Brand new computer slower than older one?
April 3, 2010 9:58 PM   Subscribe

Brand new 13" MacBook Pro feeling sluggish and occasionally freezing. What's going on?

So I just updated my late-2007 MacBook to a 13" MacBook Pro (primarily for the upgrade in video hardware, since that's frankly just about the only thing that's changed since then). I've upgraded the hard drive myself over the embarrassingly small 160GB stock disk to a 500GB one that I cloned from my prior computer before installing in my new computer.

Ever since switching, I've been shocked that a lot of things seem to actually run significantly slower than on my older computer, with switching programs occasionally lagging a bit, and even seeing that arbitrarily happen every so often. On two or three occasions (over the past week), I've wound up with the mouse cursor movement being the only thing that shows any degree of responsiveness for 10–20 seconds at a time. Everything then basically "catches up" to what I'd clicked or typed (including command-Q being mashed in frustration).

I've run Disk Utility to check the disk permissions and verify the disk itself, to no effect (though apparently there were quite a number of permissions that needed repair; this may have even been the case before I'd cloned the disk and transferred it all to my new one).

Any suggestions, anyone? I've got a 640GB backup drive that I could theoretically use to replace the one that I have in my computer, but I prefer to have a separate backup disk available (and if it turns out that it's a problem with the disk itself, physically, I'd be uncomfortable using it as my backup disk in the meanwhile with my Aperture library on it).

Any other suggestions beyond just cloning the disk and replacing the thing and seeing what happens?
posted by DoctorFedora to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: It also occurs to me that my new computer only has 2GB of RAM, compared to the 4GB my older one had. Are these at all symptoms of insufficient RAM?
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:59 PM on April 3, 2010

More RAM is always a good thing and I could see that making a big difference.

What's the difference in RPM between your new 500GB drive and the old one? If the old one was a 7200RPM drive and the new one is 5400 or 4200, that could make a major difference.
posted by DMan at 10:03 PM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

When you say cloned, do you mean you moved the entire OS, too? If that's the case then I would definitely back it up and do a clean install of the OS.
posted by cdmwebs at 10:32 PM on April 3, 2010

In my experience, RAM is far more important in determining processing speed than hard drive size. Since you've cut the amount of RAM in half compared to your old one, I wouldn't be at all surprised that its running a lot slower.
posted by platinum at 10:43 PM on April 3, 2010

This is a result of the cloning. You need to do a clean reinstallation of the operating system.
posted by Netzapper at 11:21 PM on April 3, 2010

Response by poster: Netzapper, how confident are you in this statement? I'm just worried about stuff with serial numbers that I may no longer be able to track down (and the time involved in restoring everything).
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:26 PM on April 3, 2010

No solutions, but I'd

1. Fire up Activity Monitor to see if some rouge app is using up all your ram and putting you into swap territory

2. Fire up and see if there's anything suspicious looking in there that might point to a problem

Also, was your old disk image running 10.5 or 10.6? I have no evidence of this, but it's always been my gut level feeling that is Apple ships a machine with 10.x that running 10.(x-1) is a bad idea.
posted by alan at 11:40 PM on April 3, 2010

Response by poster: Everything was and is Snow Leopard. No sign of malware.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:46 PM on April 3, 2010

Best answer: DoctorFedora, I suppose I'm not "confident in that statement". But it's very likely the problem, and nobody's going to be able to confidently diagnose the problem until you've tried using a clean install.

But, let me put it this way: a man walks into a doctor's office complaining of a pain in his left eye. He mentions, casually, that he rubbed a gram of sand into his eye immediately before the pain started. The doctor says, "Well, let's wash that out then."

Yes, the pain might be glaucoma, but it's almost certainly the sand. At the very least, you can't make a diagnosis of glaucoma until you've washed away the sand.

Don't you, at the very least, have the original harddrive with factory install on it? Swap it back in. If it runs badly, then it's a hardware problem. But it'll run flawlessly, indicating a software problem of some sort.

Now, a better question would be: what exactly about the old install is screwing up on the new hardware? My guess would be some driver for some random bit of hardware, like the real time clock or the power button. It's mostly working, but occasionally faulting out, at which point the kernel detects the fault and recovers--looking to you like it's hanging.
posted by Netzapper at 11:49 PM on April 3, 2010

Response by poster: For what it's worth I am literally at this moment engaged in a reinstall. Just curious about whether it was a suggestion coming from experience with the matter, or just from the same sort of experience I have with Windows where "jiggle the handle" type solutions like rebooting or reinstalling the OS. ; )
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:56 PM on April 3, 2010

Response by poster: Er, solutions like that always seem to work. Distracted iPhone typing is not pretty.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:57 PM on April 3, 2010

Response by poster: Restored from Time Machine backup and things seem a bit snappier all around. Hooray so far!
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:11 AM on April 4, 2010

Here's how you know if you have enough ram:
Open Activity monitor - it's in your utility folder.
Now, where it says "System Memory' at the bottom, look at your swap used and Paged outs.

The swap used refers to how much space your memory has been using of your drive to swap areas of live memory to virtual memore. The Page outs is how often it's doing it. If your swap used is >.5 gig, you really could use some more memory.

Also, run a utility like Onyx and clear out your caches.
posted by filmgeek at 5:03 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding Netzapper.

OS X installs are not always the same, especially from non-retail DVDs. If your 2k7 MB had the initial install, it probably doesn't have all the right architecture, and if you upgraded to snow leopard on the 2k7 then cloned to the new one, it most likely still doesn't. I have this problem with a G5 for a long ass time, and it was tracked down to using my iBook restore DVDs one day. After doing a retail re-install, it worked fine.
posted by CharlesV42 at 8:01 AM on April 4, 2010

Response by poster: I've done both the reinstall and upgraded to 5GB of RAM, for what it's worth. I guess it's time to call Apple.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:15 AM on April 15, 2010

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