Hardware recommendations

We’re often asked which Apple Hardware we recommend for Architects – so here is our shortlist…

INFO > Apple has discontinued the ageing (yet powerful) intel based 27-inch iMac – at this stage it is unlikely they will bring this model back into their line-up. The new M1 24-inch iMac is not considered here, as it does not allow for higher spec graphics cards (max. 4GB) and also can not be upgraded with sufficient RAM to allow for larger BIM models.

CAUTION > Please note only the latest versions of both Vectorworks (2024) & Archicad (27 & 26) are supported to run on macOS 14 (Sonoma) which all new Apple hardware ship with.
Latest generation Macs can typically NOT be downgraded to previous macOS versions to accommodate older software versions.

For a workstation hardware cost analysis in AUD of the various options below please refer here and to understand how this compares with PC hardware please look here.

INFO >  The below spec nominations follow Graphisoft project size definitions outlined here.

MacMini (mid-range spec)

Spec suitable as a regular CAD workstation for medium sized architectural projects.
Also suitable as Archicad BIMCLOUD server for small office with medium sized projects – choose capacity & ethernet card depending on your specific requirements.

Apple M2 Pro with 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine
32GB unified memory **
512GB SSD storage
Gigabit or 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000/10000 using an RJ-45 connector)

MacStudio (mid-range to high-end spec)

Spec suitable for a CAD workstation as well as being able to deal better with heavier loads, e.g. rendering software.

Apple M2 Max with 12-core CPU, 30-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine
32GB unified memory **
512GB SSD storage

CAUTION > Both MacMini and MacStudio do NOT include any peripherals, i.e. they require a WebCam, Display, Keyboard and Mouse – for recommendations refer below).
To make the most of the 10Gb Ethernet port (optional for MacMini) a compatible Switch is required.

MacBook Pro 14 (mid-range spec)

Spec suitable as a regular CAD workstation for medium sized architectural projects.
Best used with an external Display and a USB-C Hub (refer below).

Apple M3 with 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine
24GB unified memory **
512GB SSD storage
70W USB-C Power Adapter
14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display

INFO > We consciously do not recommend the 16inch model, as it is too heavy and large to be used on the road, thus we recommend to invest the price difference into a 27inch display, keyboard and mouse for a proper workstation setup.

MacBook Air 15 (entry-level spec)

Spec suitable for a CAD workstation for small architectural projects, i.e. alts and adds or single residential.
Best used with an external Display and a USB-C Hub (refer below).

Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine
24GB unified memory **
512GB of SSD storage

CAUTION > ** RAM can no longer be upgraded on Apple silicon based Macs after purchase.

iPadAir 6 - 13 inch (introduced 2024)

We now also include the iPad, which in combination with an iMac and Apple Pencil Pro is fantastic – for more details read our thoughts here.

13-inch iPad Air 6
Apple M2 chip
Apple Pencil Pro

INFO > Depending on your specific usage scenario, you may not require the iPad with Cellular option – we find an iPhone can easily be used as a hotspot.

Instead of the rather heavy and expensive Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad, we recommend the Rebound Magnetic Keyboard Cast from ESR

CAUTION > We highly recommend adding APPLE CARE to all Apple mobile device purchases, for an extended 3 year warranty period.


All new Apple iMacs, MacSutdio & Mac minis still come with USB 3 ports – however all Apple MBPro’s only have USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 ports. In order to connect any USB based external devices (backup harddrives, USB Sticks, etc.) we recommend the MacAlly USB-C to USB-A adapters at approx. AUD 30
If you also plan to use an additional Monitor with your MBPro, we recommend either a Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-Port Adapter @ approx. 85 AUD or for a more powerful alternative a OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock @ approx. AUD 500

Also note that most 3rd party displays do not come with a built-in camera – we currently recommend the Logitech Brio 4k Ultra


You may want a separate monitor at home or in the office for your laptop.
As Apple’s Thunderbolt Display is out of production, below are some alternatives:

Apple Studio Display, 27inch and 5k, comes with built-in camera (12MP & Centre Stage), although expensive it is currently unmatched in comparison to other manufacturers offerings.

CAUTION >  No Ethernet port is included on the new Studio Display, i.e. if you intend to use it with any Apple Laptop you need to get an adapter for best connectivity.

DELL 27 4K USB-C Hub Monitor P2723QE, which comes with an integrated USB-C hub, this eliminates all the additional Hubs and cables usually required. An additional nice touch, it also includes all required cables, although the USB-C cable is a bit on the short side. Prices may vary, but as a guide it costs around AUD 706 incl. GST and delivery.
Samsung 32inch 4k Smart Monitor M8 (comes in black and white), comes with a decent & detachable webcam as well as all the required cables to connect to and directly charge via USB-C… wait until it is on sale, which may reduce its price to approx. AUD 700

Unfortunately it looks as if our previous preferred display is now End of Life…
AOC U28P2U-BS (28 Inch). This more or less unknown brand budget option sets you back about AUD 650. Similar features to the DELL monitors with 4K resolution and integrated USB 3 hub, however it does not include a HDMI cable nor an Ethernet port.

All the above screens have a matte screen finish.

INFO >  Some Apple computers have limited resolutions they can display: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206587.

In with the New, Out with the Old...

If you have one or even a few old machines sitting around gathering dust and are wondering what to do with them, Apple no longer offers a pickup based reycling programme (in Australia). Instead they offer Trade-In options for some of their products.

Before doing this always check there is no sensitive or essential data stored on the computer’s hard disk(s)!
You can use software like Carbon Copy Cloner to back up to another hard disk, if the hard disk is still working. If the hard disk is, but the rest of the computer isn’t, you may still be able to start it in target disk mode and copy data across.
Once you made sure you have all your data copied, it is a good idea to wipe the hard disk via Applications / Utilities / Disk Utility > Erase (and choose the most secure option. Note this may take quite a while…).

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