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I am using a 2013 MacBook Air and considering to upgrade from 10.9 to 10.10. Is there a performance gain after the upgrade? Is Yosemite faster than Mavericks, say, regarding UI responsiveness?

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    My classmate is using a 2014 MacBook Air (so am I), I waited till he installed the OS on his Mac. It looks like there are some small glitches in Yosemite when upgraded. Some people are claiming that doing a clean install solves the problem. Still though, I think Mavericks is slightly faster than Yosemite. – Chetan Bhasin Oct 27 '14 at 18:34
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    It's not very clear how you can compare a release that has not yet gone through any optimization (10.10) to a release that has (10.9). – Fr. Oct 30 '14 at 16:26
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    No OS is ever 'faster' than the last one. More features, more complexity, more oomph needed from the compy. – Tetsujin Nov 5 '14 at 21:19
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    How do you measure UI responsiveness? – Daniel Nov 7 '14 at 11:30
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    @Masi You aren't going to get an "official" response from Apple, especially not here. It's still also not clear what you're asking. If you want a comparison between Yosemite and prior versions of OS X, read the Siracusa review. If you want physical benchmarks, here's a thread. However, nothing is going to tell you how it is going to feel to you when installed on your computer. – tubedogg Nov 9 '14 at 5:37

12 Answers 12

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Quick answer: NO. Yosemite isn't faster than Mavericks.

I don't say that the performance is worse. The oldest is the computer most noticeable is the difference. But, on a 2013 computer, it should be the same, or nearly the same, on both machines. Anyway, there are things you can do to improve it (How to Improve OS X Yosemite Performance).

What I noticed, is that is quite more efficiently on batteries.

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    Interesting point about on batteries. I have noticed that Google chrome seems to use more battery in compared to Safari. So some more optimisation probably in Yosemite Safari which takes benefits of internals. – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Nov 8 '14 at 19:22
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I have recently upgraded a 2012 MacBook Air from Mavericks to Yosemite, and I have not noticed any change in responsiveness or speed. I didn't do any measurements, but the performance difference (at least on my system) is small enough that it is unnoticeable to me.

  • As I noted on another answer, I have not seen any issues with that upgrade either, and I have an Early 2009 Mac Pro. – tubedogg Nov 14 '14 at 9:19
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UI responsiveness is worse or at least it's getting worse while my macbook is running without restart for longer period. Especially if you don't check the "Reduce transparency" option in Accessibility settings the performance is noticeably worse. (on macbook pro 13" late 2013)

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    +1 I support this answer. I see noticeable performance decrease in my Macbook Air 2013. I have maximum memory in my system. This is unbelievable that Apple went to worsen the performance of their system. I disable the transparency -option too but the performance decrease exists too. Too much gum code in their system now when they combined the iOS to Desktop system. – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Nov 7 '14 at 10:50
  • @Masi They did not combine iOS "to the Desktop system". They took some of the better ideas that originated in iOS and grafted them onto the desktop OS. Remember, iOS was borne out of OS X originally. – tubedogg Nov 14 '14 at 9:17
  • As far as UI responsiveness being worse, I am using an Early 2009 Mac Pro with 6GB of RAM and what was, at the time, the low-end video card. I am not seeing any more sluggishness in Yosemite than I did in Mavericks, and your MacBook Pro can probably run circles around my machine in terms of raw performance. – tubedogg Nov 14 '14 at 9:18
  • Example of UI responsiveness and usability. Worser Spotlight search: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/159884/… I really need full height to scroll my search results. It starts to be soon time to downgrade OSX. – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Dec 8 '14 at 12:04
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From a purely anecdotal experience, I haven't noticed much of a difference between Mavericks and Yosemite on my 2011 Macbook Air (i5). The only exception may be the animation for expanding stacks and fans being slightly less smooth, but this may just be me being hypersensitive to finding performance differences.

If you find that your Mac is significantly slower or less responsive after the update you may want to backup and do a clean install. I've had good results of doing an upgrade-installs with my Macs in general, but sometimes they can result in a more sluggish system compared to a clean install.

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I do have lots and lots of UI responsiveness problems with Yosemite that I don’t have with Mavericks.

I have a 16GB Mid-2012 rMBP (first Retina MBP) and boy! is Yosemite sluggish! Fun fact: Mavericks used to being as sluggish when it first came out… Apple did enhance it.

I do have a lot of Spaces opened all the time (around 6, not counting fullscreen apps), but with (almost) the same apps opened on Mavericks and Yosemite, Yosemite is way slower. And it gets slower and slower as the uptime grows.

My advice: wait for OS X 10.10.3 or such (at least 10.10.2). Let Apple optimise its OS.

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    Sadly wait until 10.10.4 at this point. The UI issues still are not being addressed fully even after a good amount of reporting. – ylluminate Feb 22 '15 at 2:59
  • This is, sadly, true. Given the current situation I’m not even sure Yosemite will ever be fluid. I’ve heard iOS 9 will be all about optimisation; I hope 10.11 will be too……… – Frizlab Feb 22 '15 at 20:12
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    I agree. I also hope to see a new HFS+ replacement soon since they're so adamant in their position against ZFS. It would be nice to see an OS release all about stability and optimization. I was so very much hoping that Yosemite would be that release. :'( – ylluminate Feb 22 '15 at 22:24
  • They are finally doing APFS! \o/ – Frizlab May 4 '17 at 1:12
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I used to have Mavericks installed on my machine (a 2012 macmini with 2.5ghz i5, 16GB RAM), then I upgraded to Yosemite. I didn't notice any significant difference in performance in terms of UI responsiveness.

But it seems to me quite clear that Yosemite is using more RAM to cache a lot of stuff. The boot up process seems to also take quite long on Yosemite. Safari is noticeably faster on Yosemite than it was on previous systems.

My fastest system in terms of responsiveness is a Mountain Lion installed on a separate partition with swapping disabled. Unfortunately I didn't find a way to disable swapping on Yosemite too, so I can get a better use for the 16GB of RAM.

In many ways Yosemite feels like a better system, though, and I wouldn't go back to any previous system, even though there is no significant improvement in terms of functionality (it's mostly UI changes).

  • How do you make better use of RAM than the OS? – user151019 Nov 13 '14 at 20:45
  • +1 I think this is one of the best answers because it describes the RAM usage, functionality and responsiveness of the system. – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Nov 14 '14 at 9:37
  • @Mark - I know what you mean, you think the OS is doing a great thing by caching a lot of files and using the cache to make application switching as fast as possible. However, I need to have more manual control of the RAM I have installed to create ramdisks for some big scratch disks or other tasks I have to run. – dolanator Nov 15 '14 at 12:08
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I would like to add, as a concerned guy with performance, that since Mavericks my MacBook Air 2013's boot time has increased a lot! I measured the boot time 3 times with a stopwatch and calculated the average, so here are the results:

  • Mountain Lion: 11.0 seconds
  • Mavericks: 18.0 seconds
  • Yosemite: 22.0 seconds

I don't like the idea that every time Apple releases a new OS X, the boot time increases. One of the reasons I chose Mac was because it was fast! I was able to push the power button and get to work in 10 seconds, now I'm not. I'm not very fond of Linux, but my Ubuntu boots in 15 seconds and it's the latest version of Ubuntu. If I need to do something as quickly as possible, which one do you think I would turn on? Yosemite or Ubuntu? = /

I miss Mountain Lion, it's the best OS X in my opinion. I just hope Macs don't take 1 minute to load like Windows in the next OS.

  • Why do you need to reboot just let the Mac go to sleep/hibernate. That is if boot time really matters – user151019 Nov 13 '14 at 20:44
  • I don't like to leave it running 24/7. Every night I turn it off and in the morning I turn it back on. Important things happen while you reboot your machine. You should do it more often if you don't. Furthermore, unless you're downloading something, or processing huge amounts of data, why do you need to leave it on? Why waste energy? Everybody needs a nap, including your Mac. – Thi G. Nov 14 '14 at 0:53
  • Boot time matters because it reflects how much processing your computer needs to do in order to start your system. The lighter your system is, the faster it boots. So the boot time has increased, which is justified by the amount of features they added to the OS. However, do these features really need 22s to load? Seriously? In two versions the boot time has increased 11s! The time doubled. That's not a good sign. – Thi G. Nov 14 '14 at 1:06
  • Am I the only one who remembers how we used to measure Windows boot times in minutes? At any rate...modern computers do not benefit from daily reboots to anywhere near the extent their predecessors did. They also use very little power when sleeping, as opposed to simply being left on all night, and the added benefit is it becomes usable within a couple of seconds instead of however long it takes to boot. – tubedogg Nov 14 '14 at 9:12
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    When i upgraded from Snow Leopard to Mavericks, i've got a lot of user interface glitches and weird decisions (like Finder windows that run away from you when you try to drop something into them) and 2 or 3 times longer boot times. The only reason i had to upgrade was that some software did not work on Snow Leopard anymore. – Alexey Nov 16 '14 at 11:49
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I have a macbook air mid 2013 and Yosemite is 100% my favourite OS X so far. It is worth trying it out only because of giant jump in performance of safari. I also recently installed Yosemite on macbook late 2008 with hdd and 2gb ram, after upgrading to 4gb ram I could fully enjoy the fresh OS X even on the old machine. However I did notice that turning on time takes a little longer than using mavericks. I would strongly suggest switching to Yosemite as most of the time we spend with the browser, unless your job requires otherwise. Definitely worth giving a try.

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So, I am running a Macbook pro late 2011 with upgrade to a Samsung SSD ,instead of the normal HDD.

That being said, I can tell you that after changing form Mavericks to Yosemite, I'v been really happy with the way it runs!

I will make a list of pro's and con's so it will be easy for you to read.

PRO's: 1. Safari is insanely cool! 2. Notification center is now similar to the iOS's notification center and I find it really useful! 3. The design is smooth and nice to look at.A bit better than Maverick's design. 4. Slightly bigger battery life -still a big plus.At least 30 minutes more battery life. 5. Overal cooler user-experience.

CON's 1. The laptop boots a bit faster than it did before -I get like 4 seconds boot time up to the password stage, but after I write my password, it takes about 10 seconds to load the UI completely. 2. Had slight problem with the Mail app

Been using Yosemite a few days and overall experience was awesome!

Totally recommended!

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When I compare Yosemite with Mavericks, The system is very slower with Yosemite The translucent graphics require much more CPU power and system working very slower. It will be better to select "Reduce Translucency" option from System Preferences -> Accessibility to increase the system performance Plus there are many bugs exist in the program. The geographical location system and related systems are always crushing and system is stalling If you run the Activity Monitor... You will realize that, OS X Yosemite is full of Bugs Finally, It's for these reasons that I decided to return back to my old Mavericks...

Geographical Location System Crush

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As of my own experience, Yosemite doesn't seem that much slower than Mavericks on executing operations (I have a MacBook Pro mid-2010).

What is way slower though is UI responsiveness especially for Finder's windows. My main gripe is with Window Resizing, which respond as fast as a slideshow. In 10.10.0, Icon view and List view were acceptable. Column view was unbearable. Since 10.10.2, I noticed all three views are suffering from the same problem.

One way to fix this is indeed to Reduce Transparency (System Preferences / Accessibility / Display) but also to Always Show scroll bars (System Preferences / General).

What is funny though is that I booted Parallels Desktop with Windows 7 while still using Yosemite and Windows 7 was more responsive even running as a Virtual Machine. That shows that there is a real problem on the software side from Apple.

All and all, Yosemite is a great update, feature-wise. I would advice to stay away from it for now if you can't stand those issues.

  • Still having serious UI performance issues even in 10.10.2 and .3. It seems that there are some Window Manager issues that they have still not sorted out since the early developer previews and reporting has not resolved it yet. Sadly even with a beefy machine I have to run with high contrast mode to get the responsiveness I was getting with Mavericks. – ylluminate Feb 22 '15 at 2:52
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I've been running Yosemite since it came out, with the updates and I'm finding that its boot time is unacceptable. I'm seeing 30+ seconds of totally blank screen and then longer with the logo and the progress bar - I'd guess the startup time before I can log in is between 1.5 and 2 minutes.

So - yes, startup is now firmly in the old Windows territory and is completely pathetic when compared to my Samsung XE, Surface Pro 3 and a bog-standard dual core Pentium machine - all of which run Win8/8.1 and all boot to a login within 20 seconds!

I'm seriously considering backing up all my data off the iMac (2012) - and going back to an earlier version - maybe Mountain Lion - until Apple gets their act together!

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protected by nohillside Mar 11 '15 at 22:08

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