ML on a 2GB MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)' started by ThunderRoad, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. ThunderRoad macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    Looking to finally update from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion, however I'm aware that Mountain Lion is somewhat more demanding of your Mac. That being the case, is it likely that my Macbook Pro will be able to run it smoothly? Anyone running it on a similar spec machine?

    It's a mid-2009 Macbook Pro. 2 GB. 2.26 GHz.
    My main usage will be pretty basic stuff. Web browsing, word processing, iTunes and watching DVD's.

    Thanks all
  2. Isamilis macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2012
    Should be quite tight. Don't forget to install from scratch instead of update.

  3. ThunderRoad thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    Do you think it would be worth buying more memory, just to be sure?
  4. katewes macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2007
    I don't know about 2.26 GHz processor, but I have recently installed ML on a 2.66 GHz early-2008 iMac with 2GB RAM. Our use for this Mac is purely basic functions - word processing, web browsing, some video watching and Skype.

    I did the installation in two attempts.

    On the first attempt, I merely upgraded the Snow Leopard to ML, and it was a very poor experience. The same slowness of the SL installation carried over to the ML upgrade.

    Then I did a clean install, making sure to complete wipe the hard disk and erase the entire disk beforehand.

    Then I only installed the minimum of software that we will actually use, and was careful to only install apps that are confirmed to be ML-compatible.

    So far, the ML clean install on this old 2GB-RAM is really flying, for our limited purposes. I would imagine this Mac might slow down if pressed to run high end apps like Photoshop, but we are literally using it as an email and web browsing machine, and for that limited purpose it really flies.

    I cannot emphasize enough that you must do a clean install, not an upgrade.

    I followed the instructions from this video.
  5. benwiggy, Jun 13, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013

    benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    You can never have too much RAM. :p I've been running ML on a 2009 MacBook with 4Gb perfectly well, though I did max it out to 6Gb, just for the sake of it.

    Not usually necessary. I've been using OS X on several machines for over 10 years and I've always installed the OS straight over the top of the existing install.

    If you have some specific problem, then maybe a clean install will help, though there are usually quicker methods of achieving the same result. Usually the fix is a byproduct of the reinstall, such as emptying the caches.

    Furthermore, there's absolutely no point in doing a clean install if you then restore all the apps and settings from your previous installation.
  6. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    I disagree, as someone who supports around 100 Macs. They work fine having been upgraded along the way.
    2GB of RAM isn't ideal, and it does have a performance penalty with Mountain Lion, so upgrade if the budget permits.
  7. katewes macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2007
    Note very carefully that the OP's usage, and mine, are restricted to very basic word processing, web browsing and simple activities that are not know for taxing the processing power of the Mac. So I can only comment, from actually using my iMac with 2GB RAM that the performance for word processing and simple web browsing is superb, and some Skype calls.

    I am not making any other claim other than that.

    This thread is not whether 2GB of RAM is sufficient for ML. Rather, this thread is whether 2GB of RAM is sufficient to enable ML to be used for very basic tasks.
  8. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    Yes, and that's why I recommended to add more RAM if the budget allows. If any user runs more than one application at a time, OS X will be faster with 4GB than 2GB.
  9. ThunderRoad thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    katewes - It's comforting to hear you've got it up and running on a similar spec machine.

    chrfr - How much does extra memory cost/how troublesome is installing it?

    As a compromise to what both of you have said, would it be an idea to update to ML, see how the performance is, and if the performance is poor, then update from the 2gb?
  10. katewes macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2007
    4GB of memory costs around $60 from

    Whilst everyone extols the benefits of a clean install, it assumes that you know how to transfer the data. I have not used Migration Assistant before, and that could very well work. But I have, personally, manually installed everything.

    My suggestion (and I'm not saying it's the best), is to first perform an upgrade from SL to ML first, and get iCloud going. That way, all your Address Book and Calendar gets into the Cloud.

    Also, after the upgrade, get App Store going on your Apple ID so that it records all your eligible purchases.

    Also note that the Notes feature didn't upgrade well, so I suggest, before upgrading, to copy out all your notes from Apple Mail.

    Then, once all that info is into iCloud, then do the clean install as per the youtube video I showed you.

    Then there's the issue of manually transferring Apple Mail. Basically, you copy the Mail folder and the preference file. The preference file needs to be copied into a different location in ML, compared to SL, so see this blog for where to copy this preference file in ML"

    I emphasise that the approach I took is the full manual method of doing things, and I find it good because I am literally starting from scratch.

    If you are not familiar with the process of doing the full manual process, then you might use Migration Assistant, but I don't know if that brings across any problems that were in the earlier install.
  11. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    No they don't! :D
  12. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    4GB of RAM runs about $45 from various vendors for the 2009 Macbook Pros. Installing it is a matter of taking the bottom cover off with a small Phillips screwdriver and installing. It's quite simple but you do need to be a bit careful to not strip the small screws.
    You certainly could try with 2GB and see if it works adequately for you but RAM upgrades are one of those things that it's hard to tell the difference if you've never experienced it. There's a reason that Apple isn't selling computers with 2GB anymore.
    I am also in the camp that doing a clean install is not worth the time.


    What an astounding waste of time. If you have everything working in 10.8.x, why delete it all and start over?
  13. ThunderRoad thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    I think I'll probably do this. Upgrade to 4GB, and then do a standard install of Mountain Lion. Didn't realise Apple no longer sold the 2GB models. That explains why I get so many strange reactions when I tell people my specs!

    Even though I'll probably end up doing what I mentioned above, thanks a lot for offering your advice (everyone else too).
  14. katewes macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2007
    There's a difference between "everything working" and "everything working FAST".

    The Snow Leopard computer, that I upgraded, had run older operating systems for about 5 years, and it was crawling. So when I upgraded to Mountain Lion, it crawled as well.

    You can postulate all you like, but I am telling you my experience, that, in this particular instance, when SL was upgraded to ML, it crawled. So a clean install was required to make it fly ... and it does fly on 2GB, with very light use of MS Office, Chrome browsing, and Skype. That's all it does, and it flies with 2GB.

    There is no such thing as a blanket approach of a clean install being a distinct advantage. As always, it depends.

    The case where a clean install is beneficial is where the earlier system install was showing signs of age.

    In my case, I'm a perfectionist, and I like the idea of starting off a new OS with a clean start. I'm very efficient at it, I have all the required .dmg files stored on an external disk, and all the passwords to activate the new software. For me, it hardly takes any time. I wrote a list of all the apps to install, so I do it very quickly. I have gotten the Apple Mail install procedure down pat. So it is fast because I know what I'm doing.
  15. 'Arry macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2012
    I have the same machine.

    With the price of RAM nowadays, you might as well get 8GB. That's what I did about 18 months ago when running Snow Leopard (now on Mountain Lion), and it made a big improvement. It was around $45 on Newegg (special offer) for 2x4GB.

    When running just a few 'normal' apps (Chrome, Word, iTunes) my memory usage normally exceeds 4GB.
    (Note that each Chrome tab and extension is listed separately; the total is much more than 263MB). And this machine has only been running for a few hours with a few apps; make that a few days, throw in some more Chrome tabs, Preview, iPhoto, a couple of other things and it does get close to 8GB. Certainly a lot more than 4.

    Installing is really easy; see the instructional videos at OWC. You can get cheaper RAM, but still a decent brand name, at Newegg or Amazon. It's so cheap that you might as well go all the way to 8GB, rather than buying 2x4GB and throwing them away in a year when you upgrade again to 8GB.
  16. ThunderRoad thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    I notice you said try and get 8GB rather than 2x4GB. I did a scan on and got this as the recommended upgrade, but looks as though it's 2x4GB?

    (forgot to mention I'm in the UK, so that's why it's in £)
  17. 'Arry macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2012
    Apologies for being unclear. I meant, get 2x4GB=8GB. Don't get 2x2GB=4GB.

    The 2009 MBP which we have will accept a maximum of 4GB in each of the two slots. So if you got a single 8GB card, it wouldn't work.

    Previous posters recommended to get a total of 4GB, and I'm saying (1) You'll still hit that ceiling in normal use, and (2) 2x4GB is not that much more expensive anyway.

    The link you posted looks fine. I'd get that.
  18. ThunderRoad thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2010
    Ah ok, being a novice on such matters it's my fault for getting mixed up. Good to hear, I'll put in an order.

    Out of interest, have you ever looked back since switching to ML? Snow Leopard runs brilliantly for me (as I'm guessing it did for you), but I had a go on ML and just liked some of the new features.
  19. 'Arry macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2012
    I was happy with Snow Leopard, so gave Lion a miss. I downloaded and installed ML within 48 hours of its release on the App Store, when it was still 10.8. There were a couple of issues; running hot, froze once or twice. I had a bizarre issue updating from 10.8 to 10.8.1. Since 10.8.3 – certainly now, at 10.8.4 – it seems as stable as Snow Leopard ever was.

    You'll want to make sure that none of the programs you rely on use Rosetta to run old PowerPC code.
    Apple Menu -> About this Mac -> More Info (or is it called System Report on SL?)
    Software -> Applications. Wait a while. This gives a list of all the applications installed.
    Click 'Kind' to sort by kind.
    Intel and Universal are fine. Any that say PowerPC will not run under Mountain Lion, so check that you can either (1) find an updated version, or (2) live without it.

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