Is MacBook good for civil engineering? (solved)

Many civil engineers are asking if MacBook is a good option for them or not,

So in this article, we’re going to respond to this question in detail.

In other words, we’re going to know what are the pros and cons of using MacBook in civil engineering. So keep reading to prevent falling into some traps that many civil engineering students fall into.

Is MacBook good for civil engineering?

MacBook is not a good option for civil engineering. Regrading its hardware’s powerfulness, it is still very limited when we talk about software support. In other words, many software civil engineering apps are not supported by MacBook.

Especially when talking about the MacBook M1 chip that Apple has released recently.

But if you have an intel-driven MacBook or MacBook with an Intel CPU embedded, things will be a little different. As a result, you will have some flexibility and a lot of freedom to run the softwares that you will need as a civil engineer.

But don’t worry, we will talk in detail about the civil engineer’s software that MacBook supports and others that don’t support it. So keep reading in the next paragraph to learn about each software in detail.

The cons of using MacBook for civil engineering

Software limitation

we’re going to list the 5 famous apps that civil engineers use and give our experience of how the MacBook is running in those apps.

1 – Autocad

Running autocade as a principal software for civil engineering is possible. You can do it work normally. But you have to understand that AutoCAD is not written for iOS systems or M1 architecture. So before you can use AutoCAD you have to install an app called rosetta.

This app is an intermediate app that translates between the M1 MacBook chip and software.

This app is still quite good for running AutoCAD on MacBook, but you will never benefit fully from an AutoCAD option as windows users do. So you will face some limitations if you want to work deeply in AutoCAD and benefit from all its advantages.

Another option is possible for users who have a MacBook intel base processor, not an M1 silicon chip, to BootCamp to windows.

But unfortunately, if you have an M1, you can’t BootCamp or run windows on MacBook M1.

But in general, CAD works well with the MacBook. It gives a good job.

2 – Sketchup

SketchUp is a second software used by civil engineers, so it is very interesting and essential. So running SketchUp with a MacBook will not show any problem except some lag issues in texture mapping you may face.

According to many civil engineers ‘ testimonials, this problem is not critical and can happen to MacBook air but is not a big deal.

The other thing that you should know as a civil engineer is that running SketchUp on MacBook is less effective than on Windows laptops or PCs that have powerful rams.

You will notice that when you use the V-ray option to render your images, the speed of rendering in windows laptops is higher when we talk about the I9 processor. Because they usually have powerful GPU like Nvidia better than MacBook for this specific case.

3 – Rhino

for people working with Rhino, using MacBook air or MacBook pro is not a problem. All they run well there is no problem. It runs well without showing any issues.

But you have to install a rosetta if you want to use Rhino with your MacBook pro or air M1 chip.

4 – Adobe suite

for adobe suite users using MacBook might be slower than a windows laptop or PC. You will see a difference in speed, especially when loading files.

That is noraml because adobe suite does not have its proper version for MacBook M1. So you will also need to install rosetta to run this app as a civil engineer student. But it works without making problems.

5 – Revit

The bad news is, that Revit is doesn’t work in MacBook air or MacBook pro M1 chip. Even with alternative ways like running virtual machines, the program crashes once we try to open it.

So for civil engineering who are using Revit is a big deception. The only method they have is to run through a service cloud that consistently requires connection and high-speed internet quality.

So it is a significant deception for Revit lovers who are using MacBook M1 chip.

6 – can’t Bootcamp to windows

what makes having a MacBook M1 bad for civil engineering is not also a software limitation or a lack of software support. But the other bad thing that many civil engineering students don’t know about is.

MacBook M1 doesn’t allow you to BootCamp to windows when you stack or have compatibility issues. Another solution is to buy a MacBook intel processor or chip, but it is more expensive than the M1 version and less powerful than the M1 version.

In this case, you will not benefit from the advantage that the M1 chip has. You will just buy an apple logo and design.

hardware limitation

1 – lack of ports

The other bad thing that civil engineers should know about before buying MacBook is, MacBook doesn’t have:

  • USB ports
  • Ethernet port
  • HDMI port
  • SD card reader

For example, if we take a MacBook air, you will only have 2 USB-c connectors. So if you put your laptop on the charger, you will still have only a USB c connector which is not enough.

So you are forced to buy a dock or a converter to plug with your MacBook to run other stuff.

drive only 1 monitor

The other important thing that civil engineers who love running multiple or dual monitors should know about is the basic or standard version of the MacBook, which are:

  • MacBook air
  • MacBook Pro 13 inch

Don’t drive more than one monitor, so you are wrong if you think to use your laptop with multiple monitors. You can’t. To run multiple monitors, you have to buy a MacBook 14 or 16 inches, But :

  • if you have a MacBook 14 or 16, you won’t be able to drive more than 2 monitors.
  • To drive more than 2 monitors, you have to buy a MacBook M1 MAX chip that starts from $2500.

The pros of using MacBook as a civil engineering

1 – portability

Using a MacBook pro means having the best portable laptop in the world. It is no gimmick because we made a battery test between all laptop competitors, and there is what we found.

So you can pick up your MacBook from outside and don’t care about losing a charge. It is entirely durable. The test that we put a MacBook into was intensive use.

So the battery life can last more than 12 hours for slight use.

The other thing is weight. A MacBook has 2 versions:

  • MacBook air weight 1270 grams
  • MacBook pro weight 1400 grams

So both versions are lightweight, which means you can put them in your backpack without straining your shoulders.

2 – powerfulness

The MacBook processor remains the most powerful chip in the world. It beats Intel and AMD processor. So it is noticeable when you render images or edit videos.

In addition, it consumes 50% less energy than other types like Intel or AMD. This explains the long battery duration compared to other laptops on the market.

3 – comfort

The last and great thing about MacBook M1 version is they are quiet. We made a test between a group of laptop competitors by using a decibel meter, and here is the result that we found.

Macbook Air

 Mackbook pro

XPS 13

Windows laptop studio

ThinkPad x1 carbon

Hp dragonfly


0 dB

26 dB

35 dB

37 dB

40 db

45 dB

MacBook Air is the best one. It is completely silent, simply because it doesn’t come with a fan. So there is no noise. 

But you have to understand the MacBook that we are talking about is the MacBook M1 chip, not the intel version. MacBook intel versions are louder than M1 versions by having coolers fans.


using a MacBook laptop for civil engineering students as a primary computer is not a good option. Because we see the numerous limitations that MacBook m1 chip has.

So the best thing is to opt for a windows laptop to have more freedom and prevent compatibility and support issues.

But if you still love apple products, you can buy a more expensive version of the MacBook intel base that allows you to BootCamp or un windows.

Apple provides some significant student discounts you can go and check out at this link.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.