Best rMBP for SolidWorks (CAD)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by zI INFINITY Iz, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. zI INFINITY Iz macrumors regular

    Sep 25, 2013
    Hello there,

    Like some may have seen in the past period, I have been investigating what rMBP would be best suited for my needs. The "heaviest" program I have to use is Solidworks (CAD), after which Adobe Photoshop, Indesign and others which are less demanding. So I'm mainly focused on making sure I find a Mac that can handle what I do in Solidworks, fairly light-medium projects for my third and fourth year of Industrial Product Design.

    In November I bought a 15" rMBP, 2.3GHz/16/512/750M, for around 2400 euro, with education discount. While it was extremely powerful and could do everything I need with ease, I decided to get a refund after 2 weeks. There are multiple reasons, with one of the main ones being 2400 euro is a LOT of money for a laptop and for what I actually need. Anyway, owning my first Mac was a wonderful experience... so I'm kind of NOT resisting to buy another one.

    Yesterday evening I got in a searching mood. I wanted to know what exactly makes a program like Solidworks run smooth and fast.

    - While I have the feeling I still don't fully understand what OpenGL and OpenCL mean, I do know that the Iris and Iris Pro integrated GPU's have great OpenCL performance. I couldn't find any.. solid info about Solidworks's preference, so to speak. Does it "use" OpenGL or CL? (don't even know if use is the right word) A while ago I got some links from people here that supposedly showed Solidworks performing much better on Iris iGPU's then any NVIDIA dGPU, even the GTX 780. Then yesterday, I found a comment on some website stating the opposite.

    - What I DID find though, is that Solidworks (and apparently almost all CAD programs) still don't use multiple cores.

    I don't make simulations at all and probably won't need to make any in the future. I do make renders occasionally, to present my concepts in a professional way. But in the end that's not where the focus lies of my study: it's about the concepts themselves, not how beautiful the renders of the concept are. So my main concern is the performance of Solidworks while I'm actually modelling. From the second link above:

    Now after reading this, I'm suddenly thinking the following: A 13" rMBP with a 2.8GHz i7 dual core CPU... would maybe be better then let's say a quad core 2.0GHz CPU? I know that they can both Turbo Boost to about the same 3.2/3.3GHz, and the Quad Core CPU could handle the Turbo Boost for a longer time with it's higher TDP. What do you guys think?

    I'm basically thinking about getting a very beefy 13" rMBP, or maybe the base 15". Since I got a 24" monitor a few weeks ago, I see myself working on it anyway while at home. So portability for the laptop itself would be great when on the move, going to school, etc. And like I seem to understand: a 2.8GHz dual core might actually perform better then the base 2.0GHz quad core.

    I could write more, but I'm going to stop now. I guess (and hope) this info will be useful for other people using stuff like Solidworks and other CAD programs.

    Anyway, what do you guys think?
  2. Yeti89 macrumors member

    Dec 27, 2011

    Hello, I too am studying product design. I have the first generation of retina macbook pro 15". I have the 2.3 ghz processor and I have the 4000 HD graphics and the 650m.

    I run solid works in parallels and if I make sure the 650m is the active card when I start parallels then solid works runs perfectly. When I use the less power hungry 4000 HD graphics solid works struggles. Where I see the struggle is when it traces the difference parts or features when I scroll or click on them. When I have a more complex part it can take 10-15 seconds to trace the part. It is almost impossible to use.

    Like I said though the 650m handles it perfectly well.

    Solidworks has special drivers for certain cards that they approve/test. In order to take full advantage of the graphics cards capability you have to make sure open gl is enabled. To do this open solidworks, do not open any files. Just the blank screen. Go to tools options. Go to performance, at the bottom there is a checkbox for use software gl (or software open gl), can you check and uncheck this checkbox? If so uncheck it.

    This checkbox can only be checked or unchecked when there are no solidworks files open in the program.

    That will tell solidworks to use your graphics cards open gl.

    Also go to your start menu, click on the solidworks folder, select tools, select solidworksRx. Go to the second tab, diagnostics I think. Up top it will say, this graphics card is (either supported, or unsupported) if its supported, click on he link to download the latest driver that solidworks has tested fof that graphics card.

    If you use solid works in parallels you may need to do the simple fix from the link below to make sure you can uncheck the software open gl so solid works will use your graphics card open gl.

    If you chose to run solid works in bootcamp it should work automatically.

    I can't say for sure on the new Iris Pro graphics but it is open GL capable and should work well with solid works. But for sure the 750m will perform equal or better than my 650m when it comes to solid works.

    I do not recommend the 13" models for solid works. Its not really an issue of how many cores in this case but the graphics capabilities. The 13" does not have graphics that are as capable. I am unsure if the Iris graphics in the 13" are open gl capable. If may work but I can't say for sure. I can fully recommend the 15" model specifically with the 750m because I know that will work. I love my macbook. It has worked great for me.

    To be honest I don't know a whole lot about open gl and cl "standards" but I do know solid works uses open gl.

    Hope this helps and isn't to confusing. If you are anyone else needs further details let me know.
  3. zI INFINITY Iz, Jan 5, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014

    zI INFINITY Iz thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 25, 2013
    Thanks for your reaction.

    I'm pretty sure both Iris (13") and Iris Pro (15") are OpenGL capable. The difference is mostly the eDRAM cache (128 MB) in the Iris Pro. Besides that, as far as I have read the Iris Pro in the 15" has a larger TDP to work with, that's why real world performance is considerably better then the 13" with only Iris.

    I would like the 750M, but I'm not going to spend that amount of money again on the high end model (that's why I returned it). In the Netherlands you can't easily find cheaper, older refurb models with the 650M either.

    I'm waiting for the end of January, I might be able to get a good deal on a new Mac. It's either going to be a high end 13" rMBP (2.6/8GB/512), or the base 15" (2.0/8GB/256). At the prices I'm expecting, I will probably go with a base 15". Should be fine performance wise, just have to be smart with the small storage space.
  4. RITZFit macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2007
    In my Corner
    I ran SW 2011 on an older i7 Dell Inspiron w/ an Intel 4000HD during my final semester in school. It handled my senior project fairly well (some modeling but primarily CFD analysis). With all the claims I've heard of Iris being significantly better than HD, I'd imagine it should hold up pretty nicely.

    However, if you want all the headroom you can afford, I would do as Yeti89 suggests and go for the 15".
  5. shly0718 macrumors member


    Sep 28, 2012

    But since OP might use parallels to run SW, I guess OP may upgrade RAM to 16g, HD is workable on a non retina, but abt iris for retina, the performance can't be sure yet
  6. Silon macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2013
    I'm a product design student aswell

    Currently using an 15" 2009 MBP
    C2D 2,66 ghz nvidia 9600gtm

    Runs SW perfectly fine.

    I'm however upgrading to the latest 15" base model. The only thing to decide for me is 15 vs 13 inch. I think 15" is the way to go if you dont use an external screen. Specs are irrelevant, as even my 2009 mbp can run SW, really dont get the deal about requiring anything more than the base model.
  7. zI INFINITY Iz thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 25, 2013
    I'm running SW2013-2014 (student edition) on my 13" Dell ultrabook, also with an HD4000 iGPU. It's hit or miss, sometimes it can handle what I do very good, sometimes it's slow.

    That's the question. When I had a high-end 15" rMBP in November, I tried both Parallels and Bootcamp for Windows 8.1, but I only tried SW in Parallels. It seemed to perform amazingly... but then again, I had both 16GB's of RAM and a 750M. I would be very happy if 8GB's and Iris Pro would be able to do the same!

    Nice to hear. I have to admit that SolidWorks requirements confuse me. I see extremely different opinions all over the internet, from anything will run it to you need powerful hardware. Anyway, for modelling the requirements aren't all that high. The CPU's in the rMBP's are great.

    I do use an external 24" monitor now, so I'm considering the 13" as well.

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