switch from PC to Mac?

el jeffe

my dell desktop is in the shop and i'm limping along with an old hp laptop at the moment.

i've been considering the purchase of a new machine lately to allow another person in the office.

it seems that i'm at that fork in the road where i could stay with PC's or begin making the transition to mac.

i've used mac's in the past and love them - i only have a pc because of autocad, though to be honest, i'd rather switch to vectorworks or archicad.

so what is an acceptable mac spec for basic arch work? any reputable used mac dealers to reccomend?

how have others navigated this from this point?

Sep 6, 07 10:24 pm
Living in Gin

I'm looking at making a similar switch sometime within the next few months, hopefully sooner. I'll most likely be getting myself a 24" iMac, which should be able to run AutoCAD (via Windows on Boot Camp) without breaking a sweat.

My advice would be to get an Intel Mac, in case you decide to install Windoze and run AutoCAD at some point in the future. Boot Camp will make your Mac a dual-boot machine; Parallels or VMWare Fusion will emulate Windows within Mac OS X, but at a slower speed. According to recent reviews, Fusion seems to be faster and more stable than Parallels.

If you're looking for a used Mac, you might be disappointed to discover that Macs seem to hold their value much better than their PC counterparts... If you're taking any classes right now, you might be able to get a pretty good student discount on a Mac. Also, Apple offers refurbished Macs on their online store for a substantial discount, which carry the same warranty and support as a brand-new product.

And as you're probably aware, Mac OS X Leopard comes out next month... You may consider waiting until it's rolled out before buying a Mac.

Sep 6, 07 10:34 pm

Any of the Intel macs would be fine--I've even done a good chunk of work on my powerbook workhorse (pre-Intel model) and never once have I experienced sluggishness. I think this is partly due to VectorWorks and ArchiCad being so much more efficient than AutoCad--AutoCad is such a hog, you really need a good chunk of memory to run it and two Adobe programs simulataneously. I frequently plug away in Vectorworks with both Photoshop and InDesign running, on an old powerbook laptop, and experience zero difficulty. It really isn't much of an issue. You should be able to buy the stock model and call it a day.

Actually, I wouldn't recommend maxing your model out with Apple anyway--the components are cheaper to buy on your own and plug in later if you need anything.

I agree with LiG... get one of the Intel Macs (the new iMacs are great for an office, I think), then you can run both.

And, for the record, I highly, highly recommend ArchiCad. VWorks is great if you pretty much only do projects the size (and amount of custom detailing) of residences. If you're gonna start to do bigger projects, and use repeat details, and do some 3d work, you should look at ArchiCad.

Also, check out ArchiOffice for some fantastic job management software.

Oh, I can't wait to start my own firm and have an all-Mac set-up... it's phenomenal how much easier everything runs and how much more integrated it all is. Going from an all-mac office to a PC office as I've done this year was literally like stepping back in time about 8 years in terms of networking and ease-of-use (not to mention clean, streamlined organization). I miss working in a mac office.

Oh yeah, and Leopard's supposed to be sweet, so wait a month and get it free.

Sep 6, 07 11:23 pm

i will say that running xp/vista via parallels/bootcamp can be not only successful, but faster than on a native windows machine, you are still prone to the same sorts of run-time errors, slow start-ups, and frequent crasheing as well as COMPLETE AND TOTAL VIRAL INFESTATION FORCING YOU TO SPEND HALF A DAY SIMPLY REINSTALLING EVERYTHING.

sorry, was i yelling there?

i am in general rather amazed at how well my iMac intel core-duo runs windows apps. i don't use rhino or maya or revit or 3dmax so don't ask about those.

i would not get rid of the pc's either...keep them around so you can crosscheck your vectorworks/archicad exports in the native AutoCAD environment before you post corrupt files to your ftp...or better yet, you someone else's ftp!

Sep 7, 07 1:49 am
el jeffe

this is all great info and i really appreciate it.

i wasn't aware of leopard, my thoughts about switching to the mac (and any research about it) are about 24 hours old at this point. waiting a month may make good sense.

i'm a little hard-drive focused at the moment (ALL of my computer troubles in the last 2 years have been drive failures - 3 of them) so i'm thinking the drawback of an imac is probably no raid options and limited hardware upgrades??? does anyone use a mac tower??

thanks everyone who posted, but don't let that stop others from throwing in their 0.02.

of course, sandia and los alamos labs are having an auction today and tomorrow - perhaps i should just buy a pallet of pc's and hobble a few frankensteins together....

Sep 7, 07 8:04 am

everyone uses the same hardware - you'll have the same problems with a mac as with a PC

Look into some NAS systems. The Drobo, in this months PC Mag, looks pretty interesting (a NAS system, but it doesn't require a RAID array and you can put any size hard drive in it, not just 4 of the same thing)

Sep 7, 07 8:31 am
Living in Gin

The Mac Pro towers are the high-end workhorse Macs, with a price tag to match. You can get a machine with two quad-core processors, up to 16 GB of RAM, and four internal hard drive bays... If money is no object, that might be the way to go.

The iMacs aren't as flexible, but you can always hook up one or more external hard drives. And with AirPort Extreme, you can even plug an external hard drive directly into your WiFi router, and access it wirelessly from multiple computers.

Sep 7, 07 9:00 am
el jeffe

that drobo looks sweet in a stupidly simple way - if i could pair that with the airport extreme and have it available to all machines.....
thanks people.

Sep 7, 07 9:10 am
FOG Lite

I have a Mac Pro and if you are in the market for as many processors as you can get, i.e. rendering, then they are a great deal, mine was $1k less than a Dell with the same specs. Still more than an iMac, but well worth it. To get true raid in them though I think is considerably extra, but they have 4 hd slots so I now just keep my os and programs on one and have all my work and music on a couple others. I use boot camp and I have had to reformat the XP partition once so far and all told I was down for less than 3 hours re-installing windows and other programs.

Sep 7, 07 9:50 am
el jeffe

went to the apple store yesterday - made up my mind to get a 20" imac when leopard ships.
thanks for all of your help!

Sep 8, 07 10:43 am
Living in Gin

Sweet... Let us know how it works out. Congrats on leaving the Dark Side!

Sep 8, 07 1:21 pm

Definitely a good choice. You'll never look back, I love my Intel Mac. Not only is it fast and very stable (my PC at work crashes on me regularly) but they look soooo cool...

Sep 8, 07 3:05 pm

jeffe, echoing Gin's congrats on switching to Mac, I don't think you'll regret it. I did a few years ago, still have old Windows box full of hardware that had to be fixed one time too many or that pulled a crash'n'burn at a crucial moment. They may use same components but for whatever reason, I've gotten better use out of the Mac hardware. Software installation has been way easier with Mac; often had to call in specialist to reinstall Windows after minor upgrades, not so with Macs yet. Bookkeeper still uses remaining Windows machine, though.

Sep 8, 07 4:54 pm

congrats, now you can be another Apple salesman. Plus, i think you're considered an artist now. Think of the lifespan of your machine with no viruses and crashes! Wait, did Jobs just introduce the next generation? Oh shit, you gotta get your hands on that!

Sep 8, 07 5:12 pm

Don't have "latest-greatest" — can't afford on architect's fees! Look at what jeffe bought, then read
Currently run an iMac, plus older G4 bought surplus for $50 because it was covered in Co'cola, though it plugged & played immediately prior to clean-up & upgrade. It's worked great for many thousands of hours now. As for Jobs & his salesmanship, it drove their new-purchase market share to 17%, from about 2% a few years back, so consumers get decent software again. (Come to think of it, I might get a raise & be able to afford my own architecture if I went to work at the Apple store.)

Sep 8, 07 11:36 pm

I'd be interested in reading that article about that new purchase growth - that's really astounding if it's accurate (seriously, I'd be interested in reading it).

This is what I could find:

"Throughout 2007, Munster said Apple should hold about 3.5 percent of the worldwide PC market, which could mean that the company could sell about 9 million Macs during the year"

3.5 % of the total market seems about correct, given where it has been in recent years. Eitherway, I think it'll continue to grow at a healthy rate.

Personally, I'd buy one if I could run my software (Max, Acad) on it and if they had better support (I can't wait 4 days for a my computers to be fixed).

I'd pay a premium for great design and craftsmanship.

I really hope someone comes up with a simple OS. Vista is starting to look too cumbersome and OS X is too damn ugly (for me - big icons are just too silly).

We need a third party, like Red Hat, to make a good Linux system that is nothing but function.

Sep 9, 07 9:44 am

trace, thanks for that question. Since you asked, I realized it could be from an "Apple-favoring" source. Don't recall where I read it at the moment, but think I saw within last 7 - 10 days, so may be able to find and post here (or send you). Yours looks more objective. I should be more careful!

Sep 9, 07 10:02 am

"for me - big icons are just too silly"

Just make them smaller under


Sep 9, 07 10:10 am
Living in Gin

I guess it's all subjective, but I think Mac OS X looks pretty damn sharp... And based on the screenshots I've seen of Leopard, it's about to look even better.

It would be nice if Autodesk got their shit together and released Mac versions of AutoCAD and Max, but in the meantime, you can always do the Boot Camp thing.

Sep 9, 07 1:24 pm

Autodesk won't even fix the 10-year-old bugs in their own program, much less clean up the code so it doesn't a) crash every 2 hours or b) hog half the machine's processing power... why would they ever code a completely new version for 10% of the architecture field and 0% of the engineers? I hate that company, what a waste of potentially good brainpower.

Sep 9, 07 9:24 pm
Living in Gin

Agreed... I'm starting to think I just need to learn Archicad and Rhino, and swear off Autodesk and Windows once and for all.

Sep 9, 07 11:36 pm

Switching to Archicad/Vectorworks is like getting your windshield cleaned on a long car trip... all of a sudden you see clearly what you didn't even realize was clouded before.

Sep 10, 07 12:01 am

Are MACs 64 bit?

Sep 10, 07 2:59 pm

macs are nice machines however archicad is possibly the worst BIM software Ive ever seen. Yes you can make it work but its cumbersome. Maybe its a little more intuitive than Revit but you know Revit just does so much more/ and using it for 2-d I likened archicad to drafting with photoshop

Sep 10, 07 3:07 pm

Is there normally a large learning curve from Autocad to Archicad and from PC to Mac.

Sep 10, 07 3:09 pm

not at all - its true you just jump right onto a mac and archicad it helps to have someone whose used it before but you can handle it if you handle ACAD. But be forewarned theyre not as stable as mac folks would like you to believe. My mac crashed a little less often than my PC - maybe 80% as much but when it did I would have to unplug it sometimes - Never underestimate the power of the darkside.

Sep 10, 07 3:21 pm
el jeffe

got my dell back - bad hard drive.

the tech, in his best napoleon dynamite voice, told me, "yeah, maxtors are pretty much the worst hard drives. they run friggin hot."

leopard countdown widget

Sep 10, 07 3:34 pm

i got my dell down, and in a hurry to buy a new laptop, i did checked DELL and MAC, both "brands" in the same configuration sent DELL 500 dllrs over the MAC prize, so as also MAC has a seductive design and so-called better aspects than PCs i decided to buy a MAC, i couldnt wait for the Leopard to come out, but definetly will pay my upgrade to it soon... im receiving my macbook pro this week...and excited about it... i will try to learn vectorworks (somehow i feel archicad as a photoshop), but if not, i wont die, i have worked in offices which uses both plattaforms and there was no big problems at i dont see how this will affect my own practice using both plattaforms, i actually think, the most tools, plattaforms, softwares that u can include just give u more "weapons" to tackle situations....

so im pretty excited about making the switch, and not worried at all... is time to kill the monopoly of pc and autodesk.... there's so many diff ways to do architecture out of the mainstream....

expand ur boundaries, if u think (as an architect) the only way u can work and/or do architecture (either if ur into construction or design, or any other aspect of architecture) is thru a PC and the use of AutoCAD, i think ur already setting limits to ur creativity or capacity to solve situations....

bienvenida MAC

Sep 10, 07 4:21 pm

Apple is more a monopoly than MS

Sep 10, 07 5:18 pm

trading one for another is not working towards a solution.

Sep 10, 07 5:18 pm
Living in Gin

Put down the crack pipe and back away from the computer.

Sep 10, 07 5:28 pm

put down jobs and gates _____s

Sep 10, 07 6:34 pm

yeah, evilp, i have no idea how archicad handles BIM, as i've never yet had the occasion to do any BIM. I would imagine Revit does this better as Revit is specialized for it, no?

Sep 10, 07 8:21 pm
brian buchalski

i thought we established in an earlier thread that the mac/pc debate was an easy decision,i.e., if you're an attractive, stylish person with healthy relationship with adults then get a mac but if you're poor or otherwise dowdy then just settle for a pc and quietly go about your business

Sep 10, 07 8:48 pm

Following on trace's question of 9/9/2007, I stand corrected on the Mac market share. In spring of this year, 2007, it apparently stood at 5.6%, according to this link, which seems independent of Apple

A more recent article shows summer quarter share at 6.1%, so trend is toward increasing share in US (though not worldwide; also this link may be seen as more favorable to Apple, but was only one I could locate for recent months)

Thanks for double-checking my figure. Interesting how this latest has been sufficient to generate a relative bloom in new software for the platform. Lots of good freeware & shareware (often cheap) available online. If Apple keeps the trend going, the software developer community seems ready to supply it with decent apps.

Sep 10, 07 11:43 pm

archicad is the original modeling program / I think its older than revit as well

Sep 11, 07 2:57 pm

I was denied ownership of a mac... beer belly, no butt, white socks with leather sandles, combover AND ponytail, plaid shirt and striped tie, Texas Instruments pocket protector, wallet carried in front pants pocket, and you could see the AC/DC tour rock concert t-shirt under my plaid shirt.
Not to mention I had been up 36 hours straight knocking down a video game. Yay Mountain Dew!

Sep 11, 07 3:29 pm

Vectorworks sucks - I am forced to use it at work and the opinions of the software here range from lukewarm okayness to virulent anger. Vectorworks may cost half as much as ArchiCAD, but its one tenth the program. Its ugly, disorganized and subbornly inconsistent.

Think of ArchiCAD as Revit, but with better looking drawings and a more intuitive interface. Back at my old office my half-assed drawings looked twice as good as the best AutoCAD drawings I've seen. Revit will let you do more of the swoopy architecture that the Gehry clones love though. And the data is a bit easier to get out of the software too - I concede that. If that's what you want, Bootcamp it. I've been doing a lot of research on it and the kinks seem to have been by and large worked out on running Revit on a Mac. Either program should be good - however, I'm a serious when I say VW is a plain bad program. Avoid whenever possible.

Best of all, now that you have the option, both programs will have to keep on their toes to respond to the other program - which makes it a win for us, the user.

And ArchiCAD is the original BIM program - however, that means it (like AutoCAD in drafting) is saddled with earlier organization of BIM structures, and so has to hold onto this structure while Revit, coming later, has the advantage of learning how ArchiCAD does and doesn't work, and improving on it without having to hold onto the stuff that doesn't work.

Sep 11, 07 5:47 pm

what about the intellicad's that have ADT ability and only cost 150-200?

Sep 11, 07 6:52 pm

one of these

i am thinking Bricscad architecturals

Sep 11, 07 7:01 pm

cadian or intelliplus

Sep 11, 07 7:03 pm

seems whomever supports MAC is not as crazy as some think... hope this link can calm down for a bit this MAC or PC debate or "Best laptop to buy" threads:

PC WORLD magazine: Most Notable Laptops of 2007

Sep 13, 07 4:42 pm

macs rule! i made the change and it's been the best decision ever. better than going into architecture to begin with. not having cad as handy is tough at first, but it works great through basecamp. parallels is cool too.

also, been developing this software application for a couple of months now - would love feed back :) ; invitation code: shop

Sep 26, 07 2:51 am

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