MacBook Pro vs. PC Laptop Recommendations

Hello Everyone,
I’m started using SketchupPro 2020 last year. Still at beginner level, so I’d appreciate your patience around terminology regarding SketchUp functions, computer technology and such!

The reason why I’m using this older version of SketchUp is due to my iMac being too old to upgrade to any other version; which is why I want to move to laptop in order to upgrade to newer version of SketchUp.

I’m a woodworker and right now I use the program for 3D modeling of cabinetry, furniture, floor plans and I’d love to utilize LayOut extension and be able to offer more realistic renderings of my work with either V-Ray or Enscape.

I’m looking for some guidance as to making choice to stick with Apple and buy a MacBook Pro or make a switch to a PC laptop. Here are some key points, that may help you provide advice based on my background and needs -

1.Modeling/Rendering is not my full time job, but a big portion of my work.
2.I’ve been using SketchUp for one year on a iMac, so I’m wondering is switching to a PC is more trouble than it’s worth
3.I’ve read some opinions that rendering on a laptop is not the most efficient due speeds/battery life/graphics, etc; but I need the ability to work remote and can only afford ONE device.
4.This new device would primarily be used to run SketchUp with necessary extensions, web browsing, email. No other major editing programs, as of yet.

Thanks in advance for any input you’re willing to provide

SketchUp is pretty lightweight when it comes to system requirements.
I ran the browser version on a Chromebook with a whopping 4G of RAM for years and can’t recall anytime I encountered slowdown or debilitating lag.
It only uses a single CPU core (most processors have at least four) and doesn’t take advantage of graphics cards, so it’s far from demanding. If you were using something like Vray or Lumion for rendering photorealistic scenes, that would be another story.

I used to despise Macbooks. I thought they were poorly designed, overpriced, underpowered, and had lousy thermals. Many a horror story have I heard about how hot the things would get from the most basic of tasks. Fortunately and from what I understand, now that they’ve switched from Intel-based processors to internally-developed, ARM-based processors, overheating isn’t really a problem (and now I hear of people editing 4K videos on them with no issues). If you’re wholly committed to staying in the Apple ecosystem, Macbooks aren’t a bad choice. You can, however, get a lot more bang for your buck with something like an HP or an ASUS or even a Dell. I wouldn’t recommend a Surface because they tend to get a bit pricey and all you’re really getting for that price is a touchscreen, pretty much a Windows impression of an iPad Pro if that makes sense.

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If you are comfortable with a Mac, stick with it. I will upgrade to a new iMac or studio in the next year or two, the performance of the apple silicon is impressive, and more and more software will transition to running on it.

Check out ChaosCloud for rendering if / when you get to that point. It’s cheap (you buy credits and let the cloud do final renders) and you don’t tie up your machine and turn it into a space heater. I use this for all my final renders for architecture. Setup locally, test low quality, send to the cloud. If I ever go back to a laptop I would do the test renders in the cloud too…

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Plus Apple did a very good job with Rosetta, their utility that automatically converts Intel binaries to run on their M-series chips. There is very little performance loss.

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I’m a Mac and Windows user, personally I prefer MacOS, it’s more intuitive than windows and for almost ten years I used exclusively Mac on a 2013 MacBook Pro with intel i7 dual core and igpu, it performed better than other laptops I bought with dedicated gpu’s and a more powerful CPUs, I upgraded to apple silicon Mac in 2021, I got an M1 Max MacBook Pro, I love that machine, it’s silent, the battery lasts over 8 hours easily and the performance is unbelievable, the only reason o got a PC is because I started to do more archviz and the gpu of the Mac isn’t as powerful as an Nvidia RTX and also many engines are better optimized for Nvidia, now the M3 chips have a gpu a lot more powerful with dedicated hardware for ray tracing and mesh shading, it’s still behind Nvidia but in two years the performance gain is unbelievable compared with other tech companies like intel or amd that usually gain between 15 and 20 percent or even less with every new generation.

I recommend you to stay with mac if you’re used to and your work doesn’t require a lot of rendering, you wouldn’t even need to get the most powerful one, maybe an M2 MacBook Air is enough. If you need to do renders frequently and you need them to be fast you should go for a laptop with an Nvidia RTX gpu.

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Thank you for your input. Do you have any personal experience using V-ray with a Macbook?

I do not. I’m primarily an iPad or desktop user, and most of the work I do is for 3D printing, so photorealistic renders aren’t exactly necessary.

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Gotcha. Thank you for your time

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Thanks for you response.I definitely would like to stick with Mac. How do you think an M3 MacBook Pro would handle renders using V-ray or a comparable program? Are the main issues with the speed or graphics quality, or both?

ChaosCloud sounds really appealing! I’ll look into it as an option. The more feedback I get, sticking with Mac sounds like the better option.

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Mac’s can run Vray and I think I heard that there is a native ARM64 version for M series Macs. But ever since Apple parted ways with NVidia, Vray on Macs has been limited to CPU rendering, which is much slower than the hardware accelerated GPU version on Windows. So if Vray rendering is high priority to you, a much cheaper PC with NVidia graphics would outperform a Mac.
I don’t know whether Chaos Group has reworked Vray to take advantage of the M3’s new graphics features. It would be worth checking out their website and forum to see, as that might level the playing field.

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The quality of the renders are going to be the same on pc or Mac, the advantage on pc is that it can use Nvidia’s ray tracing acceleration hardware while on Mac it uses the cpu to render, the rendering times are a a bit higher with cpu, but if you work with small scenes the cpu can render quite fast, vray runs natively on apple silicon macs.

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This is a good perspective. Thank you!

I have a new macbook pro and it has some problems with sketchup. My mac will not use the option or command buttons or control to go from move to copy on the free sketchup version. Just to contradict a previous opinion, my mac book pro is lightning fast and the virus protection beats anything else on the market.

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Thanks for sharing that. Do you suspect that it’s a result of the free version? Have you personally heard of any similar complaints from other MacBook pro users?

Yes, I anticipate I’ll only be doing small scenes moving forward. Slightly slower speeds doings renders and not switching from MAC sounds is not a bad trade off.

I suspect that it is a result of the free version, but cannot tell without purchasing one of the other versions that you need to pay to use. I do not use the software enough to actually spend large amounts of money to use it to make furniture drawings about 4 times per year. I am not sure what I am doing in the future. I was OK with using 2D packages like draftsight or Autocad light but Autocad light is also $500 per year (way to much for the little that I use it). Seems like I am stuck with sketchup or look for another drafting software but having no ability to copy furniture components like legs is a huge drawback. I hope you can find a solution that works for you. I have not seen similar complaints from other mac users.

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Then you would have to use either Go or Pro as commercial use is prohibited for SketchUp Free!
Even if you are only using it a few times a year…

That’s strange. Do you realize that these keys are toggles, not modifiiers on the move tool? That is, you press and release option to change from simple move to copy or stamp, you don’t hold the key down while moving? It works fine on my Mac.

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I think I might be holding it down. I will try that. Thanks for the tip.