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



IMO incorrect. Simple research shows that they were founded as a small independent company in 1996. There were not acquired by Dell until 2006, meaning they had established themselves and their independent designs for 10 years on their own. According to the article below they still do their own design work.

Recently I looked at both Alienware and Dell notebooks and they are quite different from one another. What I saw was that all the Dells were just not quite up to par (for SketchUp) in the 1000-1600 price range, and the Alienware machines were but were a bit over priced compared to other “gaming machines”.

The finalists were an Alienware and an MSI notebook, and when the MSI Leopard 8RE went on sale at Walmart website for 200 dollars off, that decided me, as it basically paid the sales tax and an upgrade to Windows Pro.

The Alienware will allow an upgrade (or come with Win Pro depending upon model,) but in my case I’ll have to handle the upgrade to Windows Pro myself via Microsoft’s upgrade portal. I advise you to upgrade to Windows Pro as it will give you better update control as well as other professional features and it is only 70 bucks extra.

Lastly, I suggest searching YouTube for inspection videos of the model machine you are interested in. There are techs that post inspection vids for many many machines. Quite interesting, and you get their informed opinion on upgrading, access to components, setup, overclocking, etc.


I do the same kind of work as you. All I can say is that I used to run SU on a PC but swopped to an iMac several years ago and have never looked back. This is my second iMac and although it is now 2-3 years old, it has no trouble coping with what I need it to do. BUT…(isn\t there always a but?), I do not do any rendering and I don’t tend to have very large files. You might need more welly if you were doing either of those at all seriously.

You are right that the Mac is a niche product and software and hardware manufacturers necessarily prioritize the much larger PC market. That has cause me (and others) some issues with my SpaceMouse which was hard to get set up properly. On the other hand, there is so much to be thankful for with a Mac. Much less problem with viruses, for example, and everything in the Apple family itself “just works”. Also, built in PDF production, invaluable when producing output for those who do not have the same software as you.

I wouldn’t go back in a hurry.


I don’t even have a desktop machine. For the past 20+ years, all I’ve used are Apple PowerBooks and MacBook Pros with an external monitor (and Wacom tablet) on my desk. The performance of Apples’s better laptops have been so close to what the desktop ones do, I decided it was too costly to constantly buy two machines instead of just one. (The other original reason was the trouble of coordinating files between two machines, thought that’s not such a hurdle anymore.) You could just return the iMac and get an external monitor instead with this approach. BTW, I’m still using a 2012 Macbook Pro, which I was supposed to retire a while ago, but it’s still hanging in there.


…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…

…That is just Layout - its abysmally slow with anything with any complexity - I do exactly the same stuff as you do, and my productivity goes off a cliff when I get to the Layout stage, Windows isn’t going to change that. Any decision regarding Layout performance is already set in stone for the next version. I hope it gets addressed 'cos its bad.


Thank you Guys

This is all amazing feedback and help! Really appreciated.

@simoncbevans I have to say, I don’t do any seriously heavy rendering. It is just now and again, and messing with Indigo Trial at the moment, following a suggestion from @bifterx, it looks promising for what I do, and for me, seems to fly with my AMD Card.

I can’t thank you all enough for your valuable feedback. I’m going to sleep on it as there is quite a lot to digest. I owe you some beers!

This forum has been so unbelievably helpful since I joined. Thank you.



Hi Michael,
Same thoughts here!
I’m really addicted to mac, since the first early mac’s, and will keep working with it, but it just doesn’t work to well with sketchup.
Tried a lot to improve my working flow on mac and sketchup, bought the latest macbook pro with all the extra flavors, but it still is weak on sketchup and rendering.
So I also did a lot of research, and last week I ordered the Dell Alienware, i7-8086K, 16gb, gtx 1080ti.
It simply has the best specs and reviews.
It will be delivered next week, so if you like I can keep you posted about the results.
By the way: did you try [RENDERIN] for rendering? I think on a mac it’s the best rendering-machine, and it uses all the cores but one.


Hi @roelatmac

Yeah, I’d definitely be interested to hear how it goes.

The only problem I have is with Layout and I’m hoping they sort it with the next release.

I was playing around yesterday on Indigo Render and found it to be ok. It used my AMD Card with no problems and actually flew. I rendered some work I’d Renderers before and instead of taking 20-30 minutes, it took about 1 and a half minutes with a better result.

I still have a window when I can still return mine, so I’m sticking with it to see what the new version is like.

In reality, I really don’t want to part with it.



Custom build - local supplier
I agree with @liamk887 regarding building your own - tends to be the best value for money.

Their hardware tends to be a little underpowered compared to PC options and limited choice.

Based on your description, optimising your workflow may be as much about screen real estate as computer hardware. For general office work, moving from a ~18" to a 30" monitor increases productivity by roughly 30%.
Consider 2/3 monitor setups.

As so much of our workflows are single threaded, an overclocked CPU can be a noticeable advantage - consider some of these options if you have a large budget.

High end custom PC options


We discussed this previously. I also have a MacPro. In the morning, I am bringing out my old cheese grater 2009 Mac Pro. I had previously upgraded the memory to 32 gigs and the card to Nvdia 4000. I have viewed videos that show how to upgrade the chips (mine is a dual chip machine) and upgrade the video cards. The old Mac is not on Mojave as well.

Stay tuned.


Just get rid of your iMac and don’t invest in the Alienware. But only use your MacBook Pro! I work an a MacBook Pro with two dell 24" 4k monitors (using 3 monitors incl the Retina display of the macbook) and I also have an external GPU attached for doing VR on my MacBook.


Hi @Guy

Yeah, I did think of that and did play with the idea but the only thing is my MacBook Pro is on 16GB of RAM. Under High Sierra, Sketchup runs absolutely fine and Layout is better than on my new iMac.

What MacBook Pro do you have and what External GPU?

I did contact Elmtec, the company who I bought Sketchup Pro from, and they did say that as far as they are aware, Sketchup Pro 2018 is not compatible with OS Mojave, so I’m kind of hoping the new version will be.



Oh, and @Guy, please, please tell me that Skalp will be available/compatible with Sketchup Pro 2019 :grinning::grinning::grinning::grinning:

I use Skalp all of the time and it’s so valuable to what I produce.



Ok Mike, I’ll let you know!



if you aren’t rendering a huge amount then you can get away with a 6-core CPU no problem. What renderer are you using - does it use CPU or GPU for processing?
For sketchup you will find a 1070gtx is absolutely fine, even for huge models.
You will need more RAM, 24gb would be fine but 32gb is probably more easily available.
i doubt you need a dvd tray.
you probably dont need overclocking - use more power.

I dont know what the monitor resolution is, but aim for 1440p resolution. it’s the sweet spot for single monitors (4k is too high, 1080p is too low). Gaming monitors often priorities response time (2ms) and Gsync over colour reproduction, viewing angles, glare reduction, and other things that are more useful to 3d modellers.

Alienware are fine and you get a nice tidy package with good parts inside…but you pay for convenience, marketing and the accessories eg keyboard and mouse and dvd, which you get even if you want your own ones.
With a PC you have the benefit of walking into a local computer shop (a decnet one) asking them to build you a machine with your choice of Case (size, colour, usb ports, noise, etc) , your perfect monitor (size, colour, resolution), you ideal keyboard and mouse setup, whether it has a DVD, or 24gb of RAM or 6 cores, wheter you want to upgrade in future to 2 video cards…whatever… YOU choose.
And they build it, make sure it works (test it)…then you relax because PC hardware hardly ever fails once installed, and if it does its cheap/easy to fix/replace ,and has its own warranty.
And it;s a good price - cheaper than a Mac and about the same price or cheaper than an Alienware. And you’re supporting a local business.

Keep posting questions and we’ll give you answers :slight_smile:


Oh and if you want to move to a laptop, you can get ones that will do everything you need eg the HP Omen 15x, with the GTX1070.


Thank you @AK_SAM

Really appreciate your input. Plenty to think about.



Good afternoon, I read your post I am looking for a lap top HP sound good. I am an interior designer so I use sketchedup pro 18 with rendering software such as SUpodium andnow I am trying enscape I love it, looking to get a lap top so I see your recommendations.



Enscape only works with windows and needs a capable (min GTX 980 NVIDIA) Graphic Card.
When planning on Virtual headset etc. min 1060ti


Hi Stella, thanks!

Enscape is pretty cool! A bit step up from SUpodium. I believe it has some realtime rendering modes which are incredibly GPU intensive; so much so that i’d probably avoid using a laptop for this if its a core part of your work; laptops get hot when rendering and then throttle performance. You may get a beast of a 17" gaming laptop or “mobile workstation” that can handle the heat but it’s going to be huge, heavy and pricey… and loud…and have virtually no battery life when rendering! (better to get a traditional desktop PC for this!).

Generally speaking:
For a laptop for 3d modelling, my advice is to basically work around the video card (GPU). An Nvidia GTX1070 MaxQ is fast and won’t cost a fortune. Any laptop with this video card will likely be a “premium gaming laptop” and have a very good CPU.

As for the other features, a premium gaming laptop is likely to have everything you need (and more).
Everything else is down to personal preference; size, keyboard layout (of course you need a numeric keypad!), battery life (and size of charging adaptor…some are huge), price, colour, warranty, etc, etc.

HP, Asus and Gigabyte are the top three brands i would consider (I’ve used various models in a commercial environment for many years…but i don’t get alienware in this country so cant comment on that). it’s a must to read reviews though because all brands have put out many great laptops, and some really crappy ones…

For anyone else reading this: To get the best rendering performance for a computer, you need to build it around your rendering software - they have important differences. Some us CPU only, some use CPU+GPU, some use GPU only and work best with CUDA (nvidia technology), others use OpenCL and work better on AMD GPUs.

I personally don’t like the idea of buying a huge heavy monster of a laptop (aka “mobile workstation”) that costs $5000. My team have a number of them, and they’re still not as good as a far cheaper desktop. The ideal setup if you really need power is a desktop (with dual video cards for rendering) and a small portable gaming laptop that you can do 80% of your daily work on. Or use some cloud processing/rendering services for the few times you really need them.


thank you for such a great information it can be overwhelming, the reason I am looking for a laptop is that during the summer I travel west and east so I be working during my traveling.
Defínete I need a light laptop so it will be easy to carry during my traveling.
Any advice thanks a lot.