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Discussion on: How much do hardware parts matter?

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Austin S. Hemmelgarn • Edited on

Having low swap utilization is a good thing, it means you actually do have enough usable memory for what you're doing (though 8GB is a bit low IMO for both containers and virtualization, especially if you're doing web development).

For the record, you actually have a third generation Core i5, not second (the mid-2012 MacBook Pros all had Ivy Bridge chips, not Sandy Bridge). Given that it's a 13" model, it should be a Core i5-3210M. However, a third generation Core i5 is also about equivalent in terms of practical performance to a current generation Pentium (in fact, you're just above the performance envelope for a Pentium Gold 6504U, which is only really used in netbook and chromebook type systems, except it's got a lot lower power consumption and supports much faster memory). That by itself is almost certainly 95% of the issue, as it both severely limits the memory speed (DDR3-1600 hasn't been top of the line for quite some time, and a new system will almost always have at least DDR4-2133, or more often DDR4-2400) and just generally limits your processing power (both CPU and GPU, keep in mind that the second generation Core iX chips predate Intel actually providing an iGPU that was good for anything beyond basic web browsing, but the hybrid GPU setup).

As far as how things will behave under Windows or macOS, expect lag given that it's a 7 year old computer. macOS does not handle old hardware very well, and Windows can usually be assumed to perform worse than Linux for almost anything except gaming (there's a reason supercomputers don't run Windows, and it's not just cost). On the flip side though, you do just barely meet the requirements for macOS Catalina or Windows 10, so you could run them, they'd just be really slow.