Speeding up a (black) MacBook 2,1

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by C64, Jul 29, 2010.

  1. C64 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2008
    I have a late 2006 2,1 model MacBook (black), and I'd like to speed it up a bit. It's still running pretty good, although I'm having problems with it slowing down when I'm using a lot of apps. I've been looking at the 13" Unibodies too, but going from a C2D 2.0GHz to a C2D 2.4 or 2.6GHz after 3.5+ years seems pointless. So I'm thinking of the following:

    I currently have 2x1GB DDR2, and this model is supposed to run with 3GB of RAM max: either 1x1GB and 1x2GB (3GB total) or 2x2GB which it'll use 3.2GB of. The latter should be faster because of dual channel or something like that, but not all that much. Unfortunately I can't get it up to 4GB.

    I decided to order a single Kingston KTA-MB667/2GB module with Lifetime warranty. The prices are pretty steep nowadays for this MacBook-certified memory, and I don't think the 2x2GB will make thát much of a difference compared to 1x1GB and 1x2GB. Hopefully I'll notice some improvements when running many apps at the same time.

    Hard drive
    I'm still using the stock HD which is a 120GB 5400RPM Toshiba MK1234GSX. Would a HD upgrade speed up day-to-day stuff? I'm mostly working with web development apps, Photoshop, Illustrator, and a lot of browsers/tabs.

    I've been reading about the newish Seagate Momentus XT and the older WD Scorpion Black. Both 7200RPM, and according to reviews they're both pretty good. Will these speed up working with the apps I mentioned above? Or will the difference be negligible? I'm willing to invest a bit in this machine, but only if I'll really be feeling some kind of speed bump, otherwise it's kinda useless.

    Also, this MacBook has a ICH7-M AHCI S-ATA controller with a speed of 1.5 Gigabit. Will these newer S-ATA disks even work with that? Backward compatible? And if so, will the speed gain still be worth it?

    Something else?
    Anything besides RAM and HD that I'm missing, that could speed up this MacBook a bit? Thanks!
  2. iShater macrumors 604


    Aug 13, 2002
    First step should be to identify why it is slowing down.

    When you notice the slow downs:

    how much virtual memory is being used?

    how much CPU is being used?

    how much free space do you have on the harddrive?

    and finally what other processes are running in the background sharing the system resources?
  3. mr.steevo macrumors 65816


    Jul 21, 2004

    I just replaced the 80gb hard drive on my sister's 2007 macbook to a 500GB 7200RPM drive.

    The difference in boot speed was very noticeable and applications load much faster. This wasn't a minor upgrade as even my sister commented on how fast her macbook felt.

    Had I known about the Momentus XT I think I would have taken a serious look at it, but I think for the money the regular 7200rpm drive is more than enough for her.

    I'm not sure if the extra memory would make a difference but my sister decided to upgrade from 1GB (2x512mb) to 2.5GB (1x2gb + 1x512mb).

  4. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2005
    I have a similar computer (Blackbook 2.16 C2D, mid 2007). Upgrading the RAM from 2GB to 3GB has definitely made a difference in terms of those episodes where the computer stops doing what you want to read/write virtual memory.

    I'm also a bit unconvinced (although perhaps unfoundedly) about buying a new laptop which, after over 3 years, is still Core 2 Duo, just at 2.4GHz instead of 2.16GHz.

    The real upgrade that I'm wondering about, but is expensive, is a £300 Intel SSD to replace the hard drive. I imagine that would make it fly. But... if I'm going to spend that much, I'd kind of like to buy a new laptop with a LED-backlit monitor and nice trackpad etc.
  5. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2005
    Seagate Momentus XT ... I'd not heard of that before! That looks very tempting.
  6. C64, Jul 29, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012

    C64 thread starter macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2008
    Yeah, the new 13" MacBooks are great. The unibody, glass trackpad and screen alone are worth the update, if that's something you want. But I think that purely looking at the speed you won't see that much of an improvement. Most of the time my C2D 2.0GHz is running 90-95% idle. And even with a lot of apps opened it's still 70-80% idle. Only when you're doing really CPU-intensive work you'll see a difference. But since I'm not doing that all that often, I'm guessing it's all about the RAM and possible the hard drive. Guess the biggest part of the 13" users are using it the same way, massive CPU-power isn't necessary, and that's why Apple didn't go for the i3 or i5 yet.

    I fired up some apps I often use simultaneously, and everything gets noticeably slower. It especially takes a while to switch between apps. Need to wait a bit every time before I can actually do something again. Opening new tabs/sites takes a long time, lots of spinning beach balls in Safari.

    Screenshot from Activity Monitor:


    From what I could find on Google it's best to keep the Page outs as low as possible, and about 5-10% max relative to the Page ins. As you can see it's now at 25% which can't be good. What I don't get is why it still says on the left that about 570MB is inactive.


    Not much going on with the CPU. Safari is, with many tabs open, using up about 12-14% CPU. The rest of the apps are all at ~0,0 to 3,0% max.

    Edit: made a separate topic with a more OS X-related question: Forcing OS X to free up memory.
  7. HussainAL macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2010

    I have a White MacBook 2, 1, which I think is the same hardware C2D 2.0GHz, I have upgraded to 4GB RAM (the system recognize only 3), 250GB 5400 RPM, the system working with Photoshop and Photo Editing.

    The problem with this model is the bus speed, it's 667MHz, while the new MacBooks comes with 1.67GHz, the speed is double of our Macs, that's when visiting Mac stores a lot (like me), plays the new Macs, you will realize how fast the new Macs are, and how slow is our Macs is.

    The only thing left for me is to upgrade to 7200 RPM hard drive, but I will not compare what my Mac to new Mac speed, and still it's not worth upgrading to new Mac, I can use my Mac for another 2 years or more.


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