Windows on a MacBook Pro used for ENGINEERING

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by pjordan4, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. pjordan4 macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2011
    So I will be headed off to college in about a month and I still need to purchase a laptop. I have been doing some research the past few weeks but still the question is mac or pc? My main concern is due to the programs I will be running in college (AutoCAD for example) that are fairly intensive programs. I would love to get a mac because I feel they can be more dependable over the long run (5 years...I would rather not buy another laptop midway through college).

    So mainly my question is asking, even though most of the students entering engineering us pc's, could I still be able to get a MBP and have a computer that works just as well as a PC?
    Right now, if I were to get a mac, I am looking at the 13" 2.3 GHz intel core i5 macbook pro. And I would like to install parallels 6 on it to run either windows xp pro or windows 7 (the two OS's my university can give me). I am not concerned about bootcamp because I dont want to hassel with rebooting the computer to switch. Also, another question, would I be better off to upgrade to the 8gb RAM if I am running parallels and using that to run my engineering programs? I am afread that if I only stick with the 4gb RAM the 3D programs will not run well.

    Other notes: I will be installing Microsoft office 07 home and student for windows.

    I do not care so much that macs are more expensive than PC's, I just need some suggestions on how powerful the mac needs to be if I decide to go that route or some good reasons to stick with strictly PC again. Thanks a ton!
  2. Big D 51 macrumors 6502a

    Big D 51

    Jan 15, 2011
    Mobile, AL
    My ultimate 13" runs autocad perfectly fine for school. I haven't open up any extremely Large set of drawings (30+) but others run just fine.
  3. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    First I would highly recommend getting a 15 inch notebook or larger. CAD needs a big display to see all the buttons. Second, would you even be using CAD? Not many engineers use CAD except for mechanical engineers, and even if so, it might be for a course or two, not throughout a degree.

    Definitely upgrade the RAM to 8 GB. It will costs only $100 or less. Just one issue with parallels is that a lot of windows keyboard shortcuts involving control or alt buttons don't work, which is very annoying compared to running through bootcamp.
  4. Big D 51 macrumors 6502a

    Big D 51

    Jan 15, 2011
    Mobile, AL
    Good post. You touched on one very annoying problem that i forgot to mention. That is in regards to loosing keyboard shut cuts. Mostly function keys. When Im doing heavy drafting, I hook up to an external monitor and logitech keyboard setup. Usually at school I was only marking up drawings during group decision so I was able to live without the shortcuts for that. I'm a civil so we use cad a lot actually.
  5. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Definitely spring for the 8 GB. It was the best $100 upgrade I could do for my 2009 MBP.

  6. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    Can anyone using Fusion comment if keyboard shortcuts work or not?


  7. ANDY918BIKE macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2011
    I run Autodesk 2012 suite easy on a mac pro

    I can run Autodesk 2012 suite, Inventor and 3ds faster on a mac pro than a pc using bootcamp. Also I was told that the Autodesk tech`s all run Mac`s

    I am waiting to do the same on a macbook pro
  8. 617arg macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2008
    I use Fusion to run Windows for (mostly) AutoCad. It took some fiddling with the settings but I got all shortcut keys to work. For the Function keys I just have to hold down ALT and whatever Function key I want. The Control keys also work for Copy, Save, etc.

    I did this over three years ago, so I don't quite remember the process but, it is doable with Fusion.

    For the OP - you'll have to get as much RAM as you can afford if you want to be able to work on large files or have multiple programs running simultaneously without lag. Also, keep in mind that (for Acad 2008 at least) you won't be able to switch between bootcamp and your virtual machine. The Acad license will break and you will have to reinstall each time.
  9. DaveSM macrumors member

    Aug 11, 2007
    Running software as AutoCAD under parallel desktop or vmware fusion wouldn't be a problem. AutoCAD is not CPU/GPU intensive (around 1995 that was a totally different story though ;) ).

    But, running 3D cad (Solidworks, CATIA, NX, Pro-Engineer, etc...), calculation intensive or FEA (finite element analysis) softwares is really CPU/GPU intensive and I would recommend at all cost to avoid doing it within a virtual machine. I tried it and I hated it. You won't get full performances and you will feel the slowdown.

    For many software you'll be able to find alternative. There is a native office version for mac. You can find Matlab for mac/linux. The list goes on.

    I'm an engineering student doing my master and I finished my bachelor degree using a mac so it's definately possible.

    EDIT : I would also suggest to go for the maximum economical amount of RAM you can get.
  10. Lyndo99 macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2011
    I am new to macs so sorry if this is a dumb question or i am misunderstanding your post but... Are you saying I will have to reinstall autocad every time i boot windows when i was previously booted using osx? I am planning on using bootcamp so i can run windows when i need to use things such as autocad, ansys, solid works and inventor. But if bootcamp causes issues running these programs when booting back and forth between windows 7 and osx i may have to rethink what i'm gonna do with these.

    ps. I don't mean to hijack the thread, a quick yes or no answer to whether i can run bootcamp along with autocad/autodesk without problems will be suffice.
  11. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    It means that you need 2 licenses if you want to run autocad through bootcamp AND virtualized through parallels. However, if you want to run autocat only in bootcamp, you would need only 1 license and you don't ever have to reinstall.

  12. Lyndo99 macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2011
    alright thanks for the clarification! Thats what i was hoping haha ... now back to the original topic...
  13. Herdfan macrumors 6502

    Apr 11, 2011
    Why would this be the case? When I set up my Mac's, I installed all Windows programs I want in bootcamp and activate them. Then install Fusion and have it "pull" in the Bootcamp installation. Once the software was activated in bootcamp, it did not require reactivation in Fusion.

    Why would Autocad be any different?

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