MB or MBP for CAD?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by techound1, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. techound1 macrumors 68000

    techound1

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    Mar 3, 2006
    #1
    I'm looking for some advice on using a Mac for CAD. Is anyone out there using a CAD system with a MacBook, or is it going to be something I absolutely need an MBP for?

    On screen size alone, I'm thinking MBP, but then a MB with a separate display for home use would also work. I've heard the 4gb MB is fine for heavy photoshop and I assume that a CAD system will be the same draw on the RAM/video??

    Any advice or experience or tips would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #2
    I assume you're talking about 3D CAD? Like either Solidworks or Inventor?

    GET THE MBP!!!

    Go to their site, and take a look around. Software like this is very GPU intensive, and integrated graphics just doesn't cut it. I can first hand claim that Autodesk Inventor 2009 (Student Version) runs very, very well on my MBP, with only the 128MB GBP.

    Just think about it. Photoshop deals with 2D pictures, and modifying pixels, and is therefore very CPU intensive. 3D CAD, on the other hand, is 3D, obviously, and is more similar to a game, as it creates pixels from a 3D arrangement of polygons. It therefore uses predominantly the GPU, however for collision detection, and stuff like that, you're going to want some serious CPU power too.

    So, how professional are you looking, anyway? For Uni, or for work? If for work, maybe you should be thinking Mac Pro with the Quadro card? If just for Uni, MBP will be fine.
     
  3. ironic23 macrumors 6502

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    Feb 8, 2006
    #3
    It depends on which CAD system you are using too. Most CAD apps only run in Windows or Unix environments, so you might only be able to run it with Bootcamp. But having said that, if you are doing very intensive modeling, get the MBP since it has a dedicated graphics card and get as much RAM as you can (it helps when you are working on huge assemblies). I would go for a Mac Pro if you don't need the mobility (I use a Sun Ultra 40 at work and a Mac Pro at home). Cheers and good luck with the purchase.
     
  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #4
    If you do a lot of detail work and ever anticipate using a 30" Apple Cinema Display, you'll need a MBP or higher.... the MBP comes with dedicated 256MB (on the 2.4GHz) or 512MB (on the 2.5 or 2.6GHz) of graphics RAM... the MB only uses 144MB of RAM, shared with main memory. That means the MBP graphics are up to 6x faster.
     
  5. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #5
    (Has brain explosion)

    This is just wrong, I'm sorry.

    The actual performance of a graphics card is far, far more complicated than the amount of VRAM it has on board. GPUs are like little computers. Analogy: adding 4 GB of RAM to a 500MHz G4 is not going to make much difference. Integrated graphics is slow because the memory transfer speed is slow, and the processing speed of the GPU core is slow. The limit to 144 MB RAM is almost irrelevant. The dedicated 8600 is better because its core is bigger, and faster, as is its connection with its own, faster RAM.

    It's like saying an 8 core Mac Pro is faster than a Core Solo Mac Mini because the Mac Pro has 4 GB RAM and the Mini only has 1 GB.
     
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #6
    If you'll note in the attached benchmark test:
    http://www.barefeats.com/macair.html
    between the MBP and the MBA (which shares the same integrated GMA X3100 as the MB), the MBP is up to 6x faster. If you follow links to other tests, you'll see the MBP blows away the MB when it comes to graphics. This is due, in part, to more graphics RAM (as I said), but also due to the fact that the MBP has a "dedicated" graphics card (as I said), while the MB is "shared" (as I said).

    So tell me what was inaccurate. The point is, the MBP is a better choice for advanced graphics capability.
     
  7. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #7
    This quote reads to me to say the 8600M GT in the modern MBPs is 6 times faster than the MB's Integrated graphics because it has 512MB RAM, as opposed to only 144. Which suggests that the 8600M GT in my MBP, with only 128 MB VRAM, is slower than Integrated Graphics.

    What I quoted above says that VRAM is what determines speed. And to dispute your "dedicated" and "shared" comparison: The RAM in a MBP is clocked at 667 MHz. The VRAM in the 8600M GT is clocked at 700 MHz, then minus however much Apple has underclocked it. So, this is a clear indication that neither amount, nor speed of the RAM has an appreciable effect on why the 8600M GT is ~6x faster than Intel's integrated. The vast majority of the speed increase is because of the far superior core and shaders.

    The only reason why dedicated memory would be better than system RAM in this case is because of latency, but again, I'm sure this is insignificant.

    THIS is why your statement was inaccurate.
     
  8. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #8
    It's not just dedicated RAM, it's a dedicated graphics card.
     
  9. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #9
    You made it sound like MBP's video card is faster than MB's just because it uses more memory. :rolleyes: in reality its the last thing that influences the speed of a graphics card.

    I'm sick of all these silly statements like "more VRAM = faster card". It becomes almost as ridiculous as "more megapixels in point-and-shoot camera = higher quality picture".......................
     
  10. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #10
    I was referring to two issues: dedicated vs integrated and more RAM vs less RAM. Both are contributors to performance. Again, the point being made to the OP is that the MBP will outperform the MB in graphics performance. If you read my post any other way, you misinterpreted it.
     
  11. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #11
    I'm not the only one who understood your post in the wrong way. So express yourself more clearly next time :)
     
  12. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #12
    But what does dedicated mean? It means it has its own RAM on the board, and as I stated before, this doesn't mean anything. The RAM speeds are pretty much identical. Therefore the MBP is better at graphics because its GPU core is vastly superior, and has almost nothing to do with memory.
     
  13. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

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    May 27, 2006
    #13
    The MacBook still has a great graphics chip on board. Sure, you can pay a huge amount extra and get something much faster but for many people the MacBook will be just fine.
     
  14. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #14
    Yes, its fine for a lot of people, but calling it "great" in the modern age is just wrong.
     
  15. Tastannin macrumors 6502

    Tastannin

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    #15
    If you're gonna "dabble" with CAD, get the MB. If you're gonna be serious about CAD and do some heavy work, the MBP is definitely what you need.

    Don't forget that if you are doing serious CAD work, you might want a fast and big 3.5 SATA drive for your files, connected via either FW800 or eSATA. Only the MBP will allow you to do this (FW800 out of the box, eSATA with an expresscard).
     
  16. techound1 thread starter macrumors 68000

    techound1

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    Mar 3, 2006
    #16
    Wow, thought I would have to break up some fisticuffs there! ;) I appreciate everyone's passion on the topic of graphics performance.

    Most of the work will be producing drawings for cabinet making and other high-school-level shop projects. The class participants will use the drawings to create their projects. We're not talking pro-level engineering and presentation, but being able to rotate an object in 3D will do a lot to interest the class and get them to connect with their work.

    I'm looking at using Imsi's Turbocad for Mac, so it would be running natively. They list the recommended specs as:
    * G5
    * Mac OS X 10.4.5+ or later PPC/Intel
    * 512 MB RAM
    * 250 MB Free Hard Drive Space
    * 1 GB Allocated Virtual Memory
    * Internet connection and service to access some online content

    Any other thoughts?
     
  17. SchneiderMan macrumors G3

    SchneiderMan

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    Apple state
  18. techound1 thread starter macrumors 68000

    techound1

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    Mar 3, 2006
    #18
    No darlin', turbocad. It's $129.
     
  19. surferfromuk macrumors 65816

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    Feb 1, 2007
    #19
    Looking at that big picture on the website I'd say Macbook Pro. Any image moved around on the screen uses the graphics card - zooming, rotating, panning will be significantly smoother and faster with the Nvidia card.
     

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