CAD program on a Mac

Ok guys i need to start using some sort of CAD software for my robotics class and i want to get a program for my computer at home but i have a mac. 2.3GHz dual-core

Intel Core i5
4GB 1333MHz
320GB 5400-rpm1
Intel HD Graphics 3000
Built-in battery (7 hours)2

^This is what I’m working with. It is the Basic 13" Macbook Pro. I am looking into bootcamping it and i was wondering what i will need to do. Like how much space would I need if I’m am just using a CAD program on the windows portion? Also what would be the best CAD program i could get that would work best for me?

I’ve tried to find suitable Mac CAD software and concluded that, although there is some out there, its not worth the expense and effort to try and stay Mac native. Google sketchup is OK but trying to import the STEP files provided by VEX is difficult and not completely accurate.

So you have a couple of options for running Windows on the Mac.

  1. Install bootcamp
  2. Install a virtual machine such as Parallels or VMware.

My experience is with Parallels and has been pretty good. There is a 15 day trial and the cost is $40 after that if you are a student. I would suggest you start here as there is a significant advantage to be able to continue to use your current OSX applications. The advantage of bootcamp will be that the entire 4GB ram will be available to windows.

Autocad Inventor is the preferred CAD program for most people on this forum and is free for students. There is a 30 day free trial and I suggest that you do not register straight away and use it in trial mode. This software will take some time to learn so be prepared to invest a few hours playing and using the tutorials before starting a large project. Download the latest which is 2012, there is a version of Inventor suite 2011 still available but I would avoid that as it includes software you don’t really need. One area of concern is that your Mac uses the Intel built in graphics and the demands of CAD software are high, this is one area that you will just have to try and see how the performance is.

You need a copy of Windows, Inventor will run under XP but if you are planing to buy a copy obviously Win7 is the one to go with. Check the system requirements for Inventor before deciding which version. Assuming you are a student, perhaps your school has the install DVD and a site license that you can use, talk with your computer teacher and get his advice.

If you try the Parallels route then after installing windows and applying all the updates make a copy of your virtual machine as this will save time if you plan on starting over at any point.

If you decide on using bootcamp than I would suggest a 64GB partition as plenty for Inventor and RobotC/EasyC.

Realize that a 13" display with the built in Intel Graphics is not ideal for CAD but you should still be able to do some useful design.

Let us know if you have more questions.

I am running Parallels and i love it. I am using Solidworks 2010 and it is running flawlessly.

I’m glad everything worked out and that your happy with Parallels.