Late 2008 Unibody aluminum MacBook runs High Sierra decently

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by EugW, Sep 17, 2017.

  1. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #1
    I posted this in the unsupported Macs for High Sierra thread, but I thought some of you might appreciate it here.

    I picked up a used MacBook5,1 - late 2008 unibody aluminum 2.0 GHz - for cheap. Installed 4 GB RAM and SSD I happened to have, and it actually runs High Sierra (installed with a patched installer) reasonably well. Page rendering can be slow at times, but otherwise it's reasonable. Safari 11's auto-play blocking makes for a more pleasant and faster surfing experience. Office 2011 also runs reasonably on it. I didn't bother installing Photoshop CS6, because for very basic usage, Photos 3 is sufficient. Photos 3 gets a fair upgrade in High Sierra.

    I should note that the machine came with 2 GB RAM and a HD, and it was totally unusable with its Yosemite install. Beachballs ALL THE TIME. It was complete crap, impossible to do anything productive, or even surf. 4 GB RAM and SSD made all the difference. Along with the hardware upgrades, now that we have a modern OS on it, I suspect we'll be able to get a good several years out of the machine, as a secondary surfing, Netflix, email, and recipe machine. My 8 GB + SSD 2.26 GHz machine is better obviously, but 4 GB is OK, as long as you have SSD.

    Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.12.50 PM.jpg

    Don't be afraid of High Sierra my friends. Cheers!
     
  2. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #2
    BTW, although the white MacBook this replaces had a 20% faster CPU (2.4 GHz T8300 35 Watt vs 2.0 GHz P7350 25 Watt), the 2.0 GHz with High Sierra 10.13 feels more responsive with light usage than the 2.4 GHz with 10.7 Lion with light usage. Both had 4 GB RAM, and both had the exact same SSD (which is an old Kingston V+100 128 GB).

    Part of it is due to the memory, since the 2.0 GHz aluminum unibody has 1067 MHz DDR3 whereas the 2.4 GHz white MacBook has 667 MHz DDR2. OWC did some tests of that here:

    https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/Memory_Benchmark/Apple_MacBook/?utm_source=affiliate&utm_campaign=cj

    However, I suspect one thing that helps is the way Apple designed the animations and stuff in High Sierra, which gives the illusion of faster speed. More importantly though, Safari 11 is just so much better. It feels faster, and auto-play blocking is a great feature. It makes surfing just a much cleaner experience. No annoying video with sound coming on when you don't want it, and no more time spent looking for the embedded controls to turn it off.
     
  3. joshfairweather macrumors member

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    Sep 15, 2017
    #3
    @EugW My "About My Mac" screen reports that I actually have 1333MHz RAM installed - EveryMac states the maximum speed is 1066, so do I have 1333 installed running at the max speed of 1066 or could a firmware update have allowed it to run at 1333?

    Not that it matters, because if it is 1333 running at 1066, it might just detect that it is 1333 chips installed. I found it strange though that it would report 1333 being installed if the max it can read and run at is supposedly 1066..
     
  4. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #4
    I've read some reports that 1333 MHz RAM works in that model, and a suggestion that it is actually running at 1333 MHz. However, it's also hit and miss. Some people have said that some 1333 MHz RAM won't boot, and other 1333 MHz RAM may cause kernel panics.

    I'm not sure, but perhaps if the 1333 MHz RAM has the same CAS timings, it will work, but if it has longer CAS delays, it will not. I don't think it's downclocked to 1067 here, but I'm not sure.

    You might want to do a memtest just to ensure your memory is working properly.

    http://www.memtestosx.org/

    For me, I'm running exact spec Crucial 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM. It was the 4 GB RAM I pulled from my MacBook Pro so I could put 8 GB RAM in that machine. MB5,1 and MBP5,5 use the exact same RAM. In fact, the machines are almost identical, except that MB5,1 doesn't have Firewire or a backlit keyboard.
     
  5. EugW, Sep 19, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #5
    The more I use this MacBook5,1 in High Sierra 10.13, the more I think it's a smoother experience than the MacBook4,1 in Lion 10.7.5, despite the fact that MacBook4,1 has a 20% faster CPU.

    MacBook5,1 (Aluminum Unibody Late 2008)
    Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz P7350 (25 W)
    4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
    nVidia GeForce 9400M 256 MB
    128 GB Kingston V+100 SSD

    MacBook4,1 (White Early 2008)
    Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz T8300 (35 W)
    4 GB 667 MHz DDR2
    Intel GMA X3100 144 MB
    128 GB Kingston V+100 SSD

    I'm not entirely sure why this is the case, but I suspect is a combination of factors. MacBook5,1 has a much faster GPU and perhaps the better GPU acceleration of the OS is helping, despite the slower CPU. It also has faster RAM, but that probably is only a minor difference. More important is probably the fact that Safari 11 is just that more optimized than Safari 6.1. BTW, the trackpad for MacBook5,1 is also way better. And I almost forgot. The 10.13 install has memory compression. The 10.7 install does not. However, I was testing with just one app open so that probably shouldn't matter.

    P.S. For this old used MacBook Aluminum Unibody, I discovered the trackpad wasn't registering clicks 100% consistently in one spot. But it turns out it's a very easy fix. There is a trackpad tightness adjustment screw. It adjusts both click depth and click reliability. After a trial and error period of maybe 10 minutes trying different screw settings, I have now dialled in nicely. Best US$150 spent in a long time.
     
  6. EugW, Sep 19, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #6
    Well, this explains a lot:

    Kraken 1.1 (lower is better):
    2310.3 ms: Safari 11.0 High Sierra Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
    3888.3 ms: Safari 6.1.6 Lion 10.7.5 Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz (That means normalized for a 2.0 GHz CPU, that's 4666 ms.)
    4552.4 ms: Safari 6.0.3 Lion 10.7.5 Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz

    Octane 2.0 (higher is better):
    12002: Safari 11.0 High Sierra Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
    8207: Safari 6.1.6 Lion 10.7.5 Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz (That means normalized for a 2.0 GHz CPU, that's 6839.)

    I am assuming my normalized scores are somewhat valid because the chips are both 45 nm Penryn chips with 3 MB L2 cache. If we use those normalized values to adjust for CPU speed, that means there's a 75% to 102% increase in JavaScript performance going from Safari 6.1.6 to Safari 11.0.

    Furthermore, I couldn't run Jetstream because the test fails on Safari 6.1.6. Works fine on Safari 11.0 with a score of 81.8.
     
  7. themacdaddy892 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #7
    So this looks great. I've got a unibody Macbook late 2008, updated to 8GB RAM and a 750GB SSHD some time back. It runs pretty well for a machine that is going on a decade old.

    What's the caveat of running High Sierra on it? I know a lot of features aren't supported due to not having the hardware to handle it (hand-off and such with bluetooth etc) but are there any major incompatibility issues or technical problems that I should consider before taking the plunge? I've been thinking of doing a fresh install any way so I figure may just give High Sierra a test, for kicks if nothing else.

    Thanks.
     
  8. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #8
    Basically none. The ONLY thing I’ve noticed is one animation on one webpage that had garbled colours.

    Bb it may be more due to how that particular webpage was coded.

    https://forums.macrumors.com/thread...cbook6-1-please-try-this-safari-test.2069901/

    Everything else works perfectly, at least with an HFS+ partition. If you use APFS the boot only works in verbose mode, which is ugly.
     
  9. themacdaddy892 macrumors newbie

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    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #9
    Thanks, appreciate.

    So stay away from APFS with this machine? Is there any performance advantage with it over HFS+ for practical purposes? One thing that slowed mine down was FileVault2 encryption and I believe APFS has that natively as opposed to HFS+. Any insights there?
     
  10. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #10
    APFS works perfectly fine. The only problem is the boot process is in verbose mode, so for a few seconds during boot up, there is text scrolling down the screen. Think Linux or DOS boot.
     
  11. themacdaddy892 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #11
    OK. I think I'm going to throw in a true SSD disk and try High Sierra then. One last thing. Would it be wise to do a time machine backup or something else for the data I have on the machine now? I was going to just put the current drive in an enclosure and use it as an external but it is encrypted so I'd have to fully decrypt the drive first.
     
  12. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #12
    Of course!

    I always have a data backup AND a bootable boot drive backup. You can never have too many backups.

    Even with a fully supported machine, OS installs can go south pretty quickly. It would be insane to do it without a backup.
     
  13. themacdaddy892 macrumors newbie

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    Sep 25, 2017
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #13
    What is a good bootable backup creator? I used to use, man it's been so long. SuperDuper! I think - does it still work? I have the paid license but haven't used in years.
     
  14. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #14
    SuperDuper! works with HFS+ drives only, which is fine for a Sierra or El Capitan backup.

    Carbon Copy Cloner can back up APFS drives too.
     
  15. WolfMB2008 macrumors member

    WolfMB2008

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    Oct 14, 2017
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    United States
    #15
    EugW,
    We have the same machine, I do not have SSD at he moment, I haven't move onto this approach due to budget, and afraid to move onto a SSD on the old machine. Been afraid to even let this machine go, been with me for a long time since 2008.
    I do want to get a SSD, what SSD should I buy if I have a budget issue? I currently have a 1TB HDD storage drive. I'm scared to let that go, too. So much stuff is on there. I am already at 600+ GB worth of memories in here.
    I also have a external storage as well I keep around in case.

    Back to my original question: What SSD is compatible with my machine? Can I put a 16GB into this machine ram?
     

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  16. EugW, Oct 14, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017

    EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #16
    Maximum RAM is 8 GB. Make sure you have the latest EFI firmware update.

    As for the drive, first make sure you have proper backups of everything. Then if you wish to upgrade to SSD and keep your 600 GB of data, what you could do is remove the optical drive, and put the 1 TB HD in its place. You would just need a bracket to hold the drive that fits where the optical drive goes. These brackets go for about US$20.

    Then you can put an SSD where the HD used to be. For a boot drive you would only need a 120 GB drive, which would cost less than US$100. Many drives will work. I am using a very old Kingston V+100, but I have used a Samsung 840 EVO in another machine.

    Hard drive replacement is very easy: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Unibody+Model+A1278+Hard+Drive+Replacement/816
    Optical drive replacement is a bit harder: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+MacBook+Unibody+Model+A1278+Dual+Hard+Drive/8515

    You also will need some specific screwdrivers, as mentioned in the above guides.

    EDIT:

    I see from the image you added that you already have 8 GB RAM. That probably means you already have the latest firmware update.
     
  17. WolfMB2008 macrumors member

    WolfMB2008

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    Oct 14, 2017
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    United States
    #17
    yes i do,
    what SSD brand would you recommend for this model? what gb is better option? i read somewhere that too high will make it run sluggish? not sure if its true or not...let me know thanks!
     
  18. basilt macrumors regular

    basilt

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2016
    #19
    hello, i just bought a macbook unibody white Late 2009 model, and i would like to ask your help in guiding me with details how to upgrade to higher or most stable OSX as i currently have 10.6.8 OSX, 2.x Ghz and 4gb ram.

    I am newbie with mac laptops and would be nice to hae also steps to follow and links to softwar to use/ download please.

    I also have 250gb sata hdd. If you have also any solutions on how to install i.e. ssd or even replace dvd drive with ssd inside would beperfect !!!

    I have no DVDs of 10.6.8 and let me know if i also need this.'The laptop was bought from a friend in Sweden and keyboars is swedish, if this also helps you further.

    Otherwise i will do a post in the forums.
     
  19. EugW thread starter macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #20
    If I understand you correctly, your machine is MacBook6,1. If so, this has full support for 10.13 High Sierra, which can run OK on 4 GB as long as you have an SSD.

    Do you have the 10.13 installer? If so, I might recommend creating an external installer drive using a 16+ GB USB drive. You would boot to the USB install drive, then launch Disk Utility to erase the drive in the computer (assuming you don't need any data on that computer), and then begin a fresh macOS install.

    Here are the instructions for installing an SSD:

    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Unibody+Model+A1342+Hard+Drive+Replacement/1670
     
  20. seitsme macrumors member

    seitsme

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    #21
     
  21. DeltaMac macrumors G3

    DeltaMac

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    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #22
    You can get the High Sierra installer through your App Store.
    I recommend that you download it from there (it's more than 5.2 GB, so takes a while to finish the download)
    There's various links to the steps to use your terminal to create the USB installer. You will need a USB flash drive for that. 16GB is a good size to get.
    If you struggle with using the terminal (some folks do :) ) then there are several good apps you can download that make the process simple, and safe. DiskMakerX, Install Disk Creator, or Boot Buddy all work. I have used all of them at various times.

    SSD capacity? Get the storage space that you might need, balancing that against the cost (the SSD size that you like might cost more than you may be comfortable with - but that's really for you to decide.)
     
  22. seitsme macrumors member

    seitsme

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    #23
    hello again ! I tried downloading high sierra and i see error saying i need 10.8 installed on mbc or higher as i have 10.6.x

    any alternatives for this download ? i searched also on web and i see many versions of high sierra. if you could inform me which one is best to get would be great and if file must be i.e. iso etc.
     
  23. DeltaMac macrumors G3

    DeltaMac

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    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #24
    You could update to 10.8 or 10.9 first, or even update to 10.11 or 10.12, then do a normal upgrade install to 10.13
    Here's a link to a support page that allows you to get the Sierra installer. (Scroll down to see the link for "Get macOS Sierra" )
     
  24. seitsme, Nov 28, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017

    seitsme macrumors member

    seitsme

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    #25
    Thanks for all the info insofar guys and galls !

    i just ordered a budget Plextor M6PRO 128GB SSD SATAIII 2.5 Internal vip kit for 70 quid approx.
    and after it arrives i will start the dirty business of installing osx etc.

    Question. What format should i choose for SSD ? ie OSX journal + ?
    i am going to run Final cut and some photoshop on it.
    Should i also assing the SSD as scratch disk ?

    What about the internal sata HDD ? how can i operate it externally ?
    Any gadgets etc that could do this task ?

    Regarding RAM, i see works with 8GB. I see in the specs that RAM is 667 DDR2...
    but in ebay some sell 1066mhz (front side bus speed) ram.

    Is the above a different ram speed (the bus one) or should i seek for 667 DDR2 instead ?

    thanks again !
     

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