Macbook for Architecture

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Labhras, Nov 30, 2015.

  1. Labhras macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2014
    Hi all - I'm asking this for a friend studying architecture and needing a new laptop.
    She'd like a laptop able to live up to 4-5 years without many problems, both for personal and university use.
    The general requirements seems to be 8gb of RAM, i5 or i7 processor, and a 128/256 SSD.
    There's talk about a dedicated graphics card rather than an integrated one.

    Given that from what I've read the main difference between dedicated/integrated is the speed and eventual battery consumption, I'm asking which Macbook model would be the best, considering price as well.
    I'd also like better understand the difference between dedicated and integrated graphics card in this case.
    (Considering the lifetime needed I'd go for a Mac, as PCs in my experience tend to die after 2 or 3 years of heavy use).

    Thank you all for your help.
  2. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    If a dedicated GPU is a requirement, the 2015 15" rMBP 2.5GHz CPU/16GB RAM/ 512GB SSD and AMD M370x is the way to go. It starts at $2499 USD.

    The dedicated GPU will be faster when in use, but will also put more of a drain on the battery. The integrated GPU does a pretty good job for most users, so it really depends on what the software requires.

    Is the software that she needs available for OSX? BootCamp will be an option, but at that point why not just buy a good PC?
  3. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    Engineering pro here, I do work with some architects. Take some advice - recommend to your friend that she navigate to the web portals that create the software that will be in use - I take that advice myself, spending plenty of time on Autodesk's web site just yesterday checking system requirements.

    Much of the SW is Windows-only, but some apps have workarounds for Boot Camp/Parallels Desktop/VMWare Fusion - some apps run in Parallels, but not in Fusion. Also - and, importantly - pay attention to "certification", in that some SW is certified for Win 8/8.1 and Yosemite (10.10) but not for Win 10/El Capitan (10.11) and certain video cards. I use older rMBPs because they have Nvidia cards, and some of my paid-for SW won't run on AMD-based systems - on Macs, Apple writes the video Extensions, not the developers.

    Also, who will she be interchanging data with, and which kind of files - also a significant workflow issue. Many Mac apps are gimped in engineering/architecture - except for Vectorworks and other Nemetchek products, our industries are but a second thought. I use Win 7/8.1/10 in virtual machines on my loaded rMBP - 1TB SSD/16GB RAM/2.6GHz i7, and I was always juggling files on my older 512GB rMBP, now a backup Mac.

    Two resources to exploit: the web portal, Architosh, and Autodesk. Architosh has been around since forever and the owners are very helpful and can respond directly. Autodesk has 3-year free software subscriptions for students/teachers - for EVERYTHING they publish - even AutoCAD and Revit!!! - and they have staff that assists students. Nemetchek also is very responsive to students and I think every Windows app they put out has a Mac equal, and they've always been that way.

    I see Nemetchek products in more architect's offices than Autodesk products. Also, there's nothing stopping her from calling or visiting an architect or two and find out what hardware is used in their offices. Finally, I have a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium on my desk - I can't live without one.
  4. Labhras thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2014
    Thank you for your answers.

    @T5BRICK - it's not mandatory, but simply suggested. I wanted to know its advantages and if it was a determining factor in choosing between dedicated and integrated.
    As far as I know all if not most of all the apps she'll have to use are available for Mac, and for the missing ones there's Bootcamp or Parallels.
    She doesn't want to change the laptop in a couple of years, but possibly have it last around 5, with a proper battery life - that's why she was oriented towards a Mac. It helps that she has a iPhone as well.

    @campyguy - than you so much for the advice - I'll certainly rely everything. Besides the possible software issue - although she's told me she has spoken with a senior and apparently all the apps needed are available for Mac - from a performance/battery life/general point of view, how do you find a Macbook Pro (I guess the Air is not powerful enough for this kind of work) compared to a Windows machine?
    Considering she'd need a good battery life and a light laptop we'd approach the ultrabook field, with prices no that different from a Macbook.
    What do you say about the graphics card? There's not a specific requirement, but it's suggested a dedicated one. Would a integrated card work as well, and if so, with what kind of impact on the performance/speed/battery life of the machine?

    The main point for her is a long lasting laptop - possibly around 5y - and to avoid losing performance or battery life towards the latter years.

    Again, thank you all for your help :)
  5. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Mar 21, 2014
    Portland / Seattle
    I was a senior once, a long time ago. I double-majored and double-minored, all in engineering - I learned a lot, but it was the internship at Boeing Portland that taught me how an engineering office worked, and what hardware/software was being used. I went on to work for the local transit agency, a few consultants, and then started my own company - before starting my own company, I never saw a Mac in any of those offices - but I used AutoCAD, Excel, Word, some GIS apps, with all but the latter being relatively cross-platform now. I mentioned a contact with a "real" architect was for both the advice and to check out the workflow - if nobody in the real world is using the software she's learned on and the OS they're using, she's lost some valuable experience - an OS and its apps are tools and learning how to use the incorrect tool can keep a person from getting a foot in the door. Seniors pretty much know nothing about the real world. I was 10 years older than most of my counterparts when I went back to college, and my university was smart enough to teach us how to use the Mac OS, Windows, DOS, Kermit, and two flavors of UNIX. Getting in someone's office will give a person a leg up on which tools are being used - here, it's Windows and AutoCAD and Word. I do that, plus work in Illustrator and scheduling in Merlin/MS Project. I'm also getting my feet wet with Autodesk's Fusion 360, which is why I was poking around that web site yesterday...

    I use Parallels Desktop because its fast, updated, and some of our products demand either Windows 7/8.1 in native format (on a PC) or they'll stipulate Boot Camp/Parallels Desktop. Some of our Autodesk apps will spell that out, literally, and not mention Win 10 and VMWare Fusion (and also Yosemite and exclude El Capitan). I've moved two of my Macs onto El Capitan - the other two dozen are still on Yosemite; I clone my Windows VMs - and use Win 10 only to get a feel for it as all of my other PCs are on Win 7 or 8.1.

    About graphic cards, only our Mini Servers have integrated graphics - they're for serving and storing files, that's it. Our iMacs, new Mac Pros, PCs, and iMacs all have nVidia cards - some of our software won't run on AMD cards. But, I'll defer to the developers of the software that your friend will be using. Hit up the web sites of the products she'll be using - I never take the word of anyone; that senior may have used Yosemite, but that new shiny Mac will be loaded with El Capitan - which may not even run the software she's required to use (see one of my reasons for offering the advice I did?). Autodesk hasn't certified Win 10 or OS X 10.11 - there's at least 8 of my other vendors that have held off too.

    If she opts for a Win PC, check out the upcoming HP competitors to the Surface Pro. Nice PCs - I've seen some demos. And, buy one at Costco - they add at least one year to HP's PC warranty.

    One more tip for your friend. Get well-versed in MASTERSPEC - she'll owe me a bottle of Irish Whiskey for that advice. Sláinte!
  6. austinpike macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2008
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Well the performance will be the same in 5 years but software etc will have changed to take advantage of newer hardware and that will make anything feel a bit slower and outdated in 5 years time this can't be avoided with any computer, a desktop will stay relevant for longer due to better performing parts accomodated by better cooling and far more available power than a mopbile system.

    Batteries are consumable parts they last between 3 and 5 years and will decline slowly with time, this is the nature of a battery and nothing you can buy will be any different. I will say however that all of my apple devices manage their batteries really well and their batteries lasted longer than any other devices I have used by a long way, they really do use the best batteries they can get.

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