View Full Version : Upgrade Assistance

04-12-2012, 08:26 PM
Im running a Macbook Pro. 2.8 Ghz i7 with 8gb of Ram and NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M. I draft and make 3d architectural models. When working on complicated 3d models in sketchup, the computer gets really slow and is interfering with my work flow..not to mention attemting rendering in maxwell that can really take awhile

If I wanted to upgrade what should I be looking at? I was checking out older 8 core MacPro units, but the good ones seem pretty pricey.Im not against making a small investment, but ideally it would be better than I have now, but also upgradable when I can afford it. Seems like the newer MBP units are far and above what I have now and ive only owned this for a year and half or so

Any help is appreciated


04-12-2012, 11:48 PM
Howdy -

Not so easy when you are near the top of the heap already. If you are going to stick with a portable, best advice is to wait. New 15" MBP are expected in about 1-2 months.

Rumor mill says (http://9to5mac.com/2012/04/12/intel-vp-ivy-bridge-processor-is-built-for-retina-display-computer-displays/#/vanilla/discussion/embed) a new chipset that will be about 15-20% faster at the same clock speed, and the ability to address more RAM.

Would be interesting to know if you are simply pegging the CPUs, or if the limitation has to do with RAM, HD read/write......or all 3. Rendering usually = CPU, at least with video editing.

If you plan to go desktop......MacPro is long overdue for a refresh. Some rumors that Apple will kill it, though I certainly hope not. Folks like you need a serious rig.

And, the iMac should have a refresh by mid summer too. The high end models are great workstations for most folks.

04-13-2012, 06:33 AM
Thanks for your help. I was a PC user for a very long time. My MBP is my first MAC. On the PC end, it was pretty easy and affordable to dump my computer every couple of years and upgrade to meet the new software demands. Thats is a little more challenging with MAC.

Having maxed out the RAM in my MBP, Im assuming that my issue is processor speed. I keep the majority of my files on an external drive and only the stuff Im currently working on on my machines drive.

Sketchup 3d can bog down pretty quickly when working with larger entities, and the maxwell render software is CPU intensive. They have a setting that allows you to tell the software how many cores to use when processing the files, mine is set at the default, and increasing it hasnt really worked. Maybe I will try again and see if setting it to 4 will force hyperthreading on the processor.

My plan has been a Mac Pro, as Im not really interested in the all-in-one monitor situation of the Imac, and as I like the possibility of being able to increase RAM and replace video cards as I need.

Im not very savy with the specs of the cpus and the great number of them, so any more thoughts are greatly appreciated

04-13-2012, 08:10 AM
The fastest performer today for the money is the 6 core MacPro. Pretty much every comparison I have seen gives it the highest scores. And with 16 GM RAM modules, even a computer with 4 slots can take some serious memory.


04-13-2012, 10:21 AM
Ive seen alot of the older 8 core and 4 core units on mac of all trades as well as apple refurb. Do you think that is a good way to go, or should I be looking at one of the newer machines?

Is it safe to assume that an older mac pro would be less efficient and powerful than my newer MBP? Again, there are so many variations in processors available in the Refurb market its hard to know what is better than what I already have.

Thanks again

04-13-2012, 11:30 AM
You also have to think about motherboard bus speed, ram speed and amount, hard drive speed, being able to use multiple hard drives at full SATAIII speed

A processor is usually not your choke point though I am not familiar with the apps you are using

With the kind of work you describe (unless you need mobility) a tower of appropriate specs would be the most versatile.

The Apple website refurb section comes with warranty, used or other company refurb may or may not.

04-13-2012, 11:47 AM
For 3D rendering, I would assume CPU is the limiting factor.

Rather than guessing, check out these benchmarks (http://www.primatelabs.ca/geekbench/mac-benchmarks/) to compare raw power. Hopefully all your key apps are 64bit at this point.

In the Mac world, it is a little different. If in good shape, you can recoup a higher percentage of the original purchase price, so reselling used gear makes good sense.

I suspect you could also run into GPU limitations, but I don't know of any quick way to confirm GPU load.

If you want to see what's pegged when crunching away, start with Activity Monitor (in Applications/Utilities) you can watch CPU cores, and RAM pretty easily.......to see if more RAM could help.

04-13-2012, 01:54 PM
From those benchmarks, looks like any 8 core xenon machine would outperform my MBP

04-13-2012, 04:23 PM
Sketchup, the google app, says that it works best with a "3d graphic card". Makes me wonder if the graphics on the MBP might be part of the problem with the speed.

If I've got it right the HD is only 5400 rpm, you don't say. But it could be another slow down. No one has even mentioned SSD.

I'm on my second Referb from Apple and I think they have the best bang for the buck.

If your use is professional then get the best you can afford. Each new model year they improve, and the new one today will not be as good as next years. But if you get the best you can afford it will last for some time and be worth more when it's time to sell.

I don't like laptops, they seem to die an early death.

04-13-2012, 07:33 PM
Thanks for your input. Your the second person to bring up resale value of my Mac. Where is the best place to sell a MacBook pro? I have a pile of old pc units that have no value. If I could get money out of my MacBook, I could go a little further on a Mac pro.

04-13-2012, 07:35 PM
No doubt the MacPro will out crunch everything else. Just a cost/benefit equation.

Other things:

Does the software you use fully access multi-cores? How many? Not as prevalent as it used to be, but some years back it was not uncommon to buy the latest multi-core CPU, only to find out some cores sit idle as the software cannot use them all. Varies by software and version. Stuff such as this (http://sites.google.com/site/sketchupsage/faster/computer). I'm all for the latest and greatest, but why spend the $ if you don't see the return in real world performace?

RAM and fast HD (SSD) are great, and certainly have their place, but again, important to know where the bottleneck is and how to reduce it, before throwing more money at things that are not bottlenecked. I doubt you are waiting on either for renders. Opens and saves, yes. Multitasking different apps, perhaps.

I would still wait a month or 3 if possible to see what pops. Should be lots of new tech in the cooker.

04-14-2012, 08:38 AM
This place will give (http://www.mac2sell.net/) you a good idea of what your Mac is worth

If you live in a big enough city put an add in your paper, or on the bulletin board at work, sell to a friend etc. Otherwise ebay would give you the widest audience.

I just sold a 24" iMac (early 2008 model) about a month ago for 1000$