What’s The Best Computer For SketchUp? – Today’s question. What’s the best computer for SketchUp? And semi-related bonus question.
Will my computer work for photorealistic rendering? People reach out and ask us some version of these questions all the time. So today, let’s dive under the hood and look at what it takes to run SketchUp. If you’re looking to get started with SketchUp and you’re wondering whether your current setup will work or you’re looking to get a new computer and you wanna be sure it can handle everything you need it to, there are a lot of different hardware options and price points out there and there’s not a one-size fits all solution.
First, you’re gonna have a few decisions, like laptop, desktop, screen size, resolution, storage.
Things that are really dependent on your personal preferences and work situation. And we won’t get into any of that stuff in this article. Today we’re just gonna focus on the key hardware specs that really matter when it comes to getting the most out of SketchUp. So the first big thing you’ll need to decide is am I going to be using this computer to create photorealistic renderings? If your answer is yes, stick around, we’ll cover you in a minute, but first, let’s talk about if your answer is no since that’s a quicker starting point.
What’s The Best Computer For SketchUp?
Now even if you’re not going to create photorealistic renderings from your SketchUp model, chances are you’ll still need to run other programs in your SketchUp workflow, like AutoCAD or Photoshop. And in general, if your computer is good enough to run SketchUp, it should be okay for those programs too, but you should still definitely check the hardware recommendations for any other software you’ll be relying on just to be sure your machine is up to snuff.
OK, so what are the key hardware considerations for SketchUp itself? Well, there are three main factors; CPU, ram and GPU. Now I could get super technical about what those each do and how they affect each other, but I’ll spare you that in this article and just give you a high level overview so we can hone in on the things you need to consider for SketchUp.
- First, you’ve got the CPU. This is where most of the hard work of the operating system and applications running on your computer happens.
- The ram is your computer’s short-term memory. So think of it like as your computer is doing complex tasks, it needs to remember a bunch of stuff in order to carry out these tasks smoothly. And that’s where it’s using ram.
- And then there’s GPU. That’s responsible for displaying graphics smoothly on your screen. The first thing you’ll wanna do is go on SketchUp’s website and just see does my computer meet the minimum requirements to run SketchUp? That means making sure your CPU speed and ram are equal to or greater than the numbers listed there. For the GPU, you might not be able to tell based on the model number, but if your computer was made in the last five years, chances are it should be good enough.
Now a word of warning. Just clocking in at the minimum requirements is gonna be a recipe for frustration. Sure, you’ll likely be able to run SketchUp, but it’ll also be painfully slow at times. So how do you avoid that? Well, SketchUp’s website also lists out their recommended hardware specs, not just the minimum requirements, and those are a good starting point, but you’re probably asking yourself, which of these specs are really the important ones and where can I get the most bang for my buck if I’m upgrading?
Well, that goes back to our first question.
Am I going to be using this computer to create photorealistic renderings? And if the answer is no, then you’re not gonna need to worry about the GPU. You’re gonna wanna focus on the CPU and the ram. With CPUs, you’ll notice there’s the speed, but also the number of cores.
For SketchUp, the only thing you’re concerned about is the speed.
That’s because SketchUp’s what’s called a single-threaded application, meaning it can’t take advantage of multiple cores. If you’ve got one or two or 10 or 100 cores, it’s not gonna matter in terms of SketchUp’s performance. What does matter is the CPU speed and the ram. Obviously, the faster the CPU and the more ram you have, the better.
Just know that the performance boost as you upgrade is incremental, not linear. That just means SketchUp won’t necessarily run twice as fast with twice the CPU speed in ram, but for complex models with high polygon counts and high resolution materials, upgrading these will definitely make a noticeable difference. So what do I recommend? If you can, I’d aim somewhere around the three gigahertz range for the CPU with 16 to 32 gigabytes of ram.
And like I said, if you’re able to go faster or add more ram.
If not, anywhere between that and SketchUp’s recommended specs should do the trick. Alright, so what if you said yes, I need me some sweet photorealistic renderings. Well, now you’ve got a few more things to consider. First, rendering software like V-Ray or Lumion are multi-threaded, meaning, unlike SketchUp, they can take advantage of multi-core CPUs and your rendering performance is going to scale linearly with the number of cores.
So with eight cores, you can produce a rendering about two times as fast as you could with only four cores.
Now, keep in mind, the CPU speed still matters, both for rendering and for SketchUp alone, so when you go for more cores, make sure you don’t skimp on the speed. Then remember that third important hardware option that I mentioned earlier, the GPU? While it’s less important to SketchUp’s performance, your GPU can make a big difference for rendering software.
And I mean big. With the right GPU setup, you can increase render speeds by 10 times or more.
Meaning a one hour rendering on one machine might only take five minutes on another with the right GPU setup. Now one major caveat. If you’re a Mac user, you won’t be able to take advantage of this GPU performance game. (group sighing) Mac rendering relies on just the CPU.
To get that speed boost, you’d need a PC with an Nvidia GPU and Macs don’t support Nvidia’s graphics cards.
OK, you’re no doubt wondering what combination of CPU, ram and GPU is gonna give you the best rendering performance? Well, there’s no cut and dry answer, but a good resource to check out is V-Ray Benchmark. It compares performance across thousands of rendering tests from computers with various CPU and GPU configurations.
I’ve also put together some notes for you to help you review everything we’re covering in this video and I’ve included instructions on how to use V-Ray Benchmark data to help you choose the right hardware. Plus, I’ve added a couple of additional resources in there that compare relative CPU and GPU performance along with price.
I’ve added a link to those notes in the cards. So what do I personally recommend if you’re looking to create photorealistic renderings from your SketchUp models? Well, if you’re a Mac person and you’re not gonna be swayed in that PC camp, and I get that, I say minimum, you’re gonna wanna MacBook Pro with at least eight cores.
If you can step up to a desktop with more cores, that’s great. Of course, there’s also the Mac Pro, which for the price of a small island, you can max out with 28 cores.
For any of these options, I recommend at least 32 gigabytes of ram. And again, more if you can afford it. If you’re getting a PC laptop, I’d look for something with a good and video graphics card, the GeForce RTX 2070 and 2080 both offer great value in terms of price to performance. You’ll want a CPU with at least six cores, preferably eight, and start with 32 gigabytes of ram. If you can afford more cores or more ram, then go for it.
And if you’re building a desktop computer, consider two or more Nvidia RTX GPUs for a real boost in rendering speed.
I’ve added some additional resources for specing out your PC in the notes for this video as well. Now one quick caveat, and I actually ran into this issue myself when I first upgraded on the PC side, you’re not going to realize that full 10X boost in rendering times unless you’re running multiple GPUs and those GPUs are more powerful than your CPU, meaning that a powerful GPU will give you the most significant boost to a slower CPU with fewer cores.
But if you’ve got really great CPU specs, you’re gonna need two or more great GPUs to see those 2X to 10X gains. Alright, hopefully now you’ve got a better idea of the type of computer that will best fit your SketchUp needs.
Let me know what kind you’re going with and why in the comments below. Or if you need a little more help picking the right computer for your situation, head over to this on website.
And did you learn something new in this What’s The Best Computer For SketchUp article? Do me a speedy spare and tell us which tip you liked “the world’s largest” in the comments below right now.