Should I upgrade or downgrade OSX for best performance?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jackotack, Feb 28, 2016.

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Should I upgrade or downgrade OSX for best performance?

  1. Get the latest version of OSX

    20 vote(s)
    62.5%
  2. Roll back to the version that came with your iMac

    3 vote(s)
    9.4%
  3. It depends

    9 vote(s)
    28.1%
  1. jackotack macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
    #1
    I bought an iMac version 13,2 (basic configuration -- 1TB conventional hard drive, 8GB RAM) in early 2013. It came with 10.8 Mountain Lion and ran great. I even added 8GB of aftermarket RAM to bring it up to 16GB total.

    Then one day I upgraded to 10.10 Yosemite. The performance changed: Apps take a long time to load and run slower than before.

    For a while I accepted this (got busy with other things) but now I'm ready to back up all files and do a fresh install, hoping to restore my iMac to its former glory.

    Am I better off rolling back to an old version (like Mountain Lion or Mavericks) or should I upgrade to the latest and greatest (10.11 El Capitan)?
     
  2. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #2
    Boot and run programs off an externAl ssd. Upgrade to eliminate capitalism. (Aautocorrect fail)
     
  3. Yaccity macrumors member

    Yaccity

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Location:
    NJ
    #3
    I would upgrade to El Capitan because of the Metal API
     
  4. jackotack thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
    #4
    This idea is intriguing

    What interface? SATA SSD in a USB 3.0 dock?
     
  5. azentropy macrumors 68000

    azentropy

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Location:
    Surprise
    #5
    The OS you run makes very little difference compared to memory (which you have plenty of) and drive speed. Upgrading to an internal SSD or even an external through USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt will make the most difference for you.
     
  6. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    Sep 1, 2007
  7. Dopeyman macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles!
    #7
    Upgrade... But don't just "update", do a fresh install..
     
  8. pwhitehead macrumors 6502

    pwhitehead

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Location:
    new jersey
    #8
    Do you think this is why so many people are having problems with El Captian, they're not doing a fresh install by zeroing out their system drive before they upgrade?
     
  9. Dopeyman macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles!
    #9
    I'm not sure what problems other people are having. But personally, I always do a fresh install whenever there's a new OS :)
     
  10. bingeciren, Feb 28, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016

    bingeciren macrumors 6502a

    bingeciren

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    #10
    Doing a fresh install is fine, but afterwards if you use the migration assistant to transfer your old account settings, you are back to square one. All previous illnesses and diseases will return.

    Therefore, while it is a good idea to do a fresh install, it is a lot of work to re install all the programs and re configure the settings without the migration assistant.

    I finally found the curage to do a complete fresh install when my El Capitan wasn't running all that well. It took the better part of an entire Sunday to put everything back in order.

    To answer the question of the OP: I would upgrade at least to Maverics because of its better memory use, and frankly I see no disadvantage for not running the latest version of the El Capitan, which is a speed and size improved version of the Yosemite.
     
  11. Dopeyman macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles!
    #11
    That's correct. I don't use the migration assistant. I copy over the apps that I have and/or need and re-configure the settings as I had them before. Yes, it is time consuming but well worth it in the end when you don't have unnecessary crap from before.
     
  12. jackotack thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
    #12
    Yes I always do a true fresh install (copy files manually and reinstall programs)

    That external SSD sounds like a great idea, with the latest OSX

    Followup question:
    Suppose I install El Capitan on an external SSD. I have multiple family members, each with their own user accounts and they want to keep their files separate and private. How would I set up the internal drive to give each user their own storage space? It would be great if I can do this without copying everything off the internal drive and then copying it back...
     
  13. bingeciren macrumors 6502a

    bingeciren

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    #13
    Well, each user have their Home folder and they have all their files in there separate and private from each other. By default, the Home folder is in the boot drive, however it can be relocated to another drive whether it is internal or external. So, effectively you can install El Capitan on an external drive and have everybody's Home folder on the internal drive if you wish. It makes things a bit complicated if you ask me however.

    To give you a similar example, my Mini Server's SSD is the boot drive with the OS X, and the second internal HDD has all my media and all other users' Home folders as well. Only my Home folder is on the SSD however for speed.
     
  14. Adam552 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 30, 2006
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK.
    #14
    Definitely agreeing with what has been said here, latest OS as a fresh install should speed it up. Fresh install onto an external SSD as a huge bonus. I've noticed the internal HDD on my iMac feel slow recently too, so I've got an external USB3 SSD attached right now.
     
  15. jackotack thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 26, 2012
    #15
    Which enclosure are you using?
     
  16. Dopeyman macrumors 6502a

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    Los Angeles!
    #16
    I personally have an external 120GB Thunderbolt SSD drive.. Faster than USB3
     
  17. Adam552 macrumors 6502

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    May 30, 2006
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK.
    #17
  18. jackotack thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
    #18
  19. varian55zx macrumors 6502a

    varian55zx

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #19
    My 2008 MacBook Pro 15 inch came preinstalled with Leopard, I upgraded it to Snow Leopard. Everything was fine. Then I tried to upgrade it to Lion. That didn't go so well. It lagged, didn't work, thing was an unusable piece of junk. So I went back to Snow Leopard and everything was okay...

    I'd say downgrade that sucker down to the previous OS. The new OSs on older machines don't go so well because they have higher demands for RAM, etc. And it's not like the old OS's are bad. Snow Leopard is still great.

    BTW, my early 2013 MacBook Pro is still going strong with El Capitan. No problems there.
     
  20. bingeciren macrumors 6502a

    bingeciren

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    #20
    I'm running El Capitan on my first gen 13" Unibody Macbook (late 2008) with 4GB ram and SSD. Despite being a Core 2 Duo at 2.4GHz, it runs perfectly. I also have an early 2009 Mac Mini (old white case with an external power supply) with 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo with 4Gb Ram with SSD. It too runs like a champ with the latest El Capitan. A relative of mine owns a 2011 13" Air with only 2Gb Ram and El Capitan runs perfectly on that machine too.

    So, I don't know what you guys are talking about the older machines not running so well with the new OSs. In fact, my experience is just the opposite. Starting with the Mavericks, the memory management (compressed memory etc) and the speed optimization has greatly benefited especially the older machines.

    Snow Leopard is great but if you use the newer iCloud services and integration with the newer IOSs, as well as Messages, Facetime, trackpad gestures, dictation etc. you are out of luck.

    Snow Leopard was great at the time, but compared to Mavericks and the El Capitan, it is like what Windows XP is to Windows 7 or 10. Which by the way, XP is still one of the fastest and the leanest OS that came from Microsoft .

    I suggest the following reads about the under the hood improvements that was introduced with the Mavericks and improved on to the El Capitan.

    OS X Mavericks Core Technologies Overview
    OS X Power Efficiency Technology Overview
     
  21. varian55zx macrumors 6502a

    varian55zx

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #21
    Maybe you're missing the whole overlying point of your post.

    SSD.

    SSD.

    All the machines you mentioned have a nice, fat shiny beautiful SSD in them. That's the only reason they can do it. My MacBook Pro, I guess I didn't mention was an early 2008 so the last one before the unibodies came in, and again, that sucker couldn't even run Lion. It was sad. Had I had any interest to put an SSD in it, I imagine it would be running El Capitan, but who knows.
     
  22. Adam552 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 30, 2006
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK.
    #22
  23. bingeciren, Mar 3, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016

    bingeciren macrumors 6502a

    bingeciren

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    #23
    Well, it goes without saying that SSD is the number one improvement for speed. However, not being able to run El Capitan on an old machine has little to do with the SSD.

    Reading the technical aspects of Mavericks, you can see that the new OSs are CPU cycle optimized to run more efficiently. So the new OSs actually reduce the load on the CPU. Coupled with the efficient memory management and the memory compression, the overall demands on the hardware is greatly reduced. All of this tells us that "theoretically" the new OSs should run faster and better on older, slower machines with memory constraints, and my experience agrees with this theory.

    Compared to Mavericks, Yosemite was slower and less efficient and it may have strained some machines. This was corrected with El Capitan by reducing the footprint of the OS and improving the load and execution times of the programs.

    So yes, while you do have a point with SSDs in general, an older machine should still run better (or no worse) with a new OS X regardless of whether it has an SSD or not.
     
  24. enthusiastdre macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    #24
    Would you be able to point me in the right direction for installing El Capitan? I've got a 2008 Macbook 4,1 (Black) running 10.7 with 4Gb of Ram, and plan on installing a new SSD this week. I've scoured these forums, but don't really see a clear answer on what works and what doesn't.
     
  25. bingeciren, Mar 15, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016

    bingeciren macrumors 6502a

    bingeciren

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2011
    #25
    I Believe your 4.1 is not supported to run El Capitan. Check this forum thread first:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/os-x-yosemite-on-unsupported-macs-guide.1761432/

    However, a general El Capitan install routine is as follows:

    Download the most recent version of El Capitan from the App Store. Once the download is completed you will be greeted with an installation screen. Quit the installation and exit that screen. Under the Applications folder you will see the downloaded install file named Install OS X El Capitan.app. Copy and save that file to an external USB drive.

    At this point you have two options. 1) double click the install file under the Applications folder and perform an upgrade to El Capitan. 2) make a clone of your existing boot drive to an external usb drive either using the OS X disk utilities, or use a program like Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC). Then boot from this cloned drive, format your Mac's internal drive and use the Install OS X El Capitan.app that you copied to your external drive to install a fresh OS X El Capitan to your Mac.

    The fact that you have made a cloned copy of your existing OS to an external USB drive, you can now import all your documents and media to your freshly installed El Capitan Mac from the cloned drive, or if you want to be lazy, you can use the Migration Assistant to migrate your documents, media and all your previous settings to your newly installed El Capitan Mac.

    Beware of the fact that when you import everything using the Migration Assitant, you are basically doing an upgrade install as opposed to a fresh install, because the Migration Assistant imports everything including your pre existing diseases from your old user Library folder to your freshly installed Mac.

    There is also a way to make a bootable USB drive to accomplish what I described above but I find using the Install OS X File method is simple and sufficient.
     

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