Trying to find the bottleneck..

ZD8062

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 14, 2014
6
0
I've got a late 2011 macbook pro 13" with 4gb ram, 500gb mechanical hard drive, running mavericks. I'm trying to figure out what upgrade is needed, or if it is even possible to upgrade, to speed things up a bit. Application load time itself doesn't bother me much, my concern is more with sluggish performance, which makes me think upgrading to 8gb ram will do the trick. I don't use a lot of heavy applications. At any given moment, I usually have music running through iTunes, pandora, or spotify, web browser open with a few tabs, mail, messages, tweet deck, and evernote open. With this, I'll often get sluggish performance where pandora might completely stop working as I'm opening another new tab, when i click the address bar to start typing there is a 2-3 second delay before it will register that i'm typing, etc.

Anyways, I've been watching activity monitor and the memory pressure has always been in green. Even when put under high stress (opening about every application in my dock and opening 15ish tabs in safari), things come to a halt, but pressure stays green and swap stays at 0.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Personally I didn't think the sluggish performance was HDD related as it says it isn't using any swap and application load time isn't a huge deal for me. I was thinking RAM could be it, but again, it stays in the green and never uses any swap. If it's helpful hers some other status when pushed it beyond normal use to test:

physical memory: 4GB
memory used: 3.99GB
Virtual memory: 5.91GB
Swap used: 0 bytes
App memory: 1.93GB
File Cache: 204.3Mb
Wired memory: 1, 016.7
Compressed 891.9MB

Any help is appreciated. I'm hoping to get this computer to last another couple years and I'd also like to upgrade to El Capitan, however, when I upgraded to yosemite the sluggish performance intensified a ton, so I'm a bit afraid to do so.

Thanks!
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,174
9,852
California
With this, I'll often get sluggish performance where pandora might completely stop working as I'm opening another new tab, when i click the address bar to start typing there is a 2-3 second delay before it will register that i'm typing, etc.
If memory pressure is in the green, more memory won't help and you don't need an SSD to avoid having the issue you described in this sentence.

Let me ask you this... did it always do this, or is it a recent issue? What you ate describing here is exactly the symptoms of a failing hard drive. It is less common, but these models also have a hard drive cable that fails and causes the same issues.
 

ZD8062

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 14, 2014
6
0
If memory pressure is in the green, more memory won't help and you don't need an SSD to avoid having the issue you described in this sentence.

Let me ask you this... did it always do this, or is it a recent issue? What you ate describing here is exactly the symptoms of a failing hard drive. It is less common, but these models also have a hard drive cable that fails and causes the same issues.
It got noticeable ever since I tried upgrading to Yosemite when first released. I "downgraded" to Mavericks again and it felt like new, so there was a significant speed increase. (And by speed I mean less sluggish performance, not necessarily that it was booting or opening programs faster) By and large, I don't have problems with sluggishness when only having a single tab open in safari, and mail running. It's most noticeable when having multiple tabs, playing music, and also when opening large spreadsheets. I don't have to do much for processing with spreadsheets, but even just opening/navigating though extremely large one's is a fairly common task that the computer struggles with. Even while operating now it's small things like clicking "safari" in the menu bar to close the program, there is a noticeable delay between clicking it and the menu popping up.
 

Acejam2k

macrumors regular
Jul 16, 2008
233
9
Memory doesn't really increase application performance. It allows you to run more applications simultaneously.

If you want an actual performance increase, and you're running hard drive now, you want an SSD.
 
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Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,174
9,852
California
Even while operating now it's small things like clicking "safari" in the menu bar to close the program, there is a noticeable delay between clicking it and the menu popping up.
Even the slowest hard drive in town and only 4GB of memory, you should not be seeing this. Do you recall if it was always like this.... or again is this recent?

Sometimes what happens is OS reinstalls can be a real workout for a hard drive, and just the act of reinstalling can take a borderline drive and push it into failure territory. This slow menu opening and big pauses while simply typing are often signs of a bad drive. Or bad drive cable like I mentioned.

Do you happen to have an external enclosure you could out the drive in and boot to to take the cable out of the mix?
 
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ZD8062

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 14, 2014
6
0
Even the slowest hard drive in town and only 4GB of memory, you should not be seeing this. Do you recall if it was always like this.... or again is this recent?

Sometimes what happens is OS reinstalls can be a real workout for a hard drive, and just the act of reinstalling can take a borderline drive and push it into failure territory. This slow menu opening and big pauses while simply typing are often signs of a bad drive. Or bad drive cable like I mentioned.

Do you happen to have an external enclosure you could out the drive in and boot to to take the cable out of the mix?
Thanks for the suggestion. I would it's been doing this for about the past year. But it hasn't really gotten worse necessarily. But, it also didn't seem abrupt when it started happening.

And no, I don't currently have an external enclosure.
 
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