Snow Leopard or Lion for Macbook White, Early 2009 model?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by insearchof, May 30, 2012.

  1. insearchof macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2011
    Hi, have a question that I hope more tech-savvy people can help with :)

    I would like to use FaceTime on my Macbook so I would need to upgrade my OS to Snow Leopard. Mine's a white Macbook, early 2009 model running Leopard 10.5.8. I've never upgraded any of the parts.
    I'm wondering which one to upgrade to - Snow Leopard or Lion? With the current hardware, will either OS run more slowly? I'm just a bit worried about that.
    And in case it's helpful, the technical specs of my Macbook are:
    2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
    120GB hard disk drive

    Thanks in advance!
  2. definitive macrumors 68000


    Aug 4, 2008
    Depends on how much RAM your system has. Here are two options:

    1) Snow Leopard - will have to buy FaceTime for 99 cents in the App Store.
    2) Lion - comes with FaceTime, but will need 4GB RAM to run smoothly.
  3. gumblecosby macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2010
    If you have 2gb of ram or want maximum battery life then stay on snow leopard. However, 10.7.4 has been a big improvement for this model when it comes to ram usage and the performance of the GUI when compared to earlier Lion releases. On 10.7.3, I would be using about .500 to 700mb more ram than 10.6.8. Now, on 10.7.4, ram usage is almost the same as snow leopard. Maybe just a little more due to the fact it boots to a 64 bit kernel instead of a 32 bit one in snow leopard.

    To be honest, unless you have software that is Lion only, such as xcode 4.3, then there is really no point going to Lion. My macbook is similar to yours and it runs well on lion with 4gb of ram. If you do upgrade, do a clean install.
  4. FlatlinerG macrumors 6502a


    Dec 21, 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    Anyone here saying you need 4GB of ram for Lion isn't entirely correct. I have an early 2008 white MacBook that only has 2GB of ram and Lion runs like a champ on it. The only thing I have noticed, and this is expected behaviour, is that since it's one of the oldest products that support Lion it doesn't have the AirDrop feature.

    Otherwise, in all honesty, Lion should run perfectly fine.
  5. gumblecosby macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2010
    Id be wary of only using 2gb of ram on a nvidia MacBook. It needs 256mb of ram for the integrated gpu compared to the intel x3100 in your MacBook. Plus it will boot into a 64bit kernel with lion. That means kernel task will use more ram as well. Your MacBook is more than likely using the 32 bit kernel if it is the one I'm thinking of.

    I have seen a mac mini with similar specs to your MacBook run lion well with 3gb of ram. Person who owns it uses it for freelance video work. It handled final cut studio ok along with other tasks so I believe you when you say you had no problems running lion.
  6. DrakkenWar macrumors 6502


    Nov 7, 2010
    San Antonio,Texas
    Had the same issue a few months back..

    I ran into the same issue with my wife's MacBook. Tiger was getting a bit long in the tooth, and the gig of ram installed when I originally purchased it was bogging things down to the point she started to complain about beachballs and bouncing icons.
    So threw in 4 gigs of ram and installed Lion. SHE HATED IT!. Everything about it. It ran alright, but just too completely different too what she is used to. That made me thing of SL. Bought an install off Amazon for $30 shipped, installed it when it showed up and she LOVES it. So it all boils down your experience and what you do.
  7. insearchof thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2011
    Thanks lots everyone for the advice! Um, these are the specs I got off the Apple website:

    NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory3

    Processor and memory
    2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache running 1:1 with processor speed
    1066MHz frontside bus
    2GB (two 1GB
    SO-DIMMs) of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 4GB

    I don't need to factor in the battery life - I had to remove the battery after it swelled and I think I'll leave my RAM as it is, so Snow Leopard seems like the way to go. But it's interesting to hear 2GB of RAM can support Lion - at least I can consider upgrading later if I want. :)

    Another separate but perhaps related question - I get the spinning beach ball quite often now. Startup is still okay but if I try to launch Safari or any other application almost immediately after Startup, the beach ball appears. Also notice that it appears quite often whenever I launch Safari. I have tried repairing permissions using Disk Utility but it's still happening. Does that suggest my hard drive is dying :eek:, in which case I had better take care of that before anything else?

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