10 Ultimate Tips For The Fastest Intel Mac Ever

Apple Computers are Already Faster, but why?

The Apple computer running on OSX is already the fastest most advanced home computer available today.  Apple does a great job at optimizing these systems right out of the box by not preinstalling software you don’t need at the time of purchase.  I’m sure everyone has bought a Dell or an HP and when it gets to you there are third party applications installed to do simple tasks.  For example there is an App for CD burning, one for the touch mouse pad, one for the video card, one for the sound and so on.  The Apple computer has all of this software directly built in to the OSX operating system.  Also, on a Windows PC you will notice preinstalled tool bars, 3rd party games and other ad type applications.  This is spyware pre-installed on your system, which is one way PC suppliers lower the end cost of your system.  Don’t believe me?  Open a brand new PC out of the box and run your favorite spyware removal application.  You will be surprised to find out that your computer is infected before you even touch it!   So in addition to the already optimized Apple system you are buying, here is my ultimate guide to making your Intel Mac even faster.

Optimization Tip 1: Upgrade to at least Snow Leopard OSX 10.6

The first thing that you may notice with Snow Leopard is that there is little to no visual changes from 10.5.  May not seem like much of an upgrade to some of you Windows Users because Microsoft’s big thing is to update the look and feel without upgrading the actual system itself.  The main reason to upgrade is that you will get at least a 25% performance increase using Snow Leopard.  This performance increase is because they coded this OS specifically for the Intel CPU’s and also were able to decrease the total size of all the built in applications.

Optimization Tip 2: Upgrade to 4gigs of RAM or More

If you currently have less than 4 gigs of RAM you are not utilizing the capabilities of the 64bit processor.  While the 64bit CPU is able to execute instructions more efficiently, it does require more RAM to do so.  RAM is about the cheapest component of a computer right now and is very easy to install.  This upgrade is a no brainer.

Optimization Tip 3: Disable the Dashboard

The OSX dashboard is the screen that has the weather, stocks, calendar and other personalized widgets that you have chosen to install. The truth is that depending how many widgets you choose to run, the dashboard is a major memory hog. Each individual widget is a program that has to be running at all times for quick access. In my opinion, most of them are pretty useless and you can easily compensate for the loss by just using iCal or the internet to view your stocks. I also feel that the dashboard is a slight distraction and can lower productivity.

Optimization Tip 4: Use xSlimmer and Monolingual to Remove Unneeded Files

These apps will scan your hard drive and remove unneeded languages and application code off of your hard drive. I’ve seen these apps effectively get rid of up to 10gigs of unneeded data if not more. The slimmer applications will run faster and the extra space will increase your hard drive seek times. Be careful to read the instructions on their websites throughly because using these applications can damage some of your apps. Make sure you have a good backup. The downloads for these can be found here: Monolingual and xSlimmer.

Optimization Tip 5: Remove All Unneeded or Unused Applications

This is an easy way to free up hard disk space and to speed up the system. Just delete or uninstall any unused apps out of applications. No further detail is needed for this tip.  Don’t be one of those people who install a bunch of useless games and never play them.  Don’t install add-ons they will change the appearance of OSX or give you extra screen savers.  All of these use up space and memory and should be avoided at all costs.

Optimization Tip 6: Remove All Desktop Icons

Desktop icons on the mac use up a bit of memory for each one.  Get rid of them.  Use stacks in the doc or spotlight to quickly find applications and documents.  The desktop should be clean and neat with little to no icons on it.  Sometimes I will use desktop icons only for quick access to things that I am currently working on.  Then I move them off to storage as soon as I’m finished.

Optimization Tip 7: Run Onyx Regularly

Onyx is a little application that you can download for free that will automatically run a number of useful optimization scripts to keep your system running in tip top shape. It removes unneeded cached items, repairs file permissions and also allows you to customize a number of hidden features in OSX. A download for Onyx can be found here: Onyx Download.

Optimization Tip 8: Optimize Network Connection

This Tip really does make your internet faster and more responsive.  Apple released an application called broadband tuner.  Basically what this application does is change the settings of your network card so that it will send larger packets faster.  It really does work so I highly recommend this.  You can find the Apple Broadband Tuner here: Apple Broadband Tuner.

Optimization Tip 9: Install a Solid State Harddrive

This will be by far the fastest upgrade you will probably ever do on your system.  Since the inception of computers, the bottleneck of speed has always been the hard drive or disk speed.  This is mainly due to the fact the the drive stores your data on metallic platters which spin at a high rate.  A magnetic head reads and writes the data to the drive while its spinning.  The limitation is that the drives can only spin so fast, so your always waiting for the head to seek until it finds the data that you need.  A solid state hard drive eliminates this bottleneck due to having no moving parts.  When the computer needs to find data, it simply locates it on the SSD and provides it to you almost instantly.  Your Mac will boot up in under 30 seconds and applications will open almost instantly.  Everything on the system will perform much faster.  Installation of an SSD requires you to take apart your system, which makes it a relatively difficult install.  With patience and diligence, everyone should be able to install one of these with no problem.  I recommend getting  the 80gig Intel X25m for 225 dollars on Amazon which is the most cost effective solution for the average power hungry user.  For more information on installing an SSD on your Mac, go here: Installing a Solid State Harddrive on your Mac.

Optimization Tip 10: Move All Data to an External Firewire 800 Hard Drive

The biggest thing that we are trying to accomplish here is to keep as much of your main hard drive free so you system can effectively use it for its Cache.  I highly recommend moving your iTunes library and other documents and data to the external.  If you listen to alot of iTunes, music playing actually puts strain on your main drive, slightly slowing your system down.  If you move it to a Firewire 800 drive, you can play music all day long without experiencing any lag in your main hard drive’s seek time.  It is also good to keep all of your data on a separate drive for backup and organization purposes.  If you ever need to format and reinstall, you don’t have to worry about losing any data.  Plus, with the new SSD, you can now format and reinstall OSX 10.6 in about 15 – 20 minutes.  Less than 15 if you install it from a Firewire drive.

Overall, the Mac system is very fast to begin with, but for you power hungry tech geeks out there, this will give you that extra much needed juice to be able to get your work done faster.  There is no sense in buying a new expensive computer because yours is slightly slower than it once was.  The SSD upgrade alone will make your Mac faster than any new system, without an SSD.  Apple is starting to sell some computers with SSD’s preinstalled, but that will cost you over $500 dollars extra.  Follow these Optimization Tips and get another year or two out of your current computer.  The technology in home computers is going to change rapidly in the next few years, so it is best to wait.

If you have any questions, please feel free to visit the forum, I would be more than happy to provide you with any further information that you may need.