Which hardware, PC or Mac for 3D software? Which 3D?

I’m lookiing into investing some money into a high end 3D software along with a powerful hardware work station.

I’ve been out of the loop in the design profession (almost 10 yrs., yikes!) and would like to resume it, first by getting myself acclamated into learning the latest 3D softwares out there.

Though I’m a MAC user it seems that high end softwares such as Alias only work on PCs. Is this true? At the moment, I’m looking to getting a Dell Precision M4300 laptop + Wacom tablet + 3D software (i.e., Alias).

I need your advise!!! Thanks in advance.

Macs can now run windows - but they don’t have workstation class graphics capabilities.

Is portability a serious issue? Do you need to do work on the go? If not go with a desktop PC, you’ll be able to get much better performance at a much more appropriate price.

Otherwise you could always get something like a Macbook Pro and run both OSX and Windows. What do you plan on doing with the CAD software? Do you expect to be dealing with huge complex data sets or working with fairly simple objects?

Theres no “it” for 3d software, every package has it’s pros and Cons - Alias’s of course being its ridiculous price (although they do offer a free learning edition). Rhino and Solidworks are two very price competitive, fairly low learning curve packages that are both very effective.

Thanks for the input.

I’m definitely looking into laptops for portability factor. I’ve read that, for instance, Dell Precision M4300 has desktop quality and performance.

I’d definitely want a software that can handle complex forms, i.e., automobile renderings.

First, I need to have a software than can replicate “hand sketching” real time response via wacom tablet. Then, I’d like the software to also render and create CAD/CAM as well.

The Dells are fairly solid machines, I’ve used Dell laptops almost exclusively for a while now and have never had any real complaints about the hardware.

As far as the software, if youre focusing on surface intensive modelling then Rhino or Alias would be your best bet. Alias is more powerful (and includes a built in sketching) but it’s extremely expensive. Rhino has a lot of similar functionality but is much more affordable. You can also pickup Alias Sketchbook Pro or Photoshop for your sketching needs.

Thanks so much for your input!

I’ll look into Rhino or Alias.

A few guys in my office bought Macbook Pros running Bootcamp (Windows XP and Leopard) that partition the hard drive to run either operating system.

We ran some rendering test and the Mac notebook smoked our 4yr old Dell work stations with dual Xeon 3.06 processors! If you have $3500 to spend on the Mac, it’s a great machine. The Dell equivalent will prob cost $600 less. Also check out BoxxTech. They have a great notebook workstation, but it’s expensive.

We run 3D Studio Viz.

I’m considering Dell M6300 w/ Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 (2.2 Ghz) w/ 4 GIG SDRAM/ 200 gig hd - $2,719.

I wonder how this setup compares to Mac Pro in performance.

The Dell will have a workstation optimized graphics card, the 17" Mac Pro has a slightly faster processor (2.4ghz - though the Dells can be upgraded) - outside of that all the spec comparisions are basically the same.

If you do get the Dell make sure you put money into getting the high res LCD upgrade (the 1920x1200 Res is awesome for CAD work)

I just visited the Apple store, and was very impressed with MacPro allowing it to run both XP and Leopard via bootcamp. And, since I already have a XP cd I can pop it right in. Plus, I’ve already invested wad of money on iTunes - at least I can listen to it while working :slight_smile:

And, for extra $100 I’ll go with an upgraded screen. Now, that was the easy part.

The hard part - I’m leaning towards Alias, but my budget calls for Rhino. Maybe I need to sell 2 guitars :frowning:

Itunes runs on the PC - and keep in mind that since you’d have two seperate operating systems you’d have to be dealing with keeping one version of your software synced with the other - it also means if you wanted to use Photoshop you’d need to buy a copy for OSX and the PC if you wanted to use it for both as I don’t believe they support multiple installs yet.

Also keep in mind that the Macbook has a consumer level graphics card, not a workstation class card. Depending on what you’re doing and software you chose you may lose certain features/performance with the Mac’s Geforce card.

If you want to run OSX badly then those shortcomings are fairly easy to overlook, but if you’re going to be using Windows 90%+ of the time then it may be preferrable to just get a PC and save the money to put towards something else (like a Cintiq or software)

Cyberdemon,
Those are all excellent points to consider. I guess one particular dilemma is that I already own a Photoshop for Mac, and don’t want to buy another for a PC.

I’ll have to investigate how a split OS system would work if I wanted to go back and forth between PS and Mac when 3D and Photoshop are both opened, if that’s possible at all to begin with.

I have a Macbook Pro and I run SolidWorks on Windows through Boot Camp. I have to say it runs both Windows and SolidWorks better than any PC I’ve used.

If you don’t need the portability then get yourself a Mac Pro. You can customise it with a good graphics card and it won’t cost you much more than a 17" MBP.

I work for an Apple Premium Reseller and we recently had a research facility order 30 Mac Pro’s which will be running Windows 100% of the time, which says something about their performance for cost.

Edit: I also use a great piece of software for windows called MacDrive, which lets the Windows partition see the Mac hard disk and mount it. This means you can swap and share files between the 2 OS’s. I also use it so iTunes on Windows will use the music files from the Mac partition, so I don’t need two copies.

Thanks for all the great info and thoughts to consider. Everyone’s just awesome and very helpful!

Serious considerations:
MacPro Laptop w/ upgraded graphics card; 3 gig ram; upgraded screen.
Cintiq 12wx
MacDrive software
3D software: Rhino or Alias Sketch Pro for now.

I already own Photoshop for Mac.

PS. I can give my Vaio to my dad for good measure :sunglasses:

Also might wanna check out the New Dell Tablet laptop its the new Inspiron looks pretty nice, one I was thinking about getting soon enough

I was considering a tablet initially, but it seems a bit “redundant” if I’m going to buy a Cintiq tablet. Besides, I’m very impressed with MacPro allowing 2 operating systems work on one computer. It’s too bad their graphics card is not upgradable on the laptop, however. I hope I’m wrong on this.