Suitable Mac for 3D Animation?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jmeas, Jul 10, 2015.

  1. jmeas macrumors regular


    Jun 30, 2015
    San Jose
    I've been getting into 3D animation for game development, and I want to get more serious about it. To help out with that, I'm thinking about getting a more powerful Mac.

    I currently have two computers:

    2013 Macbook Air (maxed out specs)
    2015 Macbook (maxed out specs)

    though I'm thinking of selling the Air, as the new Macbook is powerful enough for my day job (web development).


    I'm currently doing some basic 3D things on the Macbook, but it's clear that this won't scale to more complex things.

    Does anyone here do extensive 3D animation? What Mac you use?

    I'm considering one of:

    - Macbook Pro (15" with Intel Iris Pro Graphics + AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2GB GDDR5 memory)
    - iMac (27" with AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB GDDR5)
    - Mac Pro (some low- to mid-range model, perhaps?)

    I would expect the Mac Pro to be the most powerful of the bunch, but also the most expensive, of course. Does anyone here do 3D animating on the Macbook Pro or iMac? What limitations do you run up against? Do you have any advice for me as a first-time buyer of one of the more powerful Macs?

    I'm curious to know more details about:

    - How much RAM you might recommend for this
    - The differences between the graphics card options in these computers
    - What you think the limits of each option might be

    The games I plan to make wouldn't be console-quality, or anything. They would probably be games that could be run on iOS or ones that would run well regular computers (as in, not gaming machines).

    As for budget I'd say that ~$4k is the maximum that I could afford. But spending less is, of course, preferable.
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    15" MBP. 16GB RAM, 512GB or 1TB SSD (Flash chips work in parallel so more storage=quicker r/w speeds). The mobile i7 in them is great.

    I'd hold off until Sep/Oct until they refresh the rMBP with the new Intel CPUs.
  3. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    I think it would come down to how much power vs portability that you would need. The MacBook Pro is a bit more versatile in the sense that you can take that and do your more intensive work elsewhere. The GPU in the MacBook Pro and iMac are somehwat similar (NotebookCheck is a good resource for comparing components by the way) so I would say that a 15'' MacBook Pro an an external monitor would offer you quite a bit more than the iMac would. The Mac Pro seems to be overkill for the development of mobile platform games on Android or iOS. I think 8 GB RAM should suffice but you may want to "futureproof" it with 16 GB, if you want to do more later on.

    TL;DR - I suggest the high-end 15'' MacBook Pro and an external monitor.
  4. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I did some playing around with Blender on my 4,1 Mac Pro 2.93 4core a couple of years ago. A 30-second 1080p clip took about 8 hours to render. I tried to see if I could get my 2 graphics cards to help, but they were not new enough. About a year ago I used my 2014 15-MBP with 2.6/16G to render the same thing but at 720p. Took about 2 hours. Before spending any money I would make sure the compute environment (cards, OS, tools) worked together to support the 3D rendering acceleration you wanted. Also, check with

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3 July 10, 2015