Help me spend my money.... MBP 13/15"/iMac for CAD

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by La Isla Bonita, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. La Isla Bonita macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    Hi, just about to take the plunge and go mac for the first time…. wondered if you can help with a little advice?

    I need to use CAD for garden design work, so my choice is between the MBP 13/15”or the iMac.

    The 13” would be v portable, but only has duo core. My first thought was that I could hook it up to a monitor when at home, which would be ok…. But I also need to be able to show clients (in their own homes) 3d walkthroughs of my designs, and I worry that the screen size might be too small.

    Is the quad core much better than the duo? If so, then the 13” is out…If I decide to get the 15”, I was wondering which of these is the best deal…

    · 2.0GHz quad-core
    Intel Core i7
    · 4GB 1333MHz
    · 500GB 5400-rpm1
    · Intel HD Graphics 3000
    · AMD Radeon HD 6490M with 256MB GDDR5


    2.66GHz Intel Core i7
    4MB shared L3 cache
    Intel HD Graphics5 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with automatic graphics switching
    15.4-inch LED-backlit antiglare Hi-Res widescreen display (1680 x 1050 pixel)
    500GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm

    This one is an older model… April 2010 so maybe it’s a duo core?
    Price wise there's nothing in it

    The other option is the iMac. Great to use at home…. But I would want the 21.5 “ (anything bigger would be TOO big), and that only seems to be duo core. Again… not sure how important quad core is…

    Thanks for any advice you can give.... and I'm open to any of these options...
  2. La Isla Bonita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    ps just read the post on this page re refurb and student discount. If I can't get the double deal by using my NUS card (I'm in uk) on a refurb, then the first of the 2 MBP's is about £150 cheaper than the second
  3. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I'm not sure how detailed your CAD work has to be, but I don't imagine you'll need a quad-core CPU. the bottleneck will almost certainly be the graphics.

    my advice is to grab a 13" first and load some of your old projects and see how it is. if it has issues, then you'll need a 15" either way. Apple has a 14-day, no restocking fee return window, so might as well use it.

    13" might not be a lot of screen space, but if you have to carry around a laptop everywhere, the smaller footprint and slightly smaller weight will be a big deal.
  4. steeex macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010

    you are joking right? the 13" is as near as it makes no difference useless to do any CAD work. Go for the 15" hi res, no doubt. My suggestion is to get the one with the better graphic card!
  5. La Isla Bonita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    ok, so graphics over processor... is that the bottom line?
    CAD work is garden/landscape design, with construction drawings.

    Which of the graphics cards is best?

    The imac option is;

    Processor 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 processor
    Cache 4MB fully shared L3 cache
    Memory 4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; supports up to 16GB
    Hard drive 1TB Serial ATA1; 7200 rpm
    Optical drive Slot-loading 8x SuperDrive with 4x double-layer burning (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Display 21.5-inch (viewable) LED-backlit glossy 16:9 widescreen TFT active-matrix display; 1920 by 1080 pixels;
    Graphics ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB of GDDR3 memory

    Could then get ipad and use this as laptop substitute for taking round to clients. See my other post Is this a crazy idea?
  6. La Isla Bonita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    ps i realise the screen size is smaller on an ipad than a 13" MBP, but somehow, it looks less mean on an ipad.... i guess it doesn't look like a small laptop, but more like a massive iphone!!!!!
  7. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2007
    The cesspit of civilization

    And this is coming from someone that has a 13 inches MBPro (and loves it).
  8. steeex macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    iMac + iPad could work, but as far as I can see you'll probably won't be able to modify your walkthrough on the fly...

    Anyway, I'd go for a refurb 27". The screen in so much nicer than the 21"...
  9. La Isla Bonita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    sorry -- don't know much about graphics cards.... which is the best?
  10. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    If you absolutely need portability, get the 15" with Hi-Res Screen Option

    Best Graphics would be the 2199 model, 2.2 Ghz Quad Core i7, 6750m,

    If that's too pricey get the 1799 model with Hi-Res display.

    The 13" will be to small of a resolution for your line of work.
  11. La Isla Bonita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    Do i take it you think the imac a better bet? I'd have to have some way of taking stuff to clients, and I get the feeling the ipad might be tricky...
  12. roofexpert macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    Could you help me too?

    I am finally switching over to Mac and need some help deciding what imac to get. I am looking at buying a refurbished imac 27-inch; 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 processor ($1,439.00), 2.66 GHz Quad-Core i5 ($1,529.00), and 2.8GHz Intel Quad-Core i5 processor ($1,699.00).

    The majority of the time I am writing reports in Microsoft Word, emailing, and surfing the web (research and some personal). I typically will have multiple programs and files up at time (current report that I am working, several past reports that I cut and paste from, photographs that I had taken during my inspections, the web, and email program)

    I also work in AutoCad (a few days a month) where I draw roof plans and details. My drawings are very simple (no 3-D or rendering). When I switch to Mac I will be also be switching to TurboCad.

    I also would like to redesign and continue to update my company website. I have worked with Microsoft Expressions but will be switching to Adobe Creative Suite cs5 (Dreamweaver, photoshop, and flash). I would also like to make small instructional videos for my website. I’m not a graphic designer buy any means.

    Lastly (and sorry if I am asking too much), my dell laptop is near its end (blue screen of death several times a week). I have been living with the blue screen since January. I back up every night and while I am working on a file I have it set to auto save to dropbox. I have a back-up Desktop I can use if my Dell completely crashed. Although my computer situation is extremely frustrating, I can live with this another month if I need to. Since I never have tracked the cost of Mac computers, I do not know how much the will typically drop in price when there is a refresh. If it is a few hundred dollars, I think I will wait. Would you recommend me waiting or is the price drop very little?
  13. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    La Isla Bonita, What software are you using to create your walkthroughs? I did a little testing in an Apple store and got "passable" performance on the new 13" MBP with Google Sketchup 8.

    Roofexpert, 2D drawings are no big deal for even integrated graphics. If price is a big deal for you, check out the refurbished section on the store.
  14. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030


    May 20, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    The graphics on the Mid 2010 model (highest of the 15" line for the previous) generation) that you have listed there are better than the graphics of the Early 2011 model (lowest of the 15" line for the current generation), though the CPU is better on the Early 2011 model by far. Really, if you can, I'd get the higher-end of the current 15" MacBook Pro as it is an upgrade in every way and it'll serve your needs for many years to come. I'd say don't bother with a current 13" MacBook Pro as you sacrifice a lot of graphics power for not a whole lot more portability.

    The graphics on the current 13" MacBook Pro aren't great, and if CAD is something that will be done, a discrete GPU is probably preferable and sadly, as awesome as NVIDIA's GeForce 320M was for an integrated GPU, the Intel HD 3000 is worse. So I wouldn't even consider the 13" Pro of current and go straight to the 15" models. Again, the issue isn't 13" or 15", it's 15" with 6490M or 15" with 6750M.

    The cost on current refurbs will drop by a little when the refresh happens. The refurbished Mid-2010 13" MacBook Pro dropped from $999 to $929 when the refresh happened, so I imagine you'd see a little drop, but it's nothing worth delaying your purchase for.
  15. La Isla Bonita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011
    I do use that, but also Vectorworks, which is much more demanding I assume, and will be doing the full 3D rendering.

    The one with the best graphics card has gone sadly.... the current highest spec MBP 15 " is v £££££.
    I really don't need the portability of the 13"

    The imac seems the sweet point in terms of price.... what is the graphics card like on that? How does it compare spec -wise with the MBP? But then I really do need something I can take round to clients houses....
  16. La Isla Bonita thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2011

    Is the mid 2010 model a better bet then than the lowest 15" 2011 (current) model then? Overall?
  17. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I think the '11 will be good enough GPU-wise, especially if you don't use an external display at the same time, but it will spank the '10 models in renders and everything else that requires CPU.

    Anandtech's review of the new MBP's shows the 6490M (256MB) scoring higher than the 330M in most tests - basically everything except WoW and the SC2 GPU bench (

    perhaps you should wait for refurbs?

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