Apple Mac Pro Customized for:
CAD / 3D Modeling

Like most software developers, Autodesk maintains a list of system requirements for AutoCAD that can be used to help ensure the hardware in your system will perform well with AutoCAD. However, most "system requirements" lists tend to cover the minimum required hardware, not the hardware that will achieve optimal performance. In addition, some lists can be outdated, list old hardware revisions, or outright list sub-optimal hardware.

Because of how inconsistent those lists can be, we've taken the time to perform testing to determine the optimized Mac Pro hardware for AutoCAD. Based on this testing, we have come up with our own list of recommended hardware for AutoCAD.

2D architectural design with AutoCAD, while not as demanding as 3D based tools like Revit, can still be accelerated with the right hardware. At its core, AutoCAD is a single threaded application. The ability to interact and manipulate large datasets can be improved with higher CPU clock speeds, fast storage and adequate memory.

Component Recommendations

Processor

When it comes to processors, there are two main specifications that define the capability:

  • The frequency directly affects how many operations a single CPU core can complete in a second (how fast it is).
  • The number of cores is how many physical cores there are within a CPU (how many operations it can run simultaneously).

Whether a higher frequency or higher core count is faster depends on how well a program is designed to take advantage of multiple CPU cores. In the case of AutoCAD, the vast majority of the software is only single threaded so it is only able to utilize a single core of the CPU. For this reason, our general recommendation when choosing a CPU is to simply go with a processor that has a high speed frequency. For the Mac Pro tower, the fastest CPUs for general AutoCAD use is the 6-core 3.46GHz. For the Mac Pro cylinder, the fastest speed frequencies is the 6-core 3.5GHz.

RAM

While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the size and complexity of the model you will be working with, we generally recommend a minimum of 16GB for all systems. AutoCAD (including Mental Ray rendering) is actually fairly light on RAM requirements and Autodesk only recommends 8GB of RAM. However, given the relatively low cost of RAM - and the fact that most users tend to have more than just AutoCAD running on their system - we feel that 32GB is a great starting point. If you will be working with very large models or having a large number of files open at the same time, however, you may consider upgrading to 64GB.

Storage

With the falling costs associated with SSDs, we almost always recommend using an SSD for the primary drive that will host your OS, AutoCAD itself, and any active projects you are working on. The high speed of SSDs allows your system to boot, launch applications, and load files many times faster than any traditional hard drive. However, SSDs are still more expensive than traditional drives per GB - so for long term storage we recommend having a secondary traditional hard drive in addition to a primary SSD. If you can afford it, having multiple SSDs (one for the OS and AutoCAD and a second dedicated for active projects) along with a larger traditional drive for storage is even better.

  • Hard Drive = Standard spindle technology @ 7,200rpm
    • Hard Drive Bay = ~175MB/s
  • Solid-State Drive - connectivity via SATA3 controller
    • Hard Drive Bay = ~250MB/s
    • PCIe Slot = ~500MB/s
  • NVMe Storage = connectivity via PCIe controller
    • PCIe Slot = ~1250MB/s

Graphics

For AutoCAD, the video card is what handles displaying the 2D and 3D models on the screen. However, typically only 3D models require a performance GPU, so if you will only be working with 2D models only, then you are better off saving money on the GPU and putting that money towards a faster CPU, SSD, or more RAM.

If you will be working with 3D models, we recommend using a NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics card in the Mac Pro tower. We recommend the higher performance D500 3GB and D700 6GB graphics cards for the Mac Pro cylinder.

Compatibility

Generation Comparison

 
Tower (Original)

Production: 2010 to 2013
Model 5,1


Cylinder

Production: 2013 to 2019
Model 6,1


Tower (New)

Production: 2019 to current
Model 7,1

ProcessorsIntel Xeon X5600 series 'Westmere'
Launch Q1 2011
Intel Xeon E5-2600 series 'Ivy Bridge'
Launch Q3 2012
Intel Xeon W-3200 series 'Cascade Lake'
Launch Q2 2019
MemoryDDR3 ECC 1333MHz
Up to 64GB per processor
DDR3 ECC 1866MHz
Up to 128GB per processor
DDR4 ECC 2666MHz / 2933MHz
Up to 768GB / 1.5TB per processor
GraphicsCan upgrade to newer models for macOS support and increased performanceAMD FirePro D300 / D500 / D700
Launch 2013 - Upgrade not possible
Latest AMD Radeon Pro with PCIe 3.0 x16 slots for expansion
StorageCan upgrade to latest SATA and NVMe SSDs for increased performance. SATA SSDs limited to SATA2 speeds and NVMe limited to PCIe 2.0 speedsCan upgrade to latest NVMe SSDs for increased performance.
SATA external expansion
PCIe NVMe SSDs without performance limiting factors.
SATA and NVMe internal expansion
macOSApple support discontinued in 2018
Latest macOS - Mojave 10.14
Apple support estimated until 2024 to 2026
Supports latest macOS
Current generation
Supports latest macOS
USBOnboard USB 2.0
USB 3.0 and 3.1 optional upgrade
Onboard USB 3.0
USB Type-A only
Onboard USB 3.1
Type-A and Type-C - Latest
ThunderboltNot availableThunderbolt 2Thunderbolt 3
PerformanceOutdated technology, but excellent performance considering the cost. Cost effective solution if on a budget and okay with macOS Mojave limitation.Supports latest macOS with considerable performance. Cost effective solution if new Mac Pro is not within budget.Latest technology. Highest performing Mac currently available. Max longevity for macOS support.

Recommended Configurations

Ask Our Expert Staff

Need expert advice? We are here to help! Please fill out the form below to have a technician contact you.

Fields marked with * are required.


Contact Us

Call: (310) 844-6661 (Monday - Friday, 10am - 6pm PST)
Email: sales@ibuildmacs.com

iBuildMacs Inc. is an independent distribution channel and is not associated with Apple Inc.
Mac® and Mac Pro® are trademarks of Apple Inc.

Condition

New: Purchased new from an Apple authorized dealer. Never used.

Refurb Grade A: Pre-owned. Inspected, cleaned, tested, and upgraded. Excellent cosmetic condition. Might have a small scratch or scuff, but overall looks great.

Refurb Grade B: Pre-owned. Inspected, cleaned, tested, and upgraded. Good cosmetic condition. No bends, dents, or dings. Will have light scratches and/or scuffs. Nothing severe. We do not purchase units that are in poor cosmetic condition.