Macbook Pro's and VEX Robotics

I am thinking of getting a MacBook Pro, but need to make sure VEX Products can work on them.

I would just need Autodesk Inventor and ROBOTC to work. I know you can get windows on a Mac. Would I need to do that for it to work?


Yes, you would need to use a virtual machine to make that work. I have used RobotC in a virtual machine in the past (I use Linux) but have never tried Inventor. However, AutoDesk “provides full support for the following products when used on the Mac in virtualized environments including Parallels Desktop” (

You may also want to consider switching to Pros or ConVEX for at least the programming part. They work more-or-less equally well on all the major OSs. Pros is also super easy to get started with and the code isn’t much more difficult than RobotC (I personally find it easier since I’m used to the environment.)

Seconded. PROS will work on a Macintosh OS without any need for a VM, and is easy to use. You should check it out.

1 Like

Awesome thanks.

What mac would you suggest? I’m looking at the Macbook Pro 15" with i7 processor and 16gb RAM. That will take a while to get, but I think it will be good for college.

Well, I would recommend you get a laptop with Windows. My friend just started an engineering program at ASU, and says that several programs (Solidworks?) he’s needed to run required a Windows OS. You really should just get an OS that’s compatible with the majority of programs.

Ever think about getting a nice Alienware?

1 Like

Don’t use VM’s, bring a portable hard drive along with you that is USB 3.0 or eSATA or thunderbolt. Use Boot Camp to install Windows on to that portable drive and run all of your Windows applications off of the Windows operating system on the MacBook Pro whenever you need them.

I would recommend a medium sized 7200 RPM drive or an SSD, if you go SSD there’s no reason not to use the mSATA standard, it’s a much smaller form factor. You can find mSATA enclosures online with various I/O standards.

Just avoid USB 2.0 or Firewore, they are too slow to use a system drive well.

Regarding size, I would recommend at least 120GB. I have a 120GB SSD in my laptop and I can usually barely fit what I need on it to work after slimming down Windows.

So, no mac? What is a great PC that has tons of RAM and can run CAD programs with ease and no lag. I want a computer that is so fast I will think I am going slow.

What the best PC option? Lower the cost the better, but I would like good quality.

I’m a fan of Thinkpads. Here’s one you can customize to suit your needs:

1 Like

I use a Mac primarily for my coursework (Seeing as my school is majority Mac + Linux). I used my Mac this year for Robotics running off of Bootcamp. VMs are horribly slow.

Because of PROS this year, I’d say you could use that, but if you want to use Windows on Mac Cody’s suggestion is one of the best solutions.

These are pretty good, although I personally can’t stand their touchpad.

I would look into Ultrabooks, too. They’ve got better battery life, at the cost of some hardware aspects like a DVD Drive. I don’t know what your specific needs for college will be, but I haven’t actually had a need for optical disks in over a year. Being able to carry and use a computer on battery life me all day and then do Robotics after school, though, is really nice. Plus they have a touch screen, which is super useful for reading textbooks or novels on the go.

I do agree that the touchpad is awkward but I got used to the nipple mouse pretty quickly tbh. Granted, it’s the robotics club laptop and I really just use my desktop replacement most of the time.

You can get a mac and do bootcamp on it… The macbook pro you were talking about has 512gb of memory so you can easily have part of it for windows and part for mac. I just bought that exact model (the one with 16gb of ram and a 512gb ssd) on tuesday (about a half hour after they launched it lol.) I plan to have a windows partition for all of my games and engineering software for college, and a smaller partition for mac just in case I end up needing it.

So the answer to your original question is mostly.

Full disclaimer, I use Macs, I don’t even have a PC at home. I run all sorts of engineering software at work using Parallels Desktop on 8 core Mac Pros. Using a single PC for engineering is almost impossible as we have to maintain several versions of many of the development environments and they do not always play nicely together. I also have some high end PCs as FPGA work sometimes needs all the power you can throw at it.

ROBOTC and EasyC work very well under Parallels desktop, I usually run these under Windows XP but sometimes Windows 7. Why XP? Well for something like ROBOTC that’s all you really need and it uses far less memory and boots much quicker that Win7. Here is a screen grab from my laptop running Eclipse (for ConVEX), ROBOTC and EasyC all together on a four year old Macbook.


Inventor, however, is a problem. I do use Inventor Pro 2012 running under Windows 7 in Parallels. Most of the CAD I’ve posted on the forums was done using that. It is slower in Parallels than running under bootcamp and the more recent versions have increased the system requirements to the point that they will probably not run well. Programs like 3Ds Max, forget it, not going to work in a VM.

It seems that only recently you were buying a $600 PC laptop, why the sudden interest in a Mac? I also wonder if a $3000 laptop (the high end 15" Macbook Pro with 16GB) is suitable for college. I have two children currently at college (with another going next year) and their laptops take quite a beating. You may be better off with a $1500 Mac laptop and a $1500 fast PC.


I know for a fact that RobotC works with Mac, as I run it on my 13" macbook pro using parallels with no problems.

Thanks guys

Is this a good laptop? 16GB 1TB Memory…

I am only a sophomore but one of the main reasons I bought a MacBook Air (13’’ with 8gb RAM) is for the battery life and resell value. If you end up deciding you want a PC and you bought a macbook a year or so ago, you can be pretty sure you will get 3/4 of the original purchase price in resell value especially if you get it with an upgrade. I use VirtualBox to run Robot C and Inventor and manage fine. Even while devoting 4 gb of my ram to virtual box and running Inventor in Windows seven, I can go between playing music and web browsing to working in Inventor with relative ease.

The great battery life is something you should definitely take into consideration (although it is less necessary for college). I can work on my laptop and program my robot with some basic code on the way to a competition, work on it there, and then watch a movie on the way back without it dying.

Otherwise it is just preference. I personally love Mac OS X, and unless you value a touch screen, I’m not sure why someone would prefer it over Windows 8.

For that price? yeah. I take back the macbook thing.

This laptop will literally run circles around anything you throw at it. The only con i’m hearing is that the touchpad feels funny, but personally, I think the pros outweigh the cons. It’s also cheaper than pretty much any macbook pro of similar specs.

For some reason, this laptop isn’t being listed anywhere besides the acer US direct website, which is odd, but nobody seems to be complaining about that anyway.

There’s also this: [
Even faster, lower price, but it isn’t an ultrabook.

EDIT: Oops, wrong link](

Since we’re talking about computers here, two things that I just swear buy.

A. If you are buying a laptop, shell out for a backlit keyboard, no ands ifs or butts. If your vendor doesn’t sell a backlit option, find another vendor/model. You will thank me for this.

B. Resolution, you want it. You need it. Pay for it, don’t buy a 720p screen or a 900p screen, buy as many pixels as you can. I just added a 1080p second monitor to my 1440p $800 Dell U2711 monitor.

To put that into perspective, I had 2560x1400 or 3,686,400 pixels and I felt the need to add more. Now I have 5,760,000 and life is good.

But Cody you are insane you say! Or am I? I’m regularly doing web work now and am finding myself having to have open Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Notepad++, Chrome, and a host of other applications (iTunes, Skype, vlc, uTorrent, calculator, etc) all of which I have to constantly change between. The ability to throw something onto a second screen without eating away the real estate on my main monitor is a godsend.

So trust me, resolution is your friend.

Beyond that, the hard drive is your weakest link, if you have extra money throw down for an SSD, you won’t be disappointed. Just do your homework on the brands, I like Crucial personally.

I would smack talk AMD here, explain how they lied to the general public with Bulldozer’s “cores” that aren’t and push you towards a nice Intel Haswell 22nm chip (which you definitely SHOULD buy), but I don’t want things to get all controversial or Karthik/JVN might decide that this post is ““off topic.”” So yeah, Intel seriously man.


im surprised you have had issues running inventor under parallels, but im sure everyones experiences are different. I have never had a problem with it. The macbook pros are expensive, but they have great build quality compared to hp. The lenovo’s are much closer to the macs than the hp’s in my opinion. And defiantly intel. I also would get an ssd if you can once you have one you will never go back. The laptops with intel SRT come close to pure ssd though and are much cheeper.