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the new mac mini

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

For rendering an 3D visualization, no. Skip it and go for an iMac, Macbook Pro or Mac Pro. The Intel series graphics are "acceptable" but significantly worse than the Nvidia and AMD GPUs.

If you were JUST doing simple 2D designs, maybe, but not as a main work machine.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

They even soldered the RAM on the new Mini to prevent user upgrades, so you have to shell out hundreds of dollars for what will be $59 worth of extra RAM in 6 months.

That coupled with the un-upgradeable graphics cards in the Mac Pro... their line is getting increasingly restraining on the user that likes to keep a machine for longer than 3 years.

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What the hell. So we've been waiting all this time keeping an old Power Mac hobbling along as our server, only to find we should have bought back in 2012!

Very disappointed here too - but I am feeling a little satisfaction with my

2012 Quad i7 2.6GHz 16GB ram & 1TB Fusion = best mini ever!

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I will say that the 5K iMac at $2500 is extremely good value for money, especially considering it has a near bleeding-edge GPU with its AMD R9 series M290X. You could easily pay $1500 for JUST a 4K display of that size or more. However that appears to be the only shining star in their regular range for now.

The Mac Pro is still excellent spec-wise, but its significantly less bang for the buck compared to the new iMac.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
VW on Linux Jim?

I tried!

I failed... but I got much closer than before. I am fairly confident it can be done by someone with greater LinuxFu than I.

Since after 2015, Vectorworks no longer needs QuickTime, you no longer have to wrestle with that aspect when trying to run Vectorworks on Linux via WINE or something similar. However even after I ironed out all the older issues I had trying to get 2014 running to run under WINE, I hit new issues with it being unable to detect certain DLLs within the program folder upon launch.

There are ways of running Mac applications on Linux as well that I haven't looked into, I have only had time to try the Windows versions on Linux thus far. I am going to be messing with it again when I have time.

EDIT- MORE INFO: I had tried using Darling to run the Mac version, but its still in its infancy as a project and isn't really up to handling a highly complex application like Vectorworks that has hooks in the OS all over the place.

Edited by JimW
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just found out that hidden line rendering (which is all i use for section view ports) is only cared for by one processor and not graphics card. so a Mac anything with many cores and a zillion graphics cards are not going to help me.

i fly around & use clipped cube in openGL


6-8 sheets are top/plan

24+- sheets are section viewports (sections, interior/exterior elevations, details)

1 sheet is a white model (custom render works).

so... the setup i have (see below) is the most bang for the buck..

anyone care to challenge this?

im a little miffed because i was about to buy the base line MacPro

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check your stats with mine below

Mine is the 2.3ghz quad core i7 with 8gb ram. I've also added an SSD which will be used as the primary drive.

I bought it 4 weeks ago but haven't had time yet to migrate everything over!!

I don't really want to go back to an all-in-one - I've got 2 dell monitors ready to go.

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  • 4 months later...

Running a 2012 Mini here (see specs in my signature,) not liking the laggy performance when doing renders of fairly simple scenes.

Has anyone explored or tested using a PCIe graphics card connected through an external Lightning --> PCIe enclosure?


Separate question: are there any major performance benefits using Yosemite 10.10 vs Mavericks 10.9?

Edited by Gilbert Osmond
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

We haven't tested it mainly because there are so few Thunderbolt2 > PCIe adapters available, but I will definitely be pushing for testing them internally here. Plug-in graphics power would be a significant upgrade and would let users continue buying the Macs that are saddled with the weak Intel integrated GPUs.

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  • 1 month later...
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Got my hands on a Mac Mini 6,2 for realworld testing, which is the one released in late 2012. (We don't have a lot of Mac Minis to test here.)

Intel i7 3720QM 2.6GHz CPU

Intel HD 4000 Graphics


Cinebench CPU (Processor) Score: 589 - This is a VERY good score for today's tech.

Cinebench GPU Score: 17.35 - This is an awful score for today's tech.


The machine's CPU scored very well in benchmarking, however the Intel HD 4000 graphics pretty much put it out of the running for moderate-to-heavy 3D modeling. I loaded a few of our medium and heavy test files and it immediately started choking in OpenGL, even on a low res 1600x1200 display. If you were to try to push a 2K or 4K display, the experience would be 3-5 times worse.

If your models are lightweight/simple or you don't need to leave top/plan very often, the Intel HD 4000 is an ACCEPTABLE graphics choice, but still below the speed I would recommend for daily use in 3D. Especially considering we have gotten reports of crashing from users with even moderately complex 3D files on this graphics card that don't crash when on a more capable one.

Trying to get a hold of the 2015 models where they've bumped up the graphics to Intel HD 5000 and 5100s, but it looks like (as mentioned previously in this thread) Apple has kneecapped the previously excellent CPU on them in the process for some reason.

Will report back when I have test results any of the 2015 models.

Edited by JimW
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Was able to track down a 2015 Mac Mini 7,2! IT was nice enough to loan it to me for testing. Be nice to your IT guys.

It turned out to be the higher end model:

Intel i7 4578U 3.0GHz CPU

Intel Iris Graphics So basically an Intel HD 5000 or 5100


Cinebench CPU (Processor) Score: 313 - This is an average score for today's tech.

Cinebench GPU (Graphics) Score: 21.9 - This is an awful score for today's tech.


Looks like kneecapped was right. The CPU in this model, even though its the best one you can select is HALF the speed of its predecessor when it comes to rendering, mainly because its 2 core with 4 threads as opposed to the previous models 4 cores and 8 threads.

The GPU is slightly improved, but in real world tests the difference was negligible, its still nearly unusable with a moderately complex model, especially with shadows of any kind turned on in OpenGL. I even got some graphics artifacts when I tried to move around rapidly, but a quick search suggests artifacts may be a result of 10.10 more than the hardware itself.

This newer Mac Mini is actually even less recommended due to its much poorer CPU performance and pretty much equally poor performance on the GPU side.

Not sure why Apple chose to send out such a lame duck as their entry level offering when past versions were far superior (I had a Mac Mini with an Nvidia 9400 GPU from around 2009 that would likely have performed better in GPU testing than this.) and when on the PC side you can get MUCH better hardware for the price.

As equipped, this Mac Mini was $1,200. That puts you well within the realm of the mid grade iMacs, which have better CPUs, GPUs, and even come with a display. Yikes.

No clue what Apple is doing here, but its not a good experience for the end user.

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  • 3 months later...

Greatly appreciate your research and reporting on this. Relieved that I can stick with my 2012 MacMini6,2 and preserve *better* performance than upgrading to a 2015 Mini.

No doubt Apple is kneecapping the Mini so they can sell more iMacs and of course Mac Pros.

So far my models are relatively simple and I am finding OpenGL rendering for day-to-day work is very fast. If/when need be I will step up to faster hardware.



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