Why are MacBook Pros Good Enough and PCs Are Not?


Many people say that a MacBook Pro works great for them and the of the architecture software yet when I hear about which PC laptops are good for architecture software, only ones with Quadro video cards (such as the Precision, EliteBook, and ThinkPad).


The Macs have Intel HD Graphics 4000 which is an inferior card to the Quadro and even the GeForce. 


Why are Macs recommended sometimes while other models, such as the Dell XPS, Samsung Series 7, Asus (all have GeForce cards) are often put disparaged since they do not have Quadro cards meanwhile, those three machines are far more powerful than the Mac? 


If a Mac only has Intel graphics, why can't one get a PC with Intel, GeForce, NVS, etc graphics? Why is only Quadro good enough for PCs?

Feb 13, 13 8:48 pm

Do you think Fashion statement has anything to do with owning a MacBook pro? or any apple products? I know many people buy apple products the moment a new version of ipad iphone, macbook etc that come out. A friend of mine prefer macbook over a pc becasue of the design of it. In terms of performance, they are equal or if anything PCs are more powerful.

Feb 13, 13 9:00 pm

In that case why are people able to use MacBooks with inferior set ups? Why not just buy a PC for $700-$1000 with identical specs to the Mac and it should perform just as well as the Mac? Why does everyone suggest Quadro cards then?

Feb 13, 13 9:24 pm

People believe macs are superior because they want to believe that macs are superior.  

Feb 13, 13 9:47 pm

But if Macs can get the job done, why can't one just get a PC that is the same as a Mac and 3/4 the price? Why do we need these big, fancy machines?

Feb 13, 13 10:26 pm

Well, I love working with anything graphic on the retina display... Purely functional statement. 

Feb 13, 13 10:33 pm

I'm not a computer expert so I'm not going to give you technical spec but IF it's relating to personal preferences and fashion statement then people are willing to pay extra for something that works just as well as something that's only worth 3/4 of the price. One girl can spend $20 on a hand bag and the other can spend $1,000. They both do the same job and can fit everything they need to fit in it. But one's a designer brand.

Question, are you a PC or a Mac person? 

Feb 13, 13 10:35 pm

Now I'm a PC person but may get a Mac. Deciding which one would be better for me.


I've just been hearing that MacBooks are good for architecture yet comparable PCs would not be sufficient enough for those programs. I hear that the only PCs that are good enough are ones with Quadro cards yet MacBooks don't have them. I don't see how Macs don't have a problem then since they don't have the professional cards.

Feb 13, 13 10:45 pm

I have a Mac, but partitioned the hard drive and do all of my work on the Windows side because of Rhino.  Check the system requirements/availability of the software you will be using- that might help you make up your mind.

Feb 13, 13 11:34 pm

who's been telling you that?  sounds like an apple fanboi. 

if you're running programs that would benefit from a quadro card and you don't want a laptop for gaming, you might as well get a laptop with a quadro card.  having said that, a geforce or apple's intel cards still have lots of vram.

Feb 14, 13 7:38 am

So honestly, a PC equipped with Intel or GeForce graphics should be fine since thats what the Macs use and many architects seem to find Macs to work well for them. Even though AutoDesk only recommends the Quadro series, GeForce and Intel are good enough too as evident by the usage on Macs.

Feb 14, 13 8:18 am

here is the system requirements recommended by autodesk:

this is kind of a sales pitch by nvidia saying you need quadro for autocad:

and this is the quadro 4000 for mac (if you're really that concerned about performance, you'd be getting a desktop anyway):

Feb 14, 13 9:19 am

Macs are popular in this profession for the same reason getting paid properly isn't.

Feb 14, 13 9:21 am

In that case why are people able to use MacBooks with inferior set ups? Why not just buy a PC for $700-$1000 with identical specs to the Mac and it should perform just as well as the Mac? Why does everyone suggest Quadro cards then?

That's basically what I did - HP Spectre(15.6") with i7 processors and Intel HD Graphics 4000 -and saved $1400.

Feb 14, 13 11:59 am

The Quadro graphics cards ARE A WASTE OF MONEY, even for the most complex Revit models with tons of polygons. The Geforce cards are good enough for what we do.

Macbook Pros are great laptops, as they are made from very high quality parts as compared to Dell etc, and their battery life is great. That said, I do not like Mac OS, and always use Bootcamp to put Windows on it..

Feb 14, 13 12:47 pm

What is the major malfunction with  the The Quadro graphics cards

Feb 14, 13 12:54 pm

Unless you primarily use software that is optimized or only available for the Mac (e.g. ArchiCAD, Final Cut Pro), stick with the PC platform. Rhino won't run on the Apple OS, so that makes the main decision right there. You can get a PC laptop with a high-res screen if you like the look of retina displays, but that's not going to help you get your work done any better either way.

The main people buy Macs is because marketing and status-seeking. Sure they're cool, but they're not actually very good computers relative to what you have to pay for one.

Feb 14, 13 3:12 pm

Imho, Mac's gained support in the Architecture\Design realm due to the operating system. 10 years ago, windows xp performed very poorly with rendering programs and photoshop and what not. Loosing 30 minutes or a half hour of work due to a windows crash or a blue screen of death was almost a daily event. Doing some quick math, at about $30-40 day saving, paying the premium for the mac, which is unix based and provides a far stabler application environment was well worth it. ....And they look pretty.

Feb 14, 13 3:35 pm

"The main people buy Macs is because marketing and status-seeking. Sure they're cool, but they're not actually very good computers relative to what you have to pay for one."

I think you are completely wrong. The Macs always have superior parts and always have good battery life compared to their PC equivalents. Even with Bootcamp and Windows on a mac, they always beat PCs in all benchmarks. And they last much more than PC laptops.

Feb 14, 13 3:56 pm

Xenakis, Quadros used to be much better than Gaming Cards (like Geforce) back in the day. Not so now. Actually, you can buy Geforce card, and tweak the firmware to make it behave like a Quadro, if you so desire.

Feb 14, 13 3:57 pm

Rhino won't run on the Apple OS, so that makes the main decision right there

That and Revit - I use them both

Gaming Cards (like Geforce) back in the day

Back in my Rockstar Games days - 

"The main people buy Macs is because marketing and status-seeking

You walk into any coffee house in SF and I swear 80% of the people use MacBookPros - 

"when you go to San Francisco - be sure to bring your MacBookPro"

Feb 14, 13 4:14 pm

sameolddoctor, not true. My HP laptop gets way better performance and battery life than my wife's macbook pro (same age equipment). It's not even a close contest. The HP spanks it on every measure. My daughter's Asus can run Photoshop on battery for hours longer than the macbook can.

And the macbook has had to go back to Apple for warranty repairs several times, where the HP and Asus have been entirely trouble-free. So I don't buy the "superior parts and build quality" thing either. The macbook is a piece of junk, and my wife wishes she'd never bought it.

Feb 14, 13 4:17 pm

Its funny, I never wish I bought my piece-of-junk Lenovo T400. I wish I had bought a MBP instead - to each his own, I guess

Feb 14, 13 4:31 pm

I can't stand the noises macs make. Nails on chalkboard.

Feb 14, 13 4:40 pm


Well Apple did drop the prices on MBPs - get yourself a 3 series

Feb 14, 13 4:45 pm

doc, i think you're backwards on the quadro-geforce thing.  at some point in the past they were basically the same card with only firmware difference.  you could get a geforce and pirate the firmare, and you would have the quadro (i believe "tweak" understates the difference).  i'm pretty sure there are now hardware differences in the line.  i would also point out that this does not necessarily mean quadro is better, it just costs a lot more.  if you're gaming, the geforce should perform better.

it's impolite to discuss benchmarks on internet forums without providing links.  that's what links are for.

also, what's wrong with the lenovo?  do they suck now too?

Feb 14, 13 5:51 pm

hmmm I swear I had posted a comment regarding macs and itune being the worse invention ever. have this been deleted? did I offended someone?

Feb 14, 13 7:09 pm

curtkram, I am not posting benchmarks, because most of them are not useful what what we do. Sure, the quadros could be much better for geothermal modeling with six types of oil below the earths substrate, but for most tasks involving rhino, autocad, 3ds max, Revit and Maya, one would see absolutely no difference, except for on the wallet.

I had great expectations with the T400, but has turned out to be a great disappointment. The build quality is not too bad, but there are always problems with the laptop not going to "sleep" everytime the lid is closed, hence heating it up etc. There was a lot of bloatware on it, which I took off to make it perform a little decently.

If one really wants a PC laptop, my money is on Fujitsu. They have never let me down - great build quality and great parts - still assembled in Japan. They are a little expensive, but guess you get what you pay for

Feb 14, 13 7:34 pm

hys315, yes, itunes is the biggest load of crap. Actually except for iOS (which is also looking a bit long in the tooth), I dont care for any Mac software. Their hardware though, is really good!

I also had an experience where my comment was deleted on another thread for a Jon Jerde building which I thought was quite bad. Guess Archinect is getting a little PC?

Feb 14, 13 7:37 pm

I dont care for any Mac software. Their hardware though, is really good!

Yes I can associate with that.

Feb 14, 13 8:14 pm

"Macs are popular in this profession for the same reason getting paid properly isn't."

Most logical statement ever written on this forum


Feb 14, 13 8:41 pm

So really, any laptop with an i7 processor and 2.6 GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB hard drive, and a dedicated graphics card should be more than enough for running all the programs such as AutoCad, Rhino, 3DS, Revit, etc.


Besides the design, Macs really provide not benefit. If one were to spend the money, they might as well get a Dell Precision with the professional graphics card. If not, a simple PC for $700 would be good enough.

Feb 14, 13 9:32 pm

Even though AutoDesk only  recommends the Quadro cards, as evident by all the people who use MacBooks without issues, Quadro cards are obviously not necessary. 

Feb 14, 13 9:33 pm

I think macs just work well. They are better built, the craft is way better, they are lighter, and it has not crashed once in the 8 months I have had it. I have the Retina MBP, I had to pay a lot though but I don't regret doing it though. I have windows 8 on bootcamp on it and runs perfectly. I have rhino and revit on it and both look fantastic on the retina display. Retina display is not the same as the hi-res screens on PC laptops. It is in fact, way better. (Hi-res = 1900 x something while Retina=2880 x something) big difference there. I know you get the same work done, but well... if you are going to be 8 hours a day in front of the PC you might as well... And it is really so much nicer to work on visualisation stuff on that resolution. 

Think about the OS, windows is designed to work on thousands of different configurations of hardware and drivers. OSX is designed to work just a couple different configurations of hardware and drivers... which one do you think will give you less problems and compatibility issues? 

Before the mac I had a Dell XPS M1530 for 3 years, I had to get about 3 keyboard replacements, 1 full computer replacement, 1 battery replacement, 1 hard drive replacement and 2 changes of stupid little enclosure pieces of plastic that were coming off. Luckily I had extended warranty. It was a good fast computer but so fricking annoying to be dealing with all those problems, and not even saying how much time I lost with viruses, trojans, drivers, and crashes. 

And size and weight-wise, I dont think you can even match the Retina MBP with any other in terms of performance to size/weight. 


Anyway, I think you'll get the same work done with either a PC or a Mac. Its just like buying a more expensive/luxurious car. Chevrolet or BMW? Both will still take you were you need.. 

Feb 14, 13 10:02 pm

Why do you keep saying Autodesk only recommends Quadro cards?

Feb 14, 13 10:08 pm

I once sat next to this guy on a plane, who was a purchasing manager for Dell. He used a Macbook Pro, and said rather openly that he never used Dell for this own purposes, as they always undercut vendors on parts an used the worst crap possible.

Feb 14, 13 11:30 pm

curtkram, here you go (this is what what Autodesk recommends for Building Suite 2013)

Feb 14, 13 11:35 pm

I love how conversations involving apple always manage to quickly devolve into grumbling over other people's consumer purchasing habits.

Look, I live in a turn of the century Willhelmian-era building. It has piss poor insulation, old single-pane windows, and touchy radiators. Compared to a newer, more efficient building it just doesn't compare, certainly in any sort of empirical test. But I like the old oak floors, the high ceilings, the moulded trim and the solid wooden doors with heavy brass knobs. I know that rationally speaking, it's an inferior product, but I'm willing to pay more for it, because I like it. Or  as others have similarly posted, the analogy to automobiles.

Is it really so hard to imagine that people could possibly feel the same about consumer grade electronics? Of course there's always a level of marketing and status involved, but surely we as architects and designers should acknowledge that design, materiality, and yes even aesthetics can be just as important as performance. 

Feb 15, 13 5:49 am

As architects we sure should "acknowledge design, materiality and yes and even aesthetics" because we are dealing with the built environment and these things are important to us. A computer is design for the performance so surely that's gotta take precedent over the aesthetic and how much lighter it weigh, majority of the time people rest their MacBook on a desk while working anyway so why does it matter if it weigh 100grams lighter than a pc notebook? I seriously do not understand why people are willing to pay premium price for things that are totally irrelevant for what it needed to do.

Feb 16, 13 3:00 am

thanks sameolddoctor.  i had not seen that.  looks like mac is out if we trust autodesk.  then again, it's hard to find someone you can trust.  especially autodesk.

Feb 17, 13 7:32 pm

I know this is a little late in the conversation, but when people say the MBP is a good rendering/graphics machine it's because of its dedicated graphics cards, Nvidia Geforce 650M. If you want to see the video card's specs and performance relative to many others go here: and read away. The high price of this version of the MBP is because of the package. There's not many notebooks in this class that can compete.

Feb 18, 13 12:38 am

Also, the XPS m1530 (i owned one for 4 years) was a good performer, but built poorly. This was well known in the Dell/notebook community which is why it was quickly selling at reduced price.

Feb 18, 13 12:43 am

Samsung series 7 Chronos with 8GB RAM and retrofitted the drive to 256GB SSD = MacBookPro 

(and the souped up Samsung is $1,500 less expensive)  Phew!  That will buy you a Rhino license or two.

I put the white apple sticker on the case to feel better about not buying the Mac...and for those trips to SF bay area.

Feb 18, 13 2:13 am

I put the white apple sticker on the case to feel better about not buying the Mac...and for those trips to SF bay area.

LOL So true - every one, their brother + sister here has an MBP - then I walk in with my HP Spectre( I think I am the only one here that has one) - I should just put a white apple sticker on the lid and nobody will notice the difference - 

Feb 18, 13 1:45 pm

Correction, only the apple lovers wouldn't know the difference because they are too simple minded and worship the sticker too much and not realizing that their god Steve job is no longer on earth.

Feb 18, 13 2:17 pm

Steve - an entire industry based on "Windowpane"

Feb 18, 13 2:56 pm

duh! Macbook is one... why are you comparing it with multiple options Precision, EliteBook, and ThinkPad). 

Feb 19, 13 6:58 am

Samsung series 7 Chronos with 8GB RAM and retrofitted the drive to 256GB SSD = MacBookPro

(and the souped up Samsung is $1,500 less expensive)  Phew!  That will buy you a Rhino license or two.

And how does it stand up to Rhino/modeling/rendering? Does it lag at times or it works pretty good?

Feb 19, 13 6:35 pm

to resurrect this thread;

im recently back in the market for a new laptop, after 6+ faithful years with a sony viao. it was at the top of its class at the time, with a nvidia geforce 8400m graphics card, 3gb of ram, an intel core 2 duo processor, bd disk drive and a 320 gb hard drive all with 17" 1080p display. At $1700, and despite running vista (which i never had any major compatibility issues with) it was well worth the investment. the vaio ran everything i needed up to revit architecture and studio 3DS max 12. Id like to find something new that will prove just as trustworthy, with the extra power thats necessary given the high demands of the industry used software. 

for me, the long term investment and over value is what im concerned with in the mac/ pc discussion. im willing to pay the money for something that will do what i need, long into the foreseeable future. So, what are peoples opinions on the MBP with a solid state harddrive being able to handle the demands of 3d bim modeling, running adobe suites programs, and rendering software, vs comparable PC versions. 

Aug 7, 14 12:35 am

if you need to do work and use revit and autocad on a regular basis, get a pc.

if you want a fancy facebook machine, get a mac.

Aug 7, 14 12:45 am

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