Intel Macs and CAD

Did you give it a shot?
I would appreciate insights from those of you with Intel Macs, who tried to runs CAD apps like Solidworks and Alias StudioTool on Windows XP, through Boot Camp.

WinXP/Boot Camp/Intel Mac is a new platform, definitely intriguing, but absolutely not a possibility that is implementable in a firm due to its early adopter status. That means, the unknown… stability risk. I like the idea of not having two boxes, just a Mac that can boot both. To boot XP when I need to work on CAD, then for the rest of the time, boot OS X and enjoy good design. Still, you cannot check your Mail while on XP.

Sticking to PC?
Intel is set to release a new Pentium-D Conroe which means price cut for chips starting in April. This will put pressure from what I read so far and make the AMD Athlon X2 3800 2GHz dirt cheap (see Combined with an ATI FireGl V5000 128MB pcie (see, you get yourself a super fast machine to work on not so huge assemblies and creative StudioTool session for a fine price.

The next Power[Intel] Mac, successor of the G5
Will Solidworks, Alias[Autodesk] port for OSX Universal, i doubt it. Running XP on top of OSX is not even a question for hardcore CAD.
Will ATI and nVidia release pcie video cards that are compatible with the Power[Intel] Mac, and code drivers for the Mac Intel pipeline? According to the energy they have spent producing products and developping drivers, and that for 3% of the overall market, probably even worse for the CAD market, this would truly mean a compatible Mac. Well that’s where I see this Apple move getting us toward, in my dream…

You have an Intel Mac?
Please post your findings if you tested your Intel Mac with XP and CAD apps.

[revised 04.05.06]

For pity’s sake, don’t buy a computer planning on using an unsupported platform for running Alias or Solidworks.

The biggest problem with Windows on Intel Macs beyond the lack of driver support is just that, they’re Intels, AMDs are(generally, this week it might be different)better.

Yes, Windows owns CAD, in short. Why? Because Windows owns practially everything else, the switch of ‘big iron’ systems from Unix to Windows only happened relativley recently so they’re not going to switch again, and unless your name is Adobe Microsoft offers more for developers.

I’m sure you could run the software with a reasonable amount of sucess. Even regular PC’s with lower end cards occasionally experience issues. I have an Athlon X2 with an Nvidia Geforce 7800 and I get occasional spasms when I first start Maya (though it works itself out after a few seconds and works fine)

Problem is if you want a machine for serious serious cad work you’re going to be spending a huge premium on a slower machine with the Intel Mac.

If running OSX is imperative, I’d say sure, go for it. Finding the right video drivers for the Intel Macs shouldn’t be an issue (or minor but livable issues I’d suppose).

But if you want a machine thats faster then I can’t say how happy I am with my Athlon X2. My old machine was an AMD 64 3000+ (not slow even by todays standards) and the X2 4200+ more than halved my render times in Mental Ray. 9.5 hr renders get done in 4. Not to mention a PC will have much more flexability in upgrading then the Mac.

Got this from one of the other Forums

Apple and Solidworks

Gentlemen start your engines……

As we all know intel is making Apple’s new chip set. And two weeks ago Apple announced the official boot camp…

Here is a first run of SW running on a Mac with the intel chip.

Brief summary

· 15” power book

· 2 gigs of RAM

· Running Macs boot camp for Win XP (will list the other later)

I’ve dumped about 6 gigs of SolidWorks files into the MacBook Pro with
Win XP Pro2 and started by opening a dozen assembly and part files for
a product composed of corrugated tubes and curved plastic parts
(Respirator circuit) with a 17 meg final assembly and other assemblies
from 4-10 megs.

Become an early adopter at your own risk.

Just because the chips have changed and there is a hack to add Windows and Linux doesn’t mean that you should be the first person to make a commercial run at it. If you are looking to do solid CAD work, get yourself a dual processor workstation and get a good nights sleep knowing that your shit will work and you won’t have to ask hackers on chat boards to resolve any last minute issues.

I would wait until Apple comes out with at least two more versions of BootCamp and the drivers get updated by AutoDesk and others before attempting it.

cadalyst did a 2 part article worth reading:

p1: CAD Management | Cadalyst
p2: CAD Management | Cadalyst

So since last month, did any of you who bought a Mac Intel have a chance to bootcamp it and run Solidworks or Alias Studiotool? Did the graphic cards manage to work well enough? Keeping in mind this would be for a secondary computer that can run those apps for convenience, to do some renderings, but would not replace a fully graphic card certified windows xp workstation.

However, the arrival of the new Mac Pro (Mac Pro - Apple) is seriously bridging the hardcore CAD work with the Mac hardware. If only they could offer more graphic cards in the Nvidia Quadro and ATI FireGL families.

FYI - This is an interesting article :

Will Apple Intel Hardware and Boot Camp Change the CAD Market?

“It has been almost a decade since the major players in CAD standardized on Microsoft Windows. Advances in hardware and improvements to Windows allowed them to move away from proprietary UNIX workstations. A few at the extreme high end of the MCAD and visualization market maintained their UNIX support, as did the few developers using the Apple Macintosh environment. WhenApple bought Steve Jobs’ NeXT software company in 1996, and decided to base the future of the Mac OS on the NeXT UNIX-based OS, it encouraged many in the Macintosh community, giving them the hope that Apple would combined its legendary ease-of-use with a truly modern, industrial strength UNIX operating system to challenge Windows.” -

I’ve a had a 15" MBP for about a month now. Windows runs just fine. There are a few things like keyboard backlighting that don’t work, (probabaly drivers out there though). It helps to re-map some of the keys too.

That said, Solidworks runs better on my MBP than my current Dell. It’s a D600, 2.0ghz chip, 2GB ram, 256mb video card. I squeezed 80 fillets into one feature on my MBP with no slow down, my Dell started to lag at about 50. Not sure what part of the system that actually taxes, but productivity is better.

Alias Studiotools 13 however has some quirks. The most noticeable is a slowdown in the selection box…you know when you drag a box to select stuff. After a lot of heavy modeling, it starts to lag considerably. The toggle shade works great, power tracer works great. The physical key layout is lightly different than most PC notebooks. There’s an FN key in the bottom left corner that’s usually a ctrl key on PC layouts. I need to think about where my left hand fingers are just a split second longer.

I’m a pretty heavy Alias user, so let me know if you have any more specific questions.

BTW, I only boot to XP. All my adobe stuff obviously runs fine.

A Intel Mac is a PC, that’s what I have to keep in mind. It is all about hardware support through proper drivers. With the arrival of the Mac Pro, I am truly considering it. It is unfortunate that it only comes with no entry-level FireGL or Quadro graphic cards. The only card supported by Solidworks and Alias is the high end insanely expensive Quadro FX 4500. The NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT and ATI Radeon X1900 XT do support Open GL and are fairly fast compared to my current hardware, so I think for personal use this could do the tric. Because this is a tower, it is possible to upgrade to other cards, as long as OS X supports them. Booted on Win XP, I think any graphic cards for CAD made for PC could do, but OS X might be very confused if the drivers are not out there yet. Of course it will have to go until next Spring to get a full non beta version of Bootcamp, but because this is not for a business, more freelance and personal projects, this could do it. I truly believe SW will be fine, except some display bugs here and there that I already endure on PC. On Alias, well I am still learning it so don’t know. Are the bugs in Alias significant or minor?

Only booting XP, wow you must love the Apple hardware. I need my OS X, only deal with XP because I have to.

hi, i would love to hear your experiences and thoughts of running alias/solidworks/3dsmax (+vray) on the new santa rosa macbook pro. i’m especially interested in the 3d acceleration performance for rendering, considering the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics card. i know this card is not listed as supported by alias or solidworks, but it does support openGL. i’m really hoping apple would put a fx2500/3500m card in there, i’d buy one then in a hearbeat…

just curious, becuase i’ve never been a mac jocky, what’s the draw? i know all of the graphic designers i’ve worked with won’t use anything but a mac, but i’ve never understood why. all the adobe sofware is available for PC too. Solid Works Doesn’t crash on my wondows machine, Rhino runs great, Im not running a double OS so i have plenty of ram for big assemblies and rendering…what am i missing out on by not using a mac?
im always asking why?

Apple has the highest brand and repurchase loyalty of any computer manufacturer. Why? The least important reason, but the one that non-mac users like to bring up as often as they can is the fact that they don’t look retarded. The look good. Big Deal. The most important reason is the user experience. It is easy to use, logical and intuitive. The experience is complete and satisfactory, no annoying pop-up icon’s insulting your intelligence. No crashes, no viruses, No nothing. It is seamless. The fact that Apple has total control over the hardware as well as the software only adds to this seamless experience. The features in the OS are always relevant. It feels as if someone really cared about your authentic, unmet needs as they were designing the program. I can’t say that about XP. As a designer I tend to appreciate design that is user centric. From the very beginning Apple has created ground breaking innovative features like the very first personal computer with a GUI. If it wasn’t for Apple you probably still would be using DOS. By the way, do you own an iPod? The iPod and iTunes revolutionized MP3 players as well as the legal music downloading business. They’ve sold over 100 million iPods. The reason is… no not because it looks cool, but THE USER EXPERIENCE. Apple is about to do it all over again with the iPhone. You’ll see. As a designer it concerns me to see other designers so clueless about the importance of the user experience. Unless you’re still in school, it should be your job to know this stuff. Click this link and watch the Quicktime presentation of the next OS from Apple. It is a great example of how Apple is innovating around the user experience:


I think maybe your posting is a little… immature. I agree that MACs look good, I agree that their attention to detail in the operating system is untouchable… but Apple revolutionising the Mp3 market? Or is it Apple screwing over everyone (at least while they had no competition).

I’m a PC user, always have been, and I may move to Apple one day, but not until they have sorted out many of the ridiculous things about themselves; they are not as loyal and honest to their customers as described (go to Google, type in iPods dirty secret and do a little research from there. How’s that for user experience?). They change their products quickly, which is great but when they are so ‘fashionable’ they just obsolete the products and make their owners feel the hardware is obsolete also; more money out of the consumers pocket. Also Apple, like Sony, is among the worst of the ecologically aware electronics companies in the world. They have done nothing about advancing their manufacturing towards sustainable materials, but only recently decided to state ’ they are going to make it a priority’. You’ll see from Nokias recent release of boosted profits show that these things matter to the consumer.

I’m not having a rant at MAC users. Apple make good products and of course get loyal customers from this, but they are very lateral and hold off doing the ‘right’ thing until they are challenged about it (again, look at iPods dirty secret).


I’m aware of mac user’s loyalty, i know macs look better, the OS more stable etc… but the most important reason… the USER EXPERIENCE

yeah thats the big one, and i haven’t been convinced that mac’s user experience is better for me, or designers in general. i will admit that the UX design is more intuitive… however for designers this may not be the best way to operate i.e you can’t get to the nuts and bolts as easily. I have always appreciated the ability to adjust and tinker with the hardware and software of my machine, as i predict most designers would.
i don’t know, i would just like to hear why people use a mac rather than a PC without getting the conversion sermon.


Immature? I would like for you to explain exactly what you mean by that comment. Yes, Apple did revolutionize the MP3 market. That is why 500 million (that would be half a billion) copies of iTunes have been downloaded. I never said they invented the MP3 player but they completely changed the marketplace landscape from niche to mass. When the first iPod was launched in 2001, there had been no viable options for neither easy to use players nor intuitive download interfaces. It was niche and for the most part, illegal. I remember it clearly because I bought my first iPod the week it was released. The iTunes Music store was really the first attempt for the music companies to start selling digital music legally and Apple negotiated the most liberal (least stringent) DRM constraint available on the market. Apple based this decision on a consumer driven need. Apple is now trying to convince the same industry to get rid of DRM all together because it is clearly not working. Compare this with the more stringent competitors DRM and rental services. Who wants to rent music? When you stop paying your monthly fee your music disappears off of your hard drive! Is that a consumer driven need? That is as you put it “being screwed over”. In regards to your little secret, it is not a secret nor is it particularly dirty. I am not siding with Apple in regards to this issue but I am afraid you’re a bit confused. Apple is a corporation. The number one goal for a corporation, above everything else, is to make profit so it should not surprise anyone when a corporation acts as a corporation. It’s the inevitable result of an system structure that is in desperate need of improvement and so you can hardly blame any single corporation for this much like you cannot blame a bacteria for acting like a bacteria. There is a documentary called the corporation, rent it if you wish to learn more about corporate behavior ( The battery life on the Gen 1 iPods was indeed not as advertised, there was a lawsuit and Apple changed their policy. I agree thought that this policy should have been in place from the very beginning. Unfortunately that is an example of corporate behavior. I am also well aware of Greenpeace’s list. In regards to your mention of '“ecological awareness” or sustainability this is also due to corporate behavior. No corporation is going to care about this issue until they are forced to care about it. The majority of corporations today are simply in the business of “green washing”, Only a handful are serious enough to make holistic and systematic changes. It is a very complex issue. I have spent the past 4 years helping corporations improve their manufacturing processes so as to be more sustainable and I was also one of the guest speakers at the Sustainability Innovation 06 in Chicago last year. I think it is fair to say that I know a few things in regards to corporate sustainability. I’m afraid your concern for planned obsolescence has more to do with consumer culture than it has to do with Apple. I owned my first iPod for 5 years until I decided to replace it. I replaced the battery once, by myself. I am in complete agreement with you on the negative effects of planned obsolescence but I would counter by saying that the clean and timeless designs Apple create have a tendency to look less outdated throughout time than any of its competitors. Visually the exterior design of the iPod has changed very little since it was first launched. Can Apple do better on every issue we have discussed, of course they can. I’m siding with Apple (for now) because (for now) the are the most consumer centric and user experience focused computer manufacturer on the market. I apologize in advance if my writing may appear “immature” to you as I am writing in my second language. Thank you.

That’s where you’re having the crisis. Macs aren’t made to go to the nuts and bolts, just for them to do what you want them to do and well. With PC’s you have to adjust the machine to try to get the best performance out of it and fiddle with everything to take care of viruses or setting up things, everything is manual. After you tweak your machine to get it to work the way you’d like it to, then you get to work. But macs are pretty much “ready to go” out of the box, you don’t have to tweak it and mess with it’s inner workings to try to get better performance like you do with a pc.

Or in car terms, a pc is a manual drive fixer upper. For people that know the car mechanincs, they can get something cheap, adjust the engine and a hundred other things to eventually get a good running manual car (if they already know what they’re doing). But you still have to constantly monitor it to make sure everything is interacting well and to make sure the tweak you made doesn’t cause problems later on. And then you’re still driving a manual, you have to constantly make it do what you want to do while driving (shifting gears) and listening out for any possible thing that can go wrong. You have to keep spare parts in your trunk to repair on the go, etc. All of that just to be able to drive to where want to go. Gearheads like these because that’s part of them customizing their experience. Not everybody wants to do all of that just to have a ride to get them places.

With a mac, you don’t need to know much about the car, just basic stuff like replacing fluids, getting checked out every number of miles, like you would with any car. You buy it, put the key in, gas, brake, and steer and you get where you want to go which is your main purpose for the car, to get to your destination. It comes ready to drive well instantly, no adjustments necessary other than the personal stuff like your seatbelt and mirrors. You don’t need to be a gearhead to get to your destination, you just drive and enjoy your new car smell and get where you want hassle free. It also has puncture proof tires and automatic collision prevention. You lose out on some custom things like changing gears right when you want to but it’s automatic transmission works well and you don’t have to worry about messing up your cable or grinding your gears. It switches gears nicely like you would if you did it yourself except it does it on it’s own and takes out the risks that you will mess it up.
Sure you can mess it up if you try real hard but in general it’s worry free.


great metaphor man,

that’s really the thing i think. reminds me of that book ‘zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ …

with both software and hardware swinging in favor of the macintosh i think it’s interesting that it’s an option now, where like 4-5 years ago it wouldn’t have been a thought at all… thanks for your reply


I didn’t mean to offend! I have a feeling you are slightly touchy about this, where as I was voicing my opinion and view as a designer and someone with knowledge of consumer culture (as opposed to which you stated rightly, corporate culture).

When I say ‘being screwed’ by Apple regarding the Mp3 market I refer to the DRM which is far from liberal as it requires that you are forced to own an iPod to take advantage of the itunes libraries. To me, that is far from liberal. So what happens when your iPod breaks (which lets face it, happens often - this is not a generalisation, I have many friends with many broken iPods)? You need another one to play the music you have (as you point out) legally pay for. Is that fair?

Regarding iPods Dirty Secret, the fact that a week after that video was viewed across the internet Apple ‘suddenly’ changed their refurbishment policy is a little over coincidental, don’t you think? Ok, maybe it’s not dirty (I am only naming it this due to the name of the actual video), but it definitely raises eyebrows. And by the way, it’s not ‘my secret’. Couple this with the fact that the consumer has no access to change the battery themselves (at least without voiding the warranty) and it definitely raises questions about the intended longevity Apple has for such a product. This leads to me questioning the ‘user experience’, as I know many people whose user experience is sitting for hours on end in the ‘Genius Bar’ in the Apple Store on Regent St, London, waiting for someone to tell them what the hell is wrong with their Apple product.

You are right about my concerns regarding consumer culture, because I am a consumer and I want to feel that if I pay £££ for whatever product that I am receiving its equivelent value in use and experience. You are right also in stating about the minimal changing of Apples products (if you want to find out more about this, try to find some text on ‘Pristinian’ consumers, coined by Colin Campbell).

As for calling your post ‘immature’, I feel that this was meant in more relation to being biased towards Apple, and in my opinion (stressing ‘opinion’) people in the creative fields usually are highly critical of everything, not to side with anything but to realise (which of course you have stated in your reply) the cons and pros rather than to rank things.

Thanks for your reply, it was definitely interesting, and I am glad to have someone who voices their experiences rather than just agree.


Thanks for providing for an interesting discussion. I think you and I are on the same page when it comes to our views on consumer culture. I’m actually European but I have lived and worked in the US for almost 10 years now. I tend to get pretty passionate when it comes to these discussions. My pet peeve is the kind of designer who only does what they are told without considering the larger consequences of their action or forming their own point of view. Mindless cake decorators. By saying that I am of course by no means implying that you are one of those.

As far as DRM (here I go again) I know that Apple is actively promoting an elimination of DRM. They have just launched iTunes+ which is and option to purchase DRM free music of higher bit rate on their store. I agree that having to own an iPOD to be able to use music from the iTunes store is not liberal and but I also know Apple is trying to move in the direction of increased compatibility so that you can use any player with any song purchased from any store. Apple believes in their product line to the extent that opening up access will only let more people discover the benefits of their products. Boot Camp follows that same approach. Being able to burn a CD 5 times before you have to rearrange the song order is still a pretty liberal DRM in comparison to Microsoft’s DRM which initially prevented many consumers from playing their purchased CD’s or better yet, Sony’s DRM which secretly installed a Root kit on your personal computer so as to transmit information without the owners consent. Speak about violation of privacy rights! I highly suggest reading Steve Jobs letter to the big 4 (record companies) where he suggests abolishing DRM’s all together: Newsroom - Apple

I tried searching what you mentioned regarding “Pristinian Consumers” but found nothing. I would love to know more and I can pretty much guess what he is referring to. On that topic, I think that there is a lack of thoughtful discussions around the implications of our profession within the design community, including here on Core77. Is there a lack of integrity within the profession in general? I don’t know but sometimes I wonder. It would be great to see more opinions and passionate discussions on the larger implications of the profession that we have chosen.

Onto the battery topic. As far as I know you do not void the warranty when you take advantage of Apple’s battery replacement program. It seems that a lot of owners just purchase a battery replacement kit for $20 and do it themselves. I know I did. Ideally in the future you wouldn’t even own your iPod (or other any product) but you would pay for a service that let’s you use and keep the iPod for as long as you like but then at the end of life you’d return it to the manufacturer. In this scenario the product could take full advantage of the design-for-disassembly concept and by looking at a product more as a Service rather than a Product would transfer the responsibility of the product back onto the company that created it. This would also change corporate behavior because the relationship between the corporation and the consumer wouldn’t end as as soon as the consumer had purchased their product. Ideally it shouldn’t be up to each and every individual to replace the battery or to dispose of the product but to the industry who created it. If it is up to the individual it will never be a completely closed loop system. See picture attached.

In the future it will become critical to deliver value to consumers in an honest and meaningful way. There is a growing desire to feel that brands are going a bit further, not only to sell consumers something but also to respect them as intelligent individuals. What companies could you say does this well today and what are we as designers doing to promote it?


I found this thread after doing an extensive internet search. Its a bit old but I thought I’d try and revive it and see if anyone has any new details.

I have a MacBook Pro w/ BootCamp and XP loaded. I’ve recently tried installing AliasStudio PLE on it without much success. Within minutes of opening up the program and playing around with it, my video card freezes and I have to restart. Very frustrating especially since from what I can tell, the video card should be adequate enough for casual use. (ATI RadeonX1600 256mb)

Anyone else have any similar issues? Anyone have any success or have any tips?