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13" MBP to run VW

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A client is looking for an entry level machine for 3d architectural work. This seems to fit the bill. Does anyone have any experience. Thanks:

13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display

Part Number: MF840LL/A


2.7GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz


256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage

Intel Iris Graphics 6100

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If he has an external Monitor, ok.

I feel limited even on my old MBP 17" (if you are used to work on 30")

I think Jim may note that the Onboard GPU will be at least on the low side

for VW.

If Rendering will get part of the work later, the i7 Options with Hyperthreading

are about 40% faster at same frequency, which is a lot, and not so expensive.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

13" is going to be an issue unless they have young eyes, but that's more aesthetic.

Intel Iris GPU is going to make working in 3D painful once the model gets a little complex. i5 dual core is fine as long as you won't be doing any renderworks renderings.

We put this together recently, which might help:


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I had been running a late-2012 Mac Mini with Intel HD4000 graphics on-board -- slower than the Iris graphics in the MacBook you spec'ced.

Finally got fed up, did some research and figured out how to get a real external video card to work with the Mac Mini.

I am now running an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, in an external PCIe <--> Thunderbolt2 box, connected to the Mac Mini's single Thunderbolt port. 300% OpenGL performance increase, makes a big difference for using Vectorworks in Wireframe & OpenGL render modes. (But not other modes -- those are the only 2 that benefit heavily from GPU performance as of this writing. Polygon, hidden-line, and of course Renderworks are still heavily CPU-bound.)

You can read about the details of my install at the TechInferno forums, where I gathered info before buying my own equipment.

This cost about $670 and around 10-15 hours of research & setup time. You could get the same setup, pre-built, for about $1000 from http://www.bizon-tech.com. Caveat emptor, BizonTech is a small / unknown company, basically all they are doing is re-packaging the same parts I listed in my post above and making a few cosmetic improvments.

Edited by Gilbert Osmond
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If portability isn't really an issue, you will normally get more for your money

with an iMac. (Pity for her external Monitor, yes. Dual Monitors ?)

A "real" GPU is quite important for any 3D work, no matter which 3D App.

Edited by zoomer
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imho the best strategy would be to port vw on ios.

such ipad pro it's only some 0.7 kg weight and still an almost 13" display with a9 processor. the newest windows-based pcs have a touch screen already. a mouse will disappear in the long run.

and back to the topic: i've operated vw on my 13" mbpro even without retina for some years. but you have to have good eyes, jim is right.


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If you need portability AND you want high-end GPU performance you can do so with an external GPU setup. As you can see over at the TechInferno forums, perhaps the majority of eGPU users are laptop owners.

Many of the setups are physically "klugey" with wires going everywhere but there are some with high marks for fit, finish, and portability. (You have to carry around an extra box the size of a large toaster, but with a good carry-case it could travel without too much trouble.

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