Welcome to the MacNN Forums.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Suitable for Architecture?

Suitable for Architecture?
Thread Tools
clockworkwar
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: England
Status: Offline
May 4, 2008, 01:00 PM
 
As I really cannot afford a Macbook Pro - I am looking at a Macbook (2GB Ram white version) for my architecture course. Would this be suitable?

I know the laptop doesn't have a video card with its own ram, but I should be ok with CAD programs and Photo manipulation?

Other laptops I am looking at are the likes of Dells and HP's.
     
idykenano
Forum Regular
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: surrounded by dogs
Status: Offline
May 4, 2008, 06:51 PM
 
whatever you get, order 4gb of ram from newegg for ~$70. especially if you get the MB. its too cheap not to be worth it.
     
seanc
Moderator Emeritus
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Cambridge, UK
Status: Offline
May 4, 2008, 06:58 PM
 
What CAD programs are you looking at using? I'm not too knowledgeable on CAD programs, but I would have thought they'd benefit from the dedicated graphics that the MBP has.
     
Timo
Addicted to MacNN
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: New York City
Status: Offline
May 4, 2008, 07:06 PM
 
I'm guessing you'll be fine, unless you get into complicated 3D renderings.
     
k squared
Dedicated MacNNer
Join Date: Feb 2004
Status: Offline
May 4, 2008, 08:54 PM
 
I have a first generation MacBook and can run SketchUp, AutoCad, and CS3 just fine. More complicated modeling programs might be a problem and as others have posted, get the max amount of RAM.

The screen can get a bit small at times, too. If you don't have access to an external monitor, I would consider a refurbished MacBook Pro.
     
clockworkwar  (op)
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: England
Status: Offline
May 5, 2008, 03:55 AM
 
I will be using the programs as listed by 'k squared' most likely. Unless they decide to throw some extra programs at me.

I would love a MBP but alas my finances do not stretch that far. Some programs like a dedicated video card to render complicated images but I can use the workstations at the uni to do that.
     
red rocket
Mac Elite
Join Date: Mar 2002
Status: Offline
May 5, 2008, 04:40 AM
 
The computer is just a tool, I doubt that whatever laptop you get will make the slightest bit of difference. I intend to start an architecture degree myself later this year, and expect to do just fine between my set of G3s at home and the Mac Pros at uni. Hell, I anticipate building paper models, as well.
     
clockworkwar  (op)
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: England
Status: Offline
May 5, 2008, 05:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by red rocket View Post
The computer is just a tool, I doubt that whatever laptop you get will make the slightest bit of difference. I intend to start an architecture degree myself later this year, and expect to do just fine between my set of G3s at home and the Mac Pros at uni. Hell, I anticipate building paper models, as well.
Yes, I know for the most part your doing CAD drawings on the workstations at uni and you make models out of foam etc. But I need a computer thats reliable enough to take out and do complex tasks with.
     
red rocket
Mac Elite
Join Date: Mar 2002
Status: Offline
May 5, 2008, 07:23 AM
 
What type of complex tasks do you expect you’ll be doing on the laptop in the foreseeable future?

All the OS X Macs I’ve been using over the years have been reliable.
     
ghporter
Administrator
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: San Antonio TX USA
Status: Offline
May 5, 2008, 07:53 AM
 
Are you really on a $1000 budget for a computer? You can get an MBP at the student price of $1800 to start, and both grants and loans cover computers that you use for school... While the integrated graphics system in the MacBook is OK for much of what you might do with it, those "complex tasks" you talk about would most likely benefit from the greater horsepower of even the entry level MBP's graphics system. At the very least it will be a bit faster at rendering complex objects, and if you have a lot of complex objects that "bit" adds up fast.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
SierraDragon
Mac Elite
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Truckee, CA
Status: Offline
May 5, 2008, 04:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by clockworkwar View Post
As I really cannot afford a Macbook Pro - I am looking at a Macbook (2GB Ram white version) for my architecture course. Would this be suitable?
Obviously a MBP is superior. Every step up the chain of better Macs will perform better for heavy graphics apps, and 4 GB RAM in any laptop is necessary. One good source is OWC: Find the latest Performance Upgrades, Firewire and USB Hard Drives, SATA, Memory, Laptop Battery, and more at OWC.

The biggest limitation of the MB is the small screen size and low pixel count, a very substantial disadvantage for any kind of pro-level graphics work. IMO you would be best served by a 17" MBP and adding a second display. But if finances limit you to a MB you just make do.

-Allen Wicks
     
mduell
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Status: Offline
May 5, 2008, 06:53 PM
 
If your architecture app makes significant use of the graphics card, the $1450 MBP refurb would be a good buy.
     
k squared
Dedicated MacNNer
Join Date: Feb 2004
Status: Offline
May 5, 2008, 11:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
If your architecture app makes significant use of the graphics card, the $1450 MBP refurb would be a good buy.
AutoCad doesn't use the video card that much (for the stuff I do at least), but SketchUp and Revit do. The more intensive model programs will have to be rendered on work stations.

My only reservation on using a MacBook is screen size. I can't do for more than an hour: it's too maddening. A 15" MBP would be that best way to go. An external monitor can work as well, but then your losing mobility.

A refurbed 15"/17" is a better buy than new MacBook on this one.
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
May 6, 2008, 05:32 AM
 
AFAIK the major CAD app that is available for OS X is Vector Works. You will definitely need a good graphics card if you are into architecture.

Although it's not architecture, my brother (who is studying engineering) has sped up construction considerably when he upgraded his graphics card.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
ghporter
Administrator
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: San Antonio TX USA
Status: Offline
May 6, 2008, 07:52 AM
 
I don't know how much it uses the graphics system, but old, reliable TurboCAD is available for OS X (Smith Micro likes to send me spam...) It's a relative lightweight compared to AutoCAD, but it works and is pretty full-featured.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
red rocket
Mac Elite
Join Date: Mar 2002
Status: Offline
May 7, 2008, 03:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie
AFAIK the major CAD app that is available for OS X is Vector Works. You will definitely need a good graphics card if you are into architecture.
That depends on to what degree the course focuses on 3D/BIM work rather than traditional drafting. If it’s all about BIM, then yes, VectorWorks would be the way to go. If, on the other hand, there’s any significant emphasis on 2D drafting, something like PowerCADD is considerably more straightforward, and that one requires practically next to no processing power or graphics card capability whatsoever. SketchUp can fill the need for 3D in that event.
     
bishopazrael
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Nov 2006
Status: Offline
May 7, 2008, 07:51 AM
 
To the OP....
I used to be the help desk for Flatiron Structures in Longmont Co, so I know what I'm talking about. You'll NEED the MBP. You can get a Macbook. Technically you CAN install the CAD program, but it won't be very pretty. I'd suggest looking at refurbs from Apple's store or finding a used one on Craigslist.

You won't like how the program runs on a Macbook. All CAD programs are VERY graphics card intensive. Sure you can max out the RAM on a Macbook, but it just won't work as well as an MBP.

I'd also like to add the following:
Get the MBP. Getting a refurb with only 256 is ok.
As to installing windows you'll want to use bootcamp to install xp, then install paralells and use the boot camp setup for small stuff in windows. When it comes time to use the CAD though...reboot directly into Windows. That's the best setup for CAD users. Some here may disagree but as I make a living off of doing this... trust me. I know its a heavy hit to the finances, but it's going to be well worth it. A month after you buy it you're going to be thanking your lucky stars you did.
Backups are like guns and condoms. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
     
red rocket
Mac Elite
Join Date: Mar 2002
Status: Offline
May 7, 2008, 08:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by bishopazrael
All CAD programs are VERY graphics card intensive.
PowerCADD most certainly isn’t, and neither are any of the other 2D CAD apps I’ve used (HighDesign, CADintosh, DoodleCAD, RealCADD). Unless you’re getting into 3D work, there’s no reason whatsoever for a CAD app to be graphics card intensive, it just doesn’t make any sense.

Making a living doing what? Help desk for a company that doesn’t seem to exist any more doesn’t say much, bishop.

As for recommending that the OP use Windows, I think that's a stupid suggestion. There are plenty of successful, award-winning architects doing everything on Macs, as well as universities with Macs as CAD workstations.

Hell, if the OP wanted to use Windows and put up with all the crap that comes with that, he WOULD be better off just buying a bloody Dell, because buying an MBP just to run Windows on it would be a colossal waste of money.

________________

Clockworkwar, I suggest you take a look at the Architosh forums: Architosh Forums - Mac CAD and 3D Discussion - Powered by vBulletin
     
clockworkwar  (op)
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: England
Status: Offline
May 9, 2008, 03:55 AM
 
Looks like I will have to save up much more money than I originally thought. Or buy a HP/Dell instead.
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
May 9, 2008, 04:33 AM
 
My sister's HP laptop (which cost about the same as a MacBook with equivalent specs) also only has an integrated graphics card. Even if you go for a pc laptop, keep in mind to get one with a good graphics card.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
bishopazrael
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Nov 2006
Status: Offline
May 9, 2008, 12:15 PM
 
I'm not even going to dignify Red's response. Sounds like he's desperate to try and be right here, so I'll let him believe whatever he wants.

The bottom line is that if the OP is using a CAD program, I think we can all agree that he would be better off with an MBP over a MB. Is there anyone arguing that point?

So... if he's doing CAD work on a MB will it work? Sure. Will it be a quick, fast, satisfacory experience? Some here will say maybe... depends on what you're using for the CAD and what drawings you're doing... 2d or 3d. Most of the time it's 3d. At either choice... an MBP would be the better choice all around.

Look... think about it like this. If the possibility exsists, say a few months down the road... for you to say .. "damn it I wish I had gotten an MBP", then just buy the MBP and have it be done with.

I honestly don't even know why this is an argument running this long. It should be fairly simple. You buy more power than what you're going to need. That way when you max out on the power and RAM needs.. you've still got some left over and your machine isnt a sluggish beast, dragging it's heels like a petulant child.

By all means if you want an MBP, go for it. What I can say from experience RIGHT HERE AND NOW in front of me is a 2ghz c2d mb w/ 4gb of ram... and sometimes when I've got the system running at full tilt... once or twice I've wished for my old mbp w/ the 256 on the video card.

But in the end you'll do what your mind, heart and wallet agree on.
Backups are like guns and condoms. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
     
bishopazrael
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Nov 2006
Status: Offline
May 9, 2008, 12:16 PM
 
Red, you can believe what you want. But if booting to Windows was useless I doubt Apple would have given us Boot Camp.

Red... arguing over this over the internet forum is like running a race in the special olympics..you might win.... but you're still retarded.
( Last edited by bishopazrael; May 9, 2008 at 12:22 PM. )
Backups are like guns and condoms. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
     
red rocket
Mac Elite
Join Date: Mar 2002
Status: Offline
May 11, 2008, 04:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by bishopazrael View Post
I'm not even going to dignify Red's response. Sounds like he's desperate to try and be right here, so I'll let him believe whatever he wants.

The bottom line is that if the OP is using a CAD program, I think we can all agree that he would be better off with an MBP over a MB. Is there anyone arguing that point?

So... if he's doing CAD work on a MB will it work? Sure. Will it be a quick, fast, satisfacory experience? Some here will say maybe... depends on what you're using for the CAD and what drawings you're doing... 2d or 3d. Most of the time it's 3d. At either choice... an MBP would be the better choice all around.

Look... think about it like this. If the possibility exsists, say a few months down the road... for you to say .. "damn it I wish I had gotten an MBP", then just buy the MBP and have it be done with.

I honestly don't even know why this is an argument running this long. It should be fairly simple. You buy more power than what you're going to need. That way when you max out on the power and RAM needs.. you've still got some left over and your machine isnt a sluggish beast, dragging it's heels like a petulant child.

By all means if you want an MBP, go for it. What I can say from experience RIGHT HERE AND NOW in front of me is a 2ghz c2d mb w/ 4gb of ram... and sometimes when I've got the system running at full tilt... once or twice I've wished for my old mbp w/ the 256 on the video card.

But in the end you'll do what your mind, heart and wallet agree on.
Most of the time it’s 3d’ - You don’t know that, do you? The OP could, in theory, be on a course that is mostly 3D oriented. On the other hand, he could just as well be on a course that is primarily 2D oriented. Since he’s supposed to be learning architecture, it seems to me that there should be a fair share of 2D drafting taught, especially at the early stages of a degree.

I honestly don't even know why this is an argument running this long. It should be fairly simple. You buy more power than what you're going to need. That way when you max out on the power and RAM needs.. you've still got some left over and your machine isnt a sluggish beast, dragging it's heels like a petulant child.

Erm, clockworkwar started the thread because he’s on a budget. Obviously, he’d prefer an MBP over a MacBook, but he said he couldn’t really afford one, so might a MacBook do? Unless the demands of his course are such that it’s predominantly BIM/3D, the logical answer would be that it might. 2D drafting is NOT going to make that machine choke, and neither will 3D, although the gap will be more noticeable there. It won’t be a perfect experience, but then again, neither would would it be on the MBP or any other laptop he could get.

Doing any serious amount of precision drafting on a laptop is a strain compared to doing it on a high quality, large, bright desktop monitor, so I’m making the assumption that when it comes to doing work that may be stretching his laptop a bit, he could, and would be foolish not to, use the university’s workstations for those elements.

Personally, I think the best bet would be not to buy anything at all for now, but try to rent/lease the latest and fastest laptop he can get, so every time an upgrade comes out, he can switch his rental contract to the latest model. If that isn’t possible, I think it would be a better idea to buy the best USED machine he can afford now; a ‘Pro’ model from a year or more ago might very well provide better value than a current consumer laptop.

I still find it weird that someone on a Mac forum would be recommending the use of Windows apps to do an essentially creative job for which there exist excellent, professional Mac applications.
     
bishopazrael
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Nov 2006
Status: Offline
May 11, 2008, 01:05 PM
 
Rent a laptop? Are you serious? See.. this is why I hate these kind of threads. He came in here asking for advice.. he got it and now people are getting attacked for their opinions.

Red, you really don't need to convince me of how much more superior your argument is to mine. I don't really care. I am really at a loss as to why you're so emotionally invested in being right and proving me wrong. You find it strange that I'd recommend windows for over mac? Well thats why I get paid the big bucks I guess. Windows is a fine operating system. Is it flawed? Yes. Does it have flaws? Yes. Does it require anti virus, anti spyware, anti popup programs to work reliably? Yes. But if given the proper amount of attention it's a fine operating system. I acknowledge that there are somethings best done on bootcamp. That was the whole idea of creating boot camp in the first place. Apple knew people would need to do some things in windows. For everything else, there's Mac. I don't know what kind of world of denial you're living in, but there are some programs that run better in Windows than on a Mac when it comes to CAD type work, and other types of things. I'm not really interested in your opinion. The bottom line is that the OP is going to have to man the F**k up and make a choice. He's the one with all the info. You seem to be speculating on his vague description. I mean... it sounds like you're really desperate to convince him, us, everyone, yourself of your rightness that Mac is the end all be all. Whatever your issue is... don't drag it into these threads please. The fact of the matter is that Windows, whether you like it or not IS the dominant OS and if he needs it then he's going to need it. What's so hard about that? Why do you think that boot camp was created in the first place? So we could put Ubuntu or Red Hat on?

I'm done here. You can be as deluded as you want. In the end it's up to the OP to make up his mind.. not have us make it up for him.
Backups are like guns and condoms. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
May 11, 2008, 01:12 PM
 
People, calm down, there is no need to get personal.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
ibook_steve
Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: San Jose, CA
Status: Offline
May 11, 2008, 01:13 PM
 
This thread is done. The question's been answered.
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
   
Thread Tools
 
Forum Links
Forum Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Top
Privacy Policy
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:50 AM.
All contents of these forums © 1995-2017 MacNN. All rights reserved.
Branding + Design: www.gesamtbild.com
vBulletin v.3.8.8 © 2000-2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.,