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Thread: 13" MacBook Pro with Thrashed Processor

  1. #1
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    Default 13" MacBook Pro with Thrashed Processor

    Hello, Gurus!

    I have a 13" MacBook Pro, Mid-2010, Intel Core 2 Duo CPU P8600 2.4GHz Penryn, 4GB RAM running Snow Leopard. With the number of Web browser windows I keep open, the processor is constantly thrashed. Activity Monitor shows Safari Web Content typically running 45% to 95% of the CPU, which I suspect is a quarter to half of the computer's 200% total (100% for each processor? the graph shows about a quarter to half of the CPU in use). The thrashing is so severe that, as I am typing this, there are long pauses between touching the keyboard and having the letters appear on the display. Running DiskWarrior did not help. Disk First Aid says all is okay.

    There are two obvious options to helping the situation: Stop using Safari, or at least keep fewer windows open. The other options are to make the computer run faster if possible. Options I see are:

    (1) Upgrade the operating system to the latest version. Is it more efficient; would the computer run faster?

    (2) Add more RAM. I think (am I correct?) it would accept 8GB. This would, of course, be genuine Guru certified RAM -- no cheesy substitutes! Trouble is, I don't know that adding more RAM would fix this sort of problem. It is not paging endlessly.

    Always grateful for everyone's help!

    P.S. -- The problem with letters appearing late on the display upon typing is restricted to fields in Safari. Typing in TextEdit and even FireFox is unaffected. No matter how hard the clock runs, letters appear there instantaneously.
    Last edited by Bozocity; 06-10-2013 at 09:56 AM. Reason: New information presented in P.S.

  2. #2
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    What OS? Which plugins?

    I ask cause older versions of Flash with older browsers was horrendous about sucking up all your CPU. Seems much better now......current browsers and current (or no) Flash.

    More RAM is always better, but in this case, unlikely to help CPU load at all.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  3. #3
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    Best way to know if you need RAM is to keep Activity Monitor open and Memory Usage in the Dock. This is done in Activity Monitor, under View, select Memory in the Dock column. Only reason to add more memory is if you seem to always have all the green gone.

    As far as Safari eating processor, that may be something corrupt or over full in logs, preferences, cookies and so forth. Might be worth a clean out. Best test, use Firefox for a bit on same tasks and leave off Safari.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  4. #4
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    Default If Green Means "GO!..."

    "Green?" Nope! None visible. I'll order more RAM. Can't hurt, even if it won't solve the issue with the CPU. I have also reset Safari, and will report back on that. No question, FireFox and Chrome run better now, task for task. Are they better browsers, or is my copy of Safari florfed?

    Any chance a newer OS would be faster?

  5. #5
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    I don't often use Safari. Firefox is cleaner and faster.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  6. #6
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    Go for RAM, especially if upgrading the OS. Bare minimum for 10.7 and beyond is 4GB, but 6 or more is so much better....if you like to do more than 2 things at once.

    As for the Safari thing, agreed. Use another browser first. If still seems bad, pay attention to if certain sites cause more issues than others. If using Flash, be sure it is up to date, for both performance and security concerns.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  7. #7
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    Default Fixed!

    It's amazing! I cleaned Safari according to Ricks's instructions, and sure enough, there is plenty of green showing in Activity Monitor's memory graph, and Safari is no longer eating clock cycles. What happened? What in the stuff I cleared so confounded the processor?

    That said, I agree that Safari is the worst browser, and long has been. Boggles me that Apple can't do better. I use it among many browsers. I'll often have Safari, FireFox, and Chrome running all at once, each handling different categories of Web sites. This makes it easier to switch between them to find the windows I want. Quirky, but it works. I always use a Flash blocker, due to a severe allergy to Flash. Most of the stuff it runs is junk. What I need, I allow.

    I'll still buy more RAM. My 2010 MacPro can only handle 4GB, but I guess nothing stays cutting edge forever.

  8. #8
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    Apple says it will only take 4 GB, you can install a pair of 4 GB modules and they will work perfectly. Apple always a little behind on that.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  9. #9
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    Good to hear. Don't forget.....with all browsers, tabs are your friend. I always set mine to Always open new pages in tabs. In Safari Prefs.

    And Safari is getting reworked in 10.9. We shall see....
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricks View Post
    Apple says it will only take 4 GB, you can install a pair of 4 GB modules and they will work perfectly. Apple always a little behind on that.
    It's for knowledge like that that, although I am only an occasional buyer of new hardware, I am a loyal customer of MacGurus! Thanks for the tip!

    That said, is there any chance that 4GB would be enough, at lower cost? Or would the full 8GB just be plain better, including better extending the useful life of the computer? (This from a guy who ran a Bronze PowerBook and a heavily upgraded Beige G3 in everyday use as late as 2007.) If I understand correctly, more is just better, in the sense that the computer will leave ever more stuff in RAM, reducing paging, the worst bottleneck. Hmmm.... Then, I could replace the hard drive with whatever the Gurus say is the best, fastest flash drive, and largely keep up with newer computers with faster processors but spinning platters!

  11. #11
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    Always get as much ram as you possibly canů You won't see much speed improvements after a certain point (say a gig more than what you actually need, but anything above that will let you do more without taking a speed hit.


    A flash drive will give you a huge speed bump as well

    But for crunching numbers you will still be limited by the processor so video encoding, audio encoding, rendering, huge databases, large iPhoto libraries etc will still take some time to do their thing
    Damien,

  12. #12
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    If you do not want to go the full 8, then drop a single 4GB module in with one of whatever you currently have. That gets you 5 or something. See how it works. Then, if later you want to add more, we try and duplicate the module we installed with one identical. Might want to take a picture of the one and see if we can match it exactly. Safer that way than mixing, although mixing is supposed to work.

    R
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  13. #13
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    Default Matched Pairs Not Needed?

    Install a 4MB RAM chip with one of the current 2MB chips? It's not like with my Early 2008 MacPro, which requires for chips to be installed in matched pairs? I have 6MB of Guru Certified RAM in the MacPro, and it never comes near using all the RAM. Different beast, certainly faster than this MacBook.

    Am I better off getting more RAM or a flash drive? I already have 4MB RAM. Now that I have reset Safari, there is just under 1/8 of a circle of green showing in Activity Monitor's memory graph. I can either reduce the need for paging, or make the paging faster.

    I won't be editing video on the MacBook. I just want it to play nicely with the many simpler applications and windows that I leave open all the time.

  14. #14
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    More ram would be better
    Damien,

  15. #15
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    I like to see during normal operation at least 25% of my RAM free (green). RAM is cheap enough to make a big boost for the lowest cost. Anytime that the RAM runs out of green the system is swapping out stuff in RAM to the hard drive. That is slow.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bozocity View Post
    Install a 4MB RAM chip with one of the current 2MB chips? It's not like with my Early 2008 MacPro, which requires for chips to be installed in matched pairs? I have 6MB of Guru Certified RAM in the MacPro, and it never comes near using all the RAM. Different beast, certainly faster than this MacBook.

    Am I better off getting more RAM or a flash drive? I already have 4MB RAM. Now that I have reset Safari, there is just under 1/8 of a circle of green showing in Activity Monitor's memory graph. I can either reduce the need for paging, or make the paging faster.

    I won't be editing video on the MacBook. I just want it to play nicely with the many simpler applications and windows that I leave open all the time.

    Get at least 1 4GB stick to start (for a total of 6GB). No, does not have to be matched pairs. Varies by Mac somewhat, but in the last few years all of the iMacs, notebooks, and Minis allow non-matching pairs. I have 6GB in my iMac at home (4+2) running 10.8, and it is enough. At some point I will bump it to 8 or more....

    SSD is a huge difference too in performance, but either big $, or giving up space. If you can live with 120GB or less (many can on a laptop), I would go for it. If you need more than 120GB, and are trying to keep costs down, than Rick can get you setup with a new HD that will be noticeably faster than the stock one. Could be up to double the performance.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  17. #17
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    Default Max 'er out!

    Wouldn't ya know; from opening so many windows in my Web browsers, I'm back to no green showing on my RAM use graph, but the CPU is still running smoothly.

    At $40 per 4GB stick, I should just max out the RAM. Might also get a 120MB SSD drive. What the heck. I literally inherited this computer, a sad way to get it; but, with nothing invested so far, may as well turn it into a beast. With the processor no longer thrashing, I may sit on that for a few months, saving my nickels until I could buy the lot and open the cast just once.

    Please clarify the issue with the hard drive. Apparently, there are really two choices. The SSD drive would make the computer way faster, or even just a faster conventional drive might double the overall performance? My gut would be to go with a small SSD, and if I ever wanted to work with large files, use a Guru-certified, large, external, conventional drive for that.

    How much faster might overall system performance be with an SSD drive, versus the fastest conventional drive in Ricks's arsenal?

  18. #18
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    The ability to quantify an SSD for a boot drive is a very subjective thing. No doubt about it, SSDs are speedy, reliable and low power users. So the benefits to battery use and the bootup times are huge. Once boot is accomplished, and you launch your applications, an SSD advantages you whenever you access data stored on it. It does not add magic speeds, it only advantages data access. This has pretty much no effect on memory use, except swaps, which become less a factor when you add more RAM. And an SSD has no effect on application and operating system speeds, since once they are in RAM they are, well, in RAM, not dependent on access for much beyond small command and log file access. It also has no effect on processor heavy activities unless they are heavy data access processes. It only effect drive access, both the saving and opening of files.

    I am less inclined to a lot of excitement in my recommendations on SSDs since they cost a lot compared to spinning drives and the advantages are very specific and fairly narrow. There definitely ARE advantages, but the great portion of them is limited to those who access a lot of stored data on their drive, or save data to their drive a lot and have noticeable access delays. That is all that an SSD does. Depending on how you use your computer, you may enjoy great benefit. It will boot faster (my problem is I seldom boot a computer). It will certainly load an app really fast. But the real shine is if you move data on and off a lot.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  19. #19
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    Default Buy RAM; Skip SSD

    Thanks, Ricks. Sounds as though I should just max out the memory in the MacBook Pro. Apple's instructions for opening the case show this to be a whole lot easier than in some computers from my past!

    http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1270#link1

    Your comments on SSD drives suggest that they would not help my use of my laptop, because the battery lasts half of forever anyway, and I don't open large files. Always appreciate your candor, Ricks. Nice to not be sold an SSD that would not help. That's why I buy from MacGurus!

    On the other hand, sounds as though an SSD may help in such things as scrolling large libraries in Aperture on my MacPro, not that I find the current speeds a problem. The files load off fast Hitachis from MacGurus!

    Moreover, for the dying drive on my Windows Vista Celeron laptop (it was given to me used, I swear!), an SSD drive may not make the old barge any faster, but may extend the battery life from 20 minutes to... probably not enough longer to be worth the cost over a cheap drive for a cheap computer!

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