MacBook Pro Hardware Upgrades

Hello! I’m in the market for a new computer, and after having an unsatisfactory experience with my windows system for the past three+ years, am looking to return to a MacBook. Being that they are expensive, I want to make sure I get the best bang for my buck and only upgrade hardware as necessary.

My primary use for SketchUp (Pro) is furniture design (hobby right now, intent to develop into something more serious), so I don’t typically have the massive rendering needs that architectural or landscape designs would. Portability is important to me.

I’m leaning towards a 13" MacBook Pro and am not eager to pay the premium for the 2.4GHz processor over the base 1.4GHz processor, though I’m considering the upgrade from i5 to i7. I don’t expect to be running many programs simultaneously, so I figure getting a base model might be fine, as the Turbo Boost would kick in as needed, thus meeting the minimum 2.1GHz requirement. Am I within reason here? Any additional thoughts, recommendations, suggestions as to what might be the optimal system to run?

Please and thank you!

I bought the latest greatest MBP 2018 last year and took it back. No woop for the buck. Still on my 2013.15in. Sorry I can’t give a firm solution. I think a windows replacement would be better than a Mac. I only use Mac because of other reasons. Not the best for SU IMO.


What are the specs for the current windows system. That may give a clue as to the cause of the performance issues and a guide toward the next purchase.

If you’re buying a new MacBook Pro, there will be no possibilities of hardware upgrades. Not for any part of the computer, ever.

That being said, they are great machines for SketchUp. I’m running a 15" MacBook Pro and I do recommend it. Go for a machine with a quick processor and you should be fine.

I recognize I would not be able to upgrade parts in future, but I can customize/upgrade the processors, memory, etc., at time of purchase.

How quick a processor do you recommend? This is more or less the point of my questions… is 1.4GHz-1.7GHz plus Turbo Boost adequate, or is the 2.4GHz speed necessary?

Compare the difference in the cost as to how long you might have it. One thing Mac’s have had in the past is longevity. (On the other hand, who knows where Apple is going and with system changes, older Macs may not keep up.) Then get the fastest you can, and the most memory

Okay, knowing you can’t actually “upgrade hardware as necessary,” which you originally wanted to do, I would say go for the fastest processor money can buy. While the 1.X processors will work, of course, going for the 2.X is going to be a very noticeable performance difference. It’s the only way of ensuring you have reasonable performance moving forward on a Mac.

Not really a computer person, but I bought for school based on specs for the modeling software they were planning to use and my research at the time for what would make an adequate “gaming” laptop. The school had indicated I needed a PC for whichever software, but then switched to SketchUp last minute after I’d already bought this and given up my MacBook. It has a radeon R5 2.4GHz processor, I think quad core, and 12GB RAM. Not sure what other specs to mention/where to find them.

Overall it’s just been a disappointing computer. I haven’t bothered to try using SketchUp on it for a while as it struggles to perform day to day tasks and the screen is terrible quality - inconsistent colour, high glare.

That is an integrated graphics card designed for low power laptops, and is not adequate for “gaming.” The biggest factor in SketchUp performance is going to come from your CPU speed and amount of RAM installed. If you buy a Windows laptop with a fast processor and a quality screen, you could have a GREAT SketchUp experience at a fraction of the cost of a Mac. Plus it’ll be more upgradeable. :slight_smile:


The long short of it, 3Ghz + processor, SU only uses 1 core , 16 G of ram, Dedicated Nvidia graphics card. High glare on the monitor can be handled with the monitor settings. Speaking of glare I need to turn mine down ,just set up new monitor.

The rig I am running is one I built from components

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There must be a more economical solution - you’re talking over $1000 upgrade from a base model MacBook Pro to the fastest processor.

What’s the compromise?

What is your budget?

You’re paying for a processor that won’t feel old in 5-6 years. If you buy a slow processor now, it’ll be even slower in the future as modern machines and software evolve. We’re talking about MacBook Pros here.

Like I said earlier. If you want a fast processor, go for a Windows laptop and save the money you don’t need on a Mac.


Agree here, my 5 year old Asus N550J absolutely smokes SketchUp and just about any thing else I throw at it. It was $1,600 new with a 4th gen i7 HT quad, 16 gb ram, 256 ssd and GTX 650 video. Might replace it next year. Just because it is out of warranty.

Just in the last week two of my peers ditch their Macs for more robust PC’s with Nvidia GPU’s, I honestly cannot think of a reason to get a Mac over a PC any longer.


macOS is a huge factor in the decision … and then there’s the extended hardware and software support Apple focuses on, build quality in general and the fact that Macs, for some reason, seem to live and function for many many years. Finally, like any “designer” item, there’s a price tag for the beauty of it all. Not to mention the Apple ecosystem which is hard to beat, especially when you start to integrate with other devices.


I think the compromise might be a refurbished older MBP with the most Ghz and a 1TB drive. Remember a new battery as well is a $400 replacement so age of the battery is not insignificant.

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And especially if they move all of their laptops over to ARM based cpus in the next year or so.

Finding a bargain on Macs isn’t as easy as other brands, but you can sometimes find them. Following and their price watch list helps. Most of the bargains I’ve gotten have been from either B&H Photo, Adorama, or Other World Computing.


  • Get a real GPU
  • Get the fastest CPU you can
  • Get the largest drive you think will last a while (you used to be able to upgrade this in the past, but not anymore with the latest models.)


  • Pay for lots of cores/processors (unless you’re big time into rendering)

Only 15" MacBook Pros have a real GPU. Everything else has integrated graphics, so I only look at those. Here are OWC’s current offerings for 15" MBPs

Typically the best deals I’ve ever seen happened either on “Black Friday” or the weeks leading up to Christmas, so with that less than a month away, maybe you can hang on long enough to see what comes up?


If I get into debates about Mac OS versus Windows, I say that I will concede that some Windows machines are faster than the fastest Macs, but ‘I’ work faster in Mac OS.

For my job I do need to test Windows issues a lot, and for that I have both Parallels and Bootcamp (as well as access to real PCs). Funnily, the benchmark tests on my MacBook Pro running under Bootcamp come out faster than 75% of real PCs, and about 20% faster than my machine running as a Mac, and about the same amount faster than a mean machine PC laptop we have.