Best MacBook Pro Configuration

advice
hardware

#1

Hi All,
I am getting ready to purchase a 13" MacBook Pro, and need some advice on upgrading the specs.

How it will be used: I primarily use my late 2013 iMac (3.1 Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 750 M 1024MB) for sketchup, and I find it very adequate. I need a laptop so that I can work away from home or on the couch when I need/want to, and travel to clients and build sites (I design tiny homes) and be able to make changes, etc on site. Other than Sketchup, the laptop will only be used for normal daily use. I won’t store much in the way of photos, videos, etc, but I will have copies of my current Sketchup files (50-200MB each).

Spec Upgrade Options:

  • Upgrade from 2.7GHz Core i5 to 3.1 GHz Core i7 - $300
  • Upgrade from 8GB to 16GB RAM - $200
  • Upgrade from 128GB to 256GB HD - $200

Which one or two would you recommend? I’d love to upgrade all 3, but I don’t want to spend quite that much. I worry about 128GB not being enough space for a laptop (it’s worked well for my phone), but being able run Sketchup easily is priority #1 since that’s the whole reason for buying it.
Thanks!
Cory


#2

I always recommend more ram. More processor is nice, and storage can be arranged after the fact (cloud or external), but RAM is something that I hate being caught short on.

Just my $0.02


#3

Keep in mind SkUp like all CAD programs is a single thread operation. This means the program does not share processing load across multiple cores or “multi-thread” as it’s called. So the functional limit on your user experience is really clock speed of the processor, how fast that one core being used can crunch polygons. RAM is important for sure, but if you are building a CAD machine, get the fastest clock speed you can.


#4

Thanks for the feedback. Is there any advantage getting the Core i7 over the i5 for sketch up? I heard there wasn’t because SU can’t utilize the extra virtual cores.


#5

I realize that you didn’t mention graphics as an upgrade, so yours must be adequate. Also, I am completely ignorant as to the science or whatever behind GPU, but from my real-life experience, good dedicated graphics really helps in SketchUp. I have 2GB NVIDIA and the anti-aliasing or whatever it’s called is really nice when you’re actually modelling. Also, if you run renderings, I believe extra graphics helps with that too, though I stand to be corrected on that second point.


#6

[quote=“ouidub, post:1, topic:42132”]I worry about 128GB not being enough space for a laptop (it’s worked well for my phone), but being able run Sketchup easily is priority #1 since that’s the whole reason for buying it.
[/quote]

being aware that all components are soldered sothat you cannot swap anything later on, be careful deselecting options… 200 bucks more hurts only once, being limited in performance or memory hurts during the whole liefetime…

CPU is surely most important for the performance of SU, being limited in working memory depends on model size as well as other applications running simultaneously (e.g. render plug).

An option would maybe be to choose the complete small config and drop the system for something more capable after the half of the planned lifetime…

Whatever you do, go for a dedicated GPU preferably a nVidia GeForce if you ever want to run SU under Windows (e.g. ‘Bootcamp’ or ‘Parallels’).


#7

The size of the SSD has no effect on your ability to run SketchUp per-se. The app uses less than 700MB of disk. SketchUp itself becomes very sluggish when a file reaches perhaps 100MB, so 128GB will hold quite a few such files.

What the SSD size will affect is the amount of other apps and data you can have “live” at the same time, where by “live” I mean stored on the SSD. With a bit of housekeeping discipline, it is easy to migrate to external storage old data you aren’t using actively and apps you seldom run. But, since few of us have that discipline, I’d still opt for the 256GB because the OS manages storage devices best when they are not close to full.


#8

Whatever you do, go for a dedicated GPU preferably a nVidia GeForce if you ever want to run SU under Windows (e.g. ‘Bootcamp’ or ‘Parallels’).

Unfortunately that’s not an option for 13" MacBooks… dedicated graphics are only available on the 15".


#9

I agree with Aaron. I have a 2014 13" MacBook Pro and was stuck with the same conundrum as ouidub — what upgrade to spend my available budget on. I ended up with a 16GB / 128 GB / i5. Even with 16 GB RAM I’ve bucked up against memory limits more than once.

At the time there was minimal single-threaded performance difference between the available i5 and i7 options (> 10%), so I don’t regret not upgrading the CPU. I should also note that both then and now, the i7 upgrade on the 13" is dual core — quad core i7 is only available on the 15".

The 128 GB SSD is workable, as long as you archive old files to a backup drive. Easy to manage with Time Machine.

Having said all that, I concur with this statement from sketch3D_de:

200 bucks more hurts only once, being limited in performance or memory hurts during the whole liefetime…


#10

is this a non-recent system?

because recent MB Pro 13" 2017 is not available below a SSD size of 256 GB.


#11

You may want to check again. This system is not the new touch bar garbage that doesn’t even have a regular USB port, but the previous version that they are still selling. It comes with 128GB HD standard.


#12

You are absolutely right on $200 only hurting once… Good point.


#13

ah I see, the 2015 predecessor.


#14

Did you end up going with the 13" MBP? If so, which configuration and what has your experience been?


#15

Parallels won’t let you run SU 2017 - it only supports OpenGL up to v2.1, and SU 2017 HAS to have v3.0 or later. It’s apparently a much requested feature for Parallels, but there’s no indication I’ve heard of on this forum that says when or even if that will happen.


#16

You guys gave some great advice - thank you! I ended up going with a refurbished 13" 2014 MBP with the 3 GHz Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512 GB Hard Drive. I’ve been super happy with it so far. I did have to send it back to repair an issue with the trackpad (If you buy refurbished, get the warranty!), and they are sending me a new unit that should be here tomorrow, but performance-wise, it’s been absolutely amazing. If I would’ve spec’d a new one exactly the same from apple, it would’ve cost $2,300 - I paid less than $1,600 for the 2014 model.


#17

(see my reply above)


#18

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