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I have a late 2009 MacBook (the white polycarbonate one). It was performing unbearably slowly-- app switching and launching, booting, and even shutting down frequently took minutes. Scrolling in any app that accesses a lot of data (Evernote, even 1Password) was often very laggy. This was true even when I had large amounts of free/inactive memory. It was very frustrating, and I was almost ready to buy a new computer. However, I could see very high disk activity..
I had a very sluggish ASUS laptop that was about 2.5yrs old. It had a 2nd gen Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It took forever to boot up and website browsing was very slow. I mainly use my laptop for checking e-mail, web surfing and downloading photos from my digital camera. I'm not a power user so I just couldn't rationalize spending hundreds of dollars to replace it. Plus, I'm not a fan of Windows 8 which is installed on nearly all new laptops which dissuaded me..