Running CAD software on Macbook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Adam W, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. Adam W macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2010
    Evening all,

    I am looking to upgrade my current Macbook to a new generation Macbook Pro.

    I am currently using a PC for CAD design and my Mac for graphic design and everyday use. I am going to run boot camp on the new mac to enable the use of both Windows (for CAD) and Mac OS for everything else.

    My question is whether the single graphics card on the 13" will be sufficient to run large, complex CAD files.

    The reason I would prefer a 13" Macbook Pro is that I use a large external screen when in the office, therefore do not require the large laptop screen. For travel, the 13" is preferable for obvious reasons.

    However, when I was speaking to a staff member in the Apple store he suggested the single graphics card on the 13" would not be enough to run complex CAD.

    Is this the case? It does seem reasonably believable, but seeing as im not too technically minded with these things (just know how to operate the software) I am not sure if he is just saying this to make Apple more money.

    So, I guess the question is - Would a 13" Macbook Pro running Intel HD Graphics 3000 be sufficient to operate CAD software.

    What would be the benefit of the 15" running Intel HD Graphics 3000 & AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5

    All help would be much appreciated.
  2. stridemat Moderator


    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2008
  3. tjb1 macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2010
    Pennsylvania, USA
    I would say no.

    AutoCAD being the way it is supports about 2 graphics card, none of which I have ever had. Solidworks runs fine on the 15", AutoCAD works fine on 15" in bootcamp or on Mac, and Mastercam works fine also on 15". Sometimes I get random glitches with the graphics.
  4. Adam W thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2010
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    I am more than likely going to be running Solidworks and Unigraphics. Potential in the future to move to ProEngineer or Auto Cad.

    All will be run in boot camp from Windows.

    So far then the consensus is that I will require 2 graphics cards to run?
  5. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    It's not about having two GPUs – he worded that somewhat poorly. What he meant is that AutoCAD does not support very many graphics cards.

    I would personally go with a 15" or better MBP, especially if you're looking to use ProEngineer (why'd they have to change the name?) in the future.
  6. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I'd be hesitant to do something complex on it. I know someone who tried using the old (Intel) integrated chip, which didn't work at all, and while the new ones are more powerful, no one's actually quantified it.
  7. Adam W thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2010
    Mackilroy - I understood what he meant about Auto Cad not supporting many graphics cards.

    Toxic - Are you saying its not worth doing complex CAD on a 15" even with the 2 graphics cards. Or do you mean the updated 13"?

    The PC I have previously been running CAD on is not particularly top of the range, so would be surprised if a 15" MBP wouldn't run complex CAD?
  8. stockscalper macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2003
    Area 51
    I'm probably in the minority on this, but I would buy the last generation MBP to run CAD software. Why? Because for one thing the graphics card it comes with is much, much better for CAD than what's in the new ones. But, also the quad four is going to heat up like a burger at a 4th of July BBQ. As some folks are beginning to find out who are early adopters the quads tend to run hot. Apple may have made a mistake putting them in a closed in space like a laptop - at least until they reduce the size and power consumption, which may be with the next generation. Anyway, the CAD is going to pull on the chip quite a bit and heat that sucker up. A good i5 or i7 last generation dual core has more than enough power to handle CAD without turning your laptop into a fry grill. Heck, my MBA with the old Core Duo handles CAD just fine. You don't need a mainframe to run CAD, just a decent chip and a good graphics card.
  9. TomCondon macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2010
    Stockscalper is mixing up his MBPs (the 13" only has a dual core i5, so will not be running "super hot" as you say quads will), and the 15 inch DOES have a better card than the last years model, its the 13 inch that doesnt...
  10. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    Fair enough. Your post didn't indicate that.

    However, both the HD3000 and the 6750M (or 6490M if you have that) will not work together at the same time. The system switches between them as it needs to (or you can force it to stay on one or the other with a third-party program).
  11. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I mean the 13". the 15" has a dedicated GPU.
  12. pompidom macrumors newbie

    Mar 2, 2011
    You mentioned complex (3D?) models. I don't think you want to work on those models without at least some dedicated GPU power. Solidworks, Autocad etc. all recommend workstation class GPU's with optimized drivers, there's a reason for ofcourse.
    If you work with these programs on a daily basis, you don't want to comprimise on the GPU. I think you need at least the high-end MBP 15 (radeon 6750).
  13. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    the 13" I7 sure has the grunt to run CAD but the screen is very small. A 13" I7 MBP + external display would be a killer combination though.
  14. Adam W thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2010

    Thanks for the replies. I've checked the thread linked above regarding running auto CAD in 13" mbp and most seem to think will be fine.

    So conflicting opinions really. I guess it would be safer to go with 15", I just don't require that size screen.

    For information I will ve using an external monitor for all office work. Only out of the office would I use solely the laptop.
  15. intellca macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2010
    I own the 2011 13" MBP. AutoCAD will run, but hardware acceleration is NOT supported for the Intel HD 3000 chip now... (AutoCAD 2012)... I have contacted Autodesk and their stand is that they may never support it.

    Simple 2D tasks are still doable, but complex 2D or 3D is a sure NO.

    Without hardware acceleration, even 2D work will run a bit rigid.
    I would not recommend the 13" for AutoCAD 2011 or later. The 15" with ATI 6750M works well, not as good as workstation class cards, but ok.
  16. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    Yes, it will run both of those without issue. My University runs Pro/E on machines older than me(figuratively speaking) without much fuss. The 13'' will be fine, thing is, the bigger the screen the better when it comes to CAD.

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