Best Computer SPECS for quick LayOut drafting



I understand there has been some discussion of the best computer setup for sketchup modeling, but wonder if there is any value in discussing the ideal specs for a workstation geared toward making LayOut run smoothly, which seems to me to be a bigger obstacle than making SketchUp run smoothly, which it seems to be very capable since 2015 with little to no lag.

LayOut, however, is quite a bit more difficult to keep running smoothly. It feels ‘heavy’ to me - with lag on zoom and pan- especially with inferencing turned on - which makes things really slow. I’m working with multiple stacked viewports too, so need to experiment with just what the right number of those are too.

Currently I’m running two 24" screens on a Macbook Pro 2.5GHz i7 16GB ram NVIDIA GeForce GT750M 2048MB and things are much better than my Mac Pro tower with 1GB video card but faster processors, so I’m thinking the video card has a fairly significant role to play - think of all the vectors needed to be rendered. So what is the right amount of horsepower? I think if layout ran twice as fast as it does now, that would save me 5 hours or so per project - at billable rates, that’s $500 per project - so upgrading the computer would quickly pay for itself in billable hours, not to mention client satisfaction.

Do I go to something with 2 video cards - 2x2gb? Should I run a bigger video card for my ‘layout’ screen and a smaller one for my support/scrapbook screen? Does it matter or does the computer split the video card resources based on demand?


I think you are running into the limitations of SketchUp/LayOut. The screen rendering is split between your graphics card and your CPU with, roughly, the card taking care of raster processing and the CPU about vectors (faces and edges). SU is a single-threaded application so there will always be a CPU bottleneck, whatever you do with your graphic cards. Usually there is no noticeable difference between the performance you experience between a “decent” and an “ultra cool whizbang” graphics card.

I would guess that the difference you are experiencing between your laptop and tower is mainly about the VRAM as you have quite a serious amount of screen real estate for a 1GB card, especially if the monitors are high-res.



Thanks Anssi -

Upon some further investigation, I have conducted the following test:

  1. Open Activity Monitor and keep it in view
  2. Navigate to Layout
  3. Pan the model around. Watch LayOut pop up to the top of the %CPU graph with something like 90% use.

So looks like I am indeed running up against the CPU, not the graphics card. This kind of sucks - if it was RAM I could do something about it. Or VRAM.

Just to test, I downloaded another monitoring app for GPU usage and, lo and behold, it seems that the GPU sits underutilized, less than 25% in use…


What is the path from Sketchup to Layout? Is it also a single thread, single core path. My projects have become large and BIMish and SU really bogs down when I am slicing a model up for Layout with lots of layers (framing, plumbing, HVAC, terrain) on. If I have to change anything in SU and re-render in layout…I would get out and push, if it would help.

I am looking into upgrading hardware as I am at the minimum recommended now (2GHz 2nd gen i7, 8GB RAM and 2 integral video cards that are not upgradable (Dell N7110)). I want to gear up to expand my capabilities, as this is becoming a sought after service of my company. Your take on this Anssi, makes me sad. Is it time to move on?


CPU: intel Core i7-4790K or faster (core-wise)
GPU: nVidia Geforce GTX 960 (or faster if rendering on the GPU is required or planned)
Data Medium: Samsung 850 Evo/Pro SSD


I’m going through the same process. To find out how much difference a processor makes, I bought a re-furbished HP Pavilion 17" cheap, thru Walmart. It has the Intel Core 2 i5 4210 that runs 1.7 to 2.4 Ghz and other stuff you’d expect at that price. It runs Sketchup ok, but you have to wait to load the 3D Connexion mouse software and everything stops while it saves a file. When I look to see the toys I need but can’t afford, I go to this site:
These guys were around when I left my home town (Ottawa ON Can) almost 20 years ago. They make ‘ferrari’ notebooks with options like RAID, multiple screens, upgradeable processors (!) etc.

Go there just to look at the cooling system plumbing and power delivery systems. Dragsters. For about $4000.00 you can put all these concerns behind you.