Solidworks users - Macbook Pro?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by KevRC4130, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. KevRC4130 macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2004
    Hey guys,
    I'm an Industrial Design major and need to get a new laptop for school. The school recommends that I get a Dell M6400, which at $3000 and 9 lbs, it's not really what I want. From what I understand, the sole reason that this particular laptop was chosen by the school is that it has the Nvidia Quadro video card, which is one of the few that is 100% compatible with running Solidworks.

    Now, I've been a Mac user for many years (typing this from my much loved 12" Powerbook G4). I really want one of those shiny new Macbook Pro's.

    Has anyone successfully been running Solidworks on a Macbook Pro?

    Besides running Bootcamp and Vista, what is involved? Are there any drawbacks to using it on a Mac? Do you encounter any problems not using an "approved" graphics card?

    Also, I'm debating between the 13" and the 15" MBP. Because of size and price, I think I'd prefer the 13". BUT, the 13" has only the NVidia Geforce 9400M, while the 15" has the Nvidia GeForce 9400M + 9600M GT with 256MB. Will the more powerful graphics be something that I truly notice, that is truly worth getting? Will it help running Solidworks?

    Any other Quadro-equipped PC's I should be looking at, besides the Dell?

  2. Fry-man22 macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    I was hoping to tell you "Screw it - go with the Mac", but I don't think I can. I believe that Quadro card is going to be head and shoulders above any of the MBP options. The 9600M GT is a mid-range card and even in the 512MB config I think it's sharing some of the system RAM in the MBP (not sure there though).

    Beyond driver differences for the CAD (Quadro) cards some main hardware differences are: Core Clock (500 vs 530), Processing Cores (32 vs 48), and Memory bus (128 vs 256 - I think this is big for what you're doing). These are all compared to the included 2700, not even the $350 upgrade to the Quadro 3700...

    Check out these links
    9600M GT -

    FX 2700M -

    I know benchmarks are not everything, but when one piece of kit outperforms another by 50-100% on these benchmarks you can be pretty sure it's going to tend to be quite a bit better in real world...

    As much as I love my Mac, I wouldn't want to be the only Mac user with my machine chugging doing something it wasn't designed for and bringing down the perception of the entire brand :).

    Here's hoping for something with at least a 256bit memory bus - for sure using GDDR3 - and no stupid integrated GPU + Discreet GPU config in the next MPB
  3. bamf macrumors 6502

    Feb 14, 2008
    We run SolidWorks at my office, and it is a bit picky on the video cards. We are running Dell Precision WS 6300 laptops. Those have been pretty good for SolidWorks so far, so I'm guessing the 6400's bring more of the same.

    That being said, you can go out to the SolidWorks website and see what is an is not certified for the program. I haven't done that to see if the MBP's would work though.

    As for the 13" vs. 15" if you do decide to go the MBP route - the 13" is not a candidate for what you will be doing. You absolutely will want discrete graphics if you are going to be doing 3d drawings. I couldn't imagine doing that with onboard graphics...


    Link to the SolidWorks website for graphics card requirements.
  4. CarlosG macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2006
    I use Pro/E fairly often at home on my 17" MacBook Pro and it runs very nicely. The only time it shows any signs of struggling is when opening truly huge or complex files with millions of features -- I think this is probably a memory issue though. In these situations my work desktop slows down too.

    I have previously used SolidWorks in a previous job and I would say that Pro/E and SolidWorks have similar system requirements, neither has higher requirements than the other.

    Honestly, the models I created at Uni weren't anywhere near as complex as the stuff I'm now working on.

    Also, don't worry about the fact that most software vendors 'recommend' using Quadra cards, they also only officially support a handful of tested machines of very specific configurations that they have thoroughly tested and cost a fortune because of this certification.
  5. KevRC4130 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2004
    OK so I went to the Apple store and looked around and talked to some people...

    Firstly, I think the 13" MBP is out of the equation now. It seems like the 15" with the dedicated graphics is the one I'd get (so either NVIDIA GeForce 9400M + 9600M GT with 256MB, or NVIDIA GeForce 9400M + 9600M GT with 512MB ).

    Of these two, do you guys think I'd notice a real difference in performance? It sounds like there is a HUGE difference between these and the base model with the shared graphics ram, but is it as drastic between the 256 and the 512?

    Secondly, I'm still a bit unsure of Solidworks. It sounds like you guys are using Solidworks on your Macbooks, and the only real flaw is that it might be a tad slow. Is that truly all? Did you guys have to do any kind of modifications to get Solidworks to install/run? I ask because I came across this, , which is a guide for soft-modding the Macbook. Problem is, the guy at the Apple store (who knew his stuff) said this is very dicey, and will void the Macbook's warranty. Is this mod necessary?

    For what its worth, here are the specs of the recommended Dell:

    Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Quad 9X9300 - 2.53GHz, 12M L2 Cache, 1066MHz FSB
    Microsoft Windows Vista - Business Edition
    160 GB Hard Drive - 7200 RPM with Free Fall Sensor
    4 GB DDR4 SDRAM - 1066 MHz SDRAM, 4 DIMMS
    NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700M - 1GB Cache
    Dell Wireless™ 1397 802.11 a/g Mini Card
    8x DVD+/- RW

  6. Brett0712 macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2008
    So, the UMP line with the 9600M GT will run SolidWorks just fine. If you dont mind the fact that RealView will not be available then I'd say go for it. (RealView is only available when there is a supported video card present. I.E Quadro or FireGL)

    I've used SolidWorks for the past few years on many systems which did not have supported video cards and it ran fine. Most recently is my 15" Macbook Pro with the 256mb 9600M GT. The laptop runs SolidWorks PERFECTLY except for the fact that it does not have a supported video card, therefore lacks RealView (which is primarily for looks anyway).

    The link in your last post refers to the last gen models which had the 8600M GT. Those video cards were not locked out by Nvidia which allowed the user to softmod the card using RIVATUNER so that a Quadro driver could be installed thus fooling the computer that a workstation video card was installed. This allowed the user to run SolidWorks with a "Supported" video card to enable RealView. However, after testing it was noted that Nvidia locked out the 9600M GT and useres are not able to softmod the video cards. Again, RealView is more of an asthetic feature than anything. In no way does it affect the main parts of SolidWorks.

    Its just a matter of setting up BootCamp, installing your choice of Windows (I've used both Vista Ultimate and the Windows 7 RC. No problems on either.), and installing SolidWorks. Thats it, no tricks or secrets.

    Moral of the story... The 15" Macbook Pro with discrete graphics, either 256 or 512) will run solidworks just fine. Ive been using SolidWorks 2008 and 2009 on my MBP since Jan '09 and I have yet to have a single instance where the laptop can not handle it and I work with some VERY large assemblies.
  7. Fry-man22 macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    Lol - this is a contradictory statement: he knew his stuff and he said a Windows drive software mod will void the warranty.

    That is TOTALLY incorrect - the mod in the link you provided is just basically fooling Windows into thinking you have a Quadro Card so you can then use the Quadro driver which then in turn will tell Solidworks (or whatever app) that you have the features it needs to run.

    That has NOTHING to do with your physical video card or your warranty - if other users say the performance is acceptable with the 9600M GT then rock on - I wouldn't let the soft mod concern stop you from moving forward.

    In regards to the 256 vs 512 - I don't know if the 9600M is fast enough to even utilize 512MB of RAM so having the extra frame buffer for textures and such may or may not even help - of course I've never used the sort of app you're talking about so I could be completely wrong :).
  8. mpuck972 macrumors 6502


    Aug 31, 2007
    I'm wondering how your experiance went with installing SolidWorks on the Mac?

    I work for SolidWorks and like 30-40 other people in the building I own a MacBook Pro. Most of us have SolidWorks installed on it via VMWare Fusion. What basically happens is that because the GeForce is not a certified card by us, some graphical goodies get disabled during installation.

    We get the question about porting over SolidWorks to Mac O/S but for now it's purely a monetary issue, there simply just isnt the demand for it, or big enough market share to justify rebuilding the software architecture and then maintaining two seperate programs.
  9. jnev macrumors newbie

    Sep 6, 2007
    Will the 9400m even run solidworks? I know the 9600 is recomended, but the 13" is more in my price-range, and I'd prefer the portability either way. Or is the 9600 required for even basic stuff?

  10. mpuck972 macrumors 6502


    Aug 31, 2007
    Since SolidWorks is not officially supported to run on a Mac, there is no official recommendation. That being said, with any 3D Cad program, the more graphics memory available, the better so the 9600 is going to be more beneficial then just the 9400 alone.

    By the way I am running my install on Vista 64Bit on Bootcamp so I can get access to all the system memory possible.
  11. happypants macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2009
    Pro with 9600gt should be fine for most work. I would never get a 13" for solidworks.
  12. kockgunner macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2007
    Vancouver, Canada
    I've used Solidworks using my Early 08 Macbook Pro with an 8600M GT with 256MB of VRAM. It worked. It wasn't fast by any means as far as I recall though. If you're doing that stuff professionally, you might have to get the Dell :eek:
  13. imm22 macrumors regular

    Sep 28, 2008
    I'm a Solidworks Tutor and run it on my MBP Unibody (Late 2008) without any problem (my first MAC). The only downside is the realview option disabled :/ and... the limitation to a fix number of open parts (windows), them the performance will downgrade rapidly, you can close windows and regain performance (I think this is a DirectX card limitation). there is any (graphical) limitation regarding number of parts in assemblies
  14. beephree macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2010
    ID student, graphics card ignorant

    hey all-

    i'll be heading back to school this year for a graduate ID program after working as a ME/product designer for 8 years. I don't want to give up the occasional ability to do Solidworks/ProE on 3D bodies with complex surfaces, so i'm looking at the macbookpro 15" i5/Nvidia GT 330M 512MB combo...I figure that i'll have access to school labs with both windows and mac systems, but i have some ergo issues and would MUCH prefer to use my own optimized set-up for anything more than the occasional project.

    my question for people who said that the 9600 would work:

    1) Is 330M a comparable graphics card to the 9600 for my design needs?
    2) has anyone who has used the 9600 with solidworks used it for rendering or complex surface modeling and what were the results?
    3) am I going to notice a performance difference between 256MB and 512MB on this low end of a graphics card?

    i can't imagine that i will be working with assemblies over 50 parts while in school, but with a focus on industrial design I imagine that the parts will have complex surfaces with tapering and blends rather than orthogonal surfaces. i'm really concerned that this graphics card will not be sufficient for my design needs, as i have always used high-end graphics cards on my windows machine.

  15. bluetick macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2010
    Go with Dell, it's made for it. MBP and Solid Works are way too different universes.
  16. masse macrumors 6502a


    May 4, 2007
    Any kind of serious 3D work should be done on a desktop...
  17. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    if you decide to get the mbp, be sure to get in on the mac rhino beta.

    who knows, you might not even need solidworks at all..
  18. flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    that's not necessarily true.. if you're going to be doing serious renderings then yes, make sure to have a megacore desktop or at least a network to tie into..

    most laptops these days are fine with the actual modeling phase (though the small screens can be cumbersome at times).

    depending on what exactly you're modeling for, the best setup is having both a laptop and desktop (at least in my case- i'm a designer/builder and i could get away with just a laptop but i really like the bigger screens when i'm not in the field)
  19. beephree macrumors newbie

    May 2, 2010
    thanks guys.

    i should clarify, I will actually be doing quite a bit of video editing and using other non-CAD programs as well that take less time to run on a mac, so students have recommended making the switch to a mac over a pc. however, not all students have my engineering background though, so they may not share my hesitancy...

    I'm trying to get an idea of what to expect on the mac machine b/c I'd rather not give up the 3D capabilities given my background. Not having mac experience, it's a knowledge gap for me and folks can help me most by providing content/data to help me enlighten me. it's the engineers curse to need data driven analysis ;)

    also, i will have multiple monitors for dedicated design sessions at home, but being a student i need the portability to be able to do work on campus in between classes...i probably won't be doing heavy rendering with textures on this that for a renderfarm on campus....

    knowing that your system is only as good as it's weakest will this graphics card potentially affect me for 3D design?
    (thx too for the rhino link!)


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