Why is Lion Slower Than Snow Leopard?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by kkathman, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. kkathman macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2009
    I have a somewhat older iMAC with a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 4GB Memory, and it's about 2 years old. I'm only about 1/2 full on my disk. I recently "upgraded" to Lion, after enjoying great performance with Snow Leopard. However, my experience has been tainted dramatically with Lion.

    The first thing I noticed was how slow the system responded just to do simple things like open up a Finder window. Most applications won't open without the spinning beach ball, and open a good 2-10 seconds slower than with Snow. MDS (spotlight process) was constantly running taking up well over 50% of the CPU even a month after install (and the computer stays on pretty much 24x7, and is idle most of the day). I ended up finally having to use a utility to turn off spolight because it was so invasive.

    One thing that DID help, however, was to remember to start Lion in 32 bit mode. Lion is not like Snow. The default starting mode is 64-bit, not 32. So you must hold down the 3 and 2 while booting. This helped with performance rather dramatically, but I'm still pretty annoyed.

    I would suggest to those of you that DON'T have the Core 2 Duo proessors, DONT upgrade to Lion. There aren't THAT many features that are worth the downgrade in performance. I've posted this in the Apple Forums and received little response, so if any of you have found tricks tha speed performance in 64 bit more, please feel free to post them here!

  2. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I have a 2.0ghz c2d with 8gb ram (mini) running lion with no such issues.
  3. jgould macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    Columbus Ohio

    My 2011 MacBook Pro (2.3 GHz Core i5, 8GB RAM) has been sluggish ever since I upgraded it to Lion. I expected my 2007 Mac Mini (1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM) to be slow, but not the MBP. I had to upgrade to 8GB of RAM after I had problems with kernel_task (It's one of the system processes) using 760 MB of RAM on it's own. That problem still hasn't been fixed...

    I decided to do a complete wipe and reinstall of Lion on my Mini, and it has made a difference. There are still some times when the system is sluggish, but it's improved greatly. My mini is pretty much my file server so it's on 24x7, and is constantly handing out stuff over the network...

    I'm currently waiting on the Recovery disk on the MBP to download Lion again so I can do a clean install and see if that helps. Time will tell...
  4. kkathman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2009
    I had some really good luck today by moving all the MDS files into a separate folder (so they can't run), then rebootingin 32 bit mode. This has been a drastic improvement! If you're on an older machine with Lion, I'd highly recommend this.

    In essence I followed the following post:


    The only difference, was that I didn't delete the files. Once I got to that directory I did a mkdir mds-stuff, then used mv (not rm) to move the mds files to that new directory. Then rebooted into 32-bit mode.

    Hope that helps others.
  5. learnmyshot macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2011
    lion is slower than snow leopard on start up and shut down

    I have 2 brand new mac book pros: (purchased August 2011)
    1. MBP 2.0,i7, 4gb ram, 7200 hd (has snow leopard)
    2. MBP 2.3,i7, 8gb ram, 7200 hd (has lion)

    both have same apps and everything. the one that has lion takes 3-4 seconds longer to boot, and 2 seconds longer to shut down. (even though it's a faster machine).
  6. aliensporebomb macrumors 68000


    Jun 19, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN, USA, Urth
    Some thought

    I've found it's not that the OS is so much slower but rather on my iMac 16 Corei7 2.8 ghz with 16 gigs of ram what seems slower is the launching of programs. In the past "Preview" would launch with 1 bounce, now it's 4-5.

  7. Icy1007 macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2011
    Cleveland, OH
    Wirelessly posted (iPhone 4: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    I don't know, but everything seems to run faster since I upgraded to Lion. Everything opens with one "bounce". Startup and shutdown are about the same. Only problems I've had have resulted from using sleep mode.
  8. Benz63amg macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2010
  9. kkathman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2009
    lamonsas - can you supply some direction on how to do what you suggest?
  10. artguy3d macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    I agree with the Lion is slower assessment. But it really seems slower on my 30" monitor. I think it has to do with the older graphic chips on some systems and lack of enough ram.
  11. saberahul macrumors 68040

    Nov 6, 2008
    For me Lion is much faster than SL except for the App Store.
  12. artguy3d macrumors member

    Apr 2, 2010
    Here are some tests from lifehacker:

    The following tests were performed on a 2.66 GhZ iMac with 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive connected to the internet over Wi-Fi at a maximum speed of 60mbps.

    Lion (10.7.0) Snow Leopard (10.6.8)
    Boot 1:32 1:25
    Compress a ~900MB File 0:51 0:59
    Decompress a ~900MB File 0:10 0:09
    Duplicate a ~900MB File 0:09 0:09
    Encoder a Movie for iPhone in Quicktime X 0:56 0:53
    Launch 9 Applications 0:59 0:37
    Open 10 Tabs in Safari 0:15 0:17

    Mostly they are very close, but Lifehacker does show a faster boot and Application launch time result in SL. I was personally bothered by a graphical slowness due to the animation effects, but I think that is more apparent on a large monitor.

    I'm back to Snow Leopard now and loving it. Thought I'd put Lion on again in a separate partition, but now I think why bother....
  13. eljanitor macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2011
    I've been running Lion on an old small GB external FW 400 IDE HD. Runs faster then my SL SATA FW 400 HDs. Or my internal HD running SL. Using a mac Pro 2x 2.66 GHz with 5 GB RAM.
  14. munakib macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2011
    You need to fresh install Lion (format your existing hdd), which is slightly against Apple policy i presume - (burning the installer image on a USB). Speed should be back to top notch, its just another apple fail but fanboi's will overlook it.
  15. baummer macrumors 6502a

    Jan 18, 2005
    Southern California
    Now that Lion has been installed for a few weeks, it seems to have settled for lack of a better term. It's quite snappy (especially Finder) and I am running 8GB of memory (max for my iMac model).
  16. Trudy macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2004
    1st gen aluminum 24" iMac, 2.4 GHz. Upgraded yesterday, running very well.

    Me likey.

    Initially it will spend a while re-indexing for Spotlight, so that could be a temporary slowdown.

    My only problem was setting the scrolling back to normal, and putting the file counts back on the folder view.
  17. wxman2003 Suspended

    Apr 12, 2011
    I haven't noticed much of a difference other then slightly longer boot time. With SL, it would boot up in about 20 seconds. With Lion, around 30 seconds.
  18. Ricky008, Aug 15, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011

    Ricky008 macrumors newbie

    Aug 9, 2011
    New York, United States
    Well, Lion was only a little slower on the two Photoshop tests. On iTunes it was noticeably faster, and it was pretty much a wash on the other tests. I don't think these six benchmark tests are enough to call either version of the OS faster or slower than the other.

    Change is inevitable... except from vending machines
  19. Trudy macrumors regular

    Sep 30, 2004
    iTunes went 64-bit. On Intel, 64-bit processes get to use double the registers, much quicker. In fact, I looked in Activity monitor and almost the whole system is now 64-bit. IIRC it used to be most system processes were 32-bit.
  20. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
    On my Early 2008 Mac Pro, 10.7 was booting up in 32-bit mode. I used a utility to switch it to boot up in 64-bit mode. The system feels more responsive now. Although, that could be psychological...

  21. Bunker macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2007
    Cool to know this.

    I wanted to upgrade mine (similar iMac) but am wary about it....
  22. rmwebs macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2007
    The main reason its slower is that you're still running Snow Leopard....with a new app (Launchpad) and a few UI tweaks. Thats all Lion really is when you think about it. Hence its slower as its just your same old OS but with extra stuff bogging it down.

    Consider Lion as 'Snow Leopard Service Pack 1' and it'll all make much more sense.
  23. Hyper-X macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2011
    On a MBP 13 2011 model, 8GB RAM.

    From what I can tell, Lion is slower on some things but faster in others. The OP's suggestion on the warning to delay upgrading on older machine to Lion something I support as well, but that's the case regarding any other legacy system to OS combo not just limited to Mac OS X but to Windows as well.

    Lion is still in its infancy, hopefully Apple will get off their chairs and get to addressing all the common issues plaguing users with fixes/patches/updates.

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