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Is my SE unusually slow, or is that just how they are?


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Howdy everyone.  I've been screwing around with my SE lately, and this is the first time I have ever really sat down and used the machine since I got it about a year and a half ago.  It is a dual-800k floppy SE with 4mb of RAM, original 20mb hard drive (one of the really large double-height ones), and System 7.1 on it.  And WOW — it is slow.  It really chugs, and even just navigating the OS and looking through folders goes extremely slowly.

 

I could use some guidance from those of you who know compacts better than I do, because I'm not sure if something is wrong with my machine or if everything is fine and I have unfair expectations for the venerable SE.  My first compact with a monochrome display was my SE/30.  Then I got a Classic II.  So I've spent a lot of time using the fastest and the second-fastest compacts.  Is the SE supposed to be THAT much slower of a machine?  Is running System 7.1 asking too much of it?  Or could something be wrong with the configuration or the hardware itself?  Is the ancient 20mb hard drive to blame?

 

I'm getting parts together for a maceffects clear case build, and I had planned on putting the SE logic board in it, but holy cow — if this is how slow the SE runs, I'm either going to have to find an SE/30 logic board or reduce my expectations for how the machine feels to use!

 

Any and all input is appreciated :)

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The Macintosh SE is not exactly a fast System 7 machine—in my experience, they perform quite a bit better with 6. That being said, I've used System 7 on an SE and it wasn't unbearably slow, though distinctly sluggish. An old hard drive could be dragging down the machine's performance, especially if you were noticing filesystem navigation/the Finder running slowly. (I ran 7.0.1 on my SE; I don't think 7.1 is much worse performance-wise, but I've never really compared the two.)

 

If you want better performance, I would suggest either getting a newer hard drive (or better yet, one of those SCSI-emulation boards), or running System 6. With 4MB of RAM, you can create a RAM disk for System 6 and run the system software (and even a lightweight app) from the RAM disk to bypass some of the slow HD accesses.

 

Is there a particular reason you wanted to run System 7.1 on it? I personally think that 6 is the best choice for Macs with a 68000 processor that don't have a reason to need System 7. (IME, 68030-based Macs run early System 7 very well; regardless of OS, a SE/30 board would certainly perform better.)

Edited by tanuki65
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The hard disk is a chokepoint on that machine, I remember upgrading mine with the old drive from my 6100 that I had in the 90's and noticed a noticeable speed improvement (it still has that disk in it.) I even ran 7.5 on it just because and it performed just fine except not having much ram for anything more. At that time I was running GreyShare on it so I wasn't too concerned with that.

 

Anyway, if you really want to run system 7 a faster disk will help. Something else you can consider is disabling some un-needed extensions.

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Yes, I second the comments of SE30_dude. The hard drive of SE (the 20MB/40MB ones) are painfully slow. I’d really recommend you to find a newer 50pin scsi drive like those designed/made in the 90s, or just install a scsi2sd, you’ll definitely see a huge speed up of normal operations, since the 4K/small files random access will be rocket-fast on scsi2sd...

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6.0.8 is the way to go on those. Even with a faster drive, System 7 on 4MB RAM is not that fun or useful IMO.

 

There's a big difference between 68000 and 68030 performance.

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I am trying to figure out what the configuration is: you said it was a dual-800k, and has a 20 MB HD. So...which is it? A dual 800k that had a floppy drive removed? Is the 20 MB external? You said it is a full height HD so I assume it isn't one of those aftermarket drives that mounted on top of the floppy drives.

 

Have you tried disconnecting the HD and starting straight from an 800k disk with System 6?

 

I echo what the others have said: I have a SCSI2SD 5.1 in mine...works incredibly well. System 7 still definitely is slower. Under System 6 with Multifinder (if needed) it is a very fast, usable machine.

Edited by LaPorta
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Thank you so much for your input, everyone.  This thread has given me a lot to think about.

 

First, some clarification: I didn't describe the system correctly.  It in fact is the single 800k floppy with 20mb HDD configuration, not the dual-800k.  I think, because this machine has two floppy headers on the motherboard, my brain has thought of it as a "dual 800k" SE.  But, it's not.

 

@tanuki65 and @joshc, you make a great point about 6.0.8.  I've avoided System 6 because I grew up with System 7 and like it a lot.  I've avoided System 6 simply because I already know I like 7 so much.  I've also read that 6 doesn't support icons and aliases, which I use pretty heavily when setting up and customizing an old Mac.  That all being said, I don't have a whole lot of time invested in the install of 7 that's currently on there, so I'll wipe the drive and give 6.0.8 a spin just to see what it's like.  @tanuki65, you are probably right — System 7 really wants a 68030.  All of my other Macs are 68030 or higher, so I've never tried running it on anything slower.

 

@History_SE30_Dude, @Quadra040, and @LaPorta, I think you guys are also correct about that hard drive.  I booted the Mac into 7.1 off of my external SCSI2SD, and it felt vastly more usable.  If I end up deciding to keep 7.1 on it, I'll find a better hard drive or just go with an internal SCSI2SD.

 

@Andrew Thank you for the heads up!  I've never thought to run disinfectant on my Macs, but the overwhelming majority of the software I have all came from the garden.  I'll do that soon.

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4 minutes ago, 68krazy said:

I've never thought to run disinfectant on my Macs, but the overwhelming majority of the software I have all came from the garden.  I'll do that soon.

 

It is worth doing.  Someone got really weirdly angry on here with me at one point when I suggested installing Disinfectant, but there are still quite a few infected disc images out there.  And an infection is just as annoying now as ever it was.

 

5 minutes ago, 68krazy said:

That all being said, I don't have a whole lot of time invested in the install of 7 that's currently on there, so I'll wipe the drive and give 6.0.8 a spin just to see what it's like

 

The SE is more at home in 6, certainly.  You can run 7 on it but it's asking quite a lot of it.

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24 minutes ago, cheesestraws said:

Someone got really weirdly angry on here with me at one point when I suggested installing Disinfectant, but there are still quite a few infected disc images out there.  And an infection is just as annoying now as ever it was.

 

HOW DARE YOU MENTION DISINFECTANT!!!!

 

(just kidding)

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On a note of viruses, keep an eye out for an extension named 666. This is SevenDust and can be a nuisance to remove. It is too new for Disinfectant, if I remember correctly.

 

One disadvantage of the SCSI2SD is the absence of the noises the MiniScribe makes. Normally I don't like hearing mechanical hard drives but the mini-scribe is rather unique.

That being said, SCSI2SDs are quiet, fast and don't generate much heat inside your cramped compact mac case.

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