Macbook increasingly hot and slow

in Genius Bar edited January 2014

I have a May 2007 Macbook C2D 2.0Ghz 1Gb RAM 250Gb HDD (183Gb free) running 10.6.8. 


When I bought this computer I was able to open 10 apps at once without it slowing to a grinding halt, today even just using Chrome is slow. 99% of the usage is just surfing the web, but increasingly the machine is struggling with this task. 


2-months ago the machine had a rebuild that helped, but now its worse than ever. Apple have used a diagnostic tool on the hard drive and found no issues. I have used a McAfee virus scanner and no threats are detected. 


Understand that this machine now has a few years behind it, but I am not asking anything from it that I haven't been over the last 5 years. If I didn't know better I would suggest that it feels like the CPU's performance is degrading causing it to run at max continuously. This is then creating a lot of heat and leading to a vicious cycle. I will get a usage monitoring app and update this thread with my findings in a few days. 


More RAM would obviously help, but I have been fine over the last few years. Any suggests would be appreciated. 


  • Reply 1 of 10

    Are you using virus protection? It is possible, though not likely I know, that you have picked up a virus. If you are certain there is no virus you might try downloading a copy of Cocktail <>. I find that helps tune up my Mac Air really well.

  • Reply 2 of 10
    fahlmanfahlman Posts: 740member

    Use Activity, which can be found in the Utilities folder (/Applications/Utilities/Activity Sort by the %CPU header and report back what is taking up the most CPU. While you're in Activity Monitor click on the System Memory tab and report the number of Page Outs.

  • Reply 3 of 10

    That could be  a lot of things from hardware, application problems, to resource exhaustion.


    Previous poster said to open up Activity Monitor and look for the resources being used and page outs. You didn't say what OS you were using. Even Leopard can push 1G to its limits.


    Here are some some things to look out for in the system:


    1. Running out of free drive space. If this is true and your swapping, swapping would take excessively long. Like the previous poster implied this will tell you if you have too little memory. At least 10% of your drive should be empty.


    2. For some reason Spotlight is continually indexing. This can be checked by clicking on the Spotlight indicator in the upper right corner and seeing if it's active. Also, in Activity Monitor, organize by name and search for mds and mdworker threads being active. This can happen if the indices in Spotlight get corrupted. In Tiger and Leopard, the system seems to like to do a full re-index at the drop of a hat which is time consuming and will definitely slow the system down. It seemed it was fixed in Snow Leopard and Lion, but now it seems like it's a problem again in Mountain Lion. If this is the problem, you could move ALL drives into the privacy section of Spotlight, which will prevent it from running, but you also won't be able to use Spotlight, since it won't search for anything.


    Possible hardware problems:


    1. The drive has problems. Although you said  Apple tested it, they're drive testing tools are pretty Mickey Mouse if you ask me. I've seen Scannerz listed on this site a few times and it can pick stuff up like failing but readable sectors. This is a possibility, but I doubt it. You didn't say you had any read or write problems where a dialog comes up saying "Can't read/write to drive" or "I/O Error" so I wouldn't automatically assume the drive is a problem. In other words don't rush out and throw 30 bucks or whatever at Scannerz because that's probably not your problem.


    2. Your heat sink has come loose. It happens, not a lot, but it happens. If this has occurred the kernel will likely a) kick on the fans in high speed, and b)throttle the CPU speed to a lower speed to cut power consumption. On BSD systems this will show up in the log files in /var/log but I don't know it it shows up at all in Apples. It might be worth checking.


    My personal guesses would be too little memory combined with too much drive space usage resulting in tons of slow swap outs, or GOOD 'OL SPOTLIGHT being a warthog, yet again. These are educated guesses so please keep that in mind when reading this.

  • Reply 4 of 10

    Thank you for the replies, just to confirm I am running Snow Leopard. 


    CPU usage - typical usage seems to be 7.5% user, 2.5% system, leaving 90% idle. Presuming this figure does not show an issue...


    System memory - Free 15mb, wired 205mb, active 529mb, inactive 273mb. 


    Top memory hungry processes include:

    - Google Chrome Renderer - 115mb

    - Google Chrome - 148mb

    - Google Chrome Helper - 90mb

    - Google Chrome Renderer - 50mb 

    - Google Chrome Worker - 45mb 

    - PepperFlashPlayer (Chrome Plug-In Host) - 33mb 


    Only having 15mb free could be an issue when the only apps I have open are Google Chrome and Activity Monitor. Are other browsers less memory hungry?

  • Reply 5 of 10
    fahlmanfahlman Posts: 740member

    You need more RAM.


    Chrome is a little memory hungry compared to Safari, but not so much so that you won't need to add RAM. Do you know if you have the MacBook (13-inch Mid 2007) or the MacBook (13-inch Late 2007)? They max out at 3GB or 6GB, respectively. If you don't know I'll respond with instructions.

  • Reply 6 of 10

    Mid 2007 -


    Now I need to consider whether to buy a 2Gb set or not having matching modules 

  • Reply 7 of 10

    upgrade to 4 gigs throw an ssd in there and get rid of the optical drive and use a datadoubler from owc...also it wouldn't hurt to reapply some thermal paste and dust out the macbook...after that clean up the os...get rid of unused programs, dump the caches, get rid of start up items and the .plist and you should be good to go.

  • Reply 8 of 10
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,140member

    1GB of RAM really isn't enough these days, I really recommend upgrading to the max that machine allows. I don't think matching pairs will be important for that machine as its integrated graphics are low performance to start with, and CPU performance isn't hurt much by non matching pairs. I realize that you were happy with Snow Leopard and Chrome when it was new, but as websites and Chrome itself start using more RAM, things will get incredibly slow when the machine has to swap to the hard drive. I found 2GB unbearable in modern times, 4GB is really where the minimum should be. With Mountain Lion even 8 may be a good idea. 

    Now, you also said it runs hot. It's also possible that it's getting too hot, and the system is throttling the processor speed to save it from frying. Open the back panel and dust out the fan and heatsink with a can of compressed air. 

  • Reply 9 of 10
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  • Reply 10 of 10

    thanks folks that helped me out as I'm experiencing the same difficulties.

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