Some Users Report macOS High Sierra Gives Old Macs Better Performance

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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.

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Ned
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Ned

Oops, 2012. The 2017 must have been a wishful, Freudian slip : )

Ned
Member
Ned

pm17: Since yours is a 2017 Mac Mini, it’s supported for High Sierra and everything will function normally including wireless. My two Mac Mini that are early and late 2009 are unsupported so I used dosdude1’s patchers to load both Sierra and High Sierra. Everything worked fine on mine except for wireless – I believe there was a change in 2010 where Apple changed the Broadcom wireless chip.

AdriftMac
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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… Read more »

pm17
Member
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… Read more »

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nilesmitchell

The Apple File System is abbreviated as APFS, not AFS.

Also, the APFS came to the iOS with 10.3, not 11.

Ned
Member
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… Read more »

pm17
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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