kylejmarsh

Mac Setup - Starting Fresh - New Year 2019

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I'm interested in building a new Mac setup for running Chief. 

 

Currently I have a Mid-2014 Macbook Pro, 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7, 4 Cores, w/Nvidia GeForce GT 750M 2048MB GPU. This setup will run Chief Models well until they get to about 3000 SF - by 'well' I mean they are pretty lag-free in 3D mode (with optimized exterior camera i.e. cabinet, interior casing, plumbing layers 'off' to decrease total modeled polygons). I've noticed that on a recent 6000 sf project, I was often waiting for the model to 'rebuild' even getting a dialog at times - my productivity was way down, and I was frustrated (and bored at the same time - waiting for all that refresh time.) In Layout, I'm often waiting for views to refresh / render for me, especially 'plot line' views - even when I'm working with a smaller model, in order to make a set of CD's it seems that I wait just a bit too long for everything to happen - especially if this is my business. So it seems I've located a place where my current setup is lacking.

 

I'm committed to running a Mac - although the concepts of a setup should be similar even if you're planning a PC.

 

Mostly I'm using Chief to create models of homes and renovations of 1500 - 4500 sf, and to create Construction Docs from the model. I do a few renderings through the course of the process, but no video exports. Mostly I'm interested in a model that rebuilds quickly, and layout views that update quickly - and if I could eliminate that tiny lag that happens with pretty much every operation - then I'd really be happy.

 

What do I need Chief to do? 

 

1. A model that rebuilds quickly

2. Layout views that update quickly

 

What Computer do I need to make this happen?

 

I'm tempted to get a Mac Pro tower from a few years ago which has twin 3GB video cards, bumping me from 2GB to 6GB. This also would have 6 cores, each running at 3.5 GHz - vs. my current 4 core / 2.5 GHz setup. I can get one of these for $1800 - so as soon as it saves me 18 hours it's all gravy after that.

 

In regards to the Model Rebuilding time, it seems like the video card upgrade won't do much to help my cause. From what I can gather, the model rebuilds itself using only one core, no GPU, and so is entirely dependent on the clock speed of your processor - so going from 2.5 to 3.5 would be almost a doubling, which is nice - but not the kind of gains I was hoping for (but I may just have to settle for).

 

// I read something recently by a Chief Programmer which said the model had to be rebuilt in a certain order, and thats why they couldn't split it across the different cores. I wonder why they can't at least split each floor level on a core, and the terrain on another core - but I'm not a coder so I can't answer why not. There's probably a good reason.

 

My question is - and I haven't been able to find any info about it - is what effect does the video card have on Layout Views updating? 

 

I did some basic testing using the Activity Monitor utility, watching CPU and GPU history as wall as CPU load graphs, and got the following results:

 

Creating Plot Lines (Layout) seems to rely on the CPU, but seems to split the load across all the Processor Cores. So for this, I assume more cores is better, as well as processor speed. GPU seems to be idle during this process. 

 

485126593_ScreenShot2018-12-14at11_10_50PM.thumb.png.9137cdc13f6cf1f63f97cb17ba3f6be9.png

 

Working in Elevation View (actually an orthographic camera of the 3D model). Zooming in and out, the load split across processor cores.

 

1583238661_ScreenShot2018-12-14at11_11_49PM.thumb.png.b3739c70bd959eddeb975756bb9bbd28.png

 

Manipulating the model and waiting for the model to update, we also get multi-core activity, and little action on the GPU. The only time we get GPU action is when we look at things in the 3D exterior camera - standard rendering style.

 

1277870949_ScreenShot2018-12-14at11_15_19PM.thumb.png.dc4bef8cb73aeca8240a42d9d7e1b9d6.png

 

So I guess that leaves me with some answers. It basically seems like:

 

1. The GPU isn't a big deal, and even my 2GB card is pretty good

2. More Cores + more speed are my friend. Although the graphs don't have a number, watching the percentage on the processor shows that it was hitting 100% during the layout zoom operations - so I'm out of processor.

 

So this changes what I buy somewhat. Guess I'm looking for Cores + Speed instead of upgrading to a massive video card. Does anyone else have insight to this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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looks to me that your assessment as to what is going on is good. Yes the model rebuild starts to rear it's ugly side when models become very complex and as you have observed this rebuild function is primarily CPU based. As such you need to get the fastest CPU you can afford. Strongly recommend a true desktop CPU as they will run at higher base frequencies and boost rates versus laptop CPU's. Unfortunately in the majority of laptops they just can't cram in a cooling system big enough to allow the CPU's to run at their highest rate for more than a few seconds, maybe 10 at best, they then throttle back to a lower frequency to reduce the heat output.

 

One thing that can help is to turn off as many display layer sets as possible, the less complex the less time it will take to rebuild the model. For example, if you are working on roofs then turn of all unrelated display layers like landscaping, interior furnishing, architectural blocks, etc.

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If you can post a plan I will give it a run on my basic iMac.

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Looks like you've done your research, and that may lead you to just what you need.  Personally, I run Chief (since X6, I think it was) natively on a MacBook Pro and am quite happy with the performance.  I'm currently working on a 15,500sf residential plan, and yeah, it's taxed a bit, but I've found that simply turning off auto-rebuilds fixes most performance degradation.  If you think about that, it makes sense ... If it has to rebuild everything every time you do anything, the more complex the plan, the more power is needed.  Now, I just rebuild whenever I jump back over to an elevation or 3D view, and not otherwise.  Other than this unusual project, my typical projects (less than, say, 4000sf) are smokin' fast on my MacBook Pro.

 

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You could also build a Hackintosh if you want more flexibility on hardware and upgradeability.  You can generally build a faster machine for much less money but you have to be willing to potentially do quite a bit of troubleshooting to get to up and running.  You can check out Tonymacx86 if you are interested, tons of info and build lists there.  I'm running one now and its been good to me but its not for everyone.  I like MAC OS but hate the hardware restrictions and cost.

 

Good Luck!

Mike

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I'm running a MBP, Mid 2012, 2.7ghz, i7 Unicorn.

It has the Dual Video,

NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 1024MB

Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536MB

 

What I have seen is it renders pretty well on any sqft up to 5000 that I have done.

When it does get a little laggy, I usually turn off stuff that can't be seen, such as all the wall structures, innards, or I don't build the wall framing, and I have even made walls that are just drywall, no structure to make it render fast.

 

Just my hack to get over that 1GB video ream.

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I have a Mac Pro, purchased in 2017

3.5 GHz, 6 core, Xeon E5

16 GB mem

Dual AMD FirePro D500 3MB each

250GB SSD

 

If you want me to test you plan, let me know.

Greg

 

 

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Do you have both the Plan & Layout, Open at the same time?

Does the Layout contain 3D views?

If so, it's my experience that an increase in computer speed will not help.  I've tested this with a new iMac vs my Mac Pro.

To me, the answer is leave the layout closed during editing.

 

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21 hours ago, Electromen said:

I have a Mac Pro, purchased in 2017

3.5 GHz, 6 core, Xeon E5

16 GB mem

Dual AMD FirePro D500 3MB each

250GB SSD

 

If you want me to test you plan, let me know.

Greg

 

 

Have you ever used a MacBook Pro?

If so, how does the MacPro compare?

 

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3 hours ago, Michael_Gia said:

Have you ever used a MacBook Pro?

If so, how does the MacPro compare?

 

I had a MacBook Pro years ago but never used it to CA.  I've had three different Mac Pros since 2006.

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So I ended up choosing the following, and it is so sweet, I wish I did it a long time ago (of course the tech to do it just came out):

 

- New Mac Mini, 3.2GHz x 6 cores. Cost about $1800

- Exterior enclosure from OWC with the ATI Radeon RX580 GPU @ 8GB . Cost about $500. So using the Thunderbolt3 connector to utilize an eGPU, which then connects to my monitor.

 

I still have my old Macbook Pro for working away from the desk (couch, cafe, etc) and it's plenty good and runs Chief just *fine*, especially if I avoid using Layout which speeds things up - so fine for basic modeling.

 

But wow - what a difference this has made. I can bounce back and forth between layout and the model file very quickly. In layout, the views update way faster. I can run full shadows and lights on my 3D camera when modeling. It just feels very 'snappy' for everything - and I love it.

 

Oh, and I can run stacked / tiled windows with elevation cameras, section cameras, plan views and 3D together and it is still fast enough to work that way. Pretty cool.

 

Best $2300 I've spent yet.

 

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Oh I should mention - I decided against the 2013 Mac Pro tower because it didn't have Thunderbolt3, it only had Thunderbolt2, which you can't run an eGPU through (unless you do some hacking, and I wanted to avoid that as I'm too busy to tinker with it - needed something off the shelf although I would have enjoyed doing a hack...). So that's why I didn't go with the tower setup - stared doing some research and the Mac Mini has great stats for being so cheap - in fact it's right up there with the new iMac Pro, except for the GPU (although it has a perfectly fine 1.5GB unit installed). Since I wanted to get my own GPU it was perfect. 

 

 

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Glad to hear the Mac Mini is working for you.  When I read the specs on this new design, I thought the GPU was the biggest draw back.  Your answer with the external GPU is a good solution.

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