I’m seeking advice regarding my Dell XPS 17 model 9710 as I contemplate a shift back to MacOS for my work with ArchiCAD 27.
After three years with Dell, my previous MacBook experience, and changes in my workflow, I’m considering a return to MacOS, especially since I regularly use Apple products like iPhone and iPad Pro.
Despite my satisfaction with Dell, its hardware limitations become apparent in certain architectural projects with a high polygon count, pushing it to critical limits. Below are the results of Cinebench 2024 and Geekbench tests to illustrate my current notebook’s real-world performance.
I’m considering the new MacBook Pro with an M3 chip, but I’m unsure about the ideal configuration for ArchiCAD work. Our studio utilizes ArchiCAD with support packs, automatically transitioning to the latest versions (currently on version 27). We also work with Cinema 4D and Corona Renderer, but my primary concern is ArchiCAD 27, focusing on Mid-range Apartment and office building projects.
Dell XPS 17 (9710)
11th Generation Intel® Core™ i9-11900H (24MB Cache, up to 4.9 GHz, 8 cores)
Height: 19.5mm (0.77”) x Width: 374.45mm (14.74”) x Depth: 248.05mm (9.76”)
2.42kg (5.34lbs.) for touch with 97Whr battery
4x Thunderbolt™ 4 (USB Type-C™) with DisplayPort and Power Delivery
3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
As my last MacBook Pro was Intel-based, I lack experience with Apple’s ARM chips. I’ve heard that M2 chips perform similarly to M3 chips.
Therefore, I’d appreciate insights from anyone who has faced a similar dilemma or has firsthand experience with M2 or M3 chips advising on the recommended Apple configuration. I aim to strike a balance between cost and performance, seeking an upgrade that significantly boosts capabilities relative to my current Dell, aligning with the demands of my projects.
Your real-world experiences and advice would be invaluable in guiding my decision.
Thank you for your insights.
Ondrej Chudy • London, UK • Founding Partner & Architectural designer at TMD - www.tmd.studio • ArchiCAD 27 (user since 2005) • Intel® Core™ i9-11900H, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3060 4GB GDDR6
My computer is a M2 max with 32Gb of memory and 512gb of ssd, I use Archicad 27 for the Apple Silicon on a 5k Apple studio display with retina resolution.
I am currently working on the project of a 15-story residential building that handles a large number of blocks and external modules.
The 3D model has approximately 4 million polygons and I don't find any important limitation, except that if I activate the shadows in the 3d the speed when orbiting suffers and sometimes the shadows disappear.
Apart from that the plants and sections are generated at high speed and the redrawing on screen is almost immediate. I have no speed problems in that aspect and archicad works great.
In this particular project archicad consumes approximately 9gb of memory although I have not yet finished adding structural or installation drawings. So I have enough memory left to use measurement programs, office or even a Parallels virtual machine with some windows programs.
I am very satisfied with the performance of the Apple M2 Max and from what I have seen the M3 Max is much faster, especially in the graphics section so I even consider selling my computer and buy a MacStudio with M3 Max when it comes out next year.
I would say that a base M3 max is more than enough, and you will benefit as soon as programs like cinema4d, Blender, Twinmotion, escape, etc... are updated to use the new raytracing cores of the M3 processor.
It is also important to add that Apple allows the return of any equipment within the legal period of 14 days, at least here in Spain. So you could always buy the laptop, install archicad and check how it behaves with your projects. If it does not suit your needs you can return it without any problem.
I'm also extremely happy with my 16" M2 Max Macbook Pro (32 GB RAM; 1 TB SSD)... fastest computer I've ever had... was almost a blessing when my previously incredible iMac Pro died this spring and I switched to this. It runs cool even under load and I've never heard the fans go on. Using it with 2 external monitors and port expander.
That said... the new M3 Max benchmarks 50% faster... supposedly matching the M2 Ultra.
I would definitely not consider the M2 Pro for our kind of work as Apple has crippled the memory bandwidth. Single core speed and memory speed are dominant for most Archicad use.
An M3 Max Macbook Pro would definitely last you the longest, helping to pay off the investment I think. On the other hand, if the price of an Apple Certified-refurbished M2 Max (see link at bottom of Apple page for their refurbished sales) is significantly cheaper... worth considering. (Only M2 Pro models available as I write this though.)
One of the forum moderators AC 27 USA and earlier • macOS Ventura 13.6.2, MacBook Pro M2 Max 12CPU/30GPU cores, 32GB