Is Mac Book Air 2021 a good choice to run SU Pro 2021?

Hi all, I’ve been using SU Make 2017 so far on my Mac Book Pro 15" mid-2014 to design hospitality projects, mostly resorts like the following which is still a work in progress:
These files are about 150Mb, 10 mil hedges, 5 mil faces and my old Mac Book Pro said no more, it slows down dramatically and crashes to the point that I am just not able anymore to complete my designs. As you could see at the link here above, it’s a very basic use of SU without an advanced level of renderings and no use of any extensions, plug-in, etc. The only problem is that there’s a lot of stuff and the more I progress with the design the more difficult it gets to the point that I cannot go on anymore, it slows down dramatically and crashes. Thus I was thinking to buy a brand new Mac Book Air, with the following specs

  • Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU, 8‑core GPU, and 16‑core Neural Engine
  • 16GB unified memory
  • 512GB SSD storage

Is this machine with this configuration enough to work with such files and is SU Pro 2021 compatible with the new Apple M1 chip?

In case not, what would be a good Windows machine alternative considering that I don’t do any gaming and after this last project I want to spend as little as I can of my time in front of a PC?

Thanks so much for your help.

Consider that a Macbook Air is generally a lighter duty machine than a MacBook Pro. If you are going to stick with Mac, you probably ought to be looking at a new MacBook Pro. A faster CPU is more important than number of cores for SketchUp because SketchUp is only a single-thread application. A dedicate graphics card is preferred over an integrated card and Nvidia GTX series cards have historically been the GPU of choice.

If you are doing this commercially you definitely need to be using SketchUp Pro, not Make.


A model with the number of edges and faces you describe is going to slow down just about any computer, regardless of Mac or Windows and regardless of CPU and graphics.

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Oh man, you killed my hope that I could start flying again… :frowning:

Thanks anyway for your feedback!

Sounds like you are hoping something like this…

…will perform like this.


Love that Fiat 500! Nice analogy, to take it further, either one of these will perform poorly of you put a 2000 pound hippopotamus in it. A big bloated file with millions of edges will eventually bring any computer to its knees, it’s a cheaper prospect to learn how to optimize your modeling technique.

Also there have been some mixed reviews about running SketchUp on the M1


Hi Dave, thanks so much for your brief but extremely clear and helpful feedback.
I don’t do these designs commercially like an architect working for 3rd parties, I’m a designer and a developer therefore these projects are for my direct investments.
This project I’m working on will probably be the last and I’m thinking to subscribe for 1 year to SU Pro to complete this last task. Then, even if I know I will not manage, I really want to do my best to stay away from the computer screen as much as I can and this must be considered in the process of choosing my next laptop. My future use of it will be mostly surfing the web, watching some movies, and some very basic photo and video editing. But I still have to finish this last big project…
I was hoping that I could make it with a light Mac Book Air and a decent monitor on my desk. Are the Nvidia GTX series cards you suggested compatible with MacBook Air? (Consider that I’m far from being a computer nerd, I’m too old for it)
Or I will have to opt for a MacBook Pro 14 that gives me the option to choose a CPU 10-core vs the 8-core of the Air? And also could you tell me if is it worth spending extra bucks in 32GB vs 16GB unified memory?

So still commercial projects.

No. And the Mac OS doesn’t support Nvidia graphics drivers.

As I wrote before, the number of cores is not important. SketchUp only uses one of them no matter how many there are.

As a matter of fact, I think I will have to think about splitting the whole project into different sections to work on and then joining them together when they are complete to have an overall view. Once every single section is complete it won’t be very painful to start joining them together and let the computer work with the cursor spinning while I sit in the sun.

As I said I’m quite illiterate about computers and when you said a faster CPU I thought that more cores would translate into a faster CPU. Do I have to assume that after so many years I should switch back to Windows?

Btw, I think the red FIAT 500 is way much cooler than the green Lambo even if not faster. :wink:

Splitting the files is one way, possibly using a sledgehammer to drive a nail. You might start by adjusting your style to keep profiles off, keep shadows off, work in monochrome and make smart use of tags to hide whole classes of object unless you need them. Assigning all vegetation at tag and keeping it’s visibility off for instance when your not using it can make a big difference in the number of edges your graphics card needs to render.

After reading your last comment I think you are right, I should invest more into learning about SU but being a bold/grey hair more than a Gen Z and having grown tired of spending so much of my time in front of the computer screen I think I will split my project in different section but I will try to explore some of your suggestions and see where I get to. Thanks so much for your kind and helpful advises!!!

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You can do a lot by keeping control of the files by not overloading with big models and textures. Also if you must, load the large entourage just for a scene, but not in your main modeling files. This is evidenced by people handling very large projects in SketchUp.

Being a Mac person myself, I am constantly on the verge of buying a PC for rendering. The Mac and the software just aren’t on the same wavelength at present. My hope is the M1 and the fact that Enscape is developing a Mac version. (And I keep thinking that each rendering is my last, so I can’t justify the PC.)

One issue that you will have trying to do any sort of work on the air is that its not great at dealing with thermal load, it will get hotter faster, and performance and battery will suffer as a result.

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You are right, I think I will have to opt for a MacBook Pro 14. Thanks!

The MacBook air M1 is exceptional and is suitable for 3d software !

It is based on my experience, I had tested Blender a year ago (on the cheapest Air M1) and I was very surprised by its speed, even compared to a last generation Intel MacBook Pro (the air was almost twice as fast compared to a MacBook Pro Intel sold at the same moment two time more expansive …) .

And this is confirmed by the specialized press on computers as well as by the tests. They continue to write that Air M1 is a good opportunity.

The difference between the Air and the Pro is that the Air is not ventilated. On the previous Intel machine, performance was very poor on the air. But on the Air M1, we lose about 12% maybe after an hour… Because the M1 processor needs less cooling and keep CPU power longer. We observe that the ventilation of the Pro M1 is rarely activated. There is no great difference between graphic 7 cores compared to 8 cores (20%). (FPS tested on 3d software and games)

I haven’t tested this detail, but have read that 16gb of memory instead of 8 could make a difference for pro users, specifically on this processor architecture. One reporter even said he preferred an Air M1 16go over a Pro M1 8go.

At the end of the post, you should have added:


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