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Can Macbook air 13'' i5 handle..

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Shahidkapoor, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. macrumors member

    Can Macbook air 13'' i5 handle 3D rendering? `I'm an University student studying Interior design and will be using apps like Live Interior HD, Maya, and windows via bootcamp.
  2. macrumors 601


    It can if you need it to, but it's far from the ideal computer for that work.
  3. macrumors member

    Thanks alust.

    How about the high end air with i7.

    I know Macbook pro 15'' is the perfect one for such needs but it's endangered ..and soon will be extinct ...if you know what I mean ..in the Q1 2012, new pros would be coming with new designs (ultra thin) and also, other windows laptops from 2012 onward would be ultra thin..so current 15'' pro would feel kinda out of place.. So.. and I can't wait till the next refresh, I really need one now..
  4. macrumors 603


    The Airs in general are an absolutely terrible choice for what you are doing, and I'm going to provide a reasonable explanation :).

    3d rendering requires a certain amount of ram to render. Unless you want to dice it up into sections, you can hit a wall on ram with 4GB. Note that it requires real ram, meaning memory paging to an SSD will not solve your problems. The cpu takes much longer than some of the others. I mean exponentially longer. The i5 vs. i7 thing is handled terribly by Intel because their features aren't consistent across all lines. In the desktop cpus, only i7s have hyperthreading enabled. With cpus designed for laptops (this includes the mac mini) hyperthreading is also enabled on the i5 variants. Really there isn't such a big difference between the two there.

    Next up is the gpu. I don't know what software you're working with, but the integrated graphics options have a lot of issues. They're both slower and buggier with 3d. It's just not fun to use if you're going to be working on models with any real amount of detailing. Last having a really high quality display will help you spot details more efficiently.

    The Air already has weak graphics, and hooking it up to an external display would just make them lag even more. The display the Air uses is really sub par for this kind of work. It's not Apple's fault. They designed the Air to be slim and light. It comes with compromises that don't significantly affect the majority of its users, but its target market is not people who work in 3d modeling or rendering.

    You need to understand in an Air you're paying for a compact machine with an expensive SSD (it has to use high density memory due to size constraints). It's just not designed for raw computing power, but we've gotten to a point where many users can accept compromises in those areas without feeling throttled in their workflow.
  5. macrumors newbie

    i'm not really agreeing with your explanation while completely in accord with the verdict :D !
    In my past experience (pre mac that is) the crucial hardware for rendering (just rendering, i.e. vray, maxwell render ..) is cpu.
    Gpu comes in only if your level is high enough both software and hardware wise.
    Ram come to play when modeling in 3d but not rendering, in my opinion.

    And no airs or better any low voltage cpu (even the i7 )can't be considered good for rendering, maybe they can be used for low fi rendering or casual rendering.
    Aris can also reach very easily reach the 100 celsius degree mark. So it can overheats with flash ony let alone with rendering.
  6. macrumors 603


    I was making some assumptions there due to a lack of full information. I don't know if the OP is rendering for print resolutions or not, but that can consume quite a lot of ram. I also don't know if he still works on the computer while the render is being processed. I was assuming he's doing some modeling, and that can be somewhat intense on the gpu. Maxwell only uses the gpu for previews if I recall correctly, and Vray RT has some limitations, so yeah the actual rendering portion is basically cpu bound, but if he's doing any modeling, panning over a large number of polygons won't be fun with integrated graphics, and they can have more bugs.

    I didn't know the temperatures went up that high. I'd definitely want it to be at a somewhat conservative temperature for a long render. It would suck to have the thing shut down due to overheating on a long render.

    Anyway Maxwell would be absolutely painful on a macbook air, but do many people really use that one? The look is really nice but it seems like it would compromise your workflow just by how long it takes, especially if you need different iterations.
  7. macrumors member

    Thank you for participating.:)
    Yes, I'll be modeling as well.
    I'll be graduating in September 2012 and after that I'll be working. So I guess long term Macbook Pro 15'' Late 2011 Base model will be the best option.

    But will the modelling and rendering be smooth if I don't install a SSD? Very tight budget so..


    Many thanks thekev:)
    That was very informative. Really helped!
    I think I'll be going with Macbook pro 15''


    Grazie tanto GiulioUngaretti.
  8. thekev, Dec 3, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011

    macrumors 603



    An SSD is virtually meaningless there (enough ram > cpu > SSD in terms of performance gains). If you're picking up a lot of performance from an SSD during cpu intensive processes, it means you're light on ram. Basically disk paging is faster with an SSD, but ram is often a cheaper option. Just going to 8GB which you could do yourself for around $50 would benefit you greatly, even if it's not all in constant use. No one likes it when their computer becomes unresponsive due to page outs, and that will help.

    If you can afford it, a quad core model isn't a bad idea, but Apple charges quite a lot for them. The macbook pros should probably be all quad cores, but they might run a little hot for the 13" or something. I'm slightly surprised you're using a mac for this stuff. Most of the modeling/rendering stuff tends to be written primarily for Windows, and to a lesser degree Linux. OSX ports have been a more recent thing, like AutoCad returned to the mac a while ago.
  9. macrumors member


    Alright, will do the ram upgrade if it's around £50. Yes, 15'' is really expensive. But can 13'' MBP handle the modeling and rendering without dedicated gpu? If it can then I can save around £500! I don't mind the smaller screen/ resolution. Just want it to run those software's smoothly.

    And why I'm choosing mac for modelling/ rendering ..erm because I love the look of MacBook Pro / Air / any Apple product. LOL. and also 80% of our class uses a Mac. And if I really need Windows for a particular software then Bootcamp!

    By any chance do you know wedr GTA IV can run on MBP 13'' or not?

    Thank Q.:)
  10. macrumors 603


    They're all laptop gpus regardless, so none of them are truly perfect once you're working on really large models. You may see some lag. For ram I know some people were using kingston hyperX in the minis with integrated graphics simply because the main ram is shared with the gpu in those models, and vram would normally be faster. I don't know if this will work in the macbook pro. You were going by pounds, so you're not in the US. I'm not so familiar with retailers outside of the US. You could try crucial as they're fairly popular here, and they retail their ram directly. It shouldn't cost you more than £50 or so for 8GB in a 2 x 4GB configuration, and the longer you intend to keep this machine, the more you would want it.

    GiulioUngaretti was correct. The gpu has very little to do with rendering. Some software uses it for faster previews, and they all describe how they use it on their respective sites.

    I'm really not sure how one macbook pro works out versus another in terms of relative performance for this stuff. I was suggesting against the Air simply because it's really not optimized for heavy computing.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    The short answer is you don't want an Intel HD3000 for 3d rendering, period. Frankly, you don't really want a GeForce or Radeon card, either--but since Apple refuses to put Quadro/FireGL chips in their Macbook "Pro" machines...it's the best you'll get.

    If you can live with a PC running Win7 or *NIX, you'll be much happier with a pro-grade machine like an HP Elitebook/Dell Precision/Lenovo ThinkPad W-series. Gaming graphics cards are something less than ideal for pro 3D work.

    (This isn't a Mac vs PC thing...really. Apple simply doesn't put the right hardware for the job in any of their laptops).
  12. macrumors 6502a


    It's a LAPTOP not a Professional Super Computer!

    The 2011 15" MacBook Pro is amazing for the size and weight that it is.
  13. macrumors 6502a


    I think you're misunderstanding me. You could just as easily put one of the FirePro (formerly FireGL) or Quadro cards in a 15" MBP as you do a Radeon XXXX. Many of the pro cards are no bigger/hotter than their mainstream equivalents, but rather, they're the same chips optimized for different purposes. Example: the FireGL V5200 in my old ThinkPad was the same basic chip as the Mobility Radeon X1600 in the original Macbook Pro.

    It's a matter of priorities, not special "super computers".
  14. macrumors member

    Thank you all for the help and suggestions.:)

    Modelling software's like Cinema 4D , Sketchup etc need a good OpenGL score. i.e the cinebench score i guess..

    MacBook Pro 13'' i5 - openGL - 9.47fps and CPU -2.40pts
    Macbook Air 13'' i5 - openGL - 10.03fps and CPU -2.14pts

    Here are the links.
    Macbook pro- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T15EIQrCdhw
    Macbook air- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbyc4bNoepQ

    What do you think? Air is better than Pro by few fps. But pro's CPU is better than air by 0.3pts. Does it make a lot of difference?

    Please suggest. I'm confused :confused:
  15. macrumors 68040

    Respectfully, I disagree. If you have a high poly model that you are constructing, a more powerful GPU is going to allow you to navigate the model more smoothly. You could say that's only "previewing" the model and not actually "rendering" it, and that would be okay. But as a percentage, how much time is spend building/previewing the model vs how much time actually rendering it out? I know for the models I do (which aren't very complex), I spend about 40 hours building the model and about 1-2 hours rendering it out. That means that only 5% of my time is actually spent rendering, vs 95% previewing.

    Also, unless you're on a really tight deadline, you could always set up renders to be done overnight. (Or grab a cheap QC windows box with a lot of RAM as your rendering machine).

    FWIW: My work machine is a C2D, 4GB RAM & Quadro FX 4600 768MB.
  16. macrumors member

    That's what I want - smooth navigation. If I'm designing a room, I want it to rotate/ navigate smoothly without any buffering or sticking or hanging.

    I've heard that by increasing the ram to 8GB, the integrated graphics increases to 512MB, so do you think will it(13''MBP) be enough to navigate smoothly or should I go for 15'' base model ?
  17. macrumors 68040

    The 15" is going to handle navigation (and rendering) better than the 13" simply because it has a dedicated GPU.

    As far as graphics go, the 13" Pro is on par with the 13" Air, even with 8GB RAM in the Pro. Yes, 512MB VRAM is more than 384MB, but the GPU is so slow that you'll max out the GPU's processor before you fill up the VRAM.
  18. macrumors 68020


    15" MacBook Pro, both the 13" Pro & Air will be compromises, albeit slightly differing. The 15" offers the power & work space you will need. The Air is an ultraportable, enough said. The 13" Pro is the entry level machine lacking, resolution multi tasking ability and discrete GPU of larger more powerful machines.
  19. macrumors member

    I'm studying Industrial Design in school, and the 13" MBA with i5 is handling all 3D Modeling/Rendering needs very well for me.

    I'm not exactly sure what kind of softwares Interior Designers use for their modeling/rendering, but my MBA can handle softwares like Rhino, SolidWorks, and Keyshot without any issues.

    the 15" Pro will no doubt be faster, but the 13" Air is also capable of doing these things based on my experience.
  20. macrumors member

    Thank you very much for your input! I wanted an answer from someone who owns MBA and does 3D Modelling. so Thanks:)

    are you able to navigate through the model smoothly or is there some lag while dragging or rotating in solidworks? I use Sketchup as well. Do you think it'll run fine on it?
    and is it your only computer or you have an iMac etc apart from it?
  21. theSeb, Dec 7, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011

    macrumors 604

    Look, as much as my love my Apple computers, in this case, since you've a limited budget, an Apple computer is not the right tool for the job.

    You have pretty demanding requirements and I cannot see an MBA being able to satisfy them. The top end 15" MBP would be far more appropriate but you can get a Lenovo W series with a graphics card (quaddro) especially designed for the tasks that you're planning to do and with the same CPU for much less than a 15" MBP.

    You seem bent on getting an Apple computer regardless, but I would caution you.

    Edit: lApple has a 14 day return policy. Get the MBA and use it. That's the best advice any one here can give you since you'll then be able to assess whether it meets your needs or not.
  22. macrumors 603


    Bleh if he was going to spend that much I'd say a desktop type workstation is a better solution assuming he has a place for it. Also Quadro > FireGL

    You can run light models on anything. It's like I said, once you get into really high polygon counts, it can get brutal. Most of those programs run down to 2GB of ram, but many people who use them install upwards of 16GB. If you're working with something like nurbs in Rhino or Maya, they aren't too brutal on a system, but workstation graphics do tend to help with anti aliasing there. Some of the viewport settings have gpu requirements that you may or may not meet. I forgot to mention this before. Autodesk has a lot of info on their site on hardware certification for both OSX and Windows.

    Macs have always been popular in areas like photography and publishing. In the past five years or so they've become insanely popular. If you're going into mobile workstation territory, it's better to go with a desktop. Those things use heavy power bricks, and their battery life is terrible. They're really designed to run plugged in the majority of the time. I agree they're more powerful, but at that point a real workstation becomes worth it if you have room for one. Mobile workstations are really designed for engineers who do field work.
  23. macrumors 604

    Not much to add to the above post since theKev covered everything nicely, but he does bring up an important point. Questions like "will it run fine" or "will xxx handle xxx application" are not easy to answer. You need to be more specific in your requirements. "Fine", "Fast", "handle" etc are not quantifiable or verifiable terms. Everyone has a different understanding of what "fine" and "fast" means based on their use and requirements.
  24. macrumors 6502a


    I have Nov 2010 Air with separate graphics card and it handles it just fine. This is one of the drawbacks of the Intel chip with integrated graphics. Wish Apple would dump Intel for the Air and go with AMD so we could get better graphics.
  25. macrumors member

    The MBA is my only machine and I use it for all of my design work. I do plan on getting a larger external monitor down the road though. I can work on the 13" screen, but a bigger screen is ideal.

    But like others have mentioned, how 'smooth' or 'well' the softwares run are subjective. I can tell you that in Solidworks, the frame rate drops as the model gets more complex(probably 5-10 FPS in intense situations), but it's not to the point where it interferes with my productivity. Never used Sketchup, but if you have a model built, I can install it and see how it runs.. maybe even record a video for you to see. it looks like a very light modeling program, so I bet it would run smooth.

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