Best Mac for Sketchup Pro newbie - in non tech speak please!

I’ve read a lot of other forum posts on this topic before posting, but I’ve just managed to confuse myself even more! So anyone who can give some advice to a tech dolt, it will be much appreciated.

I’ve just in the process of setting up as an Interior Designer and haven’t started using SketchUp yet, so it’s hard to know my needs. But I know my 2013 Macbook Air (Big Sur) doesn’t have what it takes and needs an upgrade, so I want to get this right. I’ll be using SketchUp Pro, I’m not sure if I should go for the 2021 or 2022 version, but whatever people think is best?

I think the new Macbook Pro 14" (M1 Pro) 8 core CPU, 14 core GPU, 16GB and 512GB storage seems to be the best for my needs and budget.

*From what I’ve read on here I understand the speed of the CPU is more important than the No of cores, but I’m struggling to find out how fast this CPU is? Is it enough?

*I also can’t understand from the specs which graphics card this uses - is it integrated? is it the Nvidia one that people say I should use? Is this something I can change?

*Is the 512 GB of storage enough, or can I plug in something external to boost this later if I need?

I understand a lot of the spec will be determined by how I use SketchUp to reduce the load, so I will definitely look at that side too. From what I’ve researched and seen online I think I’ll only be using SketchUp and Layout (not Vray, Photoshop etc), and apart from this I mainly surf the web and use web based tools like Canva.

Any advice very much appreciated thanks

You have said that you won’t be using software that benefits from multicore processing (unlike SU/LO that cannot make use of it even if you have it, as you will).

For SU/LO as it currently stands, any current desktop Mac will do just fine. You might see a slight speed increase in heavy work with a better than basic processor, hard drive, and graphics card, but only when demand is high. One good thing about the Mac environment is that you don’t have to worry so much about the graphics card. They just work (or have done to date).

The thing to be wary of whatever machine you get is bloat. If you do all your own drawing, you will probably be fine. But over-zealous use of the 3D Warehouse could soon mire your file and slow things to a standstill.

CPU speed : the M1 Pro CPU should be more than fast enough, especially now that 2022 runs natively on M1. It’s tough to get a meaningful comparison on clock speed across platforms, so I wouldn’t worry about the number. That CPU is one of the very most performant in single-threaded use of any out there.

GPU: The answer is a bit confusing… in that that the 14 core GPU is as performant as all but the highest spec’d Nvidia dedicated GPUs, but sits on the same SOC as the CPU (System-On-a-Chip) and shares unified memory.

Storage: 512 GB should be fine, especially since you can offload any additional storage/archival needs to an external drive, and with Thunderbolt 4 you’ll having extremely fast I/O — though not as fast as the internal one, which smokes!

The one spec boost that I would consider is to increase RAM from 16GB to 32GB in order to future proof your purchase. It will run fine on 16 for your stated needs, but since RAM can’t be added post-purchase and is shared across the CPU and GPU, you don’t want to find yourself short if your needs and usage evolve over the lifetime of the computer.

Thanks for the advice. I’m not sure I understand what you mean about the GPU, but if the upshot is that 14 core GPU is enough, then I’m happy with that!

I take your point about the RAM, it’s an extra £400 (why is it so expensive??) to lift that up to 32GB, which takes the cost over £2k. That’s more than my budget, so something to consider.


Thanks simoncbevans. You mention “any current desktop will do” - but I’m looking at the new 14" Macbook Pro laptop. It’s got a slightly better spec than the 24" iMac (in that it has 14 core GPU vs. the desktop’s 8 core). Assuming they’re much of a muchness then?

I don’t use laptops so I can’t really say. What I can say is that the extra cores won’t make any difference to SU/LO. One day they might, everyone thinks they should, but it’s like making cold fusion work it seems.

Wilde, going to throw a bit of a “wrench” into the discussion. Do you plan at some point to use a rendering software in conjunction with SU ? If so you need to take into account the requirements of that software as well when picking a new machine.

I needed to upgrade from my 2011 iMac. Looked at PCs to replace but wouldn’t you know it the new M1 Mac mini had a decent price compared to an overzealous PC demand. Having been through a few of Apple’s less admirable computers of the past I hope the M1 chip strategy will produce a better Apple buy in the future. So far the 16GB/1TB M1 Mac mini is good, ok fast and handles Sketchup Pro 2022 with ease.

a MacBook Pro will work just fine

Thanks for all the advice. I’m going to go with the MacBook Pro.