Mac 3D Graphics Performance Comparison

One of my readers left a comment at my post titled “NX 3D Graphics Performance” saying:

“You should try Nx on your Mac and see what you get. I bet it will be better than your Autocad for the Mac test.”

So I asked Siemens PLM for a NX for Mac license and today I finally got it up and running on my MacBook. I had previously ran 3D graphics performance tests on AutoCAD and Rhino for Mac. So now I could add NX for Mac and compare all three of them. Here are three videos showing the engine model being rotated in NX, Rhino and AutoCAD for Mac.

NX for Mac

Rhino for Mac

AutoCAD for Mac

NX seems to be pretty decent, Rhino is usable and AutoCAD is practically useless. All three CAD systems ran on the same MacBook using their default graphics settings and loaded the same data set.

Autodesk has been making a big noise about the native OSX look and feel that they have given AutoCAD for Mac. It looks like they need to give AutoCAD for Mac some native OSX graphics performance as well. As the NX for Mac video shows, my MacBook is a pretty capable of handling data this size. It’s the AutoCAD for Mac software that is lacking. A lot.

  • Rajeev

    3D Graphics performance is directly related to the number of triangles to be rendered, which in turn is defined by the tessellation levels. How do you ensure that the tessellation levels are same across different software packages. Also things like double sided lighting, hardware anti aliased lines, level of detail, etc can change the performance as well. It might be difficult to have the same settings on different cad packages.

    • I don’t. I leave that up to the CAD vendor to decide what their default graphics settings should be. I simply use the defaults. I assume they have been set up so that the graphics performance works well for large models. Because for small models it does not really matter.

  • Kevin Quigley

    Deelip that performance is pretty impressive for a bog standard MacBook. Is it the current model or an older one? Out of interest what hardware did you run the Windows software graphics tests on?

    • Not sure what you mean by “current model or an older one”. I ran the Windows tests on a standard Dell Precision M6400.

  • Kevin Quigley

    Well the newer Macbook models have better graphics than the older ones. I’m not even sure if the Macbook had a dedicated graphics processor or not until recently. The MacBook Pro models do use dedicated graphics chips.

    One of the “problems” with Mac laptops is that you cannot spec them with certified graphics processors. For example your Dell M6400 comes with a dedicated Quadro card. So in many respects the graphics should be top notch for all the mainstream CAD apps on that platform.

    Perhaps what this shows is how good even “low end” hardware is and that so called workstation graphics cards in laptops at least, are not worth the money for most laptop based modelling tasks? I’ve certainly not had any complaints running Solidworks on my MacBook Pro (aside from the fact that you cannot use realView due to the lack of a certified graphics chip).

    • I have a less than a year old MacBook 6,1. It 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. I don’t believe there is any good reason why my hardware should be responsible for the poor graphics performance of AutoCAD/Mac.

  • Kevin Quigley

    I agree. All the more impressive performance for Rhino and NX. Be interested to compare the same apps running in Windows under Bootcamp on the same machine.

    From a Mac user point of view I have had a lot of dealings with small company AEC Mac users over the years, and the general hardware in use is iMac and MacBook rather than MacPro and MacBookPro, so if Autocad intend to break into this market they maybe need to look at the typical AEC user hardware in use. Maybe they assume that if you are going to spend £3500 on Autocad you will spend the same on hardware? If so, that is a bad assumption to make.

  • James

    Well done!! That’s really a good comparison!!
    But as I saw in these videos you use only the Dynamic Rendering and could be interessant to compare algo the Photorealistic Rendering, I heard that, for example, AutoCad has a module that comes directly from 3D Studio Max!!

    • I compared the products as they came out of the box. Photorealistic rendering would only burden the software even more. They are already burdened enough with the large model.

  • James

    That’s right! but right now I was wondering about the quality of a Photorealistic Render to be treated afterthat with the Photo-tools inside of Mac… but you are right, that goes out of the topic discussed here!

  • Nolton

    Thanks Deelip, for running the NX Mac test.

  • John Davis

    You should try Vectorworks