What's the fastest, stablest and most usable OS X release since Snow Leopard?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by iRock1, Sep 28, 2016.


What's the fastest, stablest and most usable OS X release since Snow Leopard?

  1. Mountain Lion

  2. Mavericks

  3. Yosemite

  4. El Capitan

  5. Sierra

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. iRock1, Sep 28, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2016

    iRock1 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2011
    As simple as that.

    I have a 2008 MacBook (Core 2 Duo, SSD, 4 GB of RAM) running El Capitan and a 2009 iMac (Core i5, SSD, 12 GB of RAM) running Yosemite. Both of them present bugs, glitches and other stuff that have little to do with what we all sure agree is the gold standard for stability, usability and speed—OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

    I want to downgrade, however, I'm not quite sure which OS X release is the best alternative.

    I'd go straight to Snow Leopard if it wasn't because it doesn't support iCloud. On the other hand, I think there needs to be an equilibrium in terms of oldness-stability. After all, some apps are kind of picky when it comes to the OS X versions they support.

    What's your choice?
  2. Tarek macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2009
    Liverpool, UK
    I have had three MacBook Pros so far and I must say that the most stable one from my experience would be El Capitan. I am starting to really like Mac OS Sierra, though, but it's not as good on my older laptops as it is one my latest one, but I guess that's understandable.
  3. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 603

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    I haven't really felt any stability differences between the various OS'es, following SL. Lion perhaps, was a bit dodgy.
  4. iRock1 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2011
    Curious. In my experience, El Capitan is BS. Slow as hell.

    On a side note, I found weird that some users like Sierra the most. I guess it has more to do with new emojis and the 'cool, a new OS X release' bias rather than a real improvement in terms of speed and stability.
  5. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    All versions of OS X exhibit similar performance (with later OS generally being faster in certain areas) and all of them have bugs. It is possible that your laptop is struggling to run latest OS X release because of older drivers and slower hardware.
  6. iRock1 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2011
    Of course every piece of software ever made has bugs. However, you're self delusional if you think that all OS X releases are equally stable and well-made.
  7. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    You win something, you lose something. There are way too many changes between a major OS X release. Thats why I say that your experience about the stables and fastest OS X is likely to be very subjective. For instance, people here like to quote Snow Leopard as a pinnacle of OS X stability. Personally, I remember Snow Leopard vividly as the OS with completely broken Safari and Mail which kept crashing for me constantly — across different computers and fresh installs.
  8. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    Initial reaction to Snow Leopard was pretty much the same as any other release ("omg, what a disaster", "this never would have happened if Steve were alive").

    On topic, Sierra has been one of the best .0 releases I have ever seen. I have not encountered any significant problems thus far.

  9. iJny9956 macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2012
    This is funny, I just expressed my love of 10.6 on another topic: "why do you use a mac" I'm afraid there wont ever be a clean OS like 10.6. all the versions after that are so bloated!
  10. Tarek macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2009
    Liverpool, UK
    I personally had a great experience with El Capitan, but I'm not really a benchmark fellow, I just judge from real-time daily usage and responsiveness of the system. Sierra has been great for me so far and I don't think I've encountered a single bug yet, but then again I don't do any intensive work on the computer, just MS Office, watching videos, online research, and trying new applications and operating systems when they come out just for the fun of it, and gaming is solely done by my PS4.
  11. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    In my opinion Mavericks with Mountain Lion being close second.

    Yosemite is slower on older Macs and even the last 10.10.5 version is very buggy. El Capitan is slightly faster and has somewhat less bugs but it contains baffling decisions to remove/ hide features (Disk Utility being the most glaring example). Sierra is about the same with partially fixed Disk Utility.

    I'm not sure how to view future OS, on the other hand APFS filesystem has potential assuming Apple implements it properly but I'm not really impressed by the number of beneficial new features included in the OS compared to vast majority of new features being either pointless or purely thought out.

    I know I'm not in the Apples target market given I couldn't care less about iOS or iCloud but is it really too hard to come out with new features that would benefit traditional Mac user? A modern day Snow Leopard release would be very welcome.
  12. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2009
    Couldn't agree more. Of the post-SL releases I'd choose Mavericks.
    Plus, I don't have any iOS devices or an Apple Watch, and I find iCloud inferior to other offerings such as Dropbox for my need for substantial file storage. OS X is gradually being dumbed down. Apple is pitching squarely at the home/consumer market first and foremost, that is where they make their colossal profits and good luck to them with their highly expensive adult's toys.
  13. Goatllama macrumors 6502a


    Jun 24, 2015
    Mountaintop Lair
    I've been on Yosemite 10.10.5 (on a mid 2009 Macbook Pro) almost since it came out and it's been stable as all get-out. Mavericks seemed a bit slow to me, but that was before a substantial RAM upgrade. Putting aside slowness, I think it did have the least problems, though the ones i have now are so small / inconsequential that it doesn't really matter. Overall, Mavericks seems like a solid choice for your purposes.
  14. iRock1, Oct 3, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016

    iRock1 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2011
    That's one of the few things holding me back. I have two Macs and two iToys, so iCloud sync is a necessity for me.

    Would iCloud on Mavericks work with my iToys running iOS 9? I remember there was some sort of mess in Yosemite regarding that iCloud Drive thingy and iOS 8... :s
  15. dogslobber macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2014
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    Sandboxing is the enemy of older computers as it gobbles up memory. I believe it arrived with Lion so anything after SL is going to start to gobble memory as each webpage gets its own process space. Mavericks introduced memory compression which on the one hand is great for reducing swap space, but on the other hand there's nothing as impressive as a compressed memory leak.

    Maybe you should stick with 10.6.8 was older hardware or switch to Windows 10.
  16. KoolAid-Drink macrumors 65816

    Sep 18, 2013
    For me, it's been all the even-numbered releases (10.8, 10.10, and now 10.12) that has been more stable. I've always had odd and perplexing problems with the odd-numbered releases for some reason, and noticed a general sloppiness/slowness with those versions that weren't/aren't present in the even-numbered releases.

    With that said, I'm disappointed that Sierra hasn't fixed the Time Machine bug introduced in El Cap. For reference, this bug is that, when you enter Time Machine from any other folder other than (~), the TM finder window will jump to your (~) folder, and does so abruptly. TM is supposed to stay in the folder you're browsing in, even if it's outside of (~), so for example, if you're in /Applications, and enter TM, you should enter TM and see past versions of the /Applications folder. Instead, with this bug, if you're in /Applications and enter TM, you get jumped to the (~) folder, and have to go back to /Applications manually within the TM "wayback" window. It's a pain. This bug was introduced in Mavericks, fixed in Yosemite, made a comeback in El Cap, and hasn't been fixed in Sierra, despite me filing a bug report.
  17. TuNnL11, Jun 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017

    TuNnL11 macrumors newbie


    Jun 15, 2017
    Hawaiian Islands
    Hmmm... judging by the poll and what has been said so far, there is no clear winner. I’ll be the first to say “specifics” regarding MAJOR issues should be a clear determiner about which Mac OS is most stable. Most people agree that ‘crashing’ or ‘freezing’ would be considered a major issue.

    I’m a lifetime Mac user who wasn’t really converted until recently — when I noticed how much more “solid” their laptop build quality was compared to almost any PC laptop. (Also, I needed to edit some video which is best done using Final Cut Pro, but that’s another thread) So that’s when I plunked down the “premium dollars” any Apple product will cost you.

    Your Mac OS crashing is the software equivalent of you dropping your hardware and having a tiny dent in it. It’ll happen much more easily in a cheapo plastic Acer than your Macbook Pro — and in this case, more is not better. Likewise, for me, crashing will happen more frequently on Mac OS X Lion and MUCH more frequently OS X Mavericks than on OS X Mountain Lion. As an added bonus, OS X Mountain Lion is the last OS put out by Apple that will run the entire Final Cut Studio editing suite without any glitches.

    But getting back to horrid OS X Mavericks. If you need evidence of this, google “Mavericks freezing up” and see how much grief is out there. And we’re not just talking the initial release, but 10.9.1, 10.9.2, etc. Let’s put it this way — Mavericks really only runs well on a desktop other than iMac with a lot of RAM.

    On most Macbooks and Macbook Pros, you will experience frequent freezing — particularly when using web browsers such as Firefox or Safari. Google Chrome seems a bit more stable, but eventually, you will encounter this issue. It’s partially a design flaw connected to the “sleep” function, which is why you will read even on this forum that many Mavericks users set their computer to “never sleep.” But it can affect your WiFi connection, too. If your computer is old enough, drivers become an issue as Mavericks will stupidly replace your ATI drivers with AMD ones. Never mind that AMD drivers ONLY work if you have AMD hardware! One size fits all these days, eh, Tim Cook?

    I will add that Apple never fixed this problem in ANY Mavericks release.

    Needless to say, I will either be downgrading back to Mountain Lion (which NEVER crashed a single time in roughly 750 battery cycle counts) — or upgrading to either El Capitan or Sierra. I’ll trust the poll on Yosemite as if it is worse than Mavericks, it must be the worst in Apple history. In all three cases, I will be doing a clean install once I find all my product keys. Considering how many votes both of the newest OS’s received, does anyone — who does more than just surf the internet and listen to MP3s on iTunes — have legit reasons why you believe these two systems are more stable?
  18. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Ahaha, no love for Yosemite

    Btw, High Sierra is shaping up to be a very nice release, focusing on internals. It's a shame that they neglect the externals though...
  19. Goatllama, Jun 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017

    Goatllama macrumors 6502a


    Jun 24, 2015
    Mountaintop Lair
    I know! I'm still running and enjoying it, but this poll has me considering going up to El Capitan.
  20. rlsikosek macrumors newbie

    Apr 23, 2014
    the Netherlands
    Mavericks was super stable. I really liked that macOS release (or should I say OS X?). El Capitan was also really good. I don't like Sierra, it doesn't run well on my MBPr with TB (2017). High Sierra, in terms of performance, is a lot better. However battery life in High Sierra is not good.
  21. EugW, Sep 4, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017

    EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    For a 12 GB machine, the best OS to run today is Sierra, no question. It is simply the most compatible and most up to date. Going with older OS versions always means compromise. El Capitan 10.11 is fine for compatibility for now, but the older you get, the more problematic it becomes. For example, even just to run the Chrome browser, you need a minimum of Mavericks 10.9.

    For a 4 GB machine, it is a more difficult question, since 4 GB is not enough for an ideal Sierra experience. 8 GB or more is highly preferred. That said, I have my 4 GB 2009 13" MacBook Pro currently running High Sierra, again for compatibility reasons. Luckily, I will be able to upgrade this to 8 GB if desired, although I hadn't bothered until now because I bought a new 2017 MacBook to replace it, and the 4 GB MBP is just a secondary quick surfing machine that never leaves the house.

    2017 is a very important year in this regard too, because it introduces new file formats that previous OSes don't even recognize. Not even Sierra. For example, just to recognize the new HEIF/HEIC image format you need at least 10.13 High Sierra... which is a big reason I updated my 4 GB 2009 MBP to High Sierra (which a hacked installer). Other than the need for more RAM, it runs great even on this ancient machine.

    Furthermore, the later OSes have important updates for Apple software like Photos. Photos in High Sierra 10.13 is much nicer.
  22. TuNnL11, Nov 9, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017

    TuNnL11 macrumors newbie


    Jun 15, 2017
    Hawaiian Islands
    Back again! I wanted to report that I am still using OS X Mavericks — because after taking every step recommended by Mac “experts” [mainly regular PRAM resets and SMC resets, but also (re)setting the service order and deleting the SystemConfiguration folder], I have mostly eliminated crashing problems. Avoiding the use of Bluetooth (sadly) is also an important step. It’s important to note that the problems were so widespread — it forced Mozilla® to drastically overhaul its Firefox™ browser — to address this and other compatibility issues. The result was “Firefox 57” released in beta form in late September.

    However the one issue no one seems able to fix is the WI-FI deactivation problem MOST MacBook Pro users experience when using this OS. More often than not, this issue occurs after your OS sleeps for a bit, so a key step for reducing this problem is to
    ‘uncheck’ the box for Wake for network access in the Energy Saver panel of System Preferences. But I will say I have seen the WIFI cut out while surfing the web — the moment a page is fully loaded and no downloading is occurring! Still waiting for someone who can cite stability as a reason to recommend a newer OS. I don’t care about bells, whistles or HEIF/HEIC images. Just something fast, stable and usable like the title of this thread suggests!
  23. BurgDog macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2012
    Pretty much any .6 minor version, the one released just before they release a major update. Takes that long to get most of the bugs out. Learned my lesson with High Sierra and fell back to Sierra which runs great for me.
  24. MrAverigeUser, Nov 13, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017

    MrAverigeUser macrumors 6502a


    May 20, 2015
    First to say:

    I NEVER switched before the last Version of the current OS has been released and/or the next (buggy again) OS xx.0 has been released.

    This is the most comfortable way to have a stable and reliable system.

    The Answer for the TO´s Question is strongly dependent on that.
    On the hardware-side: maxing your RAM for older machines is NOT pricy at all now, but 8 or 16 GB will help a lot more than 4Gb or less.

    On the Performance-side investing in an good SATA III SSD will also help.

    BTT: I was a long time on SL, then upgraded to ML, stayed there for years, switched to ElCap last year and since 2 months one of the cMBP 15" 2012 in our family is now on Sierra.

    All of the above mentioned OSX were stable for me since I upgraded always the last version (Don´t like to be apple´s testdriver ;) )

    I now like Sierra a lot and have the impression that it runs a little bit smoother and rapid than the former OSX I experienced. Cannot judge about Lion, Leopard, Maverick nor Yosemite because I never installed them due to horrible stories... maybe they were wrong, maybe right - I don´t know.

    Sierra 12.6 runs very smooth and flawlessly on my 2012 cMBP (16GB, 2 Tb samsung SSD). So I voted for Sierra.
    In my eyes, Sierra is the best OSX ever since. Perhaps especially for older MBPs, because of the better RAM-Management.

    As for security: the only way to stay on the save side is to upgrade to newer (but mature) OSX.
    As already mentioned by someone else: "Photos" in Sierra is now very nice, better than iPhoto.
  25. zettabyte macrumors regular


    Jun 6, 2015
    One of my MBPr is also a 2012(mid) fully maxed out and I've been running Mavericks forever as I've found it to be very stable. Zero issues.

    What's annoying is that now some apps that I need, including basic browsers, all require 10.10+ so I'm forced to upgrade to one of the newer OS's... the question is, which one...

    I've been leaning toward Sierra after a ton of research, but now I see that Siri was introduced in Sierra, which really turns me off as I absolutely hate Siri = Intrusiveness. With all the crap going down with apple these days, I don't trust it as much as I don't trust Micro$oft.

    My MBP is no longer my daily driver and I'll just be using it for basic stuff (nothing personal; no banking, nada as I don't trust what Apple has become, or maybe always has been lol), however, now I'm leaning toward El Capitan since it doesn't have Siri? Hmmm

    See the thing is, all the little bells and whistles don't really matter to me as I don't use photos, itunes or anything since I run off of my PLEX media center for everything so maybe El Capitan is my best bet?

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Most of all this is rhetorical and just me thinking out loud.

    btw my main daily is Linux Mint 19.1, W10 only for games and OSX for giggles.

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39 September 28, 2016