I don't know whether I should update my iMac to El Capitan or not. I'm planning to use it daily as my primary computer for the next 5 to 7 years (yes, seriously) and too afraid to update to the next OS because I think it will not be as fast as it is now. I value speed and efficiency much more than the cool new features. My question is: will updating my iMac to the new OS every year decrease its performance over time or not?

iMac is used mostly for web browsing and Adobe apps (Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Lightroom; in that order). I have very few files on my iMac because I keep everything in the cloud (~150 GB/1 TB) and there are ~25 programs installed.

  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014)
  • OS X Yosemite 10.10.5 (latest)
  • 4 GHz Intel Core i7
  • 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 (will upgrade to 32 GB in the near future)
  • AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048 MB
  • 1.12 TB Fusion Drive


closed as primarily opinion-based by Tetsujin, Mark, user3439894, Graham Miln, bassplayer7 Sep 20 '15 at 12:23

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Unfortunately no-one can answer this question with any certainty. No-one knows what 5 – 7 years will bring in operating system design and improvements. For the sake of security, updating regularly is advisable. Regarding speed, Apple's past behaviour suggests they are not in the business of slowing down existing Macs deliberately. – Graham Miln Sep 20 '15 at 11:53

Grey, like everything in life you have choices. Follow your heart.

The short answer is YES.

"ElCap" (my short name because I think the name is too long and a bit weird) is like what we did with Leopard 10.5 to Snow Leopard 10.6. Leopard was about features. Snow Leopard was about behind the scenes enhancements.

Elcap is a foundational performance and efficiency upgrade unlike Yosemite which was the radical looks, feel, feature upgrade. That the names between Yosemite (the national park) and El Capitan (the climbing peak inside the park) are related is intentional (like Leopard and Snow Leopard) selected to infer that ElCap is all about the details and not the big picture. The majority of the work is not visible representing a tightening of all the core architectures.

I've worked with every beta we've produced. I even have ElCap running on a variety of platforms right down to a 2008 iMac. It's no speed daemon on that unit but it's quite usable with only 4GB of RAM. It's a testament to Apple hardware and software that our software upgrades tend to strive to minimize performance hits and actually, in some cases, increase performance.

Maybe if you were running an older unit I'd be less certain but in your case, for all the tightening of code and security and cloud refinements, ElCap makes sense with less risk then most upgrades I've seen.

I could go into all the changes underneath the code like efforts to make the OS more secure by making it 'rootless' but if performance is your concern I think you can be at peace with the upgrade.

Hope that helps.

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