OS X 10.11 ‘El Capitan’ system requirements revealed

ElCapitanIconXThe upcoming OS X El Capitan contains a number of performance enhancements that greatly improve the efficiency of the system and programs running on it, but along with such features you may be concerned about whether or not your Mac will support them. This may be especially true if you have an older Mac that just barely met the system requirements for OS X Yosemite.

If you have any concerns about your current Mac running El Capitan, then you are in luck, as despite the tweaks and improvements, if your Mac runs OS X Yosemite, then it will run OS X El Capitan. The list of supported systems are the following:

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Overall, OS X 10.11 will essentially be an optimized version of Yosemite, a move by Apple that is reminiscent of its approach with OS X Snow Leopard. In the course of OS X development, Apple will implement new features and make accommodations to wrap in details that may not always work well together, or require odd coding and tweaks to run cohesively. This results in bloated software that can be a major frustration to deal with at times.

When Apple released Snow Leopard, it focused on greatly tweaking the OS to remove and update old code, and transition the system to using its newer APIs instead of just getting by. Similarly, El Capitan is implementing new approaches that despite a few tweaks, keep the overall look and feel of Yosemite, so its not a major visual upgrade, but one that should offer you a functional relief or two.

13 thoughts on “OS X 10.11 ‘El Capitan’ system requirements revealed

  1. Gary

    Thanks for the info on older Macs, always great to hear you’re not out of date, yet!

    1. lkrupp215

      To a point. I am running Yosemite on a 2008 24” iMac and it ain’t pretty. It runs fine, just very slowly.

      1. solracer

        Do you have the max memory possible? 4 gb is absolutely minimum for Yosemite and 8 gb is even better. My 2007 iMac with 4 gb has acceptable performance and my 2009 iMac with 8 gb runs just fine.

        1. lkrupp215

          It might be due to my 2013 27” iMac with an i7, 16GB of RAM, and a Fusion drive sitting next to the old iMac. The speed comparison running Yosemite on both machines isn’t even close.

      2. Oopart

        Mid 09 13″MacBook Pro runs Yosemite just fine. It does have the RAM up to 8gig and the HD upgraded to a 750 gig Seagate Hybrid Drive. If 10.11 is tweaked to run better than Yosemite then this ol’ laptop should keep on trucking.

        I know it stinks, but if you have upgraded your RAM to 8gigs and things are terribly “Poky” it might be time to back-up, reformat and re-install. FYI. My last fresh re-install was only done when I upgraded the HD in June of 2012 so it not like anyone should be doing that on a regular basis.

      3. Gary Ward

        Thanks Ikrupp215, I’ve got a 2011, 27″ iMac, hopefully all will go well, I find with every upgrade it does get slower and slower and…Gary

  2. MaX

    Will OS X 10.11 El Capitan speedup the Apple MacBook Air 2.13 GHz (MacBookAir2,1; released by Apple on June 2009) with 128 GB (SSD) and 2.0 GB PC3-8500 (1066 MHz) DDR3 SDRAM (top for model)?

    Such Mac was fast with Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard (booted in 20 seconds and quickly opened applications and files), but has become slow with OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite (takes one minute to boot and is slow to open applications and files).

    1. Ira Lansing

      The comments above should answer your question: you probably don’t have enough RAM to see efficiency or a speed boost; and the article represents El Capitan as an optimized version of Yosemite so significant speed increases in your case, I would surmise, are not too likely. But “your mileage may vary”.

  3. lloyd

    Installed last night over 10.10.4 which, by the third iteration, was acting up a bit. Opted for the older Mini rather than the newer i7 Pro Book. Took about an hour. After rebooting a few times, it starts faster than 10.10, but better yet, it shuts down (or restarts) much faster. The color “wait” wheel is new and appears where it did not in 10.10.

    I use a dual monitor setup, with browsers loading to the left” monitor, which is not the “home” screen. Selecting a browser results in a hesitation, but when the browser does load, it is fully loaded, ready to go.

    Some features, such as Disc Utility review of hard drives, benefit from a faster processor and 8 GIG RAM should be your minimum. I use a few different browsers and they all wok pretty well. In order to view video, Chrome requires their latest version. Installed new versions of Flash ( and Safari and Chrome handled the video at all locations. I don’t use Firefox, but do use Mozilla’s Seamonkey, and also download regular updates to Aurora and Nightly. None of the Mozilla-based browsers would play on the Apple site, advising me that a plug-in was required. Everything that is installed is up to date. All work just fine on 10.10.3. Did not try on my backup of 10.10.4.

    The increase in speed is noticeable, and with the older OS, before 10.10, the Mini, with service running about 50 Mbps, many film clips were a bit choppy. They run in 10.11 without stutter or artifacts. Of course, not running the best graphic processor considering all the other stuff I run at the same time. But a definite improvement.

    Booting results in nagging if you haven’t set up your cloud drive yet. Had hoped it would go away.

  4. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    If Apple is not offering any interface enhancements, it means they still don’t take usability seriously. Lion thru Mavericks were bad enough, with the gray ghost Finder window sidebar with generic gray on gray icons, but Yosemite is even worse with low contrast window elements and gray on gray or gray on white text all over the place. If you think I’m overreacting, check out Apple’s web site, where gray on white text is the new normal. It may be elegant from a design standpoint, but it’s a pain as far as readability is concerned. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed twenty three years ago in 1992. But since Lion came out in 2011 Apple has all but ignored usability – VoiceOver notwithstanding.

    And, if you were one of the many people who has had trouble with Yosemite, you would be well advised to hold off on upgrading to El Capitan. Apple no longer does quality control, so every OS upgrade has become a gamble. I think the accelerated OS X development cycle is primarily to blame for this. Apple no longer takes the time to do things right. Doing it on time is all that matters any more.

  5. Strod

    I am actually very excited about El Capitan. I think that the comparison of Yosemite -> El Capitan to Leopard -> Snow Leopard is spot on, and I would expand it to Lion -> Mountain Lion. In fact, I think the name associations are far from coincidental.

    While Leopard was a fantastic upgrade (and the last one for PowerPC), both Lion and Yosemite introduced a lot of UI changes, some of them very controversial. Based on what others say I conclude that in both cases some of the changes seemed rushed, the overall experience turned sluggish, and there was a plethora of bugs some of which never got fixed until the next major version. Because of their bad rep, I never even installed Lion nor Yosemite.

    Snow Leopard was touted by Apple as having “zero new features”. That of course was far from true, but they wanted to emphasize that the objective with Snow Leopard was not to make dramatic changes to the user experience, but rather to make a new Leopard that was “better, faster, more refined”. And they totally succeeded!

    Mountain Lion in turn fixed most of the bugs left behind by Lion, and reversed many of its most glaring UI blunders like the excessive use of skeuomorphism.

    So again I find myself excited by the advent of El Capitan. I hope that when I install 10.11.2 most of the Yosemite bugs that people hate will be gone, and I will get its really valuable new features (and a few newer ones) while skipping those that really didn’t stick.

  6. hydrovacing

    Talking about bloatware, Apple should consider giving the end user the ability to delete apps that Apple has stuck on the iPhone that some people neither want or uses.

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