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We've got a Macbook which we are looking to replace its a 2008 alu unibody model with the 2.0 GHz CPU. Rcently Ie noticed it is running really slow. I run quite a few programs at the same time on it for work - Chrome, Thunderbird, Vectorworks (2d CAD), Word.

I am quite familiar with macs so the first thing i did was check the Activity monitor, which reported about 3 GB of free RAM, (I upgraded it to 8 GB about a year ago). So it seems its ok on the RAM front.

My only other thoughts could be either lack of GPU or CPU is there a way to see their resources / activity, is there anything else I should be looking at ?

I am looking to update this laptop to a newer Macbook pro, but I was kinda concerned I would end up buying a new machine and run into the same problems so i am quite keen to find the bottlenecks now so I can spec the correct machine.

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Check your drive(s). Aside form that, I'm voting to close as 'Too Broad'. –  techie007 Aug 13 '13 at 16:52
    
When you say Drives, do you mean literally disc drives, usbs ? –  sam Aug 13 '13 at 17:00
    
The hard drive that your programs are loaded from, and/or the one your swap is written to. Also, as @servis mentions in his answer, have you cleaned dust out of it to ensure it's not overheating? –  techie007 Aug 13 '13 at 17:44
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I've been working on the laptop maintenance for a few years and I've noticed there are problems related to the slowing of the processing power due to the overheating of the machines. Usually it requires cleaning of the cooling pipes and radiators along with the replacement of the thermal pads that are covering the major chips like CPU, chipset and GPU, if that occured to your laptop you should go to the specialized shop and do the cleaning. It may look somehow like this cleaning the laptop

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