Every Mac Is A Slow Mac

I’ve been using Sketchup for about 10 years. I design recording studios full-time (AudioVirtue.com) and have always had issues with SU/Layout running slow. Sometimes I know I’m pushing it pretty hard with a large file, but the majority of the time the files are pretty small and the file starts to become less responsive and in some case starts to freeze and crash.

I’ve been through all of the setting tweaks in SU and Layout and they have helped a bit. I realize that SU is a single thread program (I understand all CAD softwares are) and so it’s “limited” in the softwares processing power (SU can’t utilize the entire speed of my machine like a video or audio editing software can).

This brings me to the question I’ve had for ten years…do I have the best computer for my use of SU, Layout and Podium (the rendering program I use)?

To start, I’ve alway used a laptop (MacBook Pros) because I have to have the portability and I’m not convinced moving to an iMac (faster single core clock speed and better graphics card) would completely solve my issue.

So I’m opening up the questions here to attempt the detailed understanding that I’ve been longing for ten years…do I have the best computer for my scenario and if not how should I upgrade???

My current Mac specs are:

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)
  • Processor: 2.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3
  • Graphics: Radeon Pro 455 2GB & Intel HD Graphics 530 1536MB

I’m also running two monitors from the MacBook; Apple 27inch Cinema Display & LG 34inch Wide Screen (running in clam shell mode; laptop closed).

At one point I thought heat was an issue so I’ve been running the MacBook elevated on an aluminum heat sink with two computer fans bringing in cool air from the bottom up.

Thanks in advance your time and your help with this frustrating situation. Feel free to ask “beginner” questions and I’m not to proud to answer them. Just want to sort out a better running machine so that I can gain back a few hours lost to crashes, freezing and lag to be able to finally go fly fishing again!

I’ve had for just over four years an iMac late 2015 Retina 27" i5, Radeon R9 M395 2GB, main memory 24GB with a Fusion drive.

That’s arguably a slightly better spec than your machine - faster single thread CPU GHz, but i5 vs i7. It bogs down on a HUGE model I’ve helped to develop - 800MB and still heading bigger, but works reasonably well on a part of that model.

The sub model is ~300MB. 27 million edges, and over half a million component instances, loads in under 2 min, and with about half of its MANY layers/tags (too many to count accurately, but at least several hundred) turned off, is quite speedy in response to orbiting, zooming, and editing.

If you have Outliner or Component Browser windows open it slows down drastically, and the load time goes WAY up.

The original developer has a more powerful i7 processor and he can handle the full model in both SU and Layout. I’ve never needed to try it in Layout.

There’s a fairly recent thread on the forum comparing different configurations of Mac and Windows machines on a test SU model. See where yours comes in comparison.

My impression is that performance on the test SU model in that thread doesn’t vary all that much between different spec machines - less than a factor of two between fastest and slowest IIRC.

For reference, my machine on that benchmark came out at
72 frames displayed in 3.0880 seconds
Average frame = 0.0423 seconds
23.6395 frames/second

My own and my co-modeller’s impression is that there’s a point at which the growth of the model slows down performance fairly suddenly. Managing layers in SU seems to be the key. Turn off all layers with heavy geometry that you don’t actually need while modelling. Make sure you don’t overload the model with over detailed high poly models from the 3D Warehouse. Use images where possible instead of heavy SU geometry.

So improved hardware will help, but not dramatically, in my view. Attention to efficient modelling will pay greater dividends. But if you are already doing that. a faster single thread performance and perhaps a higher spec graphics card will heip but not magically solve slow performance.


I using high spec MacBook Pro 2018, and have similar issus . Something freeze when Downloading item from 3d warehouse ( very small file too).

Will a egpu help greatly ? Anyone can confirm that ?
I read and find out it help rendering speed greatly in vray . Anyone had confirm that ?

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Thanks for your reply John!

While I’m not sure offhand what would cause SU to freeze when downloading from 3D Warehouse I would NOT expect an eGPU to help resolve that issue. The external GPU will ONLY help when you’re actively doing graphical actions within SketchUp.

As to the larger issue @AudioVirtueAcoustics is having, an eGPU might improve some performance. Macbook Pros have plenty of power, but tend to be more last gen when it comes with video cards so it’s hard to really get the full power of an accelerated video card. I never want to tell someone to throw money at a problem to fix it, especially when I can’t confirm that it’ll fix things.

I think @john_mcclenahan has a ton of valuable information or perspective in his post with the most impactful “seat of the pants” recommendation being to keep some slower items turned off until you need them, specifically Outliner. I love that you’re using it, and hope that the recent tweaks we’ve been making are valuable, but it can still be a resource drain on the Mac.

Thanks for your reply Jody.

A few additional thoughts/questions:

Overheating: Would anyone have any input on the heat of my machine? Would keep a MacBook Pro (or any computer for that matter) cooler improve the performance of SU, Layout or Rendering with Podium?

Rendering: I’ve noticed that while rendering the memory of my Graphics Card maxes out, which is expected. Would having more Machine Memory (I currently have 16GB) or more Graphics Card Memory (I currently have 2GB) help more with heavy rendering scenes?

SU Slow/Freezing/Crashing: With larger files, surpassing 500,000 edges, what would hold the greatest weight in increase speed of the file and workflow?

  • Processor Single Clock Speed Increase (Currently 2.7GHz Quad-core Intel i7)

  • Machine Memory (Currently 16GB)

  • Graphics (Currently Radeon 455 2GB)

Layout Slow/Freezing/Crashing: Same question as above except for Layout. When creating construction documents in Layout with these larger files, Layout is much slower than SU. Through my research I’ve found that this is likely due to Layout having to “flatten” 3D objects in the SU file, so I have created 2D flat objects to take there place. This has helped significantly but I still experience issues. Does the processes of Layout use the hardware of the computer differently than SU, or are they the same?

Thanks again for the time spent in each reply!

Just a baby, compared with Scott’s model with over 27M edges in half the model!

But he admits he’s having great difficulty getting it rendered.

In general, any laptop will run hotter than a desktop computer because it is more difficult to dissipate the heat from such a tightly-packed space. Putting a cooling pad under a laptop should help, since a lot of the heat is usually routed out the bottom. As laptops go, Apple significantly improved the cooling in the new 16" MacBookPro, so it should keep its cool better than other MacBooks.

More of both would help, particularly the graphics memory if you are maxing it out. Note, however, that Apple uses Radeon GPUs on many models, and some renderers (notably V-Ray) will resort to CPU-only rendering when they detect one. V-Ray will use GPU rendering only if it detects an NVidia GPU because its GPU hardware code relies on CUDA, which is not available on Radeon. So, if your chosen Mac has a Radeon GPU, maxing the main memory will be more important.

SketchUp itself uses only a single CPU core no matter how many your computer has. This is a fundamental limitation of 3D model editing not just of SketchUp. You can look up single-core benchmark results for the particular CPU in each Mac to see which is fastest. Don’t compare clock speeds. Internal details of the chip can easily make a bigger difference than raw clock. And ignore “turbo boost” clock speed. It only applies when the CPU isn’t working hard, ironically, when there is
already lots of headroom anyway.

My own research showed that there isn’t that big a single-core speed difference between current models of Intel processors. For example, the i7 in my MBP is only 8% slower than the alternative i9.

On the other hand, CPU renderers use as many cores as you have. So if you will do heavy renders, a CPU with more cores will be better even if its single-core speed is slower.

The main memory can impact performance while editing a model, particularly if you will be running things such as a renderer simultaneously. I believe the memory on an iMac can be upgraded, but I know that the memory on a MacBook of any variety cannot. Apple memory is expensive. So, for an iMac I’d suggest starting with perhaps 24-32GB and seeing if you saturate it. For a MacBook, you should opt for the most you can afford since that’s all you will ever get.

SketchUp itself doesn’t put too great a strain on the graphics. You won’t notice as much difference from this as from other aspects. That said, 2GB is somewhat small in today’s world. 4GB would be better. I don’t know if you would see any improvement with 8GB.

I don’t use Layout intensively enough to be able to say much on this. LayOut is written in a totally different way than SketchUp, though I understand it embeds a SketchUp engine for drawing into viewports. There have been numerous reports recently of Layout performance issues.

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