Will OS X Lion kill my old MacBook?
January 24, 2012 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Will OS X Lion kill my old MacBook (10.6.8, 2GB RAM, 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo)? It seems like upgrading is serious risk.

This old machine is my daily driver, and it still works perfectly. It's been all around the world and I have no reason to replace it. I'm worried that upgrading could slow it down and impair some basic functionality.....but I want to upgrade because of incompatibilities with some new apps. If you've upgraded your similar "old" white MacBook then I'd love to know what you've experienced.
posted by Hermanos to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I should have mentioned that I checked the minimum requirements, and Yes my laptop meets them: "Step 1: Make sure your Mac can run Lion. Your Mac must have an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor to run Lion."
posted by Hermanos at 10:55 AM on January 24, 2012

I can't speak to your exact proposed hardware/software combination, but my experience of upgrading my older MBPro from Tiger to Leopard a few years back was a complete disaster. Yes, it met the specs, and the computer does run, but the performance was degraded, badly. So I can say that it is appropriate for you to ask this question.
posted by zomg at 11:02 AM on January 24, 2012

I have a similarly spec'd MacBookPro running Lion just fine. Well, I have 4GB of RAM which makes a hell of a difference in any operating system. Regardless of if you upgrade to Lion, you should spend the money and get more RAM. It will feel like you got a new computer in comparison.
posted by birdherder at 11:05 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's not going to kill it but I wouldn't run Lion with 2GB of RAM. Even on newer hardware Snow Leopard feels a whole lot faster than Lion.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:06 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Going to join the chorus: upgrade to 4GB RAM. I'm very happy with Lion on a comparable machine, though I spend most of my time in browsers & text editors.
posted by sudama at 11:24 AM on January 24, 2012

I have one of those old white MacBooks sitting behind my desk at work. I put 4GB of RAM in it and then stuck Lion on it just fine. I didn't notice any speed difference, but it's always been a little pokey compared to the newer machines all around me.

Also, I don't do much more than Terminal and some Safari browsing on it. The machine's really just there for when I need another apple machine to test.
posted by sbutler at 11:30 AM on January 24, 2012

Santa Rosa chipset? I have a black Macbook that is running Lion great. It is a Santa Rosa, which means it supports 4GB of RAM and has (marginally) better integrated video than the previous GMA 950s. Some of the earlier Macbooks only supported 3GB of RAM.
posted by narcoleptic at 11:31 AM on January 24, 2012

Another person with two of the roughly same spec'ed MBPs running Lion. You're fine. Adjust the trackpad settings when you reboot. Most of all, have fun! Lion is different, but in a good way, once you get used to it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 AM on January 24, 2012

Wow, thanks for all the quick replies! Looks like my machine only supports a max of 3GB of RAM.... (Calistoga chipset I think, 667MHz FSB with the GMA 950). Some folks here mentioned their MBPros running Lion fine, but I'm still worried that my standard MacBook won't hold up as well. Bugger.
posted by Hermanos at 11:48 AM on January 24, 2012

I have a white early 2008 MB [actually, this is the second Early 2008 MB I've run Lion on (prev)], and whether it is true or just my perception, yes it may be a touch slower than Snow Leopard, but hasn't really affected my daily use. In fact, I got an extra 4GB of RAM to replace the stock 2 GB of RAM cause cause I saw it on sale for like 25-30 bucks, but I haven't installed it yet cause I really haven't been annoyed enough by any sluggishness to be bothered to take a screw driver to the battery compartment.

If I start editing photos more often than once a month, however, it may become enough of an issue for me to plug the new expanded RAM in there. Meh. You'll be fine.
posted by midmarch snowman at 11:50 AM on January 24, 2012

Don't upgrade if you use Spaces in a grid layout. Lion kills that very useful interface.
posted by procrastination at 12:13 PM on January 24, 2012

2.33 ghz core 2 duo 2007-era MacBook Pro here, with 3 gig of RAM, & Lion is just fine.

My biggest hang-up was no Rosetta, so go through all the apps you might use, and make sure they're intel or universal binaries. (get info should tell you this at the very top of the info window under kind: )
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:28 PM on January 24, 2012

I would first evaluate whether you really need to upgrade to Lion in the first place. If there isn't anything in-particular about Lion that you just have to have, you can always just pass. If it ain't broke...

You don't say what important software you are currently using. Rosetta aside, there are some Universal apps which appear to have problems running in Lion. Research compatibility before making the leap and, if you DO jump to Lion, make sure you make a full system backup somewhere, so you can jump back, if Lion goes south for you.

But, definitely add RAM. That's always a good thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2012

Lion's performance is fine. I've run it on a Core 2 Duo. The issues with Lion are mostly stability and usability, not piggy performance.
posted by chairface at 3:09 PM on January 24, 2012

The laptop I am typing this on is a 13" Core 2 Duo Macbook, running Lion. It now has 4GB RAM, but had 2GB RAM at the time I installed Lion. It ran fine with just 2GB.
posted by jraenar at 7:44 PM on January 24, 2012

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