Time has come to Upgrade the system

Hi all,

I am currently using 15” Mid 2014 MacBook Pro, running MacOS Big Sur 11.7.10. and SketchUp Pro 2023.

Obviously the above machine is getting on a bit now, so my though it to upgrade it to a 14” MacBook Pro M3 Max. A number of reasons, one is to future proof it, the other, I wish to start using rendering software, so need a decent boost in GPU power, to avoid lengthy waiting times.
Obviously there’s a number of rendering packages out there to choose from, but Enscape seems to be the one tyrant comes up in conversation on a regular basis.

I am happy to listen to key pointers and for advice as to what I should be looking out for before going ahead and upgrading.

Has anybody on here upgraded to M3 silicone, and if so, what specification did you go for with rendering in mind?

Thank you.

It’s hard to future proof anything, especially when it comes to Tech. How long are you really trying to get out of this computer? 3 years?

Enscape is great because it doesn’t require a lot of tweaking to get a good looking render straight out of the gate. I would highly recommend it. I want to point out that I don’t personally use Macs for many reasons but we do use Enscape. The larger models with more and more detail are really what takes up the time to set up the render regardless of hardware so wait times are just expected. We are running $5,000+ machines that I built using some of the best hardware you can get and it still takes a good chunk of time to load Enscape. My point is, you can get a brand new system, and you’re likely still going to wait a bit for Enscape to load.

Going from an intel to an M series Mac is like going from a 1997 Toyota Corolla to a 2023 M3 BMW. I have an M1 Max MacBook Pro and enscape runs smoothly on it, it should be a lot better with an M3 cause the gpu is more powerful than the one on the M1. Definitely macs are future proof, before buying my M1 Max MacBook I had a 2013 13” MacBook Pro with integrated intel gpu, I still have it and it works like day 1, I made my bachelor and master thesis with it and a lot more projects, the M series macs are incredibly fast and efficient, the development of the Apple silicon chips has been crazy, I’m sure it will battle with more powerful machines for at least 5 more years. I was thinking on upgrading to an M3 Max after watching the Apple event but after the hype I realized that my M1 Max MacBook is still super powerful, I’ll probably upgrade to an M5 or M6 max, by then I bet the gpu performance will be as powerful as a high end Nvidia gpu or even better if the development keeps its current pace.

Hi Evskij,

I just bought a MBP 14inch M3 Pro, 36MB memory. I advise you to do your research. A M3 Max is fine if you have too much money lying about, but for the prices Apple charges think twice. I went for max memory for a half decent price + the faster M3 pro, and recall vaguely watching reviews explaining the M3 max on a 14inch isn’t quite the same thing as on a 16inch MBP. So that’s another thing to consider. So do your research, there are plenty of reviews on you tube etc.

Such as: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJzYQmdURdk

Edit At the end of this video this throtteling of a 14inch MBP 3M Max is explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv78mPxRp9A

Meanwhile I’m trying to figure out if Mac OS Sonoma is playing nicely with Sketchup anyway, which is another adventure right now.


How is the performance?

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The trial version crashed once, straight away I received an update. Haven’t done any heavy testing, though.

This Mac is so much nicer than my mid 2012 MBP.

Edit I haven’t used it for very heavy tasks yet, but did ask for advise from a CAD reseller, before I bought this. It’s really quiet with general tasks, I hardly ever notice the fans blowing and battery life is great.

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If my curent trend continues, it could be 10 years before next upgrade, but realistically, 5-6 years.

Thanks for your reply.

MBP would be my sole computer, eventually matted to a 27-32” display. I am not sure if 14”,or 16”m will be my final choice.

Here in the Uk costco, seem to be a fair bit cheaper on stock specification Macs.

For Example:
Costco - 14” MBP M3 Pro, 12 Core CPU, 18 Core GPU, 18GB RAM, 1TB SSD. £2239.99 including taxes.
Apple Store - Identical spec… £2499.00
£259 more.

Plus as a Costco Executive membership holder, I will get 2% voucher at the end of the year. so a further saving v buying direct from apple store.Costco also generally very good with any kind of returns.

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What I am looking for, is a computer that will handle everything I throw at it, very well.

I do not want to be regretting, after a year that I should have gone with slightly better specification.

Key tasks, will be SketchUp Pro, including Layout, as well as a Rendering in a reasonable time frame. lets say 30 minutes to and hour.

My models tend to be bespoke furniture and Interior design. No cityscapes, that’s for sure.

Also how is the curent SU Pro 2023 support and performance rated on M3 chip equipped Machines?

yes. but no.

it’s ok with M series but not yet with sonoma. some people have crashes right after saving, and other smaller or bigger bugs.

since M1 are fine, and M2 are finer, and M3 are even finer (Colin did some benchmark when he got his), any M3 will be fine. but unless you’re in a time-sensitive situation, better wait for 2024 release in (I’d guess) a couple month.

What rendering engine do you use and how big are the projects you usually work with?

Thank you for your reply, I can wait a few months to use the new MB Pro with SU 2024 and in the mean time carry on using my existing 2014 MB Pro.
However, I do need to purchase the new MB Pro before the end of January, to lower the business taxes. Hence why I am chasing for answers from those who have M3 Pro or Max BM Pros. I can pick up 16” MB Pro M3 Max from Costco for £450 less than apple store selling same specification model at £4099.00
However, before I do go all out and unnecessarily buy M3 Max I want to know if perhaps upscale M3 Pro would be sufficient to run everything I need for it to do.

I am currently into running anything, as my 2014 MB pro does not support the Enscape.

Projects aren’t huge, mostly one room at the time, as I mainly design and manufacture fitted furniture, but I do like the idea of being able to sell the deign to my client in as much of a realistic presentation as possible. It is amazing how many people cannot visualise the final product from 2D/3D drawings.

Well, can’t speak for the M3 series off course, as far as I recall, the difference between 2pro and 2max wasn’t that huge for Sketchup related work. it’s more for music and video creators.
If I had to choose, I’d probably pick the cheaper of the 2 and invest the money into a bit more RAM. that makes a big difference in our field.
(I’ll probably do that when they update the mac mini, if I jump the gun then.)

If you look around (search tool top right) you will find similar discussions on the M1 and M2 series and their variants, as far as we know the observations are similar with the M3 serie. similar but slightly faster nevertheless. :slight_smile:

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It’s interesting what Just Josh suggests in his video (the second I posted) at 11m55. Although the 14inch M3 Max gets throttled during a pressure test, its CPU performance doesn’t suffer much. Of course it would be interesting to know what the GPU performance does in that case.

And then there is this reduced memory bandwidth of the M3 Pro compared to the M2 Pro. Those fans on my Mac just hardly ever start up. Are those two facts related?

If I understand correctly, correct me if I’m wrong, unified memory means the same memory is used by the CPU and GPU. So maybe for 3D modeling and rendering this bandwidth is more important than I figured. I really don’t know.

And finally there is also the rendering engine of SU. I noticed after upgrading to SU 2023 yesterday that nothing much seems to have changed in this field, since SU8. So I built myself this little house and replicated it a 100.000 times (as component). And yes, you do get Sketchup on its knees when you do that, even on a MBP M3 Pro.

Just out of curiosity I subsequently imported the same model into another CAD / modeling tool. Here panning and orbiting remains pretty smooth, although there is a little lag when starting the operation (so scrolling does gets worse). That does make me think… the bottleneck clearly isn’t only in the hardware, as far as the rebuilding of images is concerned.

I hope you make the best choice for your needs. I bet you’re going to enjoy it, though.

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The differences between M3 Max, M3 Pro and M3 are mainly:

  • more CPU cores. This won’t benefit SketchUp or LayOut because they use only a single CPU core. It will benefit most renderers because they do use multiple cores.
  • more GPU cores. Again, this will have a limited benefit for SketchUp and LayOut because their display needs are modest. Until renderers are reworked to use the new ray tracing and shading hardware, it is TBD how much they will benefit from added GPU cores.
  • greater maximum RAM. SketchUp and LayOut are not major memory hogs. But RAM is one area you can be certain future apps and macOS versions will use more. Because none of these chips are upgradable, be sure to opt for more memory than you think you need today.

Of course, these observations are based on the current situation. It has been shown repeatedly that it isn’t possible to make SketchUp use more cores for its model editing, but who knows what clever coding could do to cast side tasks into their own threads and whether the result would be significant.


Enscape is a real time rendering engine, and has a lot of great proxys, renders of images take just a few seconds on my M1 Max MacBook Pro, videos just a few minutes but no more than 15 mins for a 5-8 mins long video. If you use objects from the 3D warehouse you can convert them to proxys and the rendering will be extremely fast as well even if the object has a lot geometry. With an M3 pro and 32 gb of ram you’ll be fine.


M3 pro vs M3 max you are unlikely to notice I think, even vs M2 you probably would not. What you will notice is RAM and HD speed/size. If you are spending money, spend it on RAM. I’d much rather have an M2 with 64gb than an M3 with 16gb. Get at least 32gb and at least 1tb ssd. You can’t add RAM later so splurge on that. I am on an M1 Max 32, it does everything I ask of it including big models , big layout files, and Twinmotion rendering.

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Also keep in mind this: How do I make SketchUp run faster?

Very sad to see Sage Catamountain disappear.

The problem with twinmotion on mac is that it lacks of Path tracer, according to epic, they hadn’t added it because it requires raytracing hardware accelerated graphics, I guess that now that the M3 has raytracing hardware they will add it for mac, in that case it would be better to get an M3 machine than an M2.