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I am going to buy a 2015 Macbook Pro. I'd like to be able to run SolidWorks with Parallels or Bootcamp occasionally (for 3D printing model development). I believe it requires OpenGL.

I am confused about the model configuration and capabilities. Will the 2.2GHz/16GB/256GB model suffice or do I need to go for 2.5/16/512 one?

It all started with this page: http://community.foundry.com/discuss/topic/122224, where 2.2/16/256 model seems to lack OpenGL capability altogether.

According to https://everymac.com/systems/by_year/macs-released-in-2015.html, the 2.2/16/256 version doesn't have a dedicated graphics card, while the 2.5/16/512 does. First, can I trust this source? Any way to cross-check? Couldn't find this information on the Apple site. Second, is the dedicated graphics card required if I only need to run SolidWorks occasionally? I don't need so much SSD space, and wouldn't like paying for high-performance graphics unless I really need it.

The related Apple page doesn't mention this difference at all, and confused me into ordering 2.2/16/256 model at the moment. I am not sure I can return the computer once I create my user account or install the software, hence this question.

Thanks a ton for the answers/comments!

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First, can I trust this source? Any way to cross-check?

Everymac.com should be considered a trusted source. This can be cross checked by looking at two sources:

Basically, Intel Pro Graphics (integrated graphics) uses shared memory of up to 1.5GB of system RAM. There's no dedicated GPU.

Second, is the dedicated graphics card required if I only need to run SolidWorks occasionally?

Do you need it? No, it's not required. You may find that the performance (lack of) is something you can live with if you are only using it occasionally.

I don't need so much SSD space, and wouldn't like paying for high-performance graphics unless I really need it.

One factor you need to be cognizant of is that these models are completely un-upgradeable. The best advice that I can give (which I personally live by) is purchase for what you think you will need tomorrow not what you need today. Further, if the performance for what you want to do today is marginal at best, it's not going to get any better in the future.

Keep in mind that the phrase, "Gee, my graphics is just too responsive" and "I wish I didn't have so much storage" was uttered by no one, ever.

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    Had to upvote for the last para - that’s the complete answer to 99% of shopping questions. – Solar Mike Dec 30 '17 at 12:14
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    Love this answer! Oh, and that last paragraph reminds me of one of the other phrases I try to live by, basically that no one utters on their death bed "I wish I spent more time at work"! – Monomeeth Dec 30 '17 at 12:28
  • Ah, that's very interesting. So do I understand correctly that I simply cannot buy the DG model anymore? The 2.5/512 GB model comes with IG now as well, right? That would remove the uncertainty and help a lot. (I am a beginner Mac user and get really confused with different information so far. Thanks a lot for clarification.) – texnic Dec 30 '17 at 14:44
  • I'm not sure what you mean by "I simply cannot buy the DG model anymore" This is the 2015 model so the only place you can get them from is 3rd party sellers, not directly from Apple. But, yes, the "DG" model (meaning discrete graphics) is what you want and is still available – Allan Dec 30 '17 at 15:03
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    That was back in 2015. As of now, they don't manufacture or sell any 2015 MBPs. If you want a 2015 model, you must get it from 3rd party sellers. If you want a 2017 model, you can get either IG or DG. – Allan Dec 30 '17 at 21:36
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One of the best authorities on Mac models and their capabilities is MacTracker.

http://mactracker.ca/

There is an iOS app, a desktop app, and a website.. All are highly accurate, WRT models and capabilities, as well as OS, firmware, and configurations.

You would do well to look thru here to get specifics on any version Mac you are considering.

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I appreciate the detailed answer and the follow up discussion with @Allan. Still I thought I'd give an experiment-based answer for this specific situation, in case someone is interested.

I have picked up the 2015 MacBook Pro 256 GB / 16 GB / 2.2 GHz laptop, installed Parallels with Windows 10 and SolidWorks 2010 (the copy I've had at hand). It works, there were no questions about the graphics card, and I see no issues with rendering or part manipulation speed during the design work. The fans are not audible.

Summary: While this computer has no discrete graphics GPU, it is suitable for hobby-level SolidWorks work.

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This is a little late, but I would just like to add another datapoint here for future reference. For years I ran a 2010 13" Macbook Pro (A1278), this only had a Core 2 Duo with a GeForce 320M for graphics. There was a patch (maybe this link http://kb.parallels.com/en/122790) that allowed Solidworks to run with hardware OpenGl (it's an option under performance in SW). It wasn't amazing but it was usable - the computer worked hard, but it didn't really slow you down at all.

Fast forward to a 2016 13" Macbook Pro (with real esc and F keys) with an Intel Iris 540. Same setup with parallels and Solidworks and I couldn't get OpenGl to work correctly which actually leads to some very weird performance issues. Besides the computer itself working a lot harder then it should because it was doing everything through the CPU, the weird thing was rotating parts. Basically it would be 100% responsive while rotating the part, but as soon as you stopped the rotation it would pause for ~1-2 seconds and you could watch it sequentially re-draw each line edge of the part. This will really kill your workflow, and possibly drive you insane. I spent some time trying to get it to run OpenGl via the integrated graphics but was unsuccessful. If you try to find any info on parallels site you get endless pages on their forum of unhappy users wanting more then OpenGl 2.1 support (3.0 was released in 2008, 4.0 in 2010). I don't know if this has improved in the last year or not because I changed to VMware Fusion which supports up to OpenGl 3.3.

  • Good to meet a fellow Mac SWer:) This is a very useful piece of information. I didn't observe this weird behaviour with edge redrawing in 2015 MBP 15, but it's good to know VMware is another viable option to try. – texnic Jan 13 '18 at 8:44

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