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New M2 MacBook Pros


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Very tempted by the MacBook Pro M2 with 96GB RAM instead of getting Mac Studios. 

 

What do people think? Will we notice the drop in RAM from 128 GB RAM in our current Intel iMacs to 96 GB, particularly when hooked up to a Studio Display?

Edited by Christiaan
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3 hours ago, Christiaan said:

Will we notice the drop in RAM from 128 GB RAM in our current Intel iMacs to 96 GB, particularly when hooked up to a Studio Display?

 

I don't think so.

 

Although memory is even shared between CPU and GPU.

M Macs seem to usually work by intelligently swapping to their fast SSD.

Also it is a Laptop and no Desktop.

The (additional) Studio Display will eat some memory, but I think 64 GB

should be suitable for even large projects in VW.

 

As I am still unhappy with Apples Desktop offers,

I also think Macbook Pros are the new Desktops for a little extra fee for

a fantastic Monitor, keyboard and Trackpad.

They do not throttle noticeably, even in battery mode. Specs are nearly

desktop-like, ....

 

But as I do not really need mobility, it would hurt me to waste that screen in

clamshell mode and just ruin the battery, always plugged in on my desk.

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14 hours ago, zoomer said:

But as I do not really need mobility, it would hurt me to waste that screen in

clamshell mode and just ruin the battery, always plugged in on my desk.

Seems to be a lot of conflicting advice on that, but batteries are pretty cheap to replace.

 

I often max out 128 GB RAM on some of our projects so 96 GB is the very minimum I'd consider, on the basis that the new architecture efficiency makes up for the shortfall.  

 

Our 2019 iMacs are still doing ok but there is a post-pandemic 130% capital allowance deduction that ends on 31 March in the UK. Effectively a 25% discount. 

 

14 hours ago, zoomer said:

The (additional) Studio Display will eat some memory

Any idea how much?

 

HDMI 2.1 also opens up a few options on the third party display front.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Christiaan said:

Any idea how much?

 

Unfortunately not as I only use a single monitor per desktop.

 

It was just often stated from VW for GPU that using multiple View Panes or

multiple Monitor setups is noticeably VRAM demanding.

As I think it was about usual dedicated GPU choices, usually 2-8 GB VRAM,

I would estimate the memory GB penalty for second Monitor is still in the

lower single digit range.

Edited by zoomer
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1 hour ago, Christiaan said:

there is a post-pandemic 130% capital allowance deduction that ends on 31 March

 

So you may not have too much time until you have to order.

Especially as it will likely be a BTO configuration for max memory.

 

If you are sure about the memory needs,

maybe you should also consider M1 Ultra Studio with max 128 GB

beside the M2 Max MBPs.

(As you may need extra monitors for either anyway)

 

Waiting for M2 Studio updates likely would exceed the deadline.

Edited by zoomer
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  • Christiaan changed the title to New M2 MacBook Pros

Any thoughts on Mac hardware recommendations if I only use Shaded renderings?  Mini M2 vs Studio, RAM, processor?  Primarily a desktop workstation, but a MacBook would be nice for travel, though I can live without it and it is unlikely to justify the increased price.  

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Shaded Mode View will use Metal and GPU.

So a M2 Max 39 GPU cores (or M1 Ultra 48 or 64 GPU cores)

would have the best performance for complex projects in shaded view.

 

For larger projects I would not go with less than 32 GB of shared memory.

Single Threading performance is nearly identical for all M SoCs of same generation.

(What you may experience for standard modeling and everyday usage)

Multicore CPU, only important if your are doing some RW CPU Rendering nevertheless,

basically also similar between M only up to M Max, beside the Ultra which has

2 SoCs combined and therefore double the CPU cores.

Number of GPU cores and performance increases from M, M Pro, M Max, M Ultra, ...

 

As there currently is no more iMac 27",

you may, for VW, be interested in between Mac Mini M2, Mac Studio M1 or MBP 14" or 16".

All should be suited for your VW usage.

Depends on your planned budget which model or which upgrades you will want or need.

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Thanks.  I went through and put together a spreadsheet of currently available models that potentially make sense for my use case.  I didn't include the 16" MacBook because of $$$.    If I understand correctly, the base model M2 Mini with RAM & HD upgrades should be relatively safe?  It maxes out at 24GB RAM, but I don't consider my projects to be "complex" (single family residences).  It looks like the macBook Air has similar performance (2 fewer GPUs), so for $600 I would be able to use it while out of the office, but most of the time it would be docked.  I also doubt I could do meaningful VW work on a 13" screen.  

 

If I assume it's  desktop only use, there's a $500 add to get the M2 Pro Mini, or $800 add to get the M1 Max Studio.  Do you think I'll notice a significant improvement with these upgrades?

 

My current iMac can get sluggish when modifying multi-component Walls, but seems to do pretty well with Flyover in orthogonal Shaded views.

 

image.png.ad37639b0af59e8ac833192b54eec578.png

  

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I am guessing and I doubt that even Vectorworks has had an opportunity to truly benchmark on the new machines yet, but the only thing I would suggest is that if you need the power of either the Pro or the Max then you also need far more than 32 GB of RAM.  Consider at least 64 or even higher. The RAM and the processor speed are the only two things you really can't change at all after you get the machine. You can always add an external monitor or external storage, but RAM and Processor are fixed.

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3 hours ago, zsaunders said:

Will the MacBook Pro 16" with M2 Max have better VWX performance than the MacBook Pro 16" with M2 Pro? If so, how much?

Would 32GB of RAM be a good choice?

In my experience (as a heavy user of rendered Sheet Layer Section Viewports) the limiting factor has always been maxing out RAM. So if you're a heavy user of rendered SLVPs, the more RAM you have, the less likely you run out of RAM.

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9 hours ago, Christiaan said:

rendered SLVPs

By "rendered" do you mean with Renderworks, or also Shaded?  The non Pro/Max M2s are capped at 24GB, so for similar Minis there's a 40% price jump to get to 32GB.  

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TL;DR 64gb is the new 32gb
 

I can safely say as someone who’s been using a maxed out M1 Ultra with 128gb shared memory for the past 7 months, I could get by with 96gb 96% of the time. I have headroom. I’ve never pegged the RAM or GPU outside of UE/TM (which will always peg any GPU).

 

However, if you look at the specs for Twinmotion, they recommend 64gb RAM minimum; 128 for more powerful stuff (that Mac’s can’t do anyway because they lack the GPU hardwares necessary). Keep in mind, those specs are not for shared memory.

 

So, if you draw / design / model / render in a vacuum, using only VW, with all other apps, browser tabs, PDF’s closed… then, yeah, you could go with lower specs. But everyone in this forum has a different use case, workflows, needs… 

 

And there are still apps like UE and TM that run on Rosetta 2 because they’re not ARM-native yet. Or maybe you used Parallels, and want to set up a virtual machine with as much RAM/VRAM as possible… 

 

VW has led the way with optimizing for ARM but other apps… they’re all over the place.


Based oj my experience:

  • 32gb is minimum
  • 48gb is OK
  • 64gb is good
  • (Here’s the sweet spot)
  • 96gb is great
  • 128gb is best (and you know who you are if you need it; FQRW, TM, UE)

Personally / professionally, I’m waiting to see what happens later this year but I’m leaning toward replacing the Studio with a M2 MBP (as andaily driver and for taking onsite) and a Windows desktop (13900 + 4080 for heavy lifting and Windows-only apps). The messed up thing is that Windows desktop (from Puget) costs the same as my Studio and would absolutely destroy it in both CPU and GPU rendering.

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That’s also maybe the salient point: after a certain threshold, the only noticeable ROI is rendering. So, if you’re not concerned with rendering bottlenecks… 

 

Single core performance is nearly identical with all M1’s and all M2’s respectively, so there’s no return there. The cheapest is same speed as most expensive (M1 vs M1 Ultra).

 

ROI for more than 12 cores (with Mac silicon) is almost exclusively limited to RW.

 

The old rule of thumb with Macs was, “Buy the most expensive CPU within your budget” (because that was the bottleneck). The 2023 version is, “Buy as much shared memory as you can afford.” And, like trim packages with new cars, that choice will force you into one CPU package or another.

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On 1/20/2023 at 6:48 PM, E|FA said:

Thanks.  I went through and put together a spreadsheet of currently available models that potentially make sense for my use case.  I didn't include the 16" MacBook because of $$$.    If I understand correctly, the base model M2 Mini with RAM & HD upgrades should be relatively safe?  It maxes out at 24GB RAM, but I don't consider my projects to be "complex" (single family residences).  It looks like the macBook Air has similar performance (2 fewer GPUs), so for $600 I would be able to use it while out of the office, but most of the time it would be docked.  I also doubt I could do meaningful VW work on a 13" screen.  

 

If I assume it's  desktop only use, there's a $500 add to get the M2 Pro Mini, or $800 add to get the M1 Max Studio.  Do you think I'll notice a significant improvement with these upgrades?

 

My current iMac can get sluggish when modifying multi-component Walls, but seems to do pretty well with Flyover in orthogonal Shaded views.

 

image.png.ad37639b0af59e8ac833192b54eec578.png

  


14” MacBook Pro

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1 hour ago, Mark Aceto said:

I can safely say as someone who’s been using a maxed out M1 Ultra with 128gb shared memory for the past 7 months, I could get by with 96gb 96% of the time. I have headroom. I’ve never pegged the RAM or GPU outside of UE/TM (which will always peg any GPU).

Do you use a lot of sheet layer section viewports Mark?

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4 hours ago, Christiaan said:

Do you use a lot of sheet layer section viewports Mark?


More than most entertainment users but fewer than you.

 

Coming from an iMac (with what GPU?), you might wanna wait for the M2 Studio bump.

 

I would try to talk you out of a Studio Display but I doubt I would succeed. That said, when monitoring (ahem) external display performance, it seems like a 4K display uses 1–2gb VRAM just by being plugged in and turned on, so that shouldn’t be a factor at all with a M2 MBP with 96gb shared memory. You’ll also be using a TB4 connection for a 5K display, so it (or any other monitor with power delivery) will act as “one cable to rule them all” (power, signal, data) which is some kind of wonderful (compared to the dark ages of Dongletown).

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45 minutes ago, Mark Aceto said:

More than most entertainment users but fewer than you.

 

Coming from an iMac (with what GPU?), you might wanna wait for the M2 Studio bump.

 

I would try to talk you out of a Studio Display but I doubt I would succeed. That said, when monitoring (ahem) external display performance, it seems like a 4K display uses 1–2gb VRAM just by being plugged in and turned on, so that shouldn’t be a factor at all with a M2 MBP with 96gb shared memory. You’ll also be using a TB4 connection for a 5K display, so it (or any other monitor with power delivery) will act as “one cable to rule them all” (power, signal, data) which is some kind of wonderful (compared to the dark ages of Dongletown).

 

Actually I've been thinking the same thing, even if it means having to wait beyond the 31 March and miss this 25% discount. I've also been thinking about giving the Studio Display a miss too, at least this first version of it. 

 

Radeon Pro Vega 48 8 GB in our iMacs. 

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43 minutes ago, Christiaan said:

 

Actually I've been thinking the same thing, even if it means having to wait beyond the 31 March and miss this 25% discount. I've also been thinking about giving the Studio Display a miss too, at least this first version of it. 

 

Radeon Pro Vega 48 8 GB in our iMacs. 

 

OK, so not the 5700XT which was a monster. That's stills 128 + 8 = 136gb memory though, so that's 136 apples - 96 oranges... 

 

My POV of a M2 MBP migration would be:

  • Single core - mind bogglingly fast
  • Multi core - noticeable improvement
  • Memory / Graphics - honestly hard to say (apples and oranges), so within an order of magnitude of what you currently have

Therefore, it comes down to:

  • FOMO - what will the next Studio offer? HDM1 2.1 and other improvements we saw in the M2 MBP? Who knows with Tim Apple recycling every component as long as he can bleed us dry?
  • Future proof / long term value - being that nothing is user serviceable / upgradeable like your iMacs (even in a Studio), you kinda have to "skate to where the puck is going to be"
    • Comparing laptops to laptops, the M2 MBP seems solid for at least 3 years
    • Comparing laptops to desktops, might wanna wait for the M2 Studio

Speaking from experience, I decided to go with the M1 Studio because for an extra $1,000 I got double the multicore performance of the next closest thing, M1 MBP. Today, the M2 MBP is about 2/3 instead of 1/2. But it'll be 1/2 again when the M2 Studio is released.

 

Couple other considerations for context:

  • Section SLVP mostly render single core, so not sure how much the extra cores will help
    • More memory should help a lot though
  • I keep hoping for hardware accelerated ray tracing, so TM / UE will finally be fully functional on a Mac (that's not an Intel Mac Pro) but we know that the MBP won't have that until the next gen (M3?) at the earliest
    • Who knows with the Mac Pro?
      • All I want to do is through a 13900 and 4080 in a Mac Pro case, so I can run macOS with the best hardware but hell will freeze over before we can have the best of both worlds

If you're working with a team, maybe start upgrading the MBP's? At least for now, it seems like Apple's upgrade path for iMac / Pro is the Studio lineup, so maybe wait as long as you can for the M2 Studio (knowing there could be supply chain issues that might delay that until late this year or worse).

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2 hours ago, Christiaan said:

That's where my head's at. Wait until 31 March to see what happens. I sure would love to see what the Mac Pro has to offer too.

 

Same. I need to see all the cards on the table to make an informed decision. That's part of the reason I suspect Apple has been hedging their bets with the Mac Pro. As soon as we see what direction they take, it will be relatively easy to predict the roadmap... roughly 25% improvements year over year. But I'm sick of looking into my crystal ball, and making uneducated guesses about wild cards.

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12 hours ago, Christiaan said:

I sure would love to see what the Mac Pro has to offer too.

 

I don't trust Gurman's prognostications anymore but let's assume he's correct about them canceling the Jade C-Die (the mythical "Extreme" quad layout)...

 

For context, I've never heard the fan in my Studio. So if the M2 MacGurman Pro and the M2 Studio are both ARMed with M2 Ultra chips with equal RAM, GPU... Why would anyone buy the MacGurman Pro? Well, Apple could supply more power to the Ultra SOC in the MacGurman Pro, and then substantially cool it to avoid thermal throttling. More watts, more power, more cooling.

 

BTW in the M2 MBP presentation, I noticed what appear to be 4x 24gb memory sticks around the outside of the die, so maybe they could increase the shared memory from 256gb (and possibly a mid-tier option):

 

IMG_9308.thumb.jpeg.2dbf6539079449e02fbb82633189c7bf.jpeg

 

 

A quick Google search, seems to verify that:

 

First M2 Pro Die Shot Analysis Reveals Apple’s Latest SoC Uses Older RAM Standard, No Locked GPU Cores, More

 

Anyway, without hardware accelerated ray tracing in the Mac Pro, that thing is dead in the water.

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