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

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