Should You Upgrade Your Older Mac To El Capitan?

“I’m still running OS X 10.10 Yosemite on the MacBook Air, and am resolved to wait until the first bugfix update build at least before committing to an OS X 10.11 El Capitan upgrade on my main machine, but I’ve been curious about El Capitan, which has been described as being analogical to what Snow Leopard was to the preceding OS X 10.5 Leopard — ie: no major new features but more a general refinement, optimization, and bugfix build,” Charles Moore writes for MacPrices. “And miribile dictu, El Capitan is supported by my ancient MacBook, along with most Mac computers introduced in 2007 or later.”

Moore writes, “Despite the fact that it is excluded from most of those marquee OS X 10.11 features, I decided in the interest of science to upgrade that Mountain Lion backup system install on my MacBook to El Capitan anyway, in order to check it out and satisfy my curiosity as to how well the latest Mac OS version actually works on a seven year old, lower-end, Mac laptop, without nuking my Snow Leopard installation on the other partition or messing with my stable Yosemite install on the MacBook Air.”

“So how well does El Capitan work on the old 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo machine? Surprisingly well, actually. My expectations had not been high, but I’m finding the OS quite usable. However, it’s definitely slower and less responsive than Snow Leopard or Mountain Lion on this machine, and based on experience, I would rate Snow Leopard the maximum performance version of OS X for the late-2008 aluminum MacBook,” Moore writes. “With El Capitan, Finder windows and apps open more lazily, as do Save dialogs and such. It’s not super annoying, but you definitely notice it. I do find the sluggishness of the latest iterations of Spotlight annoying, even on my MacBook Air currently in Yosemite for that matter, so it’s no shock to note that it’s even more lackadaisical on the old MacBook running El Capitan.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We don’t have El Capitan running on anything older than a Mid 2011 iMac (granted that one is spec’ed out with a 3.4GHz Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD for OS X and apps). It runs great!

So, who’s running a really “old” Mac with El Capitan? How’s it working?


  1. I’ll upgrade on a test partition, or keep a Super Duper copy of the previous drive so that I always have a copy of the previous, working drive. This way I can put the latest version of OSX through its paces while knowing I can always go back if necessary.

    1. Exactly what one would expect on any Mac with only 4GB of RAM and a spinning hard disk—especially a 5400rpm hard disk. The only reason the MacBook Airs get away with 4GB RAM is that they are equipped with SSDs.

  2. Running it on an early 2008 24″ iMac with 2.4ghz core duo, 6GB ram and 1TB hard drive. 10.10 really slowed down my computer and 10.11 actually sped it up from most things. The most notable slow-down was iTunes. Photoshop, photos, Pixelmator, etc all open at about the same amount of time or slightly faster.

  3. Works great!!
    No noticeable speed change

    .OX El Capitan
    version 10.11.1 Beta (15B38b)
    MacBook Pro (15inch, Late 2008)
    Processor 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    memory 8 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
    Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT 512 MB

  4. Mid 2007 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 24″ iMac with 4GB RAM & 500GB HD.
    It works OK (though can be slow) with no issues (apart from usual El Capitan bugs). Slower than Yosemite, but expected on a 8 year old machine.
    It’s an old workhorse & I’ve certainly got my money’s worth after 8 years of solid service.
    Though the 5K 27″ iMac is certainly looking tasty & making my credit card twitch…

  5. Certainly runs a bit faster than the Yosemite I had on my 5 year old iMac which I tend to use as a test bed. Still on Mountain Lion on my newer IMac just didn’t like the look of Yosemite or its apparent slowness but provably will bite the bullet in few months.

    1. My early build 2008 iMac is a pain running Mavericks. I hate it. Would going to El Capitan improve anything? or Should I go back to Mountain Lion, which I was actually quite happy with.

  6. Mid 2011 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7, 27″ iMac with 24GB Ram & 2 TB HD. Is actually more responsive with the new system. The only problem I had was that Mail crashed for some reason. I’m hoping 10.11.1 will solve that.

  7. I’m running El Capitan on my late 2008 MacBook (first gen unibody aluminum MacBook) since day one of its release and it’s way better than Yosemite!! I do have 8GB of RAM in my 7 year old Mac and an Intel SSD. I’ve had the newest OS installed on this Mac on their first day of release for 7 consecutive years now. Not a single crash.

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