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Top end Windows machine or go to Mac?

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I am at the point where I need to make a major computing hardware upgrade (integrated graphics card on my current machine is really slowing down my productivity). I've always been a Windows/PC guy, but willing to consider Mac if there is a significant upside in speed and stability of VW compared to a well-configured Windows machine.

I am a "firm of one", so I do all of my computing from one station, both from a cost and space standpoint, so I would need the one machine to do it all (Quickbooks, general computing, etc).

Very interested in opinions from both camps!

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I have always been a Mac guy. Depending on how much $$ you are willing to invest, you might compare the Mac Pro (see my specs, below) which is awesome fast and the 27" iMac which is also a ver good machine (I had a top end one for 5+ years and it served me well).

Of course, if you are a PC person there will be some amount of transition pain, being forced to re-buy some apps that you *might* already own. Even though the Mac OS comes with almost everything you need (e.g.: Mail, Safari, Preview, iPhoto, iTunes, etc.) there are always some apps that need to obtained.

Also, all of your VW's files will open seamlessly on either platform, but you probably have other files that might or might not. So do you research thoroughly!

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I'd do pc hands down. I think one of the biggest myths of the whole computer world is comparing a Mac to a store bought PC. A Mac is essentially a custom built machine. By that I mean it's hardware has been assembled for a specific purpose and checked for compatibility. Comparing that to a big box manufacturer is not apples to apples. Big box computers are assembled with cost in mind, and that cost is further reduced by the addition of meaningless and often intrusive software that the manufacturer adds in (it's advertising).

If you were to explore a custom built PC you would most likely find that the options available to you in terms of hardware far outnumber the options available to you on the Mac store website. You would also find that the cost is fairly close, except for the caveat that pcs are easier to upgrade and thus have a longer life than Macs.

If you can find a local computer builder who understands the requirements of a CAD station, I'd suggest you talk to them. It's a great bonus to have a real phone number with a real person on the line when you need help.

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Hi Peter

I agree that your machine and those new generation Macpro's are very nice. They have some drawbacks, like your storage and any optical drives need to be external.

I do think they are very good performers but the older units are so easy to work on, and I'm always looking for a deal which older technology tends to be...If I had an extra $5000 to upgrade then yes I would most likely go that route.

Peter I run a SSD drive on my machine and its very fast, you get spoiled working on one.

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Hi Danilo

Two things pushed me in that direction:

1- Got tired of battling viruses, don't seem to have that issue with mac, at least not yet.

2- I found that I had to spend a good deal of time working around some of the windows operating system challenges, crashes, etc. Now I sit down and get to work with very few computer related issues.

It was a bit painful at first, re purchasing software, but very happy with the switch and increase in productivity (my experience).

So far I have owned:

1-24" Imac (still runs 10 years later)

1-27" Imac (had a few heat issues with this when doing some heavy rendering, still runs fine but now used for light duties)

1- Six core mac pro (2012) (if you do some research you'll find this is a really good balance between performance and cost)

Recommended upgrades: Solid state drive for your operating system, it doesn't have to be big, mine is 240 GB. With my Mac pro I can insert in a new hard drive in about 2 minutes, super easy.

My wife's computer is due for an upgrade soon, we will either find and older macmini or another refurbished Macpro which I could use as a back up.

Good luck Danilo...let us know what you end up doing.

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Thanks for the insight, JW. Crashing (and considerable lag in screen regeneration) is killing me right now, so a life without that is very appealing. I've not had any virus issues to date, knock on wood.

Grant, you really seem to be "all-in" for PC. What say you about crashing?

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My windows machines don't crash. I work in an office with 3 other people, all Mac users (MB pro laptops). They all agree with me that my windows machines out perform theirs, and that if they hadn't committed to the Mac ecosystem (iphone/itunes etc) they would consider switching.

But again, my computers are custom built machines, so I believe that that's where the direct comparison lies. I actually like Macs and the OS quite a bit. The only real thing that bugs me about Mac is their insistence on design over function. I like having a CD drive, and more usb ports, and a card reader. I don't mind that my power source is a brick and I LOVE that my laptop still has a 17" screen and my memory is not directly soldered to the motherboard.

If you go high end, you're going to be happy on either platform.

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This is good stuff from both perspectives. The fact that I have not yet invested in the Apple culture (away from my desk I am Android) has kept me leaning towards staying with Windows. My next step is to get a quote on a custom PC and compare that with a top end Mac. My decision matrix up to this point shows staying with Windows with a slight edge.

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Which is what I would do except ...

I run two very fast W 8.1 puters one a desktop (Bout a year old) signature below and the other a laptop which is just a tiny bit slower

The laptop has an almost identical external keyboard and monitor so that if my desktop fails I can keep working in an environment I am used to - same workspace etc

My VW user folder is synced to both machines using Bit Torrent Sync


Meaning if I have a crash or a problem with my main puter - my desktop - I can continue on with my laptop as all my resources are immediately available on it

When I set this up maybe a year ago I thought - nah - will never use it but about a month later my then ASUS desktop had a hard drive failure - first in my life using Windowz puters going back to W 95 and earlier

My philosophy is to not run one computer but to run two which is what I do and have done for years

My laptop does emails, is portable and mainly what I use at night playing with web sites, take with me when I visit clients etc.

My desktop is my serious work machine. But ... they are both back ups to each other in that if one fails I can get on with it and use the other straight away

To set up my system not including software would cost around 4.5 to 5 K

Given the speed and resources available of either puter I wonder what a similar Mac set up would cost?

Each machine has spare internal and added external hard drives and I back up to both and the cloud using Crash Plan


This means for each machine I have three back up copies that are fresh and identical VW user folders on two machines using Bit Torrent Sync

The key to Windowz is good quality components and just knowing what you are doing

A year ago when my ASUS desktop had a hard drive issue within half an hour I had started work on my laptop because I could retrieve my files through Crash Plan

If people like Macs they like Macs and if others like Windowz as I do who cares as that really is not the point

I know my W 8.1 puters will run several versions of Vectorworks going backwards and I need that functionality - can Macs do that seamlessly and easily - I do not know; perhaps others can chime in

I have no need at all that I can see to use a Mac and really wonder if anyone could sit beside me with their Mac and explain logically and completely why I would be better off using one

What is important is to have a safety net if something crashes - I do and it works for me really well

And - back up - back up - back up

Oh and by the way - totally Android also and I cannot remember when one of my puters crashed

Edited by Ozzie
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Meaning if I have a crash or a problem with my main puter - my desktop - I can continue on with my laptop as all my resources are immediately available on it

On Mac you use Carbon Copy Cloner and get a 1:1 copy of your disk.

If my hard disk fails I can just boot from the copied disk f.e. by USB

and go on working. Or copy OS X back to the replaced hard disk in


If other hardware fails, I could simply boot the same disk copy from

my Macbook, to have the same software environment.

(Because the drivers are included)

If I replace a Mac, I can bring it to the same state as the older Mac by,

simply cloning the hdd, migration assistant or time machine backup

(the slowest option)

90% of the software will run with all settings, except a few candidates

that really need a new activation.

As for the hardware,

if I compare Mac to PC with really the same components, the PC was

always more expensive. For my Mac Pro as for the Macbook Pro.

And you still have a cheap and sometimes louder case for the PC.

It's just that you f.e. would not choose the latest, fastest and most

expensive CPU or RAM for your notebook configuration. Or have a

simple TN display etc. which makes PC often less expensive.

So for a Mac you don't have the unlimited options like for a PC, and

sometimes you pay a bit more than you would maybe need.

PC run a bit faster, even on the same hardware by boot camp.

And f.e. GPU on Mac run slower. Therefor Mac use less energy and

are more quiet.

I value the design of Mac hardware, software and UI. I want everything

clean and as simple as possible and all devices in sync. I don't want to

care about my tools as I did a lot under Windows, but concentrate on

my work.

That works really well since I switched to Mac in 2007.

But your milage may vary,

if you don't care about those things, prefer total freedom in choice,

Windows may be the better option. And I think Windows got better

over the years too.

And If you spend 95% of your time working with a professional

CAD or 3D package that has its own UI anyway, it does not play much

of a role if you have OS X, Windows or Linux underneath.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

There is no flat out benefit on working with Vectorworks on either a Mac or a PC specifically. As long as it has been properly configured, it will work identically on comparable hardware.

Mac and Windows machines are prone to different issues, I have equal calls and email issues from both camps pretty much, they just have different symptoms and solutions.

If you want a monitor as well, the current 5K iMac is an extremely good price since it includes such a high res display. The Mac Pros are excellent for working with Vectorworks, but unfortunately we do not yet support multiple graphics cards, so you are paying for more than VW can use.

Macs tend to have better resale value, but often have limited or no hardware upgrade options for anything other than hard drive and RAM. On the Windows side, resale is crap but it is easier to upgrade the graphics hardware later on if you go with a desktop configuration and that lets you extend the usable life of your machine significantly. So they both offer ways of either recouping or extending your money.

The ecosystems used to be significantly different, but many applications now work on both, or at least have equivalents. I use both constantly now and other than a few niche pieces of software (Screenflow on Mac) there isn't much I can do on one that cant be done on the other.

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I do not think you really understand what I was saying

If I have a crash I have no need to do this or that I just start using the other computer and keep working

That is it

What I am saying is use two computers, mirror and back up

And @JimW because you are amazing and do so much good and great stuff here

Your 3D Printer stuff ... very cool etc etc etc

Thanks so much mate for being here and being you

There is no flat out benefit on working with Vectorworks on either a Mac or a PC specifically. As long as it has been properly configured, it will work identically on comparable hardware

But ... on the latest Mac OS how many backwards versions of VW can be installed? :confused:

And on Windowz 8.1 how many versions can you install backwards? :blush:


Edited by Ozzie
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

And @JimW because you are amazing and do so much good and great stuff here

Your 3D Printer stuff ... very cool etc etc etc

Thanks so much mate for being here and being you

You are very welcome.

But ... on the latest Mac OS how many backwards versions of VW can be installed? :confused:

And on Windowz 8.1 how many versions can you install backwards? :blush:

Apologies, I always think in terms of the most recent version only.

If you want backwards compatibility, you want Windows. Even on Windows 8.1 you can get Vectorworks 8.5 running. On the Mac side that requires... some small amount of sorcery.

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OK, ladies and gents, here is the machine I am considering from a local IT firm that I have experience with. Any thoughts?

Dell OptiPlex 9020 Desktop

Windows 7 Pro, 64 Bit


Intel Core i7-4790 (Quad Core, 8MB, 3.60GHz w/HD4600 Graphics)

1 TB Hard Drive, DVD +/- RW,

nVIDIA GeForce GTX 745, 4GB DDR3, 1 VGA, 1 DVI, 1 HDMI

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Nothing wrong with those specs at all.

The only thing I would change would be the graphics card -IF- you're going for multiple displays or a single very high res display in the 4K range.

For multiple 1080p displays consider a GTX 760 or GTX 770. For a couple high res displays I highly recommend the GTX 970 (just got one myself and it lays waste to all tasks I set before it).

Nothing wrong with the AMD R7 or R9 series cards though either, I'm just an Nvidia guy by habit.

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