Goodbye iMac, Hello Alienware.........? Advice Requested

Good Morning

Firstly, I hope I am posting this is the correct location, but if not, it can be relocated.

I am looking for advice as I feel that I am at an important junction, and am not 100% sure what direction to take.

At the moment, I am currently running Sketchup Pro 2018 on a brand new iMac 5K and also on a MacBook Pro. The new iMac is within the 30 Day return period, which is useful to me at the moment. Essentially, I am debating whether to return the iMac and then invest in a PC for my use of Sketchup Pro.

I produce designs for Planning Applications and Building Regs approval, for private Clients. I also do work for Commercial Clients, such as Retail Refurbishment, and local Councils.

The reasons for my dilemma are as follows;

1 - While I do love the Mac OS System, I do find the machines very restrictive. The iMac that I purchased was custom built using the available Apple options. However, these options are very limited. For example, there is no choice of GPU, and I have to go with AMD. Also, once purchased, that is it. The only use upgrade is the memory, (which I have done). Apart from that, the machine remains unchanged for ever.
2 - I ‘feel’ as though the support by software companies and the like, for the Apple System, is not great, or not a priority. Maybe understandable as the majority of users are on PCs. From my perspective, for example, I use Thea Render for Sketchup. I don’t do much rendering, but occasionally I need to show a Client a visual. Due to the Apple System, I can not use my 4GB AMD GPU, and there ‘appears’ to be no plan for Altair to change this. Another example, there are other Rendering options out there, such as Enscape, which I really like the look off, but alas no Mac version, and as far as I can tell from all my Googling, there is no intention to produce a Mac Version. Essentially, I ‘feel’ like the Mac version of software is kind of, ‘well, we’ll produce a version if we can’. This, I think is understandable, given that it seems the Mac system is so locked down, and in some respect, alienated from everyone else.
3 - I’m worried about the implications of Apple not supporting Open GL/CL anymore. I have concerns that this will mean the software options will become even more restricted than at present.

I don’t think I am naive, and I do understand that there are problems with Microsoft and Windows, and I do get concerned, given my current frame of mind, when I read some of the problems posted on this forum relating to using Sketchup Pro on a Windows machine, (although it would appear that a lot of the problems stem from incorrect installation). I just think that maybe, replacing my iMac with a Windows machine will open me up to more options;

1 - I’ll be able to upgrade the machine more freely, and therefore, keep the machine longer. I won’t be restricted to a particular GPU. for example. I can also change monitors, etc.
2 - I will be able to access more software/plugins such as Rendering Software.

So, help and advice would be greatly appreciated. I have been looking at the following Spec from Dell, which seems to provide all that is required for Sketchup Pro, and also a little future proofing, by having the flexibility to upgrade.

Your thoughts and feedback on the above, and the attached specification would be greatly appreciated.

At the moment, I’m 75/25 in favour of replacing the iMac, so not 100% sure yet.

Many thanks


I would advise against getting an Aliemware, they are almost always overpriced and marked up (unless you can get them on a sale). Essentially they are just a Dell with a different badge. I would recommend to source and build your own machine, if you don’t want to physically build it yourself you can pay a small fee at most computer shops.

You should save enough money then to upgrade the spec a little bit such as getting 32GB of RAM. It’s hard to give advice without knowing exactly what you are using it for, and if you are rendering, specifically what renderer you want to use.

Thank you for your quick reply @liamk887

The rendering would be minimal really.

Essentially, I produce Models/Drawings for people wanting Extensions to their property, and use Layout to produce the Construction Documents.

The work I do for Commercial Retail is similar.

I rely heavily on such Plugins as Skalp, and also on Layout.

The Rendering is used to show the Clients what the new building would look like, both External and Internal. I do not use it all the time, and the complexity of the Rendering is not immense. (Although, I have found that on the iMac, if I try to do anything to involved when rendering, it does not cope very well). I use Thea Render for Sketchup.

I understand your comments about Alienware being a rebranded Dell, and especially about the RAM. I would look to be taking this to 32GB minimum.

Apart from that though, in principal, do you think that spec is ok?

Kind regards


I would disagree on that one, last decade, I have used three (Windows) laptops and one macbook, the first three in the beginning 6 years, giving it a ratio of two years per machine, and the last four years the Macbook, which still is in a perfect condition to handle SketchUp files adequatly.
The laptops either crashed or were worn out by the environmental aspects of my work area (building sites)

Besides that, the time saved by not constantly having to update this or that or searching for a program to edit some picture etc…

I always tell people that if you are not really into computers, then you could learn to love Mac or get to hate Windows.
If you do want to spent time in managing the system itself and then get to work, you’ll probably get the ■■■■ done:

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Thank you @MikeWayzovski

Yeah, I do have my MacBook Pro as well, which has been great.

I guess I’m just getting disillusioned with the restrictions on my iMac. There doesn’t seem to be a Renderer that can use my GPU, for example.

I do have Adobe CC Subscription as well, so I can transfer that.

To be honest, I don’t use a lot of software;

Sketchup Pro
Office 365

That is about it.

I’m really worried about the Apple Metal issue, and whether Sketchup/Trimble will adopt it or whatever the correct term is.


About the bare metal, I think there will be some sort of ‘backwards’ compatibility, I am not so concerned about that.
If you keep the macbook, you’lll have best of both worlds if you decide to switch for the desktop.
I have not tested wether Thea or Enscape can be used in bootcamp for that matter.

FYI. The developers of Skalp are Macminded, as well!

Sure, you don’t need much to run SketchUp, I prefer doing all my SketchUp work on my MacBook Pro, I just move to my PC when I need to render and composite. Check your specs against what you can afford on this website I have used it several times:

Yeah, I’m planning to keep the MacBook, definitely.

It’s just the main workstation in my office that I’m thinking about.

Thank you @liamk887

That’s just thrown a huge spanner in the works :wink:

So much to choose from. Is that where you buy yours from?


Yes, they are only marginally more expensive than sourcing it entirely yourself (labour and shipping).

Just sent you a PM @liamk887 Hope that’s ok.


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I replaced the hard drive on my 2007 iMac and it still handles the latest SU and Layout fine…

it doesn’t cope with bad models as well as some newer high end PC’s but I doubt there’s a single equal age PC running SU v18 as well as this does…

for my occasional rendering [ for presentation not publication ] I keep a copy ov SU v17 and Visualizer around…

horses for course, but as I’ve said before “Alice, beware the rabbit hole”…



Not that it will change your mind but Indigo Render can use either OpenCL or CUDA for GPU rendering so you would be able to use your AMD card for GPU rendering from the Sketchup plugin.

I only stopped using my 2013 MBP as my main work machine last xmas. I still use it for presentations and a portable design machine when I need it, they are robust, amazing little machines.

I ended up building a Hackintosh with an Nvidia GPU as my main design machine (for rendering and photogrammetry processing), I’m a ‘dyed in the wool’ MacOS user, apart from renderers, I haven’t seen these software limitations. I can definitely understand the budget implications, Apple just don’t make a machine (currently, that may change with the modular MacPro in the works) that gives me a GPU that I need, even if I didn’t need an Nvidia GPU, to get a machine with lots of cores, I would have to spend ALOT of money, (which I don’t have) I ended up building a Hackintosh for just under £2.5k that gives me roughly the CPU performance of a machine that costs over 6 thousand quid. Obviously, there are compromises in terms of updates and ongoing system updates but I’m a one man operation who is technically minded and is happy to tinker.

I did consider switching to Windows but the Hackintosh route gave me what I wanted.
For rendering, ironically, I’ve started using Vray cloud for main renders, and only use small interactive renders locally for look development and texturing so the GPU element is a little de-emphasised.

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Hi @bifterx

That’s interesting about Indigo. I’ll have to try that, and install a trial copy.

I must confess I do love the Mac. I’m just worried about the next version, and this Metal thing.


I wouldn’t be too concerned, Apple have only deprecated OpenGL, things will still work as they do now for a time. Apple haven’t actually updated OpenGL in recent years, in fact the version that ships in MacOS is 3.3 (2010 era), I think the latest actual version is 4.6, so we are way behind anyway.
The Kronos group who maintain OpenGL are transitioning to a new API themselves (Vulkan) so we shall see what happens.

Really? Here’s what I see under macOS 10.13.6:

Edit: I noticed I did that screenshot with the Intel HD Graphics selected. The same features are reported for the NVidea graphics.

I’ve briefly just tried Indigo, and yes, it will use my AMD GPU.

The dialogue boxes seemed a bit messed up though, (things overlapping), and I’m not sure if this is to do with Mojave being my OS, and the combination of running Sketchup 2018 under OS Mojave.

I’m just seriously concerned that the new Sketchup 2019 won’t sort my issue with Layout, (dead snail pace zooming). Some other users have reported the same, and I’m worried that Trimble will not worry about that, given the Metal/Open GL issue.

I do have a slight window luckily, where, assuming the new version is released before the end of November, I will have about a week to decide if I need to return this iMac. In fact, Apple Support said they would extend that to 45 days, meaning middle of December until final crunch time.

At least with all your help and input, I know that there is a solution out there, should I replace this iMac.

My bad, its version 4.1 so only 5 years out of date rather than 8!

will be interesting to see which way things go, obviously Metal and Metal Compute Shaders are not cross platform but I think there is a version of Vulkan thats sits atop Metal (MoltenVK) which would offer cross platform compatibility but still way to early to call I think OpenGL will be with us for some time.

Recent actions seem to say that the SketchUp team sees webgl as the path to
future-proofing, not something like Vulkan. That is not without its own issues and controversy though!

I should say so!