I have been needing a laptop for a while now to accompany my AMD desktop machine, mainly because I need to visit clients in Tokyo and have something I can demo stuff.
I have used Late 2013 MacBook Pro for music and casual tasks for a while now but it starts to show it’s age, and I need something with a decent graphics in it.
Of course I looked at Windows machines such as ones from Razer and so on. But something always stopped me, they just don’t have the appeal, plus I feel unsure about their support as I have never owned a PC notebook.
Now, I can’t think of anyone in their right mind who would recommend a Mac for a CG creator. The hardware lacks the muscle, machines are expensive and there is no Nvidia and neither the plugins. 3dsMax doesn’t even exist on the platform, neither does most of the CAD software.
I know that I won’t be doing any heavy lifting CG in a coffee shop or client’s office, but I might create a substance graph, rig a model or set-up projects in Unity or Unreal Engine.
In my previous job I used HP Omen 17 inch and while it was a total monster what comes to performance, it was so clumsy to carry with a 300W power brick that was sized like a Mac mini. More than once I noticed the performance in Unreal Engine started tanking since somehow the power plug had de-attached itself from the brick. This of course while trying to show stuff to customer. It seemed that the machine had a two power settings, frigging 300W hyper speed and a crawling notepad mode. (Or I wasn’t clever enough to change the power mode in the settings, possible.)
MacBook Pro is so light and portable. What I lose in the raw horsepower I gain in portability and battery life. And I know how good the Apple support is because I have used it before. This all is, of course a tradeoff and I lose all the benefit of RTX baking, real time lighting in Unreal Engine or VR. But I suspect that of the tasks I did with the Omen, actually 99% I could have done with the Mac.
So – finally I bought 2019 MacBook Pro 16 inch with Intel Core i9 and 1TB graphics. This is the slightly upgraded model of the base one.
I have tried running Substance Designer, Unity, Marmoset Toolbag and Maya with heavy scenes. All of these do work under MacOSX. The machine is very snappy, almost surprisingly so. Especially CPU based software such as Zbrush should run completely fine.
Now I did install Windows 10 with Bootcamp. Substance Designer’s iRay renderer ran much faster in Bootcamp but also made the machine much more hot. It could be that macOS is doing some very good thermal management, which Windows has no clue about.
However general 3d modeling tasks with 3dsMax or such might run just fine. Need to test it.
I must say, so far I am really happy I decided to go with this machine. Even though most CG artists are quick to dismiss Mac as a hipster gimmick, this can be a valuable mobile tool for some CG tasks, at least for me.