AutoCAD For Mac 3D Graphics Performance

Yesterday Autodesk finally released AutoCAD for Mac. I have been playing around with the beta for quite a while now. According to Autodesk the system requirements for AutoCAD 2011 for Mac are MacBook 6,1 or higher MacBook 5,1 or later (MacBook 7,1 or later recommended). I have a MacBook 6,1 which has an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.26 GHz processor and 2 GB RAM. The graphics is driven by a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256 MB VRAM.

Truth be told, I am not too happy with the graphics performance of AutoCAD 2011 for Mac. I am not sure whether Autodesk has special drivers that I need to install for my hardware like they do for the Windows version. I posted this question to the AutoCAD for Mac forum and have yet to receive a reply. If you know anything about this please leave a comment. I am fairly new to the Mac and not sure how closely Autodesk works with Apple to optimize their software. However, I do know that Autodesk works very closely with Microsoft and a bunch of graphics cards vendors to optimize AutoCAD for Windows.

A while ago I had done a 3D graphics performance comparison of a number of CAD systems running on Windows. In that comparison I loaded a large 3D model of an engine, orbited around it and posted the videos. I decided to load the same engine model in AutoCAD 2011 for Mac on my Macbook. Take a look at this video. Keep an eye on the mouse cursor towards the bottom of the graphics window. You may also want to keep an eye on the video’s progress bar to see that the video is actually playing and is not stuck although it may appear to be.

Pretty useless I’d say and virtually unusable. But then this is a MacBook, not a MacBook Pro. Although my MacBook sits within the recommended system requirements, I assume the 3D graphics performance will be much better on a MacBook Pro. Maybe the data is just to large for this MacBook to handle. I decided to find out whether that was indeed the case. So I fired up Rhino for Mac and loaded the same engine model into it. Take a look at this video.

So if Rhino can handle the engine model reasonably well, I am not sure why AutoCAD can’t so do something even close to respectable. After all, Rhino is still in beta. AutoCAD is a released product and costs $4,000. Frankly, I expected more from AutoCAD. Again, if you know of something I need to do to improve the graphics performance of AutoCAD for Mac on my MacBook 6.1 please leave a comment and I will update this post with your recommendations and a new video.

While I was at it I decided to load the DWG file of the engine model into DraftSight for Mac just to see how it stacks up with AutoCAD and Rhino. Unfortunately DraftSight opened the file with a number of solids missing. So it didn’t make sense to compare the 3D graphics performance.

Click image for larger view

  • Nurk

    Hi Deelip,

    As I know DraftSight is similar to AutoCAD LT ( for 2D only ). Can you please test the graphic performance on one of product from

  • DraftSight and ARES from Graebert are one and the same thing. I opened the model in ARES CE for Mac and it came in incomplete as well.

  • Jared Zimmerman

    You should probably mention that your system is actually not within the minimum specification of the application rather than implying that it is.

    • The only thing out of spec appears to be the RAM. My MacBook has 2 GB. Minimum is 3 GB and recommended is 4GB. I looked into that aspect as well. When orbiting AutoCAD was using 700 MB of RAM and 400 MB was still free and available to the system. Swap space used was 2 MB. So I guess memory is not the problem here.

      Would you be interested in helping me test the graphics performance on a MacBook Pro if you happen to have one? I could send you the DWG file of the engine model and you could create a video which I could embed here.

      • Actually, it requires a Macbook Pro 6.1, not a Macbook 6.1. There is a difference in the Graphics cards. I do not understand why they chose to take this path though, they certainly could have made it work if they wanted to, other companies certainly have.

        • “MacBook® 5,1 or later (MacBook 7,1 or later recommended)”

          Mine is in between.

  • Menahune

    I have a MacBook Pro with 4 GB of RAM and I have the same problem!!

    • Polin_09

      i have the same issue too, anyone knows if exist a patch for solve that ?

  • Rsr789i

    I have a MacBook 4,1 and ran AutoCAD in parallels for over 2 years and now I can’t install AutoCAD for Mac? What gives AutoDesk?!?!?!?

  • Probably too small a market segment for them to give it first class support. It’s only a $4k piece of software after all 🙂

  • Ftjv

    I Have an iMac8,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz 4 GB RAM ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro and still.. the performance is pretty poor.. it’s way faster thru bootcamp.. even with vmware..

  • Ftjv

    I Have an iMac8,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz 4 GB RAM ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro and still.. the performance is pretty poor.. it’s way faster thru bootcamp.. even with vmware..

  • Astron7

    I have a Mac Pro desktop with Quad processors and 8 GB of RAM and its the same thing. Autodesk might suck.