Macbook Air horribly slow.

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by barrysfarm, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. barrysfarm, Jul 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2012

    barrysfarm macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2005
    #1
    My girlfriend's original 2008 macbook air is showing strange symptoms.

    The biggest issue is is grindingly slow. I installed lion on it about 6 months ago hoping upgrading would help it out, but it just made it much, much slower. Like, 10 minutes to start up, several minutes to open safari. Last night we downgraded it to snow leopard and it's overall a bit better, but it's still kind of slow. Entering text usually has a delay of several seconds between hitting the keys and having the letters display on the screen, even if no programs are open. Watching a video results in about a frame every other second.

    I checked activity monitor, and it shows that at any given time 80% of the system resources are being used, even when no programs are open. There are no processes listed taking up more than a percent or two. The user percentage will be at 1-5%, the system percent will be at 80% and the idle will be at 15%. Even after a fresh restart. The fan is almost always running at it's highest speed, and is very audible. The processor gets up to about 65° C.

    I think it's probably an issue with the processor, as i've experienced similar symptoms on a hackintosh I built not long ago.

    I replaced the battery about a year ago because the original swelled and bent the case, and apple wouldn't cover it. The onboard keyboard and trackpad stopped a few months before that. I'm not afraid to open up the case and poke around, but everything looks fairly clean. I was afraid dust build up might have caused fan issues.

    We'd just like to keep it running (at reasonable speeds) for a little while longer, as it's clear she'll need a new computer. But, we just can't afford it now. Any idea on what we can do?
     
  2. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #2
    There was no 2007 MacBook Air. Do you mean a 2007 MacBook, or perhaps a 2008 MacBook Air? You might consider purchasing a solid state drive for it, as that is about the only "upgrade" you can do to any Air. Let us know which model you have and then we can point you to things that can help.
     
  3. macmastersam macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Essex, england
    #3
    did you mean a 2007 Macbook? there were no macbook airs from 2007, only 2008 and forward.

    OPTION 1:get a refurbished. you will get an upgraded model for less than the cost of retail.

    OPTION 2: book an appointment with an apple genius, see what they can do to speed the MB up.

    OPTION 3: see if the hard drive in the macbook air can be replaced by an SSD, as this will speed things up. Then add a clean copy of lion.

    That is all i have for suggestions, unfortunately, but good luck with your girlfriends macbook air, and with the saving too. :)
     
  4. barrysfarm thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #4
    Sorry. I thought we got it in 2007, but it was 2008. It was the first one announced.

    ----------

    Thanks. A new laptop is just out of our budget right now, even a refurbished or used one. We're trying to pay off some debt, and without going further in debt, a new laptop isn't in our immediate future.

    I'll look to see if I can borrow a SSD drive from work to see if it helps anything.
     
  5. aziatiklover macrumors 68030

    aziatiklover

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    #5
    You will not be able to borrow a 2.5 ssd first gen mba used 1.8! My was a fully loaded mba with ssd and 1.8 cpu running on SL. Truth is yea it was still slow with the toshiba ssd that apple put in their.
     
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #6
    1. Launch Activity Monitor
    2. Change "My Processes" at the top to "All Processes"
    3. Click on the CPU column heading once or twice, so the arrow points downward (highest values on top).
    4. Click on the System Memory tab at the bottom.
    5. Take a screen shot of the whole Activity Monitor window, then scroll down to see the rest of the list, take another screen shot
    6. Post your screenshots.

    If you're having performance issues, this may help:
     
  7. KPOM macrumors G5

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #7
  8. barrysfarm thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #8
    Oh... right. I forgot about that.

    Maybe I should clear something up... This computer used to be much, much faster. You could use it as a normal computer. It handled emails, Facebook, youtube with ease. I wouldn't have recommended it for photoshop work, or anything require even a bit of horsepower, but it was fine for everything else.

    Over the past months or so, it's gotten dreadfully, painfully slow, even after clean wipe and reinstalls.

    ----------

    Ok. I'll do this tonight when I have access to the laptop.
     
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #9
    The hard drive could be failing. It was a slow drive to begin with (4200rpm).

    I also saw this drive, but it is fairly pricey.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/SMBAZIF120/
     
  10. barrysfarm thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #10
    The original 60GB hard drive actually did fail and is why we upgraded to Lion about 6 months back. The new one is 120GB.
     
  11. aziatiklover macrumors 68030

    aziatiklover

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    #11
    Yea it sounds like your hdd is about to go to heaven! Lok up on ebay they have some good one with decent speed ssd of course.
     
  12. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #12
    While a dying hard drive could account for slow performance, it wouldn't account for system resource usage of 80%. I think it's far more likely that there's a runaway process that the OP isn't seeing, because they've got "My Processes" selected in Activity Monitor, rather than "All Processes". I would look there before assuming it's a hardware issue.
     
  13. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #13
    Good advice. However, when the OP downgraded to Snow Leopard, I'd have though that would fix things.

    Try resetting the PRAM and SMC (there are instructions on Apple's website), as that might help the fan issues.

    To the OP, if you have a backup drive, you could try backing up your Mac using Carbon Copy Cloner, reformatting the drive, and then reinstalling only those programs you need. Don't bother running Migration Assistant, since if there is an errant application causing the system resource issues, it will be copied over, as well.
     
  14. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #14
    PRAM/NVRAM has nothing to do with fan issues. Resetting it will not help. Only resetting the SMC addresses such issues, and only if fans are spinning up without increased heat. If the fans are spinning up as a result of resource usage and increased temps, resetting the SMC won't help.

     
  15. KPOM macrumors G5

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #15
    The drive I linked to is actually an SSD, so it would deliver better performance than a hard drive.
     
  16. barrysfarm thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #16
    Is there a way to reset SMC without an onboard keyboard? The one on this laptop is completely shot.
     
  17. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #17
    You need the keyboard to reset the SMC. I haven't tried it with an external keyboard, but it may work if the keyboard is attached via USB. I'm not sure about wireless. As I said, I don't think it would help, anyway, if your CPU usage is at 80%. The most likely scenario is an app or process that's consuming resources, driving up temperatures and causing the fans to spin faster. Killing that process will bring your usage, temps and fans back to normal levels.
     
  18. barrysfarm thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #18
    Will any of the processes be there after a clean install? We did an actual format and install last night, and the first thing I did was open activity monitor and saw the 80% system usage. This is before setting up any programs, or even connecting to the internet.
     
  19. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #19
    Yes, it's possible. One example is Spotlight indexing. When you first set up a system, Spotlight will index the drive. During that process, CPU and drive utilization can be quite high. There are other possibilities, as well. The best approach is to post screen shots of your Activity Monitor window, so we can work from facts, rather than speculation.
     
  20. barrysfarm thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #20
    Attached is a screenshot of activity monitor. It looks like the process kernel_task is taking up all of the possible CPU.
     

    Attached Files:

  21. barrysfarm thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 1, 2005
    #21
    Any ideas on what could be eating up kernel_task?
     
  22. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #22
    The kernel_task process is Mac OS X. Any number of things could be causing it to use a high percentage of CPU. Launch Console.app to see if there are any logs that might shed some light on the usage.
     
  23. Retina MacBook macrumors regular

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    Jul 19, 2012
    #23
    The original MacBook air was known for it's slow performance. And assuming that this MacBook is 4 years old, Processor deterioration could have occurred. This happened to my 2009 MBP. It just suddenly POOF! It's slow. It became so slow that I had to buy a new Mac. Got an MBA 11.
     
  24. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

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  25. mabaker macrumors 65816

    mabaker

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    Jan 19, 2008
    #25
    As long as you don't hear clicking sound from the HDD and don'T see the beach ball it may not be the HDD.

    The kernel task is responsible for many things - e.g. do you have any USB hubs connected? External HDDs? Mice? They may be incompatible and causing the kernel task to run errant.

    Also any kind of third party extensions installed on top of Mac OS X like MenuStats or any Unsanity software may be fiddling with the kernel task as well. Be sure not to have installed anything that could make the computer lag.

    Why don't you set up a brand new user account and see if the problem persists there? Another thing is staring the computer in the Safe mode:
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1455

    Boot it up in safe mode and check the kernel process.
     

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