MacBook Pro / OS X - feeling disappointment.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by iOrbit, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. iOrbit macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    i'm a long term user of windows, and i just bought my first mac ever earlier this month.

    first of all, let me just say, i am not here to rant about Mac OS X. infact, i'm looking for some answers by mac users, so please bare patience with me.

    i'v really gotten used to os x, pretty quickly, and i have loved most things about it the way i hoped to.

    i am dealing with some things that leave me feeling disappointed lately, and i need advice on what the problem really is?

    i have noticed some lag and beach balling on the machine. its not substantial, so i cannot be sure if i am being too fussy or if the machine has a problem.

    i bought the late 2011 15inch base model MacBook Pro. so it has a quad core i7/4gb Ram, and the standard 5400rpm HDD.

    is it normal to experience some beach balling at ANY time on macs? because my impression by other users on here and other places (i'v been a lurker) is that it rarely, if ever happens.

    i just reinstalled Lion yesterday clean. and the beach balling actually happened a little more frequently at first. i was adjusting the preferences the way i had it before the clean install and at various times when i'd go to different option it would beach-ball. i do not mean that the machine froze - i could still move the cursor. but my question is - is this normal?

    how often do you experience this? should beach ball happen rarely? how rarely? twice a month?

    i am really unsure.

    i originally came from a cheap windows acer machine which had a mediocre processor and 4gb ram but with a moments xt hdd. i feel the improvement and ability in this MBP with opening and running various power hungry apps. but i felt like i was supposed to expect no lag between switching apps, etc.
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
  3. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012

    i have done monitored ram lately, usually at first, i will start with 2GB ram free. and it runs quite smooth around then, about @%80 of the time. (still get the odd moment of non smoothness in launchpad/switching desktops/watching icons bounce as they activate the app on the dock) i will admit it is quite infrequent, but do mac users experience this too?

    unfortunately, my ram seems to be eaten up quite quickly by everyday use - Running safari usually eats up 1gb, webkit will take up to 600mb i'v seen some times (With multiple tabs) and the safari process itself might take up to 200mb i think.

    i usually always Run iTunes with Safari, iChat, and Skype.

    i might run mail at the same time, and or with the app store too.. sometimes.

    i guess it might be helpful to mention that i usually always have 3 desktops at all times.

    if i run all of these, usually i end up with 200mb or less ram free. it seems to constantly eat up to less than 100mb left even though i won't be running anymore apps than the ones already mentioned.

    since my clean install, i have deliberately avoided updating safari to its latest version. because before the clean reinstall of Lion, it always ate up a lot of memory and i was curious if the older version it starts with was easier on the ram.

    i have had another problem with the OS X which really bothers me, and i'm frustrated because i cannot tell if its by design, or if its a problem in the OS -
    Clicking does not always work. in windows, if i had a folder inside a folder, inside another folder and so forth, and double clicked like a maniac one after the other with no time between them, it would open them all successively. on my Mac i cannot do this, it always stops working by the 2nd or 3rd folder. i wondered if this was the OS design - maybe to stop the user "accidentally" going into a folder unintentionally. but heres the thing - one reason i did a clean reinstall of Lion is because sometimes, very inconsistently, my left click will not work on things like - minimise/close button, back/forward button, or clicking the X button to close tabs in safari. - this makes me then doubt my earlier thoughts and suggest it can't be design??
  4. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Don't fe bad bro, I have a macbook air with an SSD drive, 4gb of RAM, and I routinely get the beach ball of death when I open up Eclipse. Nothing else, just eclipse. Some programs just don't work.
  5. Blondie :) macrumors 6502a

    Blondie :)

    May 12, 2010
    Prescott, AZ
    I installed 8GB on my machine a few weeks ago and it's made quite a world of difference. With as many programs as you have open at one time, it will take up the 4GB that you have.

    There's two things you can do IMHO:
    1) Buy some more RAM. Most users usually find it to be very beneficial, as I have. It's made all of my programs run smoother, and I can run a lot more.

    2) Either download or purchase a program that will let you free up the inactive memory that gets eaten up by the system. The program I used is called "FreeMemory" and it's available from the app store. Whenever you notice things starting to get bogged down, just click on the "free memory" button.

    Good luck to you.
  6. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    Check the active processes and don't worry about the RAM unless you see lots of page- outs of memory in the activity console (as OS X will fill up all of the available RAM and use it as a sort of cache, but free up any idle processes when extra RAM is needed). After a clean install for the first little bit it will run slower as it is usually updating spotlight for the indexing. Many have noticed that Lion is more RAM hungry and will tend to beach ball more than previous versions. It sounds like your system is running fine. Also Skype is a CPU intensive program (even when just sitting idle, it uses more CPU cycles than most programs). Make sure that you are not using Flash much, as that will also eat into CPU cycles, get a flash blocker plug in for Safari (also I think the latest version may be a little better on usage and faster than prior releases).
  7. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    thanks so much for the replies, all of you.

    its been reassuring, the reason the initial beach balling worried me on the clean instal is because i don't remember having it when i first got the machine.

    i have actually already bought 8gb ram from Crucial, but i am not upgrading the laptop until I'm certain it hasn't got issue, and i also want to get a new HDD so that I can upgrade them both at the same time. (i don't want to keep opening and reopening the macbook - risking the screws wear and tear/dust inside)

    see, i wasn't sure if this was a problem or if my level of user activity was to blame... or my expectation too high.

    but no one here has made one of the things i need clear yet - does some beach balling on macs occur every day for some moments? or is it supposed to be a very rare occurrence (less than 5 times a month with a regular user?)

    does anybody know about my experience with the clicking in OS X? am i the only one unable to open a bunch of folders one after the other instantaneously? ( i mean open a folder so that when it opens, the cursor naturally lands on another folder that you immediately click open, and keep repeating this a few folders in) without the double-click-to-open stop working?

    im not sure wether to go to an apple store about it.

    generally speaking,

    if i upgrade my Ram to 8gb, and get a good HDD, will my system be lag free?

    i mean running itunes/skype/safari (multiple tabs, exceeding 10 often) ichat/msn/ mail..

    i also design in photoshop and work with photography, and do video editing. but not too pro or serious, on the side. i wouldn't run all those programs along side those tasks.

    but i think tis worth a mention:

    my HDD right now its 290GB full. (out of 500GB)

    my iTunes is recently exceeding 10'000 songs.. and i have a large photo collection. videos and documents take up quite a bit of space swell.

    will ram and hdd alone make my system lag free? i mean.. apps opening smoothly and quickly (not necessarily SSD Quick..)

    switching desktops without any hint of lag or un-smoothness.. mission control.. launch pad, all 100% smooth? (sometimes when i open launch pad, the icons have disappeared and are still loading)

    will i still experience beach balling or my system failing to keep up? i am lookinng for freedom and i intend to go 16gb RAM someday in the future (coming months, crucial are selling 16gb ram for the MBP for just £180)
  8. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    It is normal. Once or twice a day a beachball will appear.

    Maybe use Column View (CMD+3) or List View (CMD+2) instead of Icon View (CMD+1), which would give you faster access and even allow you to use your arrow keys, unless you don't like to use keyboard short ctus.

    It can be, but since the HDD is still the slowest component, there will always be some kind of lag. If you would upgrade to an SSD, the lags will be almost non existent with your computational needs and usage patterns.

    There will always be some lag, be it a fraction of a second or some seconds. Even if you have 16 GB RAM and the fastest SSD. Sometime a process or thread just hangs, due to bad programming or a conflict. Either learn to live with it or don't.

    I have a relatively lag free OS life on a 2009 MBP with 8 GB RAM and an SSD + HDD combo, and I use much more than just iTunes or Safari (I use Avid, After Effects, Lightroom, Photoshop, Cinema 4 D, ...).
    But when a lag occurs, I can live with it, unless it takes a lot of time, which is generally some Safari or Aurora/Firefox issue. And I don't use Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, I still use Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard due to it being better for my purposes, as I now use 16 Spaces, which can't be done on Lion.
  9. SlugBlanket, Mar 22, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2012

    SlugBlanket macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2011
    Get more RAM. It's the first thing you should consider doing to alleviate your problems as it cheap and easy to do and makes for a noticeably faster/smoother experience.

    I have a mid 2011 (2.2 GHz 500GB 7500 rpm HDD) 17" MBP with 8GB of ram bought on Amazon and I rarely, like maybe once every 2 months, if that, see the beachball. I usually have MS Word, Google Chrome with half a dozen tabs open, iTunes, Mail, iCal, several Terminal windows and a whole host of GeekTool scripts updating themselves every 1- 10 seconds running every day. My RAM geeklet tells me my memory use is usually hovering around 50% and my cpu use is between 5% - 10%

    I also have the free app called "FreeMemory" and it can work quite well but it does push your memory usage up to 99% before finally freeing up anywhere from a few hundred MB to a few GB. As a general rule if you constantly need to use the app then it's best to either close down some programs or reboot. I can't be certain but in earlier versions of the app I felt that having it running constantly actually made my memory usage worse. Now I just use the app on an ad-hoc basis if I really don't want to close down programs or reboot at that particular time.

    My HDD is only 40% full as most of my media is held on my NAS.
  10. outz macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    I threw 8GB of crucial ram, and a crucial m4 128GB SSD drive in my early 2011 mbp 15... Made a huge difference. The ram was $40 and I got the SSD for 120 on sale.
  11. shoelessone macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    I don't think you're alone. Personally I'm a bit annoyed as I feel that Lion is slower then anything yet, especially on my older computer.

    I'd max out the memory for sure, or at least make sure you're at 8.
  12. superdx macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2009
    In my opinion 4GB is actually quite a lot of RAM.

    You mentioned your disk was 5400 RPM. I think that's your source of problems. Plus you mentioned your disk was also full.

    Since you have a MBP, I'd suggest swapping to a SSD drive instead. If you need space, you can consider replacing the optical drive with a 2.5" HDD mount, then you have both the SSD and HDD available.

    I have this on my MBP as well, and it's a world of difference. I do heavy database development (much more disk intensive) and it just flies.
  13. eagandale4114 macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2011
    Or type in purge in terminal. Thats what the app does.
  14. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    Uh... no. This is not normal. Where the heck did this "standard" come from? You just make it up?

    The only time I see a pinwheel is if an app has hung.
  15. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
  16. dacoolest macrumors regular

    Nov 11, 2011
    I have a late 2011 MBP with 4GB ram and I'm also getting beach ball about once per day.
  17. Badrottie Suspended


    May 8, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Me is a BIG deal!
  18. Zakoth macrumors member

    Dec 31, 2011
    Like other I would recommend putting more RAM in and maybe and SSD
  19. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    We have tried to ascertain whether it is normal or not for your type of usage. If you are constantly paging the memory, over utilizing the slower drive due to your workflow and standard usage then for your configuration it could be considered normal (acceptable? I would say no something on your system needs to change, but none the less normal).

    Up to this point, you have not really shown that you are diligently addressing the questions presented to you but rather waiting for the magical answer that it is or is not normal. Have you checked your activity monitor for process usage (post screen captures if you need assistance in figuring out what is happening, or ask if you don't know how to do something)?

    Just stating you use a certain program or app tells us nothing. If you are running Safari with no flash blocking and five tabs all loading heavy flash sites with active web kits on them constantly updating and allowing pop-ups then you can expect heavy system usage and I would say beach balling in your case is normal, especially if you are actively running Skype at the same time (and how do you use Skype? Video chatting, video calling, etc), yet if all you are doing is loading tabs for webpages that are static and have text only then no it is probably not normal. Reported memory usage is generally not useful as OS X memory management is different than what is expected within windows (as I stated before OS X will preload the memory so the information is there for immediate usage and free memory from inactive programs as active programs require more).

    Your usage will dictate what is normal. We have no idea what an average user is, as everyones perception is different.

    More memory is not a bad idea as Lion does tend to run smoother with 8, but I hate to just throw it out there without knowing what you are doing that may or may not require it? I upgraded my wife's MBP just because I had the memory laying around (when I changed jobs for my new workload I couldn't even keep up with the upgraded 8 and had to upgrade to 16 so I had an extra 8 just sitting around to put into hers), but she never saw the beach ball as her usage patterns were very basic.


    Although, I "might" agree with your expressed sentiments regarding whether it is normal or not, I ask you what is normal and how do we judge?? For Sim's usage, it may be normal to see this even though it is not normal to see it for your usage patterns. This is like stating "for the average user...", what does "the average user" even mean?

    If you system is constantly being tasked, seeing the occasional pause could be considered normal (as with having 16 spaces and the heavy app usage Sim has stated is his normal workflow) as opposed to have Safari open with 3 tabs on texts sites and mail polling a pop account every 15 minutes. These workflows are both real world usages and will yield different results for both, so what is normal is dependent upon the user and workflow, and not necessarily the system.
  20. iOrbit, Mar 23, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012

    iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    currently i have Steam running downloading 3 games. + iTunes (no music playing)
    and safari - safari has about 7 tabs, inc this forum, amazon, some other static pages,
    a youtube page with the video not playing.

    and my first sign of beach ball:

    i activated mission control this morning to begin using the computer the way i do on average,
    after adding 2 desktops so i would have 3, i licked on the 2nd one to personalise it and change
    its desktop background. as soon as i right clicked and clicked change background, it beach balled for about 5 seconds. it didn't even jump straight to the desktop & screensaver option,
    it started on system preferences, lagged and eventually loaded desktop & screensaver option.

    at this time, "free memory" reports me having between 18mb-20 mb free memory.

    here are screen shots of current state.


    okay, so i have got my system running now with:

    Mail - several accounts.
    Safari - about 12 tabs, i opened: Facebook, deviant art, amazon, a blog site, BBC iPlayer..
    iTunes - playing a song
    App Store - just open.
    Steam - "validating" and installed game
    Dashboard is always running.

    i have 3 desktops open, sometimes i have 5, so i will make it 5.

    iTunes and safari are running fall screen.

    wen i use launchpad, it is typically smooth still but the icons are lagging behind in loading. they don't just appear.

    mission control remains mostly smooth, but swiping desktops by desktops is a little laggy sometimes.

    i have now opened iMovie, which is working with 1080p HD content from my canon 60D, though its not full length movie files or anything.

    i haven't experience a beach ball so far since the desktop background change, which is good, what i expect, but this performance isn't consistent. steam is usually prone to beach ball, and i will get
    laggy response sometimes with the dock/launchpad/mission control.

    with this kind of usage, how much beach balling do you think i should

    experience a month/daily?



    i just received my screw driver kit for the MBP this morning, i now am ready to install 8 gb of ram, and last night i decided to back up my windows HDD on the acer (its a early 2011 momentus xt 500gb HDD) so i am ready to also install that moments xt. i think its on SD25 or SD26.

    i am intending to buy a new HDD (not sure which yet.. SSD for fast app opening and booting, or a fast HDD like the caviar black for actual fast performance in read/write/transfer)

    but i was thinking last night to try out the MBP with the Hybrid drive (moments xt that i have got) plus the 8gb ram to see how it runs, see if its a problem with the software or just my usage. should i give it ago?

    i think the only way i can install lion onto it is to put the hybrid drive in the macbook pro and put the mbp hdd into an external enclosure and boot into lion recovery?

    thanks to all your replies, again all of you, i will see how lion runs with 8GB ram either today or within a week when i buy a new HDD.

    im not sure about HYBRID route or traditional HDD route.. i can't go SSD because they are way too pricey for me after the 128GB size price point. i;d need 500 GB and thats way to expensive, the reliability reports in the amazon reviews on that crucial m4 doesn't give me confidence either.

    thought it would be note worthy to say that while uploading the image links on tiny pic, iTunes music started to lag/cut out a bit.


    i forgot to run Skype, i sometimes May run mac messenger and or dropbox. so will get one last screen shot with these, it beach balled when i opened these 3, it went back to desktop one because mac messenger has only just been installed not done the agreement/sign in yet, when it went to desktop one to do the agreement, it beach balled.

    by the way, my Skype use is 50/50 between text chat and actual calls.


    also to note;

    i had text edit running to type this out in and document all this while i was doing it..
    activity monitor obviously.

    EDIT** screen capture inc. ALL processes.

  21. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    Switch activity monitor to "all processes" instead of "my processes". It's not telling the whole story there...

    But simply looking at your page ins/page outs tells me you're running out of RAM quite often. That is the likely culprit.
  22. outz macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    i'm guessing these screenshots are old since they reference only 4GB of RAM? you're paging out a lot (almost 4GB from the looks of it)... how's the additional RAM treating you? You may benefit from going w/ 16GB if you have a ~2011 mbp.
  23. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012

    sorry, i better rephrase that in my post, i don't have the 8GB ram installed yet, i just mean i have 8GB ram, and now the moments xt hdd on standby to potentially install into the laptop today - to see if this solves my "issue"!

    outs, i will get a screen shot now of All my processes, sorry i'm not used to the mac activity monitor.



    looking at this screen shot, i have noticed quite a big difference with this old version of safari that i haven't updated with software update. its got about 15 tabs open and its still under 400 mb all together, when i first got the mac, and had the up to date safari, it would take up more memory than this!
  24. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Just some thoughts. You might want to try this, maybe not...

    You seem to be "eating up" drive space -very- quickly (290gig after only one month?).

    Could it be your "beachballs" are the result of a fragmented drive bogging down the system?

    Here's what I'd do:

    1. Launch Disk Utility, then
    2. Go to the partition panel, then
    3. Create a second partition about 40gig at the "end" of the current partition (I think there is a "+" sign that enables you to create a second partition in DU's window)
    4. Install a CLEAN VERSION of the OS onto the second partition.
    5. Get the software on the auxiliary partition installed, updated, with a new account created for yourself.
    6. Now, boot from the second partition. Is the Mac "back up to speed"? What happens when you run stuff from the original partition?

    Others will disagree, but I like having a second, bootable partition on the internal drive. I don't often boot from it, but if for some reason I can "get going" from my -main- partition, I can restart and boot from the backup partition and then "work on" the main one.

    If you don't want to create a second partition, create some kind of external boot drive. I suggest one of these gadgets:

    ... with a "bare" SATA hard drive (you may even have a spare one around).
    Again, just initialize it with Disk Utility and install a clean copy of the OS.

    Not sure if you've tried this yet, but to "switch boot" on the Mac, restart, then IMMEDIATELY hold down the option key and KEEP HOLDING IT DOWN. You will see what to do next....
  25. iOrbit thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2012
    hey thanks, this sounds like a good idea. to be honest, the reason i want a new hdd is because i suspected my storage has been part of the hit on performance/the lagg.

    that 290 gig is not a collection of accumulation from one month, that 290 gigs is all my data i'v accumulated over the years of computing -

    my music library, photo library, video library, documents etc.

    some of it of course s programs and games on the mac.

    but the majority of that data is all dragged nd dropped from my external hdd which carried all my windows data over to the mac, i did it all in one day.

    is there a way to defragment the disk?

    i may try this idea today, when i first got the mac, and after the clean install i did yesterday, it always ran really smooth with no data hogging on it, i still had some beach ball moments in the first hour which may be due to indexing or whatever, I'm not sure.. though i never had beach balling the first time i used it out of the box.

    this is why i have been thinking about what HDD.. i need a larger one - i can't afford SSD, 500gig SSD is too expensive. though i'd love the SSD's strengths in the system (fast activation of apps etc) but i am also drawn to normal HDD's.. ones like the caviar black WD, or if i could afford it - the barracuda seagate. because they are apparently the real performers when it comes to moving and writing data / transfer.

    at this point though, i just want a HDD that doesn't allow my 290GB's to be a slow down factor!

    based on what i know about SSDs, they might not be the solution.

    i considered hybrid drives but I'm worried about reliability and firmware issues in the seagates, this is why iv considered upgrading my macbook pro today with the 8GB ram i have and the moments xt 500gb i bought for my acer back in 2011. this would help me figure out if my system has a problem or if the problem is my computing needs are a bit much for my current specs.

    but yeah, the partition idea might help me figure this out too! thanks

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