Some Users Report macOS High Sierra Gives Old Macs Better Performance

1 minute read
| News

We’ve seen a number of stories from people saying that after installing macOS High Sierra, they’ve seen better performance on their old Macs. Two members of The Mac Observer have 2011 MacBook Airs, and have seen improvements after upgrading. People from Reddit are also reporting performance gains, even as far back as a 2009 Mac.

macOS High Sierra Features

Although macOS High Sierra is a refinement of macOS Sierra, it still brings plenty of new features and improvements to the Mac.

  • Apple File System
  • Improved Siri, Photos, Safari, Notes, Mail, etc.
  • Better graphics capabilities with Metal 2
  • New standard for videos: H.265/HEVC

The biggest improvement to the Mac is probably the Apple File System (APFS). Apple designed this to replace the aging HFS+ system. APFS is optimized for flash memory and solid-state storage. All modern Macs come with solid-state drives, (SSD) and they are a major improvement to the old spinning disc drives (HDD). Apple also brought APFS to iPhones and iPads with the release of iOS 10.3.

Image of one of the old Macs running Snow Leopard.

With APFS, you can clone the operating system. This lets you create copies of files on the same drive without using additional storage. You can create snapshots of the system. This lets you copy the system at a particular point in time. APFS offers better crash protection and avoids metadata corruption. And APFS natively supports full disk encryption, as well as file encryption with multiple options.

Older Macs

A thread on Reddit has multiple people sharing the old Macs improved by High Sierra. These include:

  • 2009 iMac
  • 2010 iMac
  • 2010 Mac Mini
  • 2011 MacBook Pro
  • 2012 MacBook Air
  • 2012 MacBook Pro

If you have an older Mac lying around, it may be worth it to upgrade to macOS High Sierra. However, there is a caveat: The first version of High Sierra is designed for Macs with all-flash built-in storage. This excludes iMacs and Mac Minis that have Fusion Drives. But Apple engineer Craig Federighi says support for Fusion Drives is coming in a future release.

Update

The Mac Observer reader Ned found that unsupported Mac minis updated to macOS High Sierra may lose AirPort functionality. However, in his experience, using an Edimax USB wireless adapter fixed it.

6 Comments Add a comment

  1. Ned

    I’ve put SSDs in all my Mac Minis – even the G4 and maxed out the RAM. The Intels run a lot faster under El Capitan. As for Sierra and High Sierra, and without any benchmarks, they’re noticeably faster yet. Two have been set up to boot either Sierra or High Sierra: an early 2009 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo and a late 2009 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo. Kudos to dosdude1 for the work he put into getting the latest MacOS to run on unsupported Macs.

    The 2.53 is hooked to a 4K TV. It was running El Capitan and/or Sierra. I rented an iTunes movie in HD a month ago and it wouldn’t play under El Capitan (HDCP warnings). I rebooted in Sierra and the movie played fine – that raised my eyebrows.

    The biggest issue with Sierra/High Sierra on unsupported Minis – no Airport functionality. An Edimax USB Wireless adapter fixed that.

    It’s a shame that Apple hasn’t announced anything more on the MacPro and Mac Mini front – I’m sick and tired of the iOS news. Curious that even a lowly, early 2009 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo runs appreciably faster on High Sierra (oh, I didn’t opt for the new file system at install). It’s as though “Ebenezer” Cook wants to obsolete perfectly good equipment so you’ll spend money on newer equipment – with a Fusion drive that doesn’t support the new file system yet.

    For now, I’m set for the future on my old Mac Minis. And “Ebenezer”, Elementary OS also runs nicely on an old Mac Mini too.

    • Andrew Orr

      Thanks for sharing, Ned. I’ll add that Airport non-functionality to the article. And I too would love to see an update to the Mac mini line.

    • pm17

      Hi. I have a Mac Mini Late 2012. (I5 2,5Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD). It has installed Yosemite and I would like to upgrade to Sierra or High Sierra. It is worth? Could you give any suggestions? Will I have problems with Airport and inconsequence buy this Edimax USD WIRELESS?
      Any comment it’s appreciated

  2. AdriftMac

    I use a late 2012 Mac mini as my main computer and its quite the work horse. Never lets me down or blinks. I have 16GB of ram and a Samsung EVO 500GB SSD in it. So far since installing High Sierra it seems busy often with these processes running often maxing out the CPU but only for a few minutes. I guess part is maybe spotlight setting up and finding things. My Das Keyboard Pro for Mac was acting funny, media keys not working and it even stopped letting me type on it but just unplugged it and plugged it back in and its ok now. I hope it will be ok. I’ve spend a lot customizing it with Cherry MX switches and PBT double shot keys.

    After doing the update to High Sierra, I set up File Vault as I always do and wow did that take a long time. Just short of 24 hours. The APS went fine on the Samsung SSD and File Vault finished successfully. On my MacBook Air 2015 it went a lot quicker but it only has the 128GB SSD.

    So far so good, been using the new CCC 5 and its working fine. The new iStat Menus 6 upgrade was also purchased and is working well and looking fresh. Time Machine is showing snapshots but I’m not sure how to access them if needed. I use a external 3TB HD for my internal 500GB drive so there is space.

    • pm17

      Dear AdriftMac,
      Yesterday I bought a Mac Mini Late 2012 (i5 2,5Ghz, 16GB RAM, SSD Samsung EVO 512GB). It has installed Yosemite, and I would like to update to Sierra, or High Sierra. On the App Store, it only appears High Sierra. Do you think it’s worth to make an Update? Will it become more slower? Which options do I have? I only have my fotos on iCloud, and I don’t use any external storage. As you can see, I don’t have any experience with Macs. I would like to know if I wil have the problem with the airport and I will have to buy the Edimax USB Wireless. Thank you very much. I appreciate comments from everyone.

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