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!

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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 ?


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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Hi Steve,
See my earlier post/question re eGPU use …(reprinted below …) Mar 25

I’m running SketchUp Pro under macOS Mojave, does SU (and especially LayOut) support External Graphics Processor Unit (eGPU) “acceleration”?
I’ve learned that MacOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and later is designed to accelerate Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL Apps using an eGPU.
Apple also cautions that: “Not all apps support eGPU acceleration; check with the app’s developer to learn more”.
So, does LayOut (which could really use the help) support eGPU use? Is LO a “Metal, OpenGL, or OpenCL App”? If not, why not?
Trimble, can you make this possible? Soon please?

And so, as far as I know (to date), at least on the Mac OS platform, we are NOT able to “task or direct” SU or (more importantly and needed) LAYOUT to use an eGPU … which is REALLY a shame! (And No response from Trimble of course!)
I have been seeking any and all Mac hardware solutions to improve the performance of LayOut in particular, and this was one of my great hopes, alas, dashed!
Maybe the coming new “ARM” Mac chips will offer some options?

Wait …
Jody - are you implying that it’s actually possible to couple an eGPU up to an iMac and actually realize performance improvement from SketchUp Pro? I was under the impression that it wasn’t possible to “task or direct” SU or LO to utilize such a peripheral?
I have asked this question before (see my eGPU question on the forum from March 25, this year), and received no response from Trimble.
As I asked in that post:
I’ve learned that MacOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and later is designed to accelerate Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL Apps using an eGPU. Apple also cautions that: “Not all apps support eGPU acceleration; check with the app’s developer to learn more”.
So, does LayOut (which could really use the help) support eGPU use? Is LO a “Metal, OpenGL, or OpenCL App”? If not, why not?
Please Advise!

I don’t mean to imply anything (I aspire to state things exactly as they are, or indicate I don’t have a definitive answer.)

In this case, I have never used a Mac with an eGPU nor do I believe we’re doing any testing with that setup. My amateur understanding of the eGPU functionality was that it, for all intents and purposes, behaves like a discreet graphics adapter and thus any computer using one would behave as a computer with a normal discreet card. To this end, I wouldn’t expect that SketchUp would have to do ANYTHING to make it work. If this is incorrect then it makes the eGPU seem significantly less useful.

As far as SketchUp and a discreet graphics card, SketchUp will lean on a 3D accelerated card for handling any OpenGL operations before it uses the system CPU.

While my first response about LayOut would be that it’s an OpenGL application… that might only apply to the embedded SketchUp functionality. I’ll @colin on this one, he knows a lot about Macs and may have more insight as well.

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I was helping a colleague who had an issue while running his MacBook Pro to three monitors. SketchUp performance didn’t seem ideal, and so I found this utility:


It acts much the same as Windows’ graphics settings, and you can easily select what GPU is being used. It did help SketchUp a lot.

It would be worth testing if it can see an eGPU, and let you switch to that one.

I’m not sure what parts of LayOut are on the GPU. The viewports will be, at least while you’re inside them. As LayOut doesn’t have OpenGL settings, my understanding has been that it uses what you chose in SketchUp, but I’m not sure about that.

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Thank you Jody for your referral to Colin … I’ll try to continue my inquiry with him!

Hi Colin,
I appreciate your response to my inquiry.
I have emailed the creator of gfxCard Status, Cody Krieger, asking him if his application would:

  1. Work on an iMac (his website only mentions MacBook Pro’s).
  2. Enable me to “see an eGPU”, and therefore presumably switch to or direct to that graphics processor in lieu of my build in AMD Radeon R9 M395X.
    Thanks for the lead, we shall see!

I have asked one of my Adobe related contacts for an opinion about which would be the best eGPU. He did test one a while ago, here’s his review video:


Thanks Colin,
I just got done watching the Blackmagic review you forwarded, what a drag! Doesn’t look like much potential there to help LayOut, especially since it isn’t “optimized” for the device!
Also, my email to Cody Krieger at gfxCardStatus bounced, and I can’t even message him on twitter … looks kinda like he has dropped off the planet or something?
So, drawing blanks all around today …
The reason of course that I have been chasing this and any and all avenues to improve performance is LayOut … SketchUp performance is fine, no problems.
Any chance you guys are going to improve LayOut now that you’ve got all this subscription money?

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I did a comparison of my MBP AMD against the GPU in the review video. It seems the eGPU would be about 25% better overall, though that’s based on a small number of my GPU included in the test.

Hello AudioVirtueAcoustics,

in general: I use(d) SketchUp on my:

  1. Macbook Pro i7 4core 2,9Ghz, Radeon 560 4GB, 16 GB Ram
  2. Alienware Laptop m15, i7 6core 2,2Ghz up to 4,1Ghz, Nvidia RTX2060 6GB, 16 GB Ram
  3. Desktop-PC, AMD Ryzen 9 3900 X 12core 3,8Ghz up to 4,6Ghz, Nvidia RTX2080Ti, 32 GB Ram

I don´t work with Layout, but I use SketchUp to model Architecture and render in Lumion. Link to an overview in this forum about the things I do: My Architectural Drawings, Renderings and Animations
So my models are not the biggest ones, but up to 300 MB.

I did not notice a big difference in performance, when I compare these three machines with my SketchUp-models. Shadows turned on is a bit slower on the Macbook, but even the powerful Desktop-PC could not always display the shadows in real time. So I still like to use my Macbook with SketchUp, because I like MacOS much better than Windows 10. And the Trackpad and Screen is much better than the ones on the Alienware Laptop. And in my opinion even SketchUp is looking better on MacOS :slightly_smiling_face:

But when it comes to GPU-Rendering, it´s a different kind of story. The Radeon 560 in the Macbook is a slow GPU for 3d-Rendering (I installed Windows on my Macbook and tested Lumion, also I tested Twinmotion in MacOS). The RTX 2060 in the Alienware Laptop is much much faster. And of course the RTX 2080Ti is on the next Level.

So my workflow is a bit crazy:

  1. Modeling with SketchUp on my Macbook. For light tasks or browsing through the warehouse I sometimes sit on the couch, but most time I use the Macbook as an Desktop-Replacement, connected to two 4k-Monitors + Keyboard and Mouse.
  2. Switching to my Desktop-PC, importing the model into Lumion. Adding Vegetation etc., Rendering.
  3. Switching back to Mac: Working on the Renderings with Photoshop & Working on Animations with Final Cut (with the imported clips from Lumion).

If you do renderings, you could go for the new Macbook Pro with the Radeon 5600M. As I know (I read about it), the power of this GPU could be compared to a Nvidia Desktop-RTX 2060 GPU. Another way would be, to switch to Windows and get a Dell-, Razer or Alienware-Laptop with a powerfull GPU. But as an long time Mac User, it could be, that you don´t “become friends” with the Windows OS, or a worse touchpad compared to the one in the Macbook. :wink:.

Btw: Your website does not work. I would like to see your work. When I´m not working with CAD, I often play the Drums.



I like to give my two cents of experience on this topic.
I am using a 2019 MBP, 32 GB, I9, Vega 20 with SU Pro 2020 for modelling in architecture. Most models are around 300 Mb.

This week it is 35 degrees Celsius in the Netherlands, were I live. So my MBP was getting very warm and loud and became slower and slower. Almost unworkable. Because of the heat it started to throttle.

I looked for a solution and bought a eGPU, the Razer Core X Chroma with a Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 5700 XT, 8 Gb (costs around 850 Euro’s on Amazon). Direct aim was to try to disable the GPU in the MBP, to prevent the CPU heating up more than necessary and prevent the throttling as much as possible. extending the life of my coveted MBP for sure.

Well it works as a charm, the fans of the eGPU are barely noticeable, near silent. The MBP is working full speed again, no slowing down. Better yet, the response and speed in modelling in SU-pro has improved significantly… I guess it is mainly because of increase with 4Gb on the Nitro+ GPU and the faster chip. But all in all it feels like working on a desktop with this setup!! It is just a joy now, working on bigger models in this setup.

I am using the program suggested by Colin in this thread, for using the Radeon for the extern monitor excusively. Not sure if you have to use it really though. Will investigate this later.

i will experiment further with Layout (not a frequent user, I admit) if the gains are the same.
Thus all in all a really good and flexible investment in the long run, when using SU. Better Graphic Cards are coming along frequently, So improvements in speed for around 400 Euro’s could be cost effective for a while. By the way, there is also an big increase in renderingspeed with Indigo and Maxwell (only Fire in SU though).

Will keep you posted on further experiences!!



Hi Andreas

Interesting as I have the same Razer Core but with a Vega 64 Pro 8GB card.

At the moment I’m using it with my iMac for Rendering, but will probably transfer it to my MacBook Pro 16 Inch when I eventually get the iMac Pro.

So my question is how do you tell it to use the eGPU with the MacBook Pro rather than the Internal GPU? Or does it do it automatically when an External Screen is plugged into the eGPU?

Kind regards