Big-ish budget for Apple hardware setup for SketchUp 3D 2020


I support a company who’s designer produces large SketchUp 3D models. Their current 2019 iMac (non-pro) i5 with 32GB of RAM is proving to be inadequate… it gets slow when editing and takes a very long time to render.

They bought this iMac themselves without consulting me - they have now asked me to spec-up a suitable machine - has to be Apple Mac.

Looking at this page:
I see the recommended CPU & memory is: 2.1+ GHz processor & 8GB RAM, so I’m suprised the iMac didn’t cope better.

The budget for the new machine is upto £10k (about $12,580) including a colour accurate monitor (most likely 3rd party monitor so more of the budget can go increasing CPU / RAM / GPU specs).

I’d be very grateful for people’s input on what order of importance the below items are for smooth operation whilst editing & good rendering times:

  • CPU
  • System memory
  • Graphics card spec / graphics memory

Is an iMac Pro an option or should I be looking at a Mac Pro?
I appreciate £10k is not a “big budget” in the grand scheme of what you can spend!

Thank in advance everyone!

PS: Just out of interest, does Sketchup support / benefit considerably from the Apple Afterburner card?

Reading about Afterburner, it seems to be purely for handling high data rate ProRes files, and wouldn’t help SketchUp at all.

Apple now has EGPU support I believe, for metal and openGL, but it’s only for a few applications that are built for it, SketchUp not being one. @colin do you know much about the apple EGPU support?

No, I haven’t tested that. I’ll see if Aaron has a spare $700 to treat me to one.


What do you mean with “render”? Just the SketchUp output or does the designer also uses an external render to produce more realistic views? We need to know which renderer.
I can produce large files, as well (if you divide an edge of one meter in 10.000.000 edges, it will produce a 540 MB file)
One could invest in more agile modelling.

Even a top spec Mac Pro can be brought down on his knees within minutes.

A Macbook Pro is More flexible IMO, combined with one or two monitors and knowing how to keep the model lean and mean.

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Maybe not a direct answer but this might help from a day ago…

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Thank you kindly everyone for your thoughts and advice (how refreshing to find a well attended support forum!)

The rendering is with VRay - it has been a bit slow but the client has clarified that’s just an annoyance; the sluggish performance when editing is the main issue.

I asked her today what kind of files she’d editing and she described the following:

She’s designing whole virtual floors of a department floor, full of products (the customer’s merchandise). She said even though she has reduced the polygon count; it really chugs badly when editing when the rows and rows of products are filling up. She’s sending me a screen-grab and project file size in case that would be useful to post here.

in the meantime; I will read through the “advice on a desktop computer” thread

When doing this kind of editing, is it the CPU or GPU that’s taking the biggest hit please? (excuse my ignorance :slight_smile: )

Have a great weekend

Hi, yes if it’s vray then the GPU in the Mac is irrelevant as VRAY only will utilise NVidia cards for accelerated GPU rendering as I described in my post. If a mac is what the user wants to use then its Purely on core count unless you use a cloud rendering service like Chaos Cloud or an Amazon service like @liamk887 has previously described.

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Actually reading this , it’s sounds like it’s the SU engine that is struggling. Potentially, it’s the style being used during editing i.e. if profiles are turned on in the Style, this will have an enormous effect on interaction performance. Set up a light-weight editing style with Profiles off. If the GPU has plenty of VRAM, texture size won’t have too much of an impact for interaction.
Hardware (CPU) won’t make too much difference here once you get to a certain level.
Save your output scenes with the Styles you want But have a ‘Design’ scene with a light-weight style for editing purposes.

Hi @bifterx

First of all… your response to the topic " Advice on a desktop computer " was incredible! What an amazing depth of knowledge you have… hats off to your sir! :sunglasses:

I will check her complaints about the sluggish editing are not because she’s trying to render whilst editing! :woman_facepalming:t3: (I don’t believe so but worth checking). I will make sure she is aware of the cloud rendering services too… good call @liamk887

I suspect you’re correct re: the level of detail enabled during editing. What do you think to plugins such as to reduce the detail whilst editing and do you use / recommend any alternatives?

Coming back to the raw power of the hardware for optimal editing… I see that the £10k budget really “limits” us to the iMac Pro… once the Mac Pro has been spec’d-up and two monitors have been added into the equation; the budget is well and truly blown!

Is CPU core count -OR- core speed more important to Sketchup for general editing? The CPU options for the iMac pro are below.

  • 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
  • 3.0GHz 10-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
  • 2.5GHz 14-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz
  • 2.3GHz 18-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.3GHz

What do you think the sweet spot is on memory (i.e. not overkill) 64, 128, 256?

From what you said in your last reply, it’d be worth spending the extra £550 for the Vega 64 (16GB) as opposed to the standard Vega 56 with 8GB?

Thanks in advance for the hand-holding :blush:

The designer just got back to me with some screen grabs of a typical model that she works on:

The SketchUp file sizes for those models averages 525 Mb.

She commented “ideally I would have had both of these floors in the same model but have to split
This leads me to believe she’s simply trying to edit too much at once (even with the floors split!)…

Thank again everyone for your input - I will try to educate her on best practise for editing that you’ve suggested.