Intel Mac Mini SLOOOOOOOW...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by austincolby, May 8, 2006.

  1. austincolby macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2004
    I picked up an extra core solo intel Mac Mini (512mb) for light emailing (mail) and basic word processing (microsoft word under Rosetta), and despite the minimal strain on the machine, it is:

    -Extremely unresponsive
    -Beachballing me to death

    etc. Switching between word windows can tie the machine up for up to ten seconds at a time. Closing safari windows can take 15 seconds. Saving a doc and switching between programs? I can make a hot pocket during the delay...

    Is this people's normal experience with the machine, or should I be looking for something else wrong here? I know its not a powermac, and some of the apps are running under Rosetta, but still... this thing is barely chuggin along...

    Any ideas for me?
  2. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
  3. Heb1228 macrumors 68020


    Feb 3, 2004
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I don't think that's normal, even for running Rosetta apps. Try checking Activity Monitor to see what your CPU usage is doing. You can see which apps are using processor resources and try to find the problem that way. Also in activity monitor, look under the memory tab and check to see how many page ins/outs you're getting.
  4. austincolby thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Those that help themselves and all of that :)

    Thanks for the reply. I've actually not tried anything (drastic) yet, short of step one, keeping an eye on whats running... I was hoping to avoid making drastic moves in any direction before sniffing around to hear if my experience is endemic to a $600 Mac, or if it sounds like I have a problem...

    I guess step one would be a clean reinstall... but I would rather avoid that, if it sounds like my slow core solo is just how its going to be, at least until word goes universal, for example...

    I'm no expert, but it *feels* like there's a serious bottleneck of some sort- even though I'm not pushing it very hard, could it be that 10.4 with shared VRAM needs more than the 512 I've given it? I'm really only emailing and writing basic word docs...

    New poster, LONG TIME reader- time for me to make a sig- I love apple :)

    Currently running:
    17" G4 1ghz PB, 17" G4 1ghz iMac, Dual 2.0 G5 Powermac w/ 23" Cinema (so sweet...), 20" 2Ghz Intel iMac (also so sweet...), Intel Solo Mac Mini w/ 512mb

    And listening to:
    2nd gen Ipod (Icelinked to car), 3rd gen Ipod (Living Room), Nano (Bike), waiting for true video Ipod...
  5. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    that's too slow. Rosetta with 512 RAM won't be pretty, but ten sec to change between word docs? That's not right.

    definitely look at activity monitor and see if something is stealing all the resources.
  6. mdavey macrumors 6502a


    Nov 1, 2005
    Definately. I currently have 1.25GB and still run out of memory with several browser tabs open, open office and thunderbird running. I'd say that 1GB is a minimum for most users.
  7. austincolby thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Sad to admit...

    That for a long-time mac user, I just took my first foray into Activity Monitor to check under the hood on this problem :)

    *edit* or, happy to say it- its a testament to the quality of mac products that, after years of screwing around in config.sys files and such, once I switched, I could be dumb because it "just works" *edit*

    At any rate, I did notice that Safari was hogging like 140megs- and that was without any windows open! However, even closing that down, switching to my Word app still took about 8 seconds, as did switching between one of 3 open docs, saving them, etc... so it doesn't appear that Safari alone was my magic bullet...

    No, looks like you are right- at the least I need more ram, even if only just running Word with a few docs open... but still, I am surprised at how slow its going...

    Stupid newbie question- the only other memory hog I saw in Activity Monitor was a kernal program, pushing about 60 megs- is that normal? It sounds like a legit program to me...

    Other stupid newbie question- page ins/out is at something like 3,000,000/1,000,000. Is that normal? Sounds kinda funny to me...

    At any rate, with nothing running, Activity Monitor is telling me I only have
    180 megs free- so its off to the memory store at a minimum.

    Thanks for all the help and feedback everyone!!!
  8. Heb1228 macrumors 68020


    Feb 3, 2004
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Well 60MB is not really a memory hog. Well, I guess when you only have less than 500MB available it may seem that way, but you can't really tell just from looking at the usage graph.

    Your pageins/outs will be relative to your uptime, because it starts counting each time your computer starts. So that may be high or it may be low.

    Also, you can't judge by how much "Free" memory you have, because sometimes apps, even when quit, will not release the memory until another program needs it. You can have almost 0 free memory and that is not necessarily an indicator of a problem.

    Confusing enough?

    The easiest way to judge your pageins/outs is to open up terminal and type in "top". About the 6th line down it will give you a realtime count of pageins/outs in parenthesis. If this number is constantly hovering around 40 or higher in normal usage, then you definitely need more RAM.

    The other way to check is to restart your Mac, and then after an hour of normal use, then go and see how many pageins/outs activity monitor lists as the total. The you know how many times its using the swapfile each minute or each second.
  9. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Here you have your culprit. Three million page ins means that your Macintosh has nowhere near enough memory for what it is asked to do. There are two possible cures:

    1. The expensive one that doesn't really work: Some people in this situation buy a faster harddisk. If they get a really really fast harddisk, the three million page ins will happen twice as fast.

    2. The cheap one that works really well: Add more RAM. The page ins will disappear.

    One note: I have the impression that Safari + Flash can be a really bad combination, but only if I visit a certain webpage that uses Flash a lot for advertisements. Disable plugins somewhere in your Safari preferences; that _might_ fix the problem.

    Another note: Activity Monitor shows "Real Memory" usage and "Virtual Memory" usage. "Virtual Memory" doesn't mean much at all.
  10. Heb1228 macrumors 68020


    Feb 3, 2004
    Virginia Beach, VA
    You can't always go by that though. I've got 1 million pageins, but thats spread over an 18 day uptime. But I think you're right in telling him he needs more RAM.

    Buy a 1GB stick for that little guy and he'll do a lot better for ya.
  11. Lollypop macrumors 6502a


    Sep 13, 2004
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    I would restart the mac, only start word and activity monitor, see if word has better response, note the page ins/outs, the problem seems to be with word so I would isolate it and see if it really is word. If it still is slow and the pages climb fast more memory would be a possible solution. Also make sure you have the laters update of word, you dont want a older buggy version running on rosetta. What kind of documents are you opening? Some of my documents have huge pictures in them, even when I only run word and switch from one document to the next I see a noticible slowdown because word seems to move the document page out of memory to the HDD and back when I switch back to the document.
  12. thequicksilver macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2004
    I know some posters will pour scorn on my comment, but I have heard of experiences where new Macs have a "bad" install of the OS. As it sounds like your Mac is new, and that you're not taxing it overly, crack open your OS X installation DVD. Re-install OS X, and presuming that you have all your data backed up, wipe your drive in the process.

    If you call Apple, it's quite possible that they'll ask you to do this anyway. If you have got a lemon, this will prove beyond reasonable doubt that this is the culprit. And if not, you've lost 30 or so minutes.
  13. sonofmof macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2005
    following on from this thread,

    which would you guys recommend ?

    a core solo with 1gb ram and a superdrive €799 or the stock core duo at €849.

    I currently have an emac 1.25 with 1gb ram and the screen is beginning to give up.

    I cannot stretch to the iMac and am generally satisfied with the eMac, although it has started beachballing more than normal just recently.

    Everyone seems to say that the 512mb on the mini is not really sufficient but given the choice between more ram or the core duo, which way should i go ?

  14. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

    Nov 17, 2004
    The Msp
    I just wanted to chime in with my two cents, as I have a Core Solo right now. I was really disappointed with its performance at first too, but that was until I got 1GB of RAM in it. I used to have the exact same problems you are - long wait time for apps to open, beachballs, etc. With 1GB, most of that is gone. Some non-native apps like Photoshop still take way too long to open, and are slow as heck, but overall, even Office is speedy now. Safari, Mail, etc open with a single bounce on the dock.

    So, I would try a little more RAM, and if that doesn't make a big difference, I would return it as it is probably faulty at that point.
  15. emptyCup macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2005
    Some will say go with the duo because you can always upgrade RAM later. But if that is beyond your budget, I would go with more memory

    Remember, the mini has no monitor. Do you have one? If not, be sure to add this into your budget.

    Best wishes
  16. erikamsterdam macrumors regular


    Apr 21, 2006
    is this how Bad Rosetta is?

    If I read this thread I wonder. Some word processing and browsing is nothing special, I can do that on my old G3 machine with 320Mb RAM easily. No 10 seconds waiting.
    Guess I'm going to have to wait to replace that old iBook with a soon to be released Macbook. 1 GB RAM is a ridiculous amount for some easy tasks. You can do video editing on 1 GB RAM with a G4 processor. Amazing.
  17. dr_lha macrumors 68000

    Oct 8, 2003
    I wouldn't recommend any Mini without at least 1Gb of RAM, so I guess I'd recommend the Core Solo. Personally I got mine without the Superdrive though as I don't need to burn DVDs.
  18. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    1. You don't need more RAM. This is not the problem. I run far older and slower Macs than a Core Solo mini with less RAM than you've got, and I don't see performance problems like you are describing.

    2. Please do not reinstall the OS. This is very unlikely to cure any problem that you've actually got.

    Beyond rebooting, which is always advised in slow-down situations like you have described, I can't readily recommend any course of action beyond repairing permissions and running fsck in single-user mode, given what you've told us. I certainly won't recommend spending a bunch of money on RAM, or the needless disruption of reinstalling the OS.

    Try these other things, and let us know the results.
  19. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Feb 16, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    If there's anyone here who is regretting their Intel Mac Mini purchase but doesn't want to give up the form factor of the Mini, I would be willing to trade my G4 Mini.

    512MB RAM (works just fine for me, especially w/o needing emulation)
    80GB HD
    combo drive
    APE/BT 2.0
    original packaging

    Would be interested in a Mini with similar specs. (no superdrive is needed, nor is BT, but I don't think I can do without APE). Can include a 17" Viewsonic LCD with a small scuff on one part of the screen (pics available). Please PM if you're interested because I most likely won't keep up with this thread.
  20. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Given the drain of Rosetta and especially with Office apps on Intel Macs, and given the 80MB you lose off the bat with the integrated graphics, and given the experience I've had with an iMac at 512MB before upgrading it, as well as with my core duo at 1GB, I can absolutely vouch for 512MB being insufficient on an Intel Mac running Office apps. You will swap a lot, you will see beach balls, you will see hiccups.

    A bump to 1GB will make a huge difference. Older Macs don't see this problem because they aren't emulating, they don't have integrated graphics taking a chunk of the RAM, and they often have faster drives.

    Tough choice.

    If you don't see a need for the extra processing power - handy for video encoding, etc. - and don't see the ability to upgrade RAM in the near future, I would definitely recommend the solo with more RAM. 512MB is simply insufficient on an Intel Mac running Office or similar apps via Rosetta. It should be enough RAM, but it isn't. It wasn't on my iMac, and it'd be even worse on a mini due to the slower drive (for swapping) and the 80MB VRAM hit.

    If you see being able to buy a GB in the somewhat near future, get the duo, live with the 512MB for a bit, and enjoy the extra CPU.

    Do not buy an Intel mini if you cannot expand to 1GB or more.
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    Even my G4s running Classic don't have this problem, and Classic is a major RAM and resource hog. Rosetta could hardly be any worse. When the Mac bogs down, I reboot. Problem solved.

    More RAM is always better (assuming you don't get bad RAM, which is probably the commonest serious problem on the Mac), but I'm a big advocate for figuring out what is causing the actual issue before throwing money at it.
  22. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    It's a combination of several factors.

    Any OS is quite slow when disk thrashing (i.e. when memory fills up, and more and more data is being written to VM to make room for the data it's trying to read back into RAM), but OSX seems especially so.

    OSX has as big a memory footprint as any other modern OS, if not more so.

    The mini only has 512MB RAM, and less than that with the shared video memory. This not only reduces the available memory (causing further thrashing problems), but it uses valuable memory bandwidth as well, leaving less for main memory access and slowing the paging process even further.

    I doubt the mini's hard drive is the fastest in the world either.

    Add to this Rosetta requires a lot of memory, and you have a fairly extreme 'worst case scenario'.
  23. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    Oh, other than adding more RAM, I'd also recommend quitting and relaunching Safari at regular intervals. Works wonders for me.
  24. erikamsterdam macrumors regular


    Apr 21, 2006

    I run OS X 10.3 on that G3 iBook :)
    That's why I am so shocked that the Intel mini's are so slow.
    But the point made earlier is also true: integrated graphics. Has always sucked in PC's, so why would it be good in Macs?
  25. milo macrumors 604

    Sep 23, 2003

    I'd put at least a gig into any mac (or any pc for that matter). If you're running multiple apps, more ram will help, especially if some are under Rosetta.

    You also have to realize that you bought a mac that's less than half as fast as any other intel mac. Ram should help, though.

    Tough call. I think it's worth springing for the duo AND a gig of ram.

    Older and slower macs aren't a valid comparison. The ram absolutely IS the problem. I have a mini and I've run it with 512 and with more, it makes a huge difference.

    Certainly looks like Rosetta IS worse, also intel apps seem to use a little more ram even when they're native. In this case, we HAVE figured out what the actual issue is: ram. I've run this box with different ram configurations with no other differences and can confirm that the machine is much faster and more responsive with more ram. Many others online have confirmed this as well.

    On the mini, the graphics don't suck, they just use some of the ram. But since they use 80 meg tops, you'd likely run out with a bunch of apps open even with a discrete graphics card. Once you beef up the ram, performance should be decent.

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