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New OSX on an old Mac Mini?
March 28, 2014 2:00 PM   Subscribe

My mother has an early-2010 Mac Mini. Apple says she can upgrade to 10.9.2 for free, but she's not sure if it's a good idea, so she asked me. Her model is on the official compatibility list, but is it a good idea to upgrade? Is there likely to be a noticeable performance hit, or stability issues? Have you personally had a good experience with OSX Mavericks on older Intel macs?
posted by 4th number to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Make sure the Mac mini has at least 8 GB of memory, and 16 GB if it is doable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:01 PM on March 28 [3 favorites]


I just did this with my slightly older MacBook. Stability has been fine, and I haven't noticed a strong change in terms of performance.

I'm enjoying Mavericks just fine, though it didn't help with any of the things I thought it would help with.
posted by Sara C. at 2:02 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


If she uses Apple Mail with Gmail accounts, I might suggest holding off until 10.9.3. Apple Mail and Gmail still seem to have problems getting along in Mavericks, even with the fixes in 10.9.2.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:06 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


I have a 2009 Mac Mini with 4GB. I regularly push the machine to its limits; running Photoshop, Premiere and After Effects. I also do a lot of video and audio transcoding on it. The machine runs better with Mavericks than any of the previous versions of OS X.
posted by popcassady at 2:21 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


What version of OSX is she currently running? And what does she do with the Mini?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:25 PM on March 28


She's currently on 10.7, I believe. Upon further research, she has a 2009 model, which has 2GB of RAM. She's a light user who mostly needs reliable and snappy web browsing, including Netflix.
posted by 4th number at 2:32 PM on March 28


There's a weird thing that's happening between Office 2011 and Mavericks right now where in some installs Word, Powerpoint and Excel suddenly start crashing on launch. There's a few dozen different "fixes" out there, none of which have worked for me personally. I'd hold off if she's a big user of Office products.
posted by jamaro at 2:36 PM on March 28


it will make the system faster even with 2gb of ram. osx 10.9 uses ram WAY more efficiently. the version of safari it includes is also hilariously faster.

i had an 09 macbook pro, and i have an 07 imac. both had 4gb of ram. I installed it on both and it was like upgrading the hardware. I have never before or since gotten that big of a performance boost just from a software update on anything.

Is there likely to be a noticeable performance hit, or stability issues? Have you personally had a good experience with OSX Mavericks on older Intel macs?

So yea, i'd say there will be a noticeable performance gain. I also haven't had any stability issues on my 07 imac(which at this point, is ancient by computer standards and is the very oldest machine 10.9 supports). Ditto on the 09 macbook pro. The only issues i've had with mavericks were actually on my 2012 macbook pro -_-

I'd ignore any warnings to get more RAM. I haven't played with 10.9 much on systems with only 2gb, but i have seen it running on them and it wasn't shovelware.

10.7 is also terrible in general peformance wise. It'll probably feel like you bought her a new computer. You're essentially upgrading from the worst version of OSX since before 10.4, to the best that they've done so far in nearly every way. That would be the crux of my point actually, that even if it isn't going to run optimally with only 2gb of ram it will run WAY better than lion does.

Buying some more ram would make this a "WOAH HOLY CRAP" upgrade though, and wouldn't be too expensive. here's 8gb, but honestly 4gb is all you would need for that kind of usage and is way cheaper.* 8gb would be the "use the system until it breaks to the limit of its abilities" amount though, as websites and streaming services get heavier and heavier and continue to use higher bitrate video and such.

*note, do not buy faster rated ram because it's cheaper. although some systems can run faster ram at a slower speed with no issues, it isn't 100% backwards compatible in everything. Macs, along with HP workstations and a few other brands/model series i've played around with as a general rule do not like to have anything but correct-spec ram. the cheaper stuff is only a dollar or two cheaper anyways, don't mess with it.
posted by emptythought at 3:11 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


I have a Mini of that generation as a media server/TV box, so loads probably pretty similar to hers. I think the Mavericks upgrade was great, especially for keeping resource usage in background processes low.
posted by supercres at 3:23 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


I upgraded my 2008 Macbook Pro and am very happy with the speed boost.
posted by Emanuel at 3:45 PM on March 28


It was a net improvement on my white MacBook (6GB), but Mavericks seemed to do a lot more disk stuff for me which made it feel laggy sometimes.

I then replaced the disk with an SSD and it was like having a new computer, so I'd definitely recommend that if you're looking to make the machine last a few more years.
posted by substars at 5:04 PM on March 28


It'll be fine, and Apple is eventually going to stop supporting 10.7 with security updates. Getting her Mac to 4GB of RAM wouldn't hurt, but any more than that is unnecessary for what she's doing.
posted by cnc at 2:28 PM on March 29


Is OS X Lion not serving her needs at the moment? I would really recommend not upgrading to Mavericks with 2GB of RAM, notwithstanding new memory management/compression/etc.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 6:32 PM on March 30


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