Best Mac for Running SketchUp and LayOut?

I think I’m going to purchase SU Pro (trialing it right now, layout is incredibly useful). I mostly do landscape architecture models. My question is, what Mac do people recommend for running SU? I’m trying to decide if an iMac is sufficient, or if there’s justification to go with a Mac Pro. I’m not sure how SU handles multithreading and if the extra cores would provide an advantage with models with lots of complexity (e.g. 3D plant objects) and also in rendering, particularly if I’m going to start doing animations for clients. Does anyone have advice and/or tales from experience? Thanks so much!

P.S. All of our other business software is Mac-based, so please don’t tell me to buy a PC lol :slight_smile:

SketchUp is single core, but many renders take advantage of multiple cores.

Best advice, get the most memory you can, and choose a machine that has Nvidia GeForce graphics, if possible.

But the online store does not seem to offer Nvidia cards anymore.
There is the high-end MacBook Pro and iMac, that can be ordered with an extra discrete AMD R9 card. I wonder if anyone has bought this without the card (-500) and installed an Nvidia GeFore GTX card themselves ?

If you cannot go that route, then try to get the best integrated Intel Iris Pro graphics (and/or the best discrete AMD R9, that you can.)

Thanks for the input Dan. I’ll research on retrofitting an Nvidia GeForce Card into an iMac. Is there something wrong with the AMD FirePro D300/500/700 offered on the Mac Pro? Do they not play nice with SketchUp?

Also, why the preference for Nvidia? Does it perform better with SketchUp than cards from other vendors?

The issues are with the OEM graphics drivers not supporting OpenGL very well.

I believe the AMD FirePro (and other CAD targeted video card families, even from Nvidia,) have a poor track record in this regard.

But you may get lucky with a certain FirePro model and a certain driver version release combination.

I only know a couple of guys who run SU on mac Pro’s, and they are extremely happy…

on really intensive plugins [that I write], I can trick my iMac to run as fast as their mac Pro’s…

but on some other plugins and for rendering and animation they kill me dead…

my iMac is old and new ones are closer to the mark…

they have buckets of ram that helps cope with poorly optimised memory management…

it is highly unlikely you will find a non apple supplied graphics card that will work at all on any mac…
apple supplies bespoke drivers and historically openGL support is very good…


Ahhh okay, thank you. I’ll have to do more research on this.

Additional question: Do either Sketchup or any renderers (that you know of) benefit from dual GPUs?

Just a point of reference: currently I’m doing my modeling on a 2013 MacBook Air. It can take 30+ minutes to render a single frame with a detailed render preset like Metropolis Light Transport. I’ve gotten okay at separating my high-polygon plants into different layers with low-polygon stand-ins for modeling (i’ll just turn on the high-polygon layer when it’s time to render). I’m primarily looking for increased rendering performance, as I would love to give clients animation/walkthroughs, which is impractical at this point. Though it would be nice to not have to mess with multiple layers for plants from a modeling stand point, if that’s a reasonable expectation.

So generally speaking, if I maxed out the Ram & graphics cards on a Mac Pro, I should get better performance than my 2013 Macbook Air? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

On a serious note, I’m not super concerned with the price if it brings significant performance gains when it comes to rendering and modeling. My field techs are currently giving me more estimates than I can keep up with. I’m finding the biggest bottlenecks are 1) render time, and 2) when my models get too complicated, just navigating the modeling in SU starts to take a toll (3-4 seconds every time I orbit or pan).

I don’t think he’s on this forum, but you could contact chuck at otbdesignworks

the link is to his site, so find his contact from there…

he runs a Pro…

I sure he’ll be happy to advise…


Awesome. Thank you John. I will reach out to him.

Please let us know what you decided to purchase. Thanks

I think we’re going to purchase the Quad-Core Mac Pro with the D700 and 64GB RAM. I’ve done a bit of digging and the D700 seems to play nicely with SU and most all of the render engines out there. It will be a couple months before we purchase. I’ll report back on this thread with results after we do.

1 Like

So have you had a chance to test the new computer yet? I am currently looking to budget for a new Mac and would love to hear an update. I am currently working on a macbook pro and it really bogs down when chewing on large files. Would love to give some specific specs (RAM and Graphics) to my IT people for budgeting purposes so do keep us posted!