3D Modelers, Macbook Pro or Air, ok?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Pigumon, Aug 18, 2013.

  1. Pigumon macrumors 6502


    Aug 4, 2004
    Basically I'm going to be teaching again which means lots of spare time between classes. I had my iPad last time, but that was mostly non productive, read comics on it mostly.

    I've been wanting to get a lot of my drawings into 3D, but I don't really have much time after work. So I'm thinking of getting a Pro or Air to do the modeling part, that I could texture and render later at home.

    Can either handle at least a basic level of 3D modeling?
  2. Apple Forex macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2013
    Definitely the Pro on this one.

    Retina Display
    Better Specs
    Just as portable

    I, myself, do plenty of photoshop, video editing, photography, and programming as a hobby and I can assure you that the better screen resolution and specs will fulfill your overall needs.

    Not to rag on the Macbook air, it certainly is a capable machine. However, I feel it is gear more toward the basic computing needs such as email, watching videos/movies, and writing reports and documents, etc.

    Hobbyist and professionals (such as yourself), would find the retina macbook a bit more comfortable on the eyes and give the user quite the pleasing experience. After all, hobbies are suppose to be fun and work related tasks should be comfortable. :)
  3. BigJohno macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2007
    San Francisco
    I do a lot of Solidworks modeling for school and work. Definitely recommend a pro. I have 6 core mac pro at home and a 2010 Macbook pro on the road. The Macbook pro is struggling at the moment and I am just counting the days until the Haswell MBP comes out.

    Is this a hobby or do you get payed for it? What programs do you use?
  4. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Just a side note - the current MBA is over twice as fast in graphics department compared to the 2010 MBP. Although I agree that the 15" rMBP is a better choice just because of the screen estate. In the end, it all depends on the scene complexity. For relatively simple stuff, the MBA will be more then enough, and for really complex stuff, the MBP won't be enough ;)
  5. Pigumon thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 4, 2004
    Thanks all!

    The main reason I was even considering an Air was the price. I'm not going to use the laptop as my main computer, so I didn't want to invest too much in one.

    But having seen the retina up close, I'm really amazed by it. If it can handle modeling, then I'm set. I might do some real work on it too. I should add that I would most likely wait for a Haswell MBP, since it's "expected" soon.

    3D modeling is something I enjoy and want to try to some photorealistic abstracts just for fun. As long as it can handle the modeling side, I'll be happy.

    JFYI- professionally, I'm design (illustrator, modo), illustration (painter, illustrator, modo), photography (lightroom, photoshop).

    Thanks again.
  6. ViennaXP macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2012
    Buy the retina Macbook pro. I also bought mine for 3D Modeling, Composing and Effects. And it works perfect!
    I wouldn't buy a Air for it. But be careful not all 3D Programs are retina ready. I am using Maya 2013 and it is a bit blurred but this isn't a big problem you get used to it.
  7. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Go with a pro if its in your budget but if all you're doing is modeling an air will work just fine.

    I use the air in my signature to model, texture and even sculpt at work. I run Modo, Maya, ZBrush and Photoshop on it just fine.

    That being said its not great for rendering even though it can do it.

    EDIT: My Macbook Air is the 2010 model that was the first unibody design.
  8. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    I get paid to create some 3D designs, I cannot imagine using my MBA for a job my MBP retina is so ideally suited for.
  9. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    I use Maya on my 13" Pro. HATE IT. Definitely go for a 15".

    Someone else here had the same issue as me. You have to hide the dock, and then deal with missing the workspace that the menubar takes. :eek:
  10. luisito macrumors regular


    Nov 15, 2012
    I use SolidWorks and I have a MBA mid2013. Flawless, no lag.
  11. BigJohno macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2007
    San Francisco
    It depends on what you are modeling. Solidworks is very processor dependent. The processor on the 15 smokes the air. The cooling is better for extended rendering sessions. The 15 is IMO is a better option if you don't have a desktop.
  12. Zeov, Aug 21, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013

    Zeov macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2011
    I'm currently a student at Digital Media, i work with 3D on my MacBook Pro Retina "15 every day. This weekend i used it to render a 11 hour render.. but sadly it crashed due to overheating.. but running max CPU for 11 hours isn't really an easy task for any laptop out there.

    I'm currently using it practically 24/7 these days.. i'm working on an exam project creating a whole house in 3D.. at the days i model and at the nights i render.. so far almost no problems.. but i found out that putting a massive render on it while clubbing a whole weekend might be too much hehe.

    All in all? a great laptop, i've made most of my portfolio on it!: http://12amike.dim.sde.dk/

    I work in Maya btw
  13. phaedarus macrumors regular

    Dec 27, 2008
    My honest opinion is that you will find the experience when modeling on a laptop to be substantially "reduced" if not downright frustrating.

    3D software is inherently complex with a multitude of UI subsections and hundreds of buttons. You'll be constantly hiding and revealing different areas of the interface while confined to a small screen; compounding your efficiency.

    A proper setup for modeling requires dual monitors to keep your palettes on one side of the screen while maximizing your viewport on the other.

    Of course, if 3D work is your primary application than I wouldn't suggest a Mac at all. 3D is not about elegance, it's about raw power and the PC offers this in spades at a substantially lower price (to say nothing of how varied the options are on Windows compared to OSX). If you plan to have various peripherals hooked up such as a tablet and and a mouse, you may as well be on a desktop.

    You can certainly mockup a 3D model on a laptop but believe me, you will not enjoy it. A workstation with large monitors will always be preferable for the bulk of the modeling/sculpting process under any circumstance.

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