i5 or i7 for architecture student?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by imoss92, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. imoss92 macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2009
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I'm looking into getting a new MBP in a few months before I leave for college. I'm majoring in architecture so I will likely be using Revit and AutoCAD quite a bit. Therefore, I was wondering if I should get the 15" MBP with the i5 or the i7? I think the i5 processor would be fine for running those applications but it only comes with a 256MB graphics card. Will a 256MB graphics card with the i5 run these programs fine or would I be better off with the i7 and 512MB graphics card?

    Also, I currently have a 13" MBP (2.53 GHz C2D, 4GB ram, 250gig HD) that I got in December so I would sell that and use that money for the new MBP. Any ideas on how much I could get for it? Its still in really great shape.

  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    VRAM is pretty useless as 330M isn't that powerful thus there isn't really even difference between them. I'd get 2.4GHz and save the money towards RAM, SSD, AppleCare, ext monitor etc
  3. JasO macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    as both of those programs are only available on windows, you'll have to use bootcamp.

    The i5 should do the job fine, however if you want it to run the programs with ease and handle large files you might be better off getting the i7 with 512mb vga.

    eBay is your friend on this one. Check completed listings.
  4. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    I can run AutoCAD on my 2.4 C2D MacBook, with half the RAM and the 9400m, so I think your current computer could handle it, but if you really want to upgrade, the base model will do you fine.
  5. charliex5 macrumors regular

    Jun 27, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I'm a third year architecture student and I've been using a 2.4 ghz core2duo MBP for a couple years. It originally had 2 gb of RAM and when I upgraded to 4 it made a HUGE difference in usability, so I'd say get as much RAM as possible. The processor is the most important during rendering. On my MBP it will take an hour to render something (sometimes much longer depending how detailed my render is) where it will take my friends i7 tower about 20 minutes. The i7 vs. the i5 is a huge difference in rendering times from what I've seen around the studio. I would really recommend getting the i7. At this point I design on my MBP but use my friend's i7 tower to render and I'm saving money for a rendering machine. It would have been nice to have it all in one package though.
  6. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
    Hold on there cowboy above me.. :)

    The i7 desktop chips are vastly more powerful than the i7 mobile chips. I mean, even the i7 quad mobile chips are ~30% slower I think. The i7 in the MacBook Pro is a slightly faster i5 540m with a little more cache, but it's still a dual core and the difference is maybe ~5-10% from a 540m.

    IIRC the most fair comparisons put the quad i7 mobile chips at the same speed as a basic i5 desktop chip and the mobile i5/i7 dual chips slower (though, depends) .. the quads have slower clockspeeds but onboard memory controllers and 2 extra cores.

    As for the 330m whining, it's natural.. but I'd like to see a radeon 5870 not set a macbook pro on fire lol.
  7. charliex5 macrumors regular

    Jun 27, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    haha. While its true that the difference that I've seen has been primarily on i7 desktops, even a mobile i7 1.6ghz performs significantly better than my core2duo. I'm not sure what exact processors they were but in the architecture studio we have timed the rendering of the exact same file from Rhino with a core2duo mobile, core2quad desktop, i5 desktop, i7 mobile, and i7 desktop and speed increased exponentially as you go down the list.

    Again, I'm not sure about the specifics of each of these machines but in a practical test using programs an architect will use everyday it makes a huge difference. The speed of a render can mean the difference between finishing a project or completely failing.

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