Resolved Slow performance, with some exceptions?

Dezlboy

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 10, 2008
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Hi everyone.

MacMini, early 2009, 4GB, 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, El Capitan.

Performance very slow. I don't recall it being as slow five (?) years ago, apps take long time to load, web pages seem to be loading more slowly (progress bar very slow). BUT.....certain site load quickly (APPLE, Verizon speed test), and download tests as 80MB. Activity Monitor memory pressure remains green.

Questions:

1. Is poor performance because mini is simply so outdated, such that a new mini clears up issues?
2. Especially looking for speedy web performance. But, a couple sites run fast, so the issue is not my mini?

Any suggestions.
Thanks!
 

redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
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An SSD will help with performance overall, especially the app load times. But it might be a good idea to upgrade to a newer model like a 2012, as Core 2 Duos can struggle on heaver websites, especially now that an alternative browser (Chrome or Firefox) will be necessary to avoid the outdated Safari on El Capitan.
 
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Cheapassmac

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2018
210
134
A 2009 mac mini can't even use the latest OS, a 2012 or later mac would let you at least use up to date software. That said, the sluggishness might be from your hard drive. Assuming you haven't replaced it, it's been in use for 9 years (this is a long time for a spinner). It's possible a SSD may completely resolve this.... but spending money on a clunker seems wasteful.
 

jclardy

macrumors 68040
Oct 6, 2008
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This computer is 9 years old, there are probably quite a few reasons it feels slow.

#1 being the hard drive, which is probably near its end of life, so writes and reads will take longer. It is also likely a 5400 RPM drive given this is Apple and they loved 5400 RPM drives.

But the main reason is just that the CPU is relatively ancient now, and the web has continued to grow in complexity. Nearly all sites now use excessive amounts of javascript which is going to be taxing on the old machine.

A new mini would fix the slowness, but likely in an overkill kind of way, even the i3.
 

Dezlboy

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 10, 2008
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A new mini would fix the slowness, but likely in an overkill kind of way, even the i3.
First, thanks to redheeler and cheapassmac for also pointing to the hard drive.

jclardy, can you explain what you mean by even i3 would be overkill? i forgot to mention I use mini for web browsing, email, some excel, word. Nothing intensive.

For my use, I can see why i5 would not show improvement. Any reason to go with i5 at all. And, I intend new unit to have SSD only. Thanks!
 

Cheapassmac

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2018
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Based on your usage, you'd probably won't see any benefit from a i5. While I don't think the core duo is holding you back significantly if all you do is fairly mundane, it doesn't hurt to have a little more power for multitasking.

The cpu benchmark on a Mac mini 2009 is 1482/2462 (single/multi). In comparison, even the lowest base model i3 mac mini 2018 is 4666/13751. This isn't even counting the other amenities such as faster graphics, more RAM, 4k HDMI option, thunderbolt 3 expansion, ssd hard drive, being able to use the latest software, ect.

As you can see, since you got by on a 2462 cpu, it stands to reason that 13751 cpu should be enough for your usage. i5 or i7 would be better if you played games, heavy media editing, or something of that nature.
 
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msh

macrumors 6502
Jun 13, 2009
331
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SoCal
I have that same Mac mini being used as a music/video server on a WIN 7 boot camp partition. I upgraded it to an ssd and increased ram to 8gb. Works very well for that purpose but I do occasionally open up a Firefox session and it still works well enough.
 
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ElectronGuru

macrumors 65816
Sep 5, 2013
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Is poor performance because mini is simply so outdated, such that a new mini clears up issues?
You know the machine wasn't slow when you got it, but something changed. There are layers

1) age of the hardware
2) age difference between original OS and installed OS (newer OS tend to be more taxing)
3) accumulation

If you bought a 2009 today and installed El Cap today and ran the same software, it would run faster than your machine. But there isn't years of accumulation. dead apps, preferences, fragmentation, etc. The longer its been since your last clean install, the more of this is taxing your system. A new Mac will be faster for all 3 reasons but you can fix accumulation with the current hardware. But should you.

A year ago, an SSD made sense because some of the hardware would be newer and in the process of putting in, accumulation would get removed. But now, there is a new mini and 10.14 can't be installed. So you are left with $200 to buy time or $800 to start over. The choice is personal, but most would urge replacement.
 
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Cheapassmac

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Nov 5, 2018
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A year ago, an SSD made sense because some of the hardware would be newer and in the process of putting in, accumulation would get removed. But now, there is a new mini and 10.14 can't be installed. So you are left with $200 to buy time or $800 to start over. The choice is personal, but most would urge replacement.
This is why I feel buying an SSD for the old machine feels like a waste. One other thing I'd like to add is, the internet (in particular the protocols it comes with) is always updating. Even if you could get the old machine to run as well as new, doesn't mean it'll work well with the rest of the world. Try running Netscape Navigator or some other discontinued web browser and you'll see how broken everything is. If $800 is too much, maybe try to find a discounted 2014 model floating around. I'm sure you could find one for under 500.
 

Dezlboy

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 10, 2008
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All, thanks again for your replies and suggestions. Clearly, it's time for a new system.

Is there an explanation why the "speedtest" would indicate a fast 80M/s download, but almost all sites download slowly? I take it there's a lot more to downloading bits and bytes for speediest, and downloading bit and bytes that make up a web page.

If so, is it that the exceptions to slow downloading (as APPLE web page) are better designed?

Again, thanks everyone.
 

Cheapassmac

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2018
210
134
All, thanks again for your replies and suggestions. Clearly, it's time for a new system.

Is there an explanation why the "speedtest" would indicate a fast 80M/s download, but almost all sites download slowly? I take it there's a lot more to downloading bits and bytes for speediest, and downloading bit and bytes that make up a web page.

If so, is it that the exceptions to slow downloading (as APPLE web page) are better designed?

Again, thanks everyone.
Most of the operation system isn't in RAM, so even instructions on how to operate, the mac is waiting on your 9 year old hard drive to send that stuff slowly into RAM before it even does anything. Second reason would be your CPU, as it's kinda slow, and a lot of data on the web needs to be processed by something. Videos online for example are compressed with h264 or h265 these days, which a core duo would struggle a bit (so it may have actually already downloaded, but the mac is processing)

Seriously, you can probably find an open box mac mini 2014 for $350 at Bestbuy or something. Take it from my namesake, but even I wouldn't try to spend money to salvage your setup. If you happen to have a spare newish hard drive and mini display to hdmi adaptor, maybe you can repurpose it as a media center for your TV, but otherwise time to bring old yeller to the back.
 
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Dezlboy

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Original poster
Sep 10, 2008
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...time to bring old yeller to the back.
:):):)

Cheapassmac, all....again thanks! I've decided (of course, subject to change) on new Mac Mini 3.0GHz, 6 Core, i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD ($1,299), Apple Care ($99), plus LG 21inch ($700) = $2,100.

A different model monitor would be less expensive, but I like the idea that if something in the setup is flakey, I can drag both into Apple. But, still debating. Seems like I could buy a 24 inch 4K from a different company for less?

From all your advice, the i3 may be enough (stimultaneously web browsing, TV over the net) or (simultaneously web browsing, excel, word). But, no games, no photoshop, etc. But the upgrade to i5 is only $100. Worth it?

thanks again, standing at the flight line for yeas or nays.
 

Dr. Stealth

macrumors 6502a
Sep 14, 2004
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:):):)

Cheapassmac, all....again thanks! I've decided (of course, subject to change) on new Mac Mini 3.0GHz, 6 Core, i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD ($1,299), Apple Care ($99), plus LG 21inch ($700) = $2,100.

A different model monitor would be less expensive, but I like the idea that if something in the setup is flakey, I can drag both into Apple. But, still debating. Seems like I could buy a 24 inch 4K from a different company for less?

From all your advice, the i3 may be enough (stimultaneously web browsing, TV over the net) or (simultaneously web browsing, excel, word). But, no games, no photoshop, etc. But the upgrade to i5 is only $100. Worth it?

thanks again, standing at the flight line for yeas or nays.

Dump the Apple Care and get the i7. It will last much, much longer than Apple Care.
 
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Cheapassmac

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Nov 5, 2018
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:):):)

Cheapassmac, all....again thanks! I've decided (of course, subject to change) on new Mac Mini 3.0GHz, 6 Core, i5, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD ($1,299), Apple Care ($99), plus LG 21inch ($700) = $2,100.

A different model monitor would be less expensive, but I like the idea that if something in the setup is flakey, I can drag both into Apple. But, still debating. Seems like I could buy a 24 inch 4K from a different company for less?

From all your advice, the i3 may be enough (stimultaneously web browsing, TV over the net) or (simultaneously web browsing, excel, word). But, no games, no photoshop, etc. But the upgrade to i5 is only $100. Worth it?

thanks again, standing at the flight line for yeas or nays.
Honestly, I think you'd be fine with the i3. People seem to think it's a budget cpu, but this is basically the previous generation i5. If you do get the higher model, might as well upgrade to the i7.

Applecare is a preference, while I don't think there will be any issues, it's worth mentioning that these new mac minis are basically "revision 1". If they made a mistake on the engineering portion, Applecare would cover you without waiting for some extended warranty program (if at all). If this was just a minor bump on a proven design, I would have advocated to skip Applecare all together.

Lastly, LG21" is a waste of money. You can get much better for less. Black Friday is just around the corner, but there are some nice 27-32 inch monitors out there for $200-400. If 4k resolution is a must, just remember, everything is smaller with higher resolution (the cursor would be much smaller than the 2009 mini was producing).
 
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bbnck

macrumors 6502a
Mar 19, 2009
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The i3 in the Mac mini is definitely not a budget processor. Please ignore anyone that tells you it is. It is a quad-core processor and delivers similar levels of performance to the i5-7500 in the 27-inch iMac.

Dump the Apple Care and get the i7. It will last much, much longer than Apple Care.
Here's an example of someone you need to ignore. He advises you to "get the i7" with no further explanation, no justification and no logical reasons for the recommendation. This is incompetent advice. You do not need an i7.
 
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jerwin

macrumors 68020
Jun 13, 2015
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The Core 2 Duo isn't just slow. It's obsolete.

video codecs are accelerated on modern CPUs
Cryptography is accelerated on modern CPUs.

You could try running one of these four browser benchmarks, and posting your score so that those of us with more recent CPUs can compare.

https://browserbench.org


The i7 is a powerful cpu-- it has twice the number of cores (eight) as an i3 (four). But I don't think it will extend the lifespan of your machine. (It might let you do new things with your machine, like edit videos, or play newer games, but browsing the web isn't an especially demanding activity _on a current machine_. )

Case in point-- I never ran OCR on my old machine. On my current mac, I do it enough to wish I had bought a faster CPU.
 

Cheapassmac

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Nov 5, 2018
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No, the i7 has 6 cores, same as the i5... you are mistaken. However, if given the choice of i5 or i7 in the mini, i'd take the i7 for the cache and hyperthreading.
 

jerwin

macrumors 68020
Jun 13, 2015
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No, the i7 has 6 cores, same as the i5... you are mistaken. However, if given the choice of i5 or i7 in the mini, i'd take the i7 for the cache and hyperthreading.
ah. Perhaps I was confusing apple's offerings with the 9th generation chips.

Then no-- the i7 is expensive for what you get. Especially if it thermal throttles.
 

Tigerman82

macrumors 6502
Jul 27, 2010
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#1 being the hard drive, which is probably near its end of life, so writes and reads will take longer. It is also likely a 5400 RPM drive given this is Apple and they loved 5400 RPM drives.
I happen to have an Early-2009 Mac Mini that the OP was asking about. In my opinion the culprits for the slow performance are the CPU and El Capitan (as some have said that their Mac Minis running an older OS X feels snappy). The reason why I don't think the issue is with the HDD is because my Early-2009 Mac Mini is running not only 8 gigs of RAM but a Crucial SSD (both of which I updated). So even with the SSD the performance under El Capitan is annoyingly slow (even something like opening the App Store feels very sluggish). So whereas my Mid-2010 iMac is still extremely responsive, the 1-year older Mac Mini basically cannot be used without some serious wasted time. Some have suggested I should do a clean install but I'd imagine it will be a waste of time.

That said, my next desktop will be the new i5 Mac Mini. These do seem like 'Mac Mini Pros' when compared to the previous Minis. An iMac (or a +600-dollar eGPU, yikes!) would correct that GPU bottleneck the Mini has, but as Intel NUCs among others have closed the gap between Windows and OS X desktops, I really don't feel like paying +2k for a setup I could probably get for 1k (yes, the iMac 27" 5k screen has value, but that's assuming I would feel the need to buy something else than say an LG 27UK850 for 500-600 dollars) just so I can use OS X. I mean I love OS X but thing's ain't right when you have to pay 500-1500 bucks more (compared to a Windows-PC) for the privilege to use it. This new Mac Mini is the perfect compromise as I don't have to pay Apple prices for the display (buying the LG) and for the GPU (as I'd only need it for light gaming, I might as well get a PS4 Slim for compact, low-noise gaming).
 
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Cheapassmac

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Nov 5, 2018
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ah. Perhaps I was confusing apple's offerings with the 9th generation chips. Then no-- the i7 is expensive for what you get. Especially if it thermal throttles.
There are currently no credible reports of major thermal throttling. Apple redesigned the thermals to accommodate. As an owner of a i7, I have not observed any notable throttling under load. Never under base clock under 100% overnight. Also, the 8th gen i7 with 6 cores and 12 threads runs basically as fast as the 9th gen with 8 cores. Hyperthreading boosts performance by 10-50% depending on the situation. Benchmarks and reviews of 9th gen i7s only show about 5% improvement by having two extra cores (at the expense of HT).

-Tigerman82: Thanks for that insight, but the end result is the same. OP would still need a new computer as the 2009 is too old to run the latest MacOS. It is worth pointing out however, that just because it's slow with your ssd, doesn't mean his hard drive isn't dying. Can't be 100% sure without looking at his machine (HD failing is more likely than a corrupt OS mac install), everything is moot if he buys a new machine. EGPUs are also kinda getting affordable, 200 for the enclosure, and 200ish for a Radeon 570/580/590 card. Intel 630 will get you by, but gaming or gpu accelerated pro apps will blow it away by 800%.
 
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Lartymarf

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Aug 11, 2007
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On your 2009 a bump of ram from 4 to 8gb and replacing the old drive with SSD would speed things up to be usable again. It all depends on your budget if you want to keep the 2009 or upgrade the entire computer. My 2010 Mini with 8gb ram and 500gb SSD feels peppy enough for light tasks that it's still a joy to use.
 

Dr. Stealth

macrumors 6502a
Sep 14, 2004
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Here's an example of someone you need to ignore. He advises you to "get the i7" with no further explanation, no justification and no logical reasons for the recommendation.
Do you have a reading comprehension issue? "It will last much, much longer than Apple Care."

This is incompetent advice.
Because it differs from yours ? :rolleyes:

For a measly $200.00 the OP could get an extra 2-3 years out of a new Mini. It's a no-brainer. :p
 

michaelb5000

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Sep 23, 2015
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I had a 2009 mini too; I agree there were webpages where it would be very slow to load, basically just sit and spin. I had ad block installed and was using safari (but other browsers were not noticeably faster) and my assumption was that this slowness was related to those specific pages and the ads they were loading. I had long ago updated my 2009 mini with an SSD and maxed the ram (so those help a lot, but I don't think they will help with your issue: slow web page loading).

I bought the i3 mini with 8 ram and 128 SSD, so the cheapest option for $799. I don't really get the pay way more now in the theory that the difference will really matter 5-8 years from now (all of our minis now will be old and slow then); save the money now and use those savings for retirement; and buy another cheap computer when you need it in 5-8 years. I may regret the 128 SSD, but all of my user files were already off the boot drive, and would not fit even if I went to a 512 SSD, so it seems to me if I am storing all my user files off the boot internal SSD anyway, the size of that boot drive really doesn't matter that much. But paying for a 256 boot drive internally does make sense for some for many reasons.
 
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InquiringMac

macrumors member
Dec 16, 2013
77
5
This is why I feel buying an SSD for the old machine feels like a waste.
Would you recommend upgrading HDD to SSD for the late 2012 Mac mini, please?
If you, dear experts, agree this is a feasible idea, what internal 1TB SSD would you recommend, please? I was considering SAMSUNG 860 EVO (PRO would be better yet, but too expensive for me, unfortunately).