User experience on an older MBP


My wife needs SketchUp in her interrior design studies. And i’m faced with the question wheter to buy her a new computer, or just part with one of my older ones.
Probably the best alternative i have at hand is a late 2011 MacBook Pro with 2.3Ghz i5 and 8GB. The GPU is probably the biggest problem, Intel HD 3000 with only 384MB of memory.

Is this a no go, or could this be a usable setup in interrior design.



I can only speak for myself but it really helps if your computer is not the bottleneck in the design process.

You want the keep the creative flow going as much as possible. It helps if you can easily transform your ideas to 3d without having to wait for your computer to respond. Easy editing / refining the 3d design is a must. Frustration with the computer = frustration in the design process = no good.

It all depends on the complexity of the designs of course. I’m afraid though once you are adding some nice textures, high poly furniture etc etc the laptop will run out of texture memory and SketchUp will come to a crawl.

Why not try to load up a big interior file from the 3d warehouse on your laptop and see how SketchUp responds?

Edit: it also depends on how much she will be likely be using SketchUp / the computer. Some designers use it all the time, some really hate it and prefer sketching on paper/making cardboard models.


Appreciate the answer and understand what you mean, as i have a long history working with autocad starting from the 90’s… I remember the frustration…

My wife just started the school, and we have no idea on the level of use of sketchup. I told her to ask what software they’re going to use… And the answer was SU.

Trying it out would seem to be the easiest way to asses the functionality, but the computer in question has been sitting in the closet for a while now, waiting for a new hdd. I do have a new ssd that i could use.

It’s just the trouble of replacing the drive and installing osx, that made me question the usability of the computer at hand…

And as for her job/studies, i’ve been toying with the idea of surface pro for her…

I’m sure she could make do with almost anything, but as i’m supposed to know better i don’t want to make uneducted decisions.

One of the Intel staff made a comment on the Intel forums that anything older that one of the HD3000 releases would no longer be getting any driver updates, most especially for WebGL functionality. (I posted the link somewhere I think in the category.)

… So it is almost obsolete as it is. (It’s GPU is a 3rd generation, and 6th generation models are on the store shelves.) You’d very likely be replacing it quite soon “down the road” anyway. Perhaps sell it on eBay, and use the little bit you get towards something newer. that your wife can “grow into”.

See this list:

Whatever you do, do not get the low end model with the Atom processor. See:

Consider only one with an iCore series processor, and the best you can afford w/ the most RAM.

What would the real world difference be with an SP3 i5 vs SP4 m3?

(1) Microsoft seems to be recommending the Intel Core i7 models for 3D modeling applications:

(2) Processors - both are 2 core / 4 thread GPUs

  • (SketchUp only uses 1 core, but rendering applications can use multiple cores.)

Passmark Software comparison and benchmarks indicate the 4th gen i5 performs better.

BUT, support for the old HD 4th gen graphics will obviously be withdrawn sooner that the newer 6th generation graphics. Or more precisely, SketchUp is likely to drop support sooner, for graphics having older maximum OpenGL version support.
Current versions require OpenGL 2.0 minimum. Expect that minimum to rise in future versions as SketchUp products have lately been targeting WebGL functionality.

Surface Pro 3

  • 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5-4300U
  • 1.90 GHz Base Clock Frequency
  • Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.90 GHz
  • Cache - 3 MB
  • Max RAM (supported by Processor) - 16 GB
  • Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 4400 (4th gen.)
    • Max Graphics Memory - 2 GB
    • OpenGL Support - 4.3
    • DirectX Support - 11.2/12

Surface Pro 4

  • 6th genration Intel® Core™ m3-6Y30 Processor
  • 900.00 MHz Base Clock Frequency
  • Turbo Boost Technology Frequency up to 2.20 GHz
  • Cache - 4 MB SmartCahche
  • Max RAM (supported by Processor) - 16 GB
  • Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 515 (6th gen.)
    • Max Graphics Memory - 16 GB
    • OpenGL Support - 4.4
    • DirectX Support - 12

So even though the newer 6th gen has half the base clock speed, it likely has more battery life.

I’m really not that keen on spending tons of money in this, because this is mainly for her studies. Studies are aimed at supporting and/or advancing her current job, and i’m certain that her company will supply her with the tools she needs for her job. So buying top of the line doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do. So if she can comfortably handle her studies with a second or third generation surface pro or an older MBP, that’s what she’ll get. From what i’ve gathered here, the touch support of sketchup is somewhat limited / non-existent? so an 15" or 17" laptop would probably be better. But as for the portability aspect, surface would be way more convenient.

I run SU on an even older iMac with a new SSD and it performs quite well…

the 2011 macBook Pro should be even better than it is…


I agree with John, if it’s only for school and a temporary platform, …

… the least expensive route would be 49 dollar 320GB HD and your time.