, a clean lion install on the SSD and then my current lion installation duplicated onto the SSD.

I'll then post up the results for anyone interested.
How much was the SSD for if you don't mind me asking?
 

lukefinch

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 6, 2009
404
0
South Yorkshire, England

HishamAkhtar

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2011
510
1
I dont mind you asking at all. Th SSD costs £59.99 from http://www.overclockers.co.uk/LP/kingston_ssd_sale.php

These two upgrades have made so much difference to my MacBook. It's like a whole new machine!

I have done a comparison video as well which I hope some people can find useful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0a8-8rQslg
Nice results! I maxed out my RAM to 4 GB and it's sped up my laptop big time but I'm not sure whether I want to upgrade the SSD yet primarily because I'm not sure how I'd transfer the data over from the HD to it. How did you switch your data?

Also love that song, good job :)
 

lukefinch

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 6, 2009
404
0
South Yorkshire, England
Nice results! I maxed out my RAM to 4 GB and it's sped up my laptop big time but I'm not sure whether I want to upgrade the SSD yet primarily because I'm not sure how I'd transfer the data over from the HD to it. How did you switch your data?

Also love that song, good job :)
This time, I actually copied my important data like music, photos etc. to an external hard drive. I then did a clean install of snow leopard, then mountain lion and copied all of my data over.

I then reinstalled all of the applications i use such as photoshop and ilife.

You can however, as i have done before, get an external hard drive enclosure for the SSD, use SuperDuper! to clone your existing hard drive onto the SSD and then put the SSD into your mac.

If you are on the fence about getting an SSD, i would definitely recommend getting one. I was on the fence and after only a day with one, i would never go back to a disk drive. The SSD has increased the speed of my mac much more then the extra RAM, although that has helped too.
 

HishamAkhtar

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2011
510
1
This time, I actually copied my important data like music, photos etc. to an external hard drive. I then did a clean install of snow leopard, then mountain lion and copied all of my data over.

I then reinstalled all of the applications i use such as photoshop and ilife.

You can however, as i have done before, get an external hard drive enclosure for the SSD, use SuperDuper! to clone your existing hard drive onto the SSD and then put the SSD into your mac.

If you are on the fence about getting an SSD, i would definitely recommend getting one. I was on the fence and after only a day with one, i would never go back to a disk drive. The SSD has increased the speed of my mac much more then the extra RAM, although that has helped too.
Aside from your Kingston in the link, what other SSDs can I get? Do the same drives work on all MBs?

I've heard the Samsung 830 is the best SSD. Will that work on my 4,1 MacBook?
 

lukefinch

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 6, 2009
404
0
South Yorkshire, England
Aside from your Kingston in the link, what other SSDs can I get? Do the same drives work on all MBs?

I've heard the Samsung 830 is the best SSD. Will that work on my 4,1 MacBook?
I would have though any SSD would work in your macbook, just like any disk drive would, so yes, I presume that the Samsung SSD would work fine.
 

HishamAkhtar

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2011
510
1
I would have though any SSD would work in your macbook, just like any disk drive would, so yes, I presume that the Samsung SSD would work fine.
Okay just making sure considering the changes that have occured in the rMBP. Thanks for the info!
 

roof30

macrumors newbie
Jul 17, 2010
4
0
Really glad to hear the SSD made a significant different to the speed of your Macbook Luke.

Since installing OS X Lion, my MB (white unibody late 2009) has slowed to a crawl and upgrading the RAM to 4gb (also from Crucial) did nothing to relieve that. May well take your advice and install a 256gb SSD to see how much of a difference that makes. Thanks for your links too - very helpful.

I should also add that when I say my MB has slowed to a crawl since the OS X Lion 'upgrade', it can sometimes take more than 2 mins for Safari to load properly, and there have been times when I'm still waiting after 4 mins...
 
Last edited:

vistadude

macrumors 65816
Jan 3, 2010
1,423
1
Just for reference for those upgrading to mountain lion, Here's my unofficial benchmarks with Snow Leopard.

Stock Macbook Unibody Late 2009 except with 8 GB RAM
Snow Leopard 10.6.8 with latest security updates
Hard disk is nearly full, only 4 GB free.

Startup from off to password prompt: 38 secs
Shutdown: 3.5 secs
Open Safari first time: 2 secs
Open Safari second time (safari fully shut down): < 1 sec
Open itunes first time: 5 secs
Open iTunes second time (itunes fully shut down): < 1 sec


It seems my performance on snow leopard with a standard hard disk is only a little bit slower than mountain lion with SSD and a lot faster than mountain lion with standard hard disk. Therefore, is mountain lion requiring a SSD for good performance?
 

Dustman

macrumors 65816
Apr 17, 2007
1,275
50
The difference with an SSD will be massive. Going from 2GB to 4GB is going to help you a lot as well, but less than the SSD.
 

roof30

macrumors newbie
Jul 17, 2010
4
0
Hey Vista,

How did you manage to get 8gb RAM into your MB? Mine is also the Late 2009 Unibody, and I did a lot of research before upgrading mine to 4gb. As I understood it that's the max amount it could be upgraded to - am I wrong on this?

Cheers
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,427
762
Hey Vista,

How did you manage to get 8gb RAM into your MB? Mine is also the Late 2009 Unibody, and I did a lot of research before upgrading mine to 4gb. As I understood it that's the max amount it could be upgraded to - am I wrong on this?
Yours supports 8GB. You can find specs on all Apple products, including maximum RAM:
 

vistadude

macrumors 65816
Jan 3, 2010
1,423
1
Roof30,

Apple doesn't officially support an 8 GB upgrade, but the Motherboard does (it's the same as the Pro has, but without firewire and SD ports). I read somewhere that some of Apple's artificial upgrade limitations are based on price. An 8 GB upgrade in 2009 might have been priced at $400, half the cost of a new laptop.

That being said, when I upgraded from 2 gb to 8 gb, it made no difference in performance in Snow Leopard. It seems that it would make a pretty noticeable difference in Lion and Mountain Lion. I did the upgrade for windows 7 64 bit, but since I ran out of storage space on my hard disk a long time ago, I never upgraded from 32 bit.

Hey Vista,

How did you manage to get 8gb RAM into your MB? Mine is also the Late 2009 Unibody, and I did a lot of research before upgrading mine to 4gb. As I understood it that's the max amount it could be upgraded to - am I wrong on this?

Cheers
 

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