I too spent about three hours playing with it and looking at what it would take to create a furniture model. Right off the bat, I couldn’t find a way to edit and save a style or create and save a template (though you can save a blank .skp file that you can open each time).I too loaded a fairly complex model and SketchUp Free worked well as a viewer.
Were there were performance problems, and I don’t think SketchUp will ever be able to overcome them, is when you needed some dialog boxes to change or view things. For example, when I wanted to look at the materials available it took a full minute (no exaggeration) for the dialog box to appear and populate. Granted, I have DSL, but a large population of the country does too. That was true of any of the dialog boxes when opened the first time. I will never work in an environment this slow.
The whole menu and toolbar interface is compact - but too compact. If you are not a keyboard user it takes much too much time to get to the tools.
I couldn’t find a Bezier curve tool. I know that is an extension. But it was written by the SketchUp team. Why didn’t they include it in the core code? 3D printing, which they did provide for, is useless if you can’t create a useful model, and without some Bezier capability, you can’t do that. Same is true without a basic Intersect Faces tool.
After three hours I gave up and decided SketchUp Free is not a useable 3D model creation tool. It is a good viewer and some people may find that to be enough.
There is a long list of problems in SketchUp Pro that has never been addressed by Trimble. Problems that will limit the number of professionals who take SketchUp seriously. It would be nice to see them fix those problems before setting off to create a whole new tool.
Here is an example. The pictures (models) below were created with exactly the same code with one exception. In the first image, the Pro Intersect tool was used in Ruby code to create the stiles, rails, and panels without scaling the individual components up before using the Intersect method. In the second image, the component to be intersected were scaled up a factor of 10. In the first image faces are missing (the dark areas) and the intersect was incomplete in some cases. This is an age-old problem with SketchUp, but in the age of 64-bit processors should never be an issue.
If only we could get some attention on problems like this SketchUp would be a world class tool.