What to upgrade - SSD or RAM ?

andy8

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 6, 2009
156
1
Hello all,

I have been running into spinning wheel issues on my :

2009 MacBook Pro (2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo), (Memory 4GB), (Startup Disk HDD).

Terrible system wide slowdown, I couldn't keep many applications open and a lot more issues (performance degrading).

I have done clean installs a few times now and I'm running the currently up-to date (OSX 10.9.5). I have captured a few screen shots below based on the readings I got on my Activity Monitor. It'll be helpful if someone would be able to let me know what upgrades to make in order to have an efficient system running. SSD or RAM ?

Performance capture on 4th October :







Performance capture on 6th October :







I would appreciate it if someone could advice me as to what upgrades to make.

Thanks,
Andy
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,843
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Boston
What does your activity monitor show? Many page outs/page ins?

Upgrading to an SSD will give you faster performance for any disk bound operations, the ram could be helpful depending on whether you're running short on that resource. If you're not, then upgrading the ram won't have any effect.
 

leman

macrumors G3
Oct 14, 2008
9,963
4,550
I'd say SSD first, RAM second. Although your does seem to struggle with RAM somehow.

On the other side, I would never recommend to invest into a 5 year old computer. You should think about getting a new one.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
29,141
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California
Hello all,

I have been running into spinning wheel issues on my :

2009 MacBook Pro (2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo), (Memory 4GB), (Startup Disk HDD).

Terrible system wide slowdown, I couldn't keep many applications open and a lot more issues (performance degrading).

I have done clean installs a few times now and I'm running the currently up-to date (OSX 10.9.5). I have captured a few screen shots below based on the readings I got on my Activity Monitor. It'll be helpful if someone would be able to let me know what upgrades to make in order to have an efficient system running. SSD or RAM ?
You should not need to upgrade anything. A 2009 MBP with 4GB and a HDD will run Mavericks without the issues you are seeing. You have something wrong.

I see in that first capture the process systemstats is chewing up 96% CPU cycles. That alone would slow down the whole system. Does it stay at the ~96% most of the time?

Take a look at this article.

 

Freyqq

macrumors 601
Dec 13, 2004
4,014
166
In those photos, your ram pressure is green. This generally means that OSX is doing ok with your amount of ram. However, an SSD would be a large improvement over any HD.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,770
5,579
Hong Kong
Your biggest bottleneck is the HDD. Upgrade to the SSD will make you feel that your system much more responsive.
 

andy8

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 6, 2009
156
1
Thank you for all the replies so far.

I am thinking of investing on a newer MacBook next year. I really need
to do something to address the issues I'm facing now.

Another thing i wish to mention is the wake/sleep issues and the constant WiFi connection drops I experience upon the Mac waking up from sleep. Could this be due to HDD ? If thats the case, I feel upgrading to SSD is the best to do.

Just don't want hiccups for the next one year or so.
 

jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
16,864
1,480
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
Thank you for all the replies so far.

[...]

Just don't want hiccups for the next one year or so.
You completely ignored this poster's question. Please answer it. Your Mac is much more newer than mine and mine runs pretty smooth.

You might also be throwing money away by just purchasing an unneeded computer.

You should not need to upgrade anything. A 2009 MBP with 4GB and a HDD will run Mavericks without the issues you are seeing. You have something wrong.

I see in that first capture the process systemstats is chewing up 96% CPU cycles. That alone would slow down the whole system. Does it stay at the ~96% most of the time?

Take a look at this article.

Image
Agreed, what is the CPU doing that requires 96% commitment?
 

simonsi

macrumors 601
Jan 3, 2014
4,849
716
Auckland
Sort systemstats if that is an issue,
stop running Chrome,
then SSD if you need to.
RAM looks fine.
 

CarreraGuy

macrumors regular
Jan 15, 2013
148
0
Second vote on: stop using Chrome

  • I switched back to Firefox after using Chrome for almost 2 years.

Upgrade your SSD first:

  • I went versa-visa on my 2010 MBP however noticed more dramatic load, save, close times with SSD upgrade as opposed to RAM upgrade from 4gb to 8gb.

Keep an eye on your memory pressure and how many apps/docs you have open. You can get away with 4gb just fine if you watch what you have open and running. Also you'll get more bang for your buck with SSD upgrade, also prices keep dropping. I upgraded from 256GB HDD to 512GB SSD and now considering upgrading *again* to a 1TB SSD.

Keep in mind if you buy a new rMBP it will be more painful to upgrade the SSD and I think upgrading RAM is impossible since they are soldered onto the motherboard.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,770
5,579
Hong Kong
The systemstats is normal. It's schedule to run at 00:15 everyday (you can check your activity monitor, it should pops up every night, and use about 100% of your CPU for quite a few minutes), or may be triggered by some OS functions (activity monitor is one of them).

Also, it's not on the 6th Oct screen capture. That means it's not in a infinity loop. It was just a coincident that the systemstats was running when OP capture the screen on 4th Oct.

IMO, this 96% CPU usage is very normal for systemstats, unless it stick there for more than 15min, or keep opening new thread (e.g. 4 systemstats shows in activity monitor and use 350% of CPU).
 

duervo

macrumors 68020
Feb 5, 2011
2,306
1,031
RAM is fine. So is CPU. (But I would stop using Chrome too. It's not very a very efficient piece of software, imo.)

5 year old system, with a 5 year old disk drive (moving parts.)

Get an SSD, and if you can, reapply the thermal paste and clean the fans while you have the system open to upgrade to an SSD. If you're not comfortable doing the paste on your own, then skip it, but definitely give the fans a good cleaning.

When you buy a new one next year, this one should be good as a hand-me-down to somebody that just wants something to use to surf the web and send/receive email.
 

Gav Mack

macrumors 68020
Jun 15, 2008
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Buy an SSD, it's one of the best upgrades you can ever make. Then upgrade the RAM after as I doubt it will cost a lot for your computer.
Seconded - though I would do both the 4gb DDR3-8500 sticks are fairly cheap unlike the earlier DDR2-800 types of which the 4gb parts are horrendously expensive.

I would boot into the recovery partition by holding down option at boot and repair the disk permissions of Macintosh HD while it's unmounted which may alleviate some of the beach balls. Check the disk too for errors.
 
Last edited:

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
29,141
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California
The systemstats is normal. It's schedule to run at 00:15 everyday (you can check your activity monitor, it should pops up every night, and use about 100% of your CPU for quite a few minutes), or may be triggered by some OS functions (activity monitor is one of them).

Also, it's not on the 6th Oct screen capture. That means it's not in a infinity loop. It was just a coincident that the systemstats was running when OP capture the screen on 4th Oct.

IMO, this 96% CPU usage is very normal for systemstats, unless it stick there for more than 15min, or keep opening new thread (e.g. 4 systemstats shows in activity monitor and use 350% of CPU).
I disagree. I linked one article and here is another showing the issue.

OP took the screenshot at 12:49PM and if you restart your system and open Activity Monitor you will see that systemstats is not running at all. If you click the battery icon to check power usage systemstats will pop up for a few second and use some CPU% then drop right back down.

So unless OP took a screenshot at almost the exact instant he checked battery usage, that systemstats CPU% shown there is not normal.

Like jav6454 mentioned, Mavericks should run just fine on OP's hardware and if it is not, something is wrong. Now OP certainly may have a bad hard drive (his symptoms are not unlike a bad drive), but you seem to tell anybody that has a computer problem to just run out and buy and SSD without any effort to look at what might be the underlying issue.
 

Gav Mack

macrumors 68020
Jun 15, 2008
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I disagree. I linked one article and here is another showing the issue.

OP took the screenshot at 12:49PM and if you restart your system and open Activity Monitor you will see that systemstats is not running at all. If you click the battery icon to check power usage systemstats will pop up for a few second and use some CPU% then drop right back down.

So unless OP took a screenshot at almost the exact instant he checked battery usage, that systemstats CPU% shown there is not normal.

Like jav6454 mentioned, Mavericks should run just fine on OP's hardware and if it is not, something is wrong. Now OP certainly may have a bad hard drive (his symptoms are not unlike a bad drive), but you seem to tell anybody that has a computer problem to just run out and buy and SSD without any effort to look at what might be the underlying issue.
It could be the disk, these more modern drives seem to spin slower rather than go bang like the older types. Though I tell anybody with an older Mac that if they want it to feel like new upgrading to an SSD is a must. When I see a mid 2007 iMac 27 inch boot Mavericks to desktop with a Parallels 7x86 VM on login in less than 30 seconds it's the best upgrade you can ever give to an old Mac.
 

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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It could be the disk, these more modern drives seem to spin slower rather than go bang like the older types. Though I tell anybody with an older Mac that if they want it to feel like new upgrading to an SSD is a must. When I see a mid 2007 iMac 27 inch boot Mavericks to desktop with a Parallels 7x86 VM on login in less than 30 seconds it's the best upgrade you can ever give to an old Mac.
I get what you are saying, but it just seems like lately everybody's auto-response to many issues is "buy an SSD" when perhaps a $49 hard drive is all that is needed to restore previous performance levels (assuming a bad drive is the issue).
 

Gav Mack

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Jun 15, 2008
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I get what you are saying, but it just seems like lately everybody's auto-response to many issues is "buy an SSD" when perhaps a $49 hard drive is all that is needed to restore previous performance levels (assuming a bad drive is the issue).
That's because the value for money combined with performance of a $49 spinning disk compared to a $79 or $99 solid state means I haven't installed a single stock spinning disk in any Mac bar the Mac Pro for the past year. For a five year old Mac and customers responses which are always 'blown away and over the moon' I am happy to provide the service :D

Plus it's a waste of my labour time having to wait to install on a HDD, they save my time which accordingly saves them money too. Unless they need a large capacity drive (over 512gb) where SSHD is an option the days of the traditional spinner in notebooks are now over booting OS X.
 

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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That's because the value for money combined with performance of a $49 spinning disk compared to a $79 or $99 solid state...
If you want to compare, I think you need to compare equal sizes. You can get a 500GB HDD for $49. Not so much with an SSD.

Again, I'm all for SSDs. Just not for throwing $200+ SSDs at every problem without even trying to diagnose.
 

Gav Mack

macrumors 68020
Jun 15, 2008
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If you want to compare, I think you need to compare equal sizes. You can get a 500GB HDD for $49. Not so much with an SSD.

Again, I'm all for SSDs. Just not for throwing $200+ SSDs at every problem without even trying to diagnose.
I agree, but the majority of users 256Gb is enough, even factoring in the 25% empty factor. It's only when you get past this figure to 750 and 1Tb where the economics/performance ratio is tighter but these drives which no doubt will not get hammered like an enterprise model still have a resale value sold second hand. They will fit in anything, even iMac's and Mac Pro with an Adaptadrive 3.5 adapter.

My hunch is probably like yourself is that in the OP's case it's probably got something to do with the HDD. Disk Utility repairing the permissions and checking the disk off the recovery partition may give more clues. But any client with a 2009 I would advise as an extended life refit to max the ram out and go SSD, for their benefits not only in terms of performance but also how much they have to pay me to do the work. Most post upgrade can't see the point in retiring it as upgraded it's an extremely capable Mac again, one far more capable than when they bought it new too.
 

Team Timm

macrumors regular
May 17, 2012
190
5
FL
+1 ssd

Like a lot of the other posters mentioned, upgrading to SSD will speed things up, restarts, application start ups, system wide speed up.... The ram upgrade will help if you are experiencing a slow down with particular apps open and drawing a lot of processing power from them.
 

andy8

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 6, 2009
156
1
Hello All,

I am going to get an SSD upgrade now. But, I'm a little unsure as to which one to go for. I have decided that either Crucial SSD or Samsung SSD would be the one. But, how about the SATA connection (is it SATA 2 or SATA 3) and will Samsung PRO or EVO version be a better bet ?

It would be helpful if anyone could provide the SSD model which will be suitable for my Macbook Pro mid-2009 (2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo).
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
29,141
8,808
California
Hello All,

I am going to get an SSD upgrade now. But, I'm a little unsure as to which one to go for. I have decided that either Crucial SSD or Samsung SSD would be the one. But, how about the SATA connection (is it SATA 2 or SATA 3) and will Samsung PRO or EVO version be a better bet ?

It would be helpful if anyone could provide the SSD model which will be suitable for my Macbook Pro mid-2009 (2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo).
Your MBP has a SATA II connection, but not to worry since SATA is backwards compatible. Any of the SATA III drives being sold today will work fine for you.

About the best bang for the buck right now is the Crucial MX100 or the Samsung EVO (get whichever you can find cheapest).

Unless you are planning on making the next Pixar movie on that MacBook, there is no need to pay more for the Samsung Pro. :) It is slightly faster and can handle more write cycles if you are into very very heavy usage.
 

andy8

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 6, 2009
156
1
Your MBP has a SATA II connection, but not to worry since SATA is backwards compatible. Any of the SATA III drives being sold today will work fine for you.

About the best bang for the buck right now is the Crucial MX100 or the Samsung EVO (get whichever you can find cheapest).

Unless you are planning on making the next Pixar movie on that MacBook, there is no need to pay more for the Samsung Pro. :) It is slightly faster and can handle more write cycles if you are into very very heavy usage.
Hello there,

Could you please let me know if this model below is the right one for Samsung EVO ? (just reconfirming because I'm about to purchase).

SAMSUNG 840 EVO SERIES 250GB SATA III 2.5' SSD (MZ-7TE250BW)

Thanks,
Andy
 

got556

macrumors 6502
Jul 7, 2013
485
156
Indiana
Before throwing money at the issue, you should work on figuring out the root cause. If you have that stats file using 96% of your CPU, an SSD won't solve the issue.

I just posted a thread about a mid '09 MBP I just picked up to play around with and it still has an HDD and 8GB RAM and it is pretty speedy. Still going to throw an SSD in it, but honestly I agree with the others, you have an issue that goes beyond needing to upgrade hardware.

ETA: And that's what I get for not reading the whole thread. So systemstats is normal? Okay then, you still shouldn't be slowing down unless your HDD is failing. Also while you're in there replacing that HDD with an SSD, grab a can of compressed air and clean out the case/fans.