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I have a MacBookPro4,1 (Early 2008) with the following specs:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz
  • 4 GB RAM

I know that this model is supported by Lion but I'd like to know by people who has already performed the upgrade if:

  • they've noticed a performance degradation after the upgrade
  • if there are any other gotchas when upgrading
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6 Answers

I upgraded my MacBook Pro 3,1 (late 2007) with 6GB RAM to Lion. There are no specific problems, but note that the trackpad cannot use multi-touch gestures. Also, the networking circuitry in my MacBook Pro does not support AirDrop, so I can't use that. I noticed inconsistent behavior with keyboard backlighting on my model with Lion, but since I have never seen the need for that feature, I just disabled it altogether.

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Can you not do two-finger scrolling? The 2007 MBPs didn't support other multi-touch gestures to my knowledge, but it should definitely support two-finger scrolling. It works fine on my 2006 MBP under Lion, as it always has. –  robmathers Oct 22 '11 at 21:45
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OMG. I can! I never knew that--until you suggested that I check. It was off by default in System Preferences, but I enabled it. –  Wheat Williams Oct 23 '11 at 0:58
    
Ha, go figure. One of my favourite things about my MBP. Strange that it was off by default. Well, always nice when you find out something new about an otherwise old machine! –  robmathers Oct 24 '11 at 1:29
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I had the same MacBook Pro (same processor, same RAM) and my wife has it now. I put Lion and Lion update on it early on and we've had no problems at all. Lion feels fine on the machine, no performance problems at all.

To be fair, my wife rarely taxes things like people in this discussion might but she does leave Safari, iTunes, and a few more applications running a lot and she's never crashed or yelled at me for ruining her life ;)

I bought Lion for my computer (current model MBP) and made an install USB drive with the Lion installer knowing I'd be putting it on her machine as well. I use SuperDuper to back up our machines and I made a backup of her machine, booted it from the Lion USB drive, used disk tools to erase and repartition the drive (just to clean things up), did a clean install of Lion, then used migration assistant to pull her account back in.

I didn't copy over the backup until we were sure Lion was working right and she had everything and in fact, we had no problems and she's been using it ever since, including the recent upgrade for iCloud which she uses too.

Tip: The best way to make that machine last even longer is to put an SSD in it. OWC has decent SSDs and the speed increase will blow your mind. You might consider doing this kind of upgrade at the same time you do the Lion upgrade, not because Lion needs it, more just to give you another year on that machine before buying a new one. If you buy a new one you can take the SSD with you if you like, either as a replacement internal drive or as an external.

Unless you need huge storage an SSD is the single best performance investment you can make in an older MacBook Pro that's capable of running Lion.

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Check out the system requirements here for OS X 10.7 Lion here. I will say that I have installed Lion on systems with 1GB of RAM, and a slower processor than yours. It still ran buttery smooth, so you'll be just fine. Good luck, and enjoy!

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Test your backup or install lion onto an external drive so you can judge for yourself would be my best tip. Jump in after checking your parachute and make sure you get a do-over if needed.


Performance is surely degraded since more things run in the background - whether you notice it or even care with the new functionality is hard to guess.

Other parts of the system are optimized and feel much faster (time machine, calculating sizes of folders in Finder) and breathe new life into old macs.

In general, macs before multitouch glass trackpads feel "old" and miss out on AirDrop and gestures othe than two finger scroll / tap. With RAM, they do generally run very well and with an SSD they can be stunningly fast.

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I have the same model. I installed Lion and the first thing I noticed was a pretty severe battery drain. There are others having the same kind of problem. It's a real bummer. There are also a few annoyances, but not exclusive to this particular model. You can enable AirDrop -- if you really want it -- via a Terminal command. Multi-touch gestures work, to some degree... just hard to do some with the trackpad button in the way. I'm a bit disappointed in some of the speed issues. Lion is speedy on newer machines. For this MBP, I think Snow Leopard worked best.

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My specs:

  • Macbook Pro 3.1 with 2.2 Ghz C2D, yes it's my main station...
  • 4GB RAM 800 Mhz
  • Graphics: GeForce 8600M GT with 128 MBThis is important! Lion is quite demanding for basic visuals like Mission Control and Launchpad.

My experience:

  1. faster boot time
  2. system is less responsive. I guess it's do to the graphics.
  3. generally low fps for any animation, that is:
    • resizing windows
    • launchpad, up to the point that it's really irritating
    • mission control, but you can live with it
    • turing windows into full screen mode

Basically, those nice new feature tend to suck a little...I was so angry with it, that I almost decided to buy a new MBP. I ended up making an SSD upgrade instead due to the obvious price difference.

What you're missing:

  • Multitouch operations. Use hot corners instead. You can use the two finger scrolling. That feature was introduced with the PowerBooks.
  • Momentum scrolling. It's not like the trackpad cannot handle it, but the OS enables it only when connecting a bluetooth magic trackpad.
  • Airdrop. But there are third-party solutions that have been around for quite a while already.

Edit:

It's possible to enable Airdrop on unsupported Macs.

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Actually there is a VERY simple terminal "trick" that makes airdrop relay on your local network for connectivity as opposed to a "personal area network" (that only devices considered airdrop compatible have) –  XAleXOwnZX Feb 13 '12 at 1:33
    
@XAleXOwnZX Yes, I've posted the trick here: apple.stackexchange.com/a/37826/13414. The only problem is that every mac which wants to communicate to a mac without ad-hoc wifi will have to apply the hack as well - even if they support Airdrop already. –  gentmatt Feb 13 '12 at 7:43
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