Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Purchase Advice for a Fellow Revit User

I received a message the other day asking me for advice; that classic conundrum Mac or PC? I don't have a Mac and rarely get to use one. I do know quite a few people who love their Macs, likewise for PCs. I thought I'd share some of the message here and see what sort of comments it might spur, advice or otherwise.

He writes:

I am hoping to get some advice from a fellow a Revit user about a pending purchase decision.

I have been using Revit now for almost 4 years, even somewhat addicted in spite of it's occasionally awkward ways. A client has offered to buy my next computer and has offered up a spec for an Intel PC. I'm using a 2009 iMac w/ 8 GB RAM, Intel 2 Duo 2.93 with 6 MB L2 NVIDEA MCP79. I run Revit using Parallels. I recently found out about maximizing the RAM in parallels and accessing the 2nd core processor and it has helped to speed up Revit.

I was having some performance issues (slow response) using materials palette. It could take 30-40 seconds to open up and I did have some wicked crashes. But after making the adjustments I have found it quick, responsive and stable. I was having 45 minute restarts but now it works smoothly. I have heard of people running bootcamp but I can't at this point because my partition is too small and I'm not eager to reformat my current setup.

I'd prefer to stay with a Mac but I get that Revit doesn't run on the Apple OS. Should I stay or should I go?
Btw, I also got a quote for a Boxx PC but it's expensive.

Looking forward to your thoughts.

What say ya'll?


Sara said...

I recommend examining what other software is used and why that software. If the only thing he uses on Parallels is Revit and everything else is Mac based, there's no reason to jump ship. On the other hand, if almost everything else is also run off the Parallels, I'd question the purpose of the Mac.

Tom said...


If one truly looks at the specs between machines, at Apple's price point it is a solid competitor. I've personally run tests both in emulation and using bootcamp and Revit performs better on a MacBook than some high end laptops (Lenovo comes to mind). And the reliability of all the apple machines I've owned (9 or 10) is beyond any other piece of tech I've owned.

But that is me, I'm sure others have their experiences

Michael Gatzke said...

I prefer the Apple hardware and use almost all my software on the Mac side. When I have to run Revit on that machine (a MacBook Pro notebook) I run it via VM Ware Fusion, not Parallels, but they're close enough for this discussion. I would suggest ordering the maximum RAM the machine will handle. Revit and VM's enjoy the extra memory space. Personally, I do prefer installing a Boot Camp partition. This would allow booting solely into Windows when absolute peak speed is required and running in a VM when versatility is preferred. I'm not sure about Parallels, but Fusion allows the VM to run the Boot Camp partition. This means that running Windows via a reboot or a VM will give you the same Windows install and account access, so everything you install or save on one is available on the other. Finally, I run both Windows 7 and 10 and I feel that the Win10 memory management and cooperation with the VM is better.

Simon Weel said...

It's all about software. You don't make money using a particular brand of hardware or OS. If you earn a living using software X, I would buy matching hardware / os for it.

Andre said...

I'm running revit on parallels without a problem... but it's my second machine. On my laptop, the only two programs I can't run or run better on OSX are Revit and Dynamo, everything else is Mac based. My desktop is the opposite, I pretty much only use it for Revit so it's a PC.

I've had no problems with Parallels except for windows update bringing it to a crawl at times. As a matter of fact, I think parallels is the coolest new technology in years because it lets me create a stable dedicated sandbox for Revit and leave everything else on the mac side. You do need to tweek the settings a bit to get optimal performance but once done, no problems.

kdjanz said...

I'd echo Andre. We have Revit running via Parallels in a virtual machine. Only Revit runs in there - all the rest of our business is on the Mac side. Since Revit is the only program touching the net, our exposure to nasties is highly minimized. But if we did pick up something, I would dump the virtual machine file and copy yesterday's or last week's backup, and I would be back up and running with a fully configured machine in perhaps 30 minutes. Revit is running in a Revit sandbox and that keeps it clean and simple.

I also copied the same virtual machine to the laptop, and can move back and forth seamlessly using which ever machine is in front of me. The simplicity of having the best software for the task (spreadsheet, word processing or BIM) running in it's own environment just makes sense to me.

The hardware suggestions of maxing the RAM and going with the biggest/fastest SSD drive are sound. More resources there make both sides happy.

Unknown said...

DIY or die. Make it a hackintosh if you must but just build the thing yourself. The savings now and when you want to upgrade are enormous.

Roland Hoyle said...

Mahalo to all.

Your comments are much appreciated! I do have a couple of followup questions if i may- Michael your idea of having a bootcamp partition is what i was thinking also. HOW BIG do you recommend for the windows/revit partition??

i really like being able to utilize the mac OS for things like text edit and preview as well as the (4 me) vastly more elegant file environs which i use a LOT to handle my client's redline stuff. - i tend to get lost in windows. . . I do sometimes "go dark" and just live in revit for a session, so that bootcamp option would be best there. ALL MY other programs like photoshop & formZ and Piraneisi i use on my mac - Windows still annoys me intensely. For some reason i cannot link up to the internet when in windows mode! While on the mac it is like buttering a crumpet.

As for the new unit, I anticipate much better results with 32Gig RAM and fastest video board available for the imac vs what i am currently experiencing, which in many ways is very quick, responsive and just fine.

One of my questions was >> how does that compare to a lean MEAN PC option in terms of time. Time spent opening/saving/accessing the materials palette. IN my current imac w/ 8 Gig ram (4 allocated in parallels) it does have a lag but nothing like it was when the settings were ignorantly set to factory parallels defaults of (1) Gig and only (1) processor checked. The jump to the wee round box with huuuuuuggggggeee upside& expandability is just to many $$$ for me @ the moment- especially as it is monitorless .

The other question was what happens with larger BIM situations? Currently i am doing ADU's and Wee Houses Residential mainly but we do have a Hotel potentially coming on line, so i wonder about that issue as well.

Again this forum has been great mahalo to U all. Thanks Steve for suggesting and initially posting my search.

Roland Hoyle said...

As to DIY . . . I have used my current imac since it's inception in 2009 so savings are amortized over the amount of time spent NOT hassling with a kluge build and i find the few dollars saved to be of no significance when measured against the supreme joy of using a mac :-) But if U like to tinker i would agree with Unknown. As for me i want to work on Architecture not speed clocking.

Michael Gatzke said...

Roland, I agree with your comment, "joy of using a Mac". I've been a Mac owner/user for almost 5 years now and I hate having to go into Windows to use Revit, but I love Revit enough that it's worthwhile.

If you configure your iMac with 32GB of RAM, that should be plenty. I don't see any need to go to the Mac Pro unless you want to install 64GB or more of RAM. My configuration is a 50GB BootCamp partition that I ONLY use for the Windows OS, Temp File, and application install. I also, on the VM config, only allocate 1/2 of my RAM to the VM. So, when using the VM, your Windows VM would only get 16GB, which should be plenty for your use. I say this because you say that your current 8GB configuration runs fine most of the time. You could try allocating 24GB to the VM, leaving 8GB for OS X. I've done fairly good size projects in Revit with 24GB of RAM.


Unknown said...

Why not both?

I have an inexpensive PC for Revit and a handful of other Windows apps, and a MacBook Pro for the rest of the software I use on a daily basis. I can take Revit with me, on the MBP when needed, using Parallels and it's works acceptably for the little bit of mobile work that I do. My PC is an upgraded Alienware Alpha which cost less than $1400 including the monitor and runs Revit exceedingly well. It's even small enough to travel if necessary. The cost of the PC is equivalent to four months of Autodesk desktop subscription and gives me measurable increases in convenience, productivity, and redundancy.