Upgrading to Mountain Lion on an older Mac

There are lots of reviews about the new features that Apple included in their latest OS X release, Mountain Lion but not much talk about running it on older Macs. I hope to explain some of the details to you.

First of all, this is the first version of OS X that can’t be run on all Intel based Macs. Up until now even the oldest Intel based Macs could run the latest OS. There are specifics at the Apple website, but basically you have to be running a unibody MacBook Pro or MacBook to run Mountain Lion. That is 2009 or newer, generally.

Apple has added lots of new features to Mountain Lion and it would seem reasonable to think that the new features would slow down older computers. But as I am about to tell you, that just isn’t the case.

I run a mid-2010 13″ MacBook Pro which came with Snow Leopard. I felt that Snow Leopard (10.6) was very stable and smooth. It was also the last edition that supported PowerPC software. Lion (10.7) was never a great experience on my MacBook Pro. Applications crashed, streaming videos were jittery, and the console showed errors that I could never get rid of. I assumed that my laptop was just too slow with Lion, so what would happen with Mountain Lion (10.8)?

Mountain Lion is over four gigabytes to download and at least an hour to install after the download. This process went smoothly. Once my machine booted it was sluggish. It felt like lots of stuff was running. But after a few minutes it started responding normally and felt even snappier than Lion! Could it be that Mountain Lion runs better than Lion?

The first thing that I noticed was the effects for minimizing and restoring were buttery smooth. I fired up Safari and went to YouTube and amazingly streaming videos were smooth again! After spending a day with it, I am confident that Mountain Lion runs better than Lion on my mid-2010 MacBook Pro!

What about a 2010 Mac Mini? My experience with the Mini is the same as with my MacBook Pro. Once installed for more than a few minutes, the Mini is as responsive as it has ever been. At first it seemed like watching live TV using EyeTV was not as smooth as with Lion, but eventually it smoothed out nicely.

Mail goes through a database update and mine went through flawlessly. So far I have only found one app that wouldn’t run and it just needed an update to work.

I don’t know of my installation if Lion was damaged and Mountain Lion repaired it or if Lion was just defective, but I couldn’t be happier with it on both of my older Macs!

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