Architecture Student New Computer Help

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ozmo711, May 24, 2009.

  1. ozmo711 macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2009

    I am an architecture student going into my third year and am required to purchase a new computer for next year. As a longtime Mac user, I am definitely going to get a Mac.

    Basically, I am not sure which computer would suit me best and need some help deciding. This computer needs to be one that can be used for the next 3 years (and handle subsequent updates to the programs I will be using), and hopefully a few more after that (although I will probably purchase a new work computer at that point).

    Here are the programs I will be using:

    (On Parallels or VMWare):

    Autodesk Revit *Take this mainly into account*
    Autodesk 3ds Max (not too much)


    Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign (CS3)
    Possibly some kind of Video Editing program (maybe Final Cut Express)

    Hardware needs:

    RAM: 6gb min
    HD: 1 TB

    What kind of setup would you guys suggest? I was looking into 3 (well 4) different options:

    iMac 24 inch
    Mac Pro 2.66 quad core
    Mac Pro 2.93 quad core
    Mac Pro 2.26 octo core

    I would more or less like the cheapest option that will run these programs well. Time is extremely important as an architecture student so I need a system that will be able to do 3d renders well as well as sometimes run multiple programs simultaneously (as I will be doing some multitasking). **Let me say, however, that I will not be using 3ds Max a whole lot, so take into account Autodesk Revit more than 3ds Max** I will be upgrading to Snow Leopard when it comes out, so please take that into account as well.

    Thanks for the help!
  2. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2006
    I was going to suggest the quad core mac pro. But when I read "Time is extremely important as an architecture student so I need a system that will be able to do 3d renders well as well as run multiple programs simultaneously" I changed my mind to 8 core mac pro.
  3. DoNoHarm macrumors 65816


    Oct 8, 2008
    i'd go with the imac unless you have seen benchmarks that make it out of the question. It would look nicer and help improve creativity.
  4. Apple //e macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2003

    all that software is either windows only or available on windows (except apple software) so i dont really know why you insist on a mac.

    anyways, it depends on what you are going to be designing. acad is surprisingly capable on slow/old hardware for basic 2d stuff. its when you go 3d and complex that your system reqs climb. ditto for 3ds max for light use but the curve ramps up quicker for complexity.

    virtualization will work for light use of those apps but running a native windows solution will let you leverage your hardware.

    bootcamp is one native windows solution but then i wonder why you would buy a mac in the first place to run windows full time

    i personally would not buy an imac for acad / 3ds max / revit for the next three years due to the video card which is not upgradable. mac pros are nice but might be out of your price range and have lame video cards

    ive been using acad and 3ds max extensively since 1995 so this is just my opinion based on my own usage
  5. Maccleduff macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2007
    Although Im a macbook pro user, i would agree with some of the points made in the post above. For pure power, PCs have the edge with the latest graphics cards which are upgradable.

    If you are intent on getting a mac be aware of the graphics limitations on the iMacs as the graphics are behind the times compared with the options available on PCs. If you plan on using autocad and 3d studio max a lot, then its going to be a hassle to load up bootcamp everytime.

    To sum up, be prepared to spend up to the mac pro for best performance, and weigh up whether its worth the extra money over a high end PC, or more importantly the convenience factor when using windows programs.
  6. iZac macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2003
    I was nearly in your exact situation, going into my 6th year architecture and weighing up an iMac vs a Mac Pro. I went for the Mac Pro, with the nifty student discount through university, it was only about £1500, a bargain considering 2 1/2 years later it's still a fantastic machine thats only half way through its life cycle.

    I dont know what kind of imagery you tend to produce, but the faster you can knock out a render, the more time you can spend in photoshop, or working up plans etc.

    I dont know why you would force revit upon yourself though! :p (im joking, i know we all have our own preferred packages.) May i humbly suggest Maxwell Render, if you want to do some nice renders natively in the Mac OS.

    My setup incase you were interested was AutoCAD / Microstation for 2D work, which for short bursts i did in Parallels and when i was doing a lot of plans a just restarted into Bootcamp. For my 3D work i used sketchup almost exclusively, which is a very basic program, but I always found very convenient. The Adobe suite, naturally and Maxwell Render for producing renders.

    Try vectorworks if you want a native Mac OS CAD package. I stopped loving it when i got indoctrinated into the world of AutoCAD in the office though.

    But the hardware question... as nice as the iMacs are to look at, they dont have the functionality of a Mac Pro. Really your question should be Mac Pro or Macbook Pro Since spending time in the studio with your tutors will always be more productive than sitting at home with your beast of a computer.
  7. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...these days its really cheaper to purchase a new machine vs upgrading old tech... I say this as my father has his own firm with several computers of varying ages in them and none of them are :apple: products.

    Most of what you want/need to do is for PC software as already mentioned and I know you can bootcamp into win(what ever) you want but for what you'd spend on a Mac Pro, pay off some of your student loans (a PC maybe a better option at this point:eek:)
  8. galstaph macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2002
    The Great White North Eh
    Being an architecture student myself (starting 2nd year of my masters in the fall) I will say this, I use a 17" macbook pro at school for light work such as prelim design and for the screen real estate, and for home and heavy tasks I have a '09 2.26 octad mac pro.
    For render work you definitely will see a huge improvement in rendering speed using a nehalem based xeon system as they are optimised for rendering type tasks, the more cores the better (hence buying the octo 2.26 over the 2.66/2.93 quad).
    Since you are using mostly windows only software, you will get more bang for your buck building your own hackintosh/windows dual boot system as you should be able to bump up the proc speed and ram a bit more than the mac pro can provide for the same money, sad but true, see the xeon dp/sp hardware guide thread.
    That being said you wouldn't regret buying a 2009 mac pro for the quality and support from :apple:, they are excellent machines:D
    I use CS3, maya 2008/9, rhino 4 beta, maxwell render, and form-z on osx natively
    maya 2008/9, rhino 4 w/ flamingo/vray, maxwell render, revit, and autocad on windows (bootcamp and parallels),
    some overlap, but I prefer working in osx as much as possible
    for rending reference, my 2.26 octo using benchwell (maxwell render based benchmark, maxwell render is one of the most intensive cpu rendering programs you can get) my 2.26 will outperform a 2008 3.2Ghz octo (my 2.26 placed 6th on the list faster then the 3.2 by almost a minute, too bad the submission isn't working, and I'm not the only one see this thread), I was blown away by this.
    If you go with an apple product, the mac pro octo is the way to go:) you will not be dissapointed
  9. charliex5 macrumors regular

    Jun 27, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I'm an architecture student and I use basically all the same programs. I got myself a Unibody MBP (I know...not on your list) which works great for everything. It's really nice to have a laptop for doing work because I'm able to work at home, the library, and the studio with no problems. I definitely suggest going the laptop route.
  10. adrik macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2009
    If i will suggest you that you should go with 8 quad mac pro because for architecture time is more worthy then any thing so system have the ability of doing multiple task in same time with having good speed.
  11. ozmo711 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2009
    Much of the time will actually be spent in sketchup (for conceptual design) and the adobe programs (for final touches/layouts). Also, I love Apple's hardware quality is incredible (Family has an old 2005 iMac that still runs like new). And then there is always the hope that they will finally port Autodesk products over to Mac (although I am not crossing my fingers). I am actually not 100% sure that these will be the specific programs I will use. I am also considering VectorWorks in place of AutoCAD. A good percentage of architecture students and professors (and an increasing number of firms) have gotten Macs recently and have said that it's worked out great.

    Yea, a few of the upper year students have been using this and I've heard great things...I'll have to check it out.

    Everyone at my school works in studio, so I will most likely opt for a desktop (mainly because of the power) and leave it in studio. I have a low-end 2007 Macbook that I use for basic, non-architecture school related stuff.

    I am leaning towards an octo core pro now (after everyone's suggestions). I am definitely willing to make the investment for something that will last me for a while.

    Thanks for the help so far.
  12. iZac macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2003
    As long as you can secure your machine at night, (and i know a lot of studios are quite safe environments to keep that kind of kit, plus a 22 kg computer isnt the easiest thing to steal!) that sounds like the perfect scenario. You'll have your laptop to take home and thrust in front of your tutors, and your powerhouse for renders and things.

    You can even run your macbook closed lid and plugged into your Mac Pros monitor, should you need to do some lighter work on the Macbook while you render with the Mac Pro. I know there is always a few weeks of "crunch" periods at the end of a project when you need all the help you can get :p
  13. Apple //e macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2003
    if you do a lot of rendering, the 8core mac pro is the best mac to get.

    if youre comfortable building your own hardware, you can build a really nice i7 or quad core winpc for real cheap, sell your old laptop, and buy a macbook pro with dual boot. spend the money you save (if any) on the biggest best monitor you can afford (very very important).

    anyways, when i was an arch student we had these state of the art 486 machines with turbo buttons running 3d studio in dos. each render would take about one day for a very basic illumination with scanline rendering. we would put these "do not touch" sheets between the screen and the filter and hope the render would finish in time for the critique. and then there was the printing........ and we had to walk to school every day. uphill, both ways. and we loved it.
  14. ozmo711 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2009
    Ok, so I will plan on getting the 2.26 octo core Mac Pro. How much RAM should I have (I heard that the Mac Pro runs best with RAM is groups of 6?). If I need more than 6gigs, should I get it from Apple or from someone else? What kind of graphics card should I get and how many will I need?
  15. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    6GB will be fine, at least to start with. You can up it to 12GB later.

    As for GPU, order it with the GT120 (stock) and buy a GTX 285 in June when they hit. The Quadro will make your wallet hurt a little bit too much.
  16. BMJT macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    You should really be doing conceptual designing by hand and/or with real models. It's a shame how quickly arch students rush to the computer to do their designing. Being proficient in Rhino/Maya an architect does not make, just ask Peter Zumthor.
  17. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    Check the forums - there are some who have had trouble using AutoCAD in Boot Camp. Something to do with the licensing.

    If you're required to buy a computer for your program, why don't you just check with the department (or whoever is requiring it of you) to see what kind of computer they recommend?

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