Advice on which MBP 15" for architecture student

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by joaomario, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. joaomario macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2009
    Hello, I'm starting my second year at architecture school this autumn. Aside from Adobe's creative suite I'll be using 3ds max, rhino, vectorworks and autocad a lot. (I know I'll need to be on bootcamp for some of those but I'd still like to use a mac.) I wanted to know if the kind of graphics intensive modelling I'll be doing will benefit all that much from having the 512mb Nvidia9600 discrete card or if the 256mb Nvidia9600 discrete card will suffice? Is it really worth the extra £200 plus the energy and heat troubles that come with getting the T series processor at 2.8ghz instead of the P series at 2.66?(i already know that the nvidia card in use on MBP's are not ideal for cad but there's not an update option.)

    I suppose I don't yet understand the function of a graphics card in 3d Cad. I mean I'm not playing a game that demands real time graphics, just rendering a single detailed frame in high res. Suppose I design a building in 3d studio max in a non demanding outline view(stick figures) and then click render. While the image is being rendered is the graphics card rendering the image or is it the processor that is doing it?

    Thanks for any input on this.
    Joao Mario
  2. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
  3. Hubbu macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2007
    I don't use AutoCAD, but I do use Maya. While I do plan to moving my entire workflow to the Windows side, :rolleyes: , I've been extensively using my 06' MBP for high-res 3D work. It has a 128Mb ATI RadeonX1600. The reason I'm switching back isn't because of Mac OS or anything but because of the video card options. I work in game development so I use DirectX & Windows a lot..

    Since you're starting your second year of school, I'd suggest you look into the higher end MBP. You'll want to advance your skills and I'm sure you don't want the computer from upsetting you. In Maya, and I'm assuming a lot of 3D programs, the CPU is used to render images. The GPU is used to refresh the viewports. Basically, each thing in your viewport requires some GPU processing because it handles the drawing (view, rotate, scale, etc). If you have a *lot* of things in that viewport and if your GPU isn't good enough you'll notice slow draw rates (aka lag).

    I hope that was informative. ;)
  4. scho047 macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2008
    I used to have MBP 15.4" the late 2007 model... and recently have replaced it with the lower end of the spec MBP 13.3"...
    I used it and do with my new 13.3" MBP for Adobe Creative Suite & Archicad and occasional Autocad using Boot Camp...and have no problem running it using the bulk standard.. but if you have some spare $$ lying around... I dont see reasons why you would not go for the expansive option.. but just letting you know that you sure can just have the lower end products and can satisfactorily work using those programmes...

    FYI... I am not someone who use those programmes once every blue moon... I used it everyday as I am an architect and is my 2cents for your question...

    Hope this helps...
  5. austinpike macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2008
    As mentioned, the CPU, not the graphics card, is going to be doing all the work when you click render. We've done some cursory testing in our office with a range of graphics cards, and frankly didn't find any significant difference in on-screen display speed with our typical drawings and models.

    Personally I would do anything you can to get into a hi-res 17" model, even if it means a refurb from a previous generation. (Unless you really just don't want to carry around something that big.) You'll gain more in productivity from the extra screen real estate - the current gen's increased video/processor specs are really pretty minor in comparison. Most people in our office use Autocad on 1680x1050 displays, which barely passes for functional imho. And the 15" MBP only does 1440x900.
  6. joaomario thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 7, 2009
    Thanks everyone for the replies, they've been helpful. The larger screen is sensible but I am already breaking the bank as it is with the 15 inch model. Will look into refurbished 17 inches. It might not be much cheaper if I get an older model as I can get a 15% eductional discount on the new ones.

    scho047, you're probably right about less graphics power being suitable on programmes likes photoshop, and archicad. I just wonder if complicated 3d models will lag too much in viewport views with the 256meg Nvidia9600 (2.66 ghz base model). at the end of the day I'm just trying to shave off £200 from the price and to get a cooler computer.
  7. scho047 macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2008
    well hope you found it helpful...
    all i can say is that.. yes i totally understand while at uni... using 3d max etc.. to make a "realistic" models etc is what people tend to focus on.. and hence need grunty laptops...
    but in reality from my own experience... you dont need all that.. :p its all about having the creative design and sketch skills to sell the idea :p
    (my 2 cents)

    good luck with the hunt for the laptop and also with studies...

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