Macbook or Macbook Pro for AutoCAD?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by macPuppy, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. macPuppy macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2007
    Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
    Hi everybody :)

    I'm in a huge dilemma here, please help!
    I study architectural engineering at The Technical University of Denmark. I use AutoCAD, Photoshop and InDesign every day (I also use 3DS max occasionally)
    I have an iMac at home (and I love it) but since I'm spending most of my time on campus I need a laptop for on-campus work.

    I have done a lot of research, and I have narrowed my options down to the following:

    Macbook 2.4 GHz (Late 2008)
    4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
    250GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    --US$ 2,210

    Macbook Pro 2.4 GHz (Late 2008)
    Base model
    --US$ 2,411

    Yes I know, Mac's are quiet expensive in Denmark!

    I can't purchase refurbished products in the Online Apple Store (in Denmark), so that is not an option :(

    My question is the following:
    Will the onboard graphic chip in the Macbook perform well enough for AutoCAD (including some 3D work), Photoshop etc. or do I have to "go pro"?
  2. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    I think for 3D work it's better to go Pro, besides about 200.00 more, might as well.
  3. svndmvn Guest

    Nov 6, 2007
    the graphics would suffice on the MB, what would make my decision would be the LCD though, 15" and better resolution/quality on the MBP is the way to go any day.
  4. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    For what you say you are doing, or will be doing, a decent screen is imperative. The screen on the MBP is far better than that of the MB, in addition you are getting better performance and more power. Go for the MBP.

    Cheers and good luck
  5. iJesus macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2007
    Reno, Nevada
    I have an early 2008 MacBook Pro 15" 2.4 gHz with the GeForce 8600M GT graphics card (256 MB) and 2GB of Ram and I use AutoCAD 2009 on my Windows XP partition and everything runs smoothly.

    I don't know how my MacBook Pro compares to the new MacBooks but they're probably identical now. However, for $200 difference... why risk it? Just get the MBP.
  6. icecold0913 macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2008
    I just got a new MBP to run AutoCAD for school also. I picked it over the MB because of its dedicated graphics capabilities. AutoCAD only runs on windows though, so you'll just need to install it under boot camp.
  7. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
  8. G.T. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Well most CAD/3D programs use the processor not GPU so the MacBook would be ok. However, I would recommend the MacBook Pro for screen real estate, also new software like the latest photoshop are now using the GPU for processing. As you have shown the MBP for you would only be another $200 and it will definitely be more future proof.
  9. kastenbrust macrumors 68030


    Dec 26, 2008
    North Korea
    What are you talking about?

    The autoCAD Website:

    "a Direct3D-capable workstation-class graphics card with 128 MB or greater is required"

    So you need the Pro.
  10. macPuppy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2007
    Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
    Thanks for all the replies, they are much appreciated!

    I have decided to get the Macbook Pro, I guess it makes the most sense :)
  11. chameleon81 macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2006
  12. G.T. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    That does not mean it renders with the GPU, it will be the processor. I used to think like that but have learnt otherwise. However, people are understanding the true power of the GPU and are using that to calculate tasks. Look at Snow Leopard for instance. Like I said the MBP is the better choice it future proofs, and i know that there are some programs that uses the GPU, although the majority of software still is solely reliant on CPU. Run activity monitor when using these programs to render etc and you will see.
  13. TwinCities Dan macrumors 603

    TwinCities Dan

    May 19, 2008
    Double Parked out front of the Courthouse
    Although that may be true, Apple doesn't make MBP's in matte anymore... ;) :p
  14. Horst Guest

    Jan 10, 2006
    It all depends; if you do high-res rendering a lot, or need high quality previews in your editor window, any laptop will be insufficient.

    Apart from rendering, 3D work doesn't require lots of computing power, if your iMac works for you, even a MacBook should be ok.

    The displays of Apple portables are pretty bad, some of the worst in the business, Pro or not, so don't buy based on that; Photoshop certainly requires an external display.
  15. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    You are right in that final renders are done with the processor, however real time rendering, i.e the viewport, is done with the graphics card. This means that working with the macbook on complicated models may feel slow and clunky compared to using a Macbook Pro.
  16. macPuppy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2007
    Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
    That is exactly what I feared!
    I know 3DS max don't use GPU for rendering (I think it's all about the CPU and Ram), but if I can't work with the model (previews and stuff) then it doesn't really matter how fast it renders :p
  17. G.T. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Yeah, sorry I was a bit unclear. I know that the things like your OpenGL preview use graphics. I have experience with this through the likes of Vue and terragen. He should definitely get the MBP.

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