Is a MacBook Pro 13" good for work on Blender?

Hello everyone,

I’m planning to use Blender on a MacBook Pro 13-inch, with the following characteristics:

Processor: 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz, with 4MB shared L3 cache
Storage: 256GB PCIe-based onboard SSD

Memory: 8GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory

Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 550 1536 MB

My question… Is this MacBook Pro good enough to make basic modeling/texture or even short animations? (say one or two characters without complex environment, max. 3 minutes duration) I want to create professional work but keep it simple at the same time.

I had a look about the minimun hardware requirements for Blender and it seems my MB is up to it, but does not cover the recommended requirements so I’m worried. I’m looking for more information from experienced people,
Or if someone works with Blender on this MB I would like to know his/her reviews on it.
I’m putting a lot of attention to this before starting to work in Blender without knowing the consequences.

I say this because two years ago I tried to work on an early 2008 iMac 25" and after running Blender for a month the computer started to crash, the desktop image would get paralyzed and I would have to turn off the computer by pushing the power button, or the scene of my modeling would turn black if I tried to render it (I was using cycles rendering), it didn’t take too long before my iMac broke, I was heartbroken as well! I haven’t been able to continue my 3D work since that time…

I don’t know which hardware melt or something but I’m sure the hard disk broke completely because when I would try to turn it on the iMac only stated in white screen. This is the scene I was rendering on that iMac:

Also, if there is any suggestion on how can I configure Blender to not be too heavy on my MB?

Generally, I know desktops are more recommended than laptops for 3D work but I was gifted this laptop and just want to make use of it in the most recommended possible way.

Lastly, I would appreciate if someone could explain to me what is this GPU or CPU modal use for rendering? I think this has to do with hardware and I’m confused about the whole thing, which one should be used? but I guess this depends on the machine as well, right?

I’m new on this topics about Hardware for 3D, so many things to learn, I hope you guys understand.

Any suggestions would be appreciated,

Thank you for reading :slightly_smiling_face:

You will be able to work with all aspects of Blender just fine except rendering. If you need to render animations in cycles or scenes with a lot of indirect light, you will struggle(same as all the rest of us :smiley: ). If you are just starting and are about to learn how to use Blender, I would suggest to concentrate on that and do not worry about the hardware before you need to. Don’t worry about the processor being dual core - it’ a good thing in some cases as it might even perform better than some 8 core processors on single threaded tasks. And there are still a lot of those. 8GB RAM is good - I use one desktop computer with 8 GB of RAM for professional work with no huge issues, fast SSD makes things feel smooth and fast and the graphics card is more than enough for work. It’s all good for work. For rendering you might need some other solutions. But hey… who doesn’t?

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MartinZ thank you for your reply!

At this point I’m going to start learning how to use Blender and then I will focus on modeling.

Your advice has cleared most of my doubts. Now when it comes to rendering this is more complex, you said that if I’m going to render animations in cycles or scenes with indirect light it is a struggle, is it possible to use a different light style that wouldn’t give too much trouble as indirect one?

Or do you think it would be better if I abstain myself of doing any rendering on my laptop? I think the process of rendering demands a lot of “power” and performance so I can understand everyone’s struggle :smiley:

I am glad most of your doubts are cleared. They should be. I think you should not limit yourself. You can try and see what works for you. You can use Blender Render and will soon be able to use Eeveethat is going to replace Blender Render eventually. A lot of Cycles improvements are happening right now as well so it is becoming possible to render less accurate results a lot faster. I would say - stop overthinking stuff and get to learning. You will find the limitations of the hardware without looking for them anyway. MacBook Pro is definitely adequate for start. I started learning 3d with far worse PC than that simply because they used to be a lot worse 12 years ago and everything turned out OK.

You’re right, I should not limit myself and will try many options to see what works for me, also I will keep an eye on Eevee project, I didn’t know about it before, and it looks like Cycles is improving a lot so maybe I’ll be able to render on Cycles as well.

I have understood everything you have told me, all my doubts are cleared now! thank you for your help :slight_smile:

your system is awesome… Now I just starting learning blender for modelling and light render in my Asus K40IN notebook (Product of 2009) still fine… It is Ok

Thanks! it is good that you can also work with Blender on your notebook, I have read that Asus brand is popular for 3D works, isn’t it?

Hi Luna - Hope you are getting on OK with Blender. I have recently bought a 2017 13" touch bar MacBook Pro with the standard specs and came across your post as I was anxiously trying to understand if I will struggle with this machine and rendering in Blender. From next week I will be starting a Masters Degree in Game art and design and I don’t want to be at a disadvantage because of my machine. The posts from yourself and Martinz were really helpful and encouraging but I wondered if you could speak about your experiences since these posts? How has it been using the laptop? Is is it difficult to render using Cycles? I notice I am not able to select anything in the system settings for user preferences and wondered if it is at all possible to render sufficiently using Cycles for short animations?

There is no need for testing. The answer is yes, you will most definitely struggle with rendering animations on a 2017 13" touch bar MacBook Pro. You could have improved the situation somewhat by buying a desktop PC with a good graphics card for the same amount of money the Mac costs(a GPU like say GTX790 will in some cases render even 5-6 times faster than the i5-7267U CPU). But rendering is just something that everybody struggles with no matter what hardware you have - it’s never enough. Luckily for you, universities usually have loads of powerful computers and usually don’t mind letting their students use those computers, so if you need to render animations, you will have a solution for that.

Hi Martin - thanks for your response. Unfortunately I was required by the College to get a laptop rather than a desktop. You’re right I’m sure i’ll be able to use the machines at college to do rendering but I need a solution for when I am at home also. I’m a fan of Apple products and therefore didn’t want a Windows one. Without getting into the debate about Apple vs Windows products I have two options I’m considering - I can still swap the 13’’ one I have for the 15’’ which has a AMD card in it and is a bit more powerful. Or I could buy an EGPU and run it from my machine via USB-C. Alternatively again I wonder if there might be another rendering alternative to Cycles that works better for me. If you don’t mind, please could you let me know your thoughts on this