Upgrade to Mountain Lion... or no?

Discussion in 'OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)' started by Krupke, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. Krupke macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    Yesterday, I just bought a shiny spankin' new (2008....) used iMac 4gb RAM, 2.4ghz core2duo. It came with Snow Leopard, and I'm only familiar with Mountain Lion. I want to start with a fresh install of OSX, but I'm not sure which to go with, as I read ML can be installed on an iMac of even this vintage. But I don't know if I should.

    One, I'm not sure what worthwhile things ML would give me over SL, and what things it would take away that might be good to have in SL (ie. exposé, rosetta....). The major consideration is speed. Some people seem to think ML is faster on the same old hardware, others seem to think SL is faster. It would seem to me that SL would be more optimized for this model and 4gb memory, but I'm not sure? Any consensus on this?
  2. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    1. Yes, your Mac can run Mountain Lion.

    But am I right that you're already familiar with ML? In which case, try out SL and see which you prefer. Or not.

    For a thorough review of the features and capabilities of ML, read this review:
    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/07/os-x-10-8/ (It's quit long. Get a cup of tea and a biscuit.)

    Only you can know what features you value and which faults or failings (in BOTH 10.6 and 10.8) you are prepared to tolerate in the balance.

    You should have an installer disk for Snow Leopard. If not, then at least make a clone image of your 10.6 installation, so that you can trial ML for a bit and decide whether it runs OK on your hardware.

    FWIW, I have a 2009 MacBook which runs ML faster than SL. My 2006 iMac also ran Lion faster than SL, with only 3GB of RAM.
  3. Krupke, Apr 10, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013

    Krupke thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    Thanks, yes I'm familiar with Mountain Lion. I actually have a 2011 iMac with Mountain Lion set up right next to my 2008 iMac with Snow Leopard. Speed is the most important factor to me, but it's hard to know which OS is faster, since the 2011 iMac is faster to begin with. I think the 2008 iMac will stay at 4gb RAM, so maybe SL has an advantage over ML.

    " Only you can know what features you value and which faults or failings "

    Well no, not if I don't know all the features Snow Leopard has that might be an advantage over what ML is missing (which is why I'm soliciting opinions from those with experience with both systems). It's not easy to know this stuff if you're not familiar with the OS. I need to make a decision today hopefully, on what system to go with. So I won't have the time to spend days or weeks testing out both OS's.

    I've done further research and found two benchmark tests from two different sources. Both compare SL vs ML on the same computer, and Snow Leopard turns out to be faster in benchmarks and on bootup. Which contradicts anecdotal evidence I've read from people saying ML was faster than (or equal to) SL on their older hardware. (Here and here). So I,m currently leaning strongly towards sticking with Snow Leopard on the core2duo. I'll check out your link, thanks.
  4. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    For me, it seems mountain lion is about the same speed as snow leopard. Snow leopard definitely puts my notebook into sleep instantly, and it's hibernate function doesn't drain battery. But mountain lion takes 10-15 seconds to go into sleep, and it never seems to hibernate.

    I'd keep snow leopard unless there is a program or game that requires mountain lion. Safari for mountain lion seems no different then the snow leopard version.
  5. katewes macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2007
    I have an old Core2Duo MacBook Pro just like yourself. The important thing is to put an SDD into it. With an SSD, the performance improvement is so great that you often don't feel you're missing anything with the latest models.

    Lion and Mountain Lion are adapted for SSD, whereas SL isn't. Before you upgrade, it is almost mandatory to install an SSD first.

    I upgraded to L/ML for these reasons:

    - iCloud for syncing Calendar and Contacts.

    - All disk encryption with FileVault 2 ... did you know that, even if you password protect with SL, and you lose the computer, a thief can easily access the data? Won't say how, since I don't want to give ideas to thieves, but it is really easy.

    - Lion 10.7.5 and 10.8.3 seem fairly stable, unlike their earlier iterations.

    When you do upgrade, I'd be interested to know of how you found the performance.

    Everything else with L/ML, I could not care less. In fact, I resent that Apple forces OS upgrades for such trivial changes. It causes a lot of grief having to also update all other software that I use, just to get stupid ML features like Messenger, Facebook integration. For me, only about a handful of ML were of interest - the rest where nonsensical, when linked to requiring its user population to change OS, affecting all other software from 3rd parties. Why can't Apple just give us Apps that do these things? Why can't Mail be a stand-alone app that doesn't require upgrading the entire OS? Why couldn't Apple let ML be installed on older Macs, with certain graphic-intensive features not being activated on those older models, rather than totally forbidding the installation on those older Macs? Oh, I see, it is so that Apple can update the OS, thus incrementally making older Macs to become obsolete before their time, so they can force us to buy new Macs. Sorry for the rant, but Apple didn't get its big pile of cash by thinking of the customer. No, it got that money by thinking how they can force the customer to spend more money. Fair enough, but let's call a spade a spade.
  6. Krupke thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    A lot of people are saying the ML version is faster. But I'm not sure why one can't just update their SL version. Anyway, I prefer Firefox because of its extensions, and I think FF is faster than Safari anyway. As for the speed of the two operating systems, I'm getting conflicting reports. Some think ML is faster - but it seems like once you have enough RAM (8gb+) things even out. There seems to be more benchmarking reports and anecdotals that indicate SL is faster on the same machine.

    I don't know in the future if some software I might want would not run on SL. But I don't think I'll be investing in ram for this thing, so 4gb it will remain. That's key, because I've read a number of people now say SL takes less RAM (officially: 1gb min.), when they compared with ML (2gb min.). I was nearly ready to install MountainLion when that little factoid convinced me to keep SL on the machine!
  7. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    Mountain Lion uses the RAM available. If you have lots of RAM, it will use lots of RAM. If you have a little RAM, it will use as much of your RAM as it needs.
    Using RAM is a Good Thing™. It doesn't mean ML is "inefficient".

    I've said before there's a great analogy about computers in the form of a kitchen. Your disk storage is the cupboards. Your RAM is the work surfaces. When you want to do some cooking, you get everything you need out of the cupboards and onto the work surfaces. If you haven't got much work surfaces, you need to put stuff back in the cupboard more frequently.
    Ideally, you want to lay everything out on the surfaces so it's where you can get it easily.
    That's what ML does. It lays it all out on the table, so you can get to it easily.
  8. cal6n macrumors 68000


    Jul 25, 2004
    Gloucester, UK
    Stripping the Snow Leopard/Mountain Lion debate down to its most basic level, there are 3 cases for staying with Snow Leopard:

    1. A distrust of the cloud and of the perceived "iOS-ification" of OS X.
    2. Hardware incompatibility.
    3. The need to run PowerPC-only applications under Rosetta.

    Since you're happily using Mountain Lion already and the 2008 iMac is perfectly capable of running it, the only reason to hold back would seem to be a necessity to run legacy applications.

    Personally, the only reason I'd stay on Snow Leopard would be hardware incompatibility. Indeed, I sold my 2007 Mac Pro 2,1 and bought a 2009 4,1 model specifically to upgrade to Mountain Lion and haven't regretted my decision for an instant.
  9. Krupke, Apr 11, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013

    Krupke thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    Doesn’t every operating system do that? As I mentioned, the official specifications state that ML requires a minimum of 2GB RAM, while SL requires 1gb. That right there tells me ML is more bloated, and SL will do what ML does with less RAM.

    Using RAM is a Good Thing™.

    Not when your operating system requires twice the amount of RAM as the older one, giving you less RAM for running applications. ™. :D

    I can think of a few other important reasons: a) Snow Leopard is faster on bootup and processing than Mountain Lion (according to several benchmark comparisons I’ve seen), and an older core2duo iMac like this needs all the help it can get. It's a MID 2007 model, with 2 x 2gb of DDR2 SDRAM 667mhz. According to Apple, 4GB is the maximum I can install, so its maxed out. Snow Leopard requires less RAM (and less hard disk space), which frees more for applications. It’s also reputed to be more stable, and more like a “mac” (less like an iPhone). It seems the main reason I’d want Mountain Lion, is because I really like the Notes application, and I want to use its speech to text Dictate feature.
  10. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    My "old, fast & reliable" Snow Leopard 10.6.8, remains my favorite hands down.

    That, despite the fact that I'm running the latest rev of Mountain Lion on my newest MBPr's.

    I have spent two years on MobileMe, and now iCloud. Sadly I'm still of the mind that Apple just doesn't get cloud services. Problematic, not well liked by developers iClouds got a lot of issues that need to be sorted out.

    Perhaps despite lip service by Apple, they're spread too thin to address it with a degree of urgency. Who knows. All I _do know_ is I use Drive, Dropbox, Sky Drive & others without the annoyances, time wasters & general poor experience of iCloud.

    Therefore the fact that iCloud is built into iOS & OS X is of no advantage for my purposes.

    I'm not fond of the "Mac Store" & iOS App model Apple has forced on OS X users either, but it's no surprise. Apple does what will line it's pockets first & foremost. Something that one must put up with if you like OS X as much as I do.
  11. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    OS X has clever memory management. It has been designed to cater for launching applications and having a finite amount of RAM.
    I have run ML on my 2009 MacBook with 4GB, and it works fine. It may be maxed out most of the time. It may ... gasp ... swap out. But performance is absolutely fine and certainly no worse than SL.

    Benchmarks, Schmenchmarks. Test it yourself and then stay with it or go back.

    All the best
  12. Krupke thread starter macrumors member

    May 5, 2012
    Thanks for all the input, all. I've concluded that I'll be better off sticking with Snow Leopard on this 4gb 2007 iMac. I'm convinced now that SL is more efficient memory-wise, and Apple says you can't upgrade it above 4gb. I want to avoid the increased page swaps to disk likely to come from Mountain Lion, which will slow things down and wear out my drive. Convinced by reading old messages from users on this very forum, one who clearly saw performance hits on his older 2gb mac after switching to ML from SL. I also looked at Activity Monitor on both my MountainLion iMac and the one running Snow Leopard. With about the same apps open on the dock, the ML iMac shows about 4GB used, while the SL iMac shows about 2GB used. No need to buy Mountain Lion and go through the pain of upgrading-downgrading, reinstalling apps then.

    I did want to mention: What I like most about Mountain Lion is the Notes, Reminders and updated Contacts app; that syncs with iCloud (and hopefully, to my iPhone). Well, I now have all 3 apps on my Snow Leopard machine, and they will sync to iCloud and my phone. If you want the same, here's how:


    (In the example given, just replace the name "reminders" in the iCloud URL link with "notes", "contacts", etc).

    In the interest of speed and memory resources, I used the oldest version of Chrome browser I could find for the Mac. (google "old version chrome mac"). Hope that helps.

    Now if I could find a replacement for that nifty speech to text Dictation feature in Mountain Lion...
  13. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
  14. pionata macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2005
    I'd stick with Snow Leopard. I totally regret the upgrade. ML is ****; they messed up exposé, removed the sometimes essential scroll arrows... It's also slower, the video drivers are worse (on SL I could watch a video on a screen and play a game on the other, I cannot on ML - and I have a quad with 16gigs of ram).

    Edit: it's also buggier than SN.
  15. RedRaven571 macrumors 65816


    Mar 13, 2009
    I'm running ML on a late 2008 MBP C2D 2.4gHz with 8gb RAM and HDD (7200rpm); I haven't noticed any slow down in how it performs vs. SL, except for a slightly longer boot time.

    Some quirks about ML I'm not loving but overall, I'm pretty satisfied. If you don't care about iCloud integration, etc. I would suggest leaving it on SL.
  16. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    Even SL can use some of the iCloud features. And there are 3rd party apps that can get you in some kind of cloud system.

    My biggest reason right now for staying on ML would be Messages. Never realized how much I used it.

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