I Switched To Windows From Mac For 3D Rendering

I Used To Believe That Macs Are For Creators… Until I Got Into 3D World

After nearly two decades of love and hate relationship, I decided to left the walled garden behind as a self-taught 3D artist. It was simply because 3D rendering on a MacBook Pro was a diseaster. Apple removed OpenGL/OpenCL support from MacOS years ago, and all the Mac which were on-sale at that time had AMD GPU. It was critical, because almost all the 3D softwares require OpenGL to boost performance, probably as you know.

It was my fault. I had bought a MacBook Pro (2018) for 3D rendering. As a self-learner who only have a few 3D people around me at that time, I didn’t imagine that there is a thing Mac can’t handle in the modern era. I never had doubt about it, until I noticed that there was no GPU option in Blender’s preference window. Because lots of designers and engineers around me used a Mac! Many of digital nomads were also using their MacBook everywhere in the region where I live! And YouTubers, bloggers, and…… Yes, Macs were everywhere. As far as I know, 3D rendering was the only exception what Macs can’t handle enough.

However, I knew OpenCL was able to use on AMD GPU, so I installed Windows 10 on the Mac via Boot Camp before purchasing a new PC. But, I ended to be overwhelmed by the overheating Mac (80 degrees inside when rendering!).

What I Bought And How Things Has Changed By Switching To Windows

So, I bought a pre-built desktop computer from a local manufacturer. At this moment (2021), GPU and other PC parts are overpriced. So, pre-built computers are rather cost-wise because maunfactureres can offer them cheap by importing parts in bulk.

Obviously, purchasing this machine was a game changer. It actually speeded up render time A LOT: approximately 10x faster on Blender (Cycles) and 30x faster on Maya (like 30min -> 1min by enabling OptiX).

This is the spec of my new PC.

CPU Intel Core i7-10700F (2.90GHz-4.80GHZ/8 cores/16 threads)
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 12GB GDDR6
RAM 40GB
SSD 1TB NVMe SSD

And these are the results of Blender Benchmark.

Blender Benchmark (MacOS Big Sur)
MacOS Big Sur: There is no GPU option on Mac.

Blender Benchmark (Windows 10 on a Mac (Boot Camp))
Windows 10 on a Mac (Boot Camp): I have no idea why victor took the render time so long.

Blender Benchmark (Windows 10 on a PC)
Windows 10 on a PC: A 3 years younger half-priced desktop beat an expensive high-end laptop.

But, of course, switching to a Windows desktop computer from a Mac laptop had both pros and cons. Here I share some impressions:

Pros

  • On average, Windows opens applications way quicker.
  • Thanks for lots of cross-platform applications, switching OS wasn’t quit hustle.
  • I can have fun with colour schemes. (Candy colour motivates me)
  • [Desktop computer specified] The door of customisability is widely opened.
    • You can start with a PC full of cheap parts, then upgrade RAM, CPU or GPU later. You can even swap a motherboard when it’s outdated.
  • [Desktop computer specified] I started to shut down computer earlier at night, compared to when I used to be turning on a laptop all day long.
  • Watching Doctor Who on a larger screen is so good. (Currently, I’m on the 12th doctor’s series. Any spoiler is prohibited!)

Cons

  • On Photoshop, tools become unselectable after certain activity. (which I haven’t experienced on Boot Camp)
    • I also encounter glitchy effect issue all the time, when selecting menu on layer panel. Maybe this is common among Windows machines.
  • If colour accuracy is important to you, you need to choose a monitor wisely.
  • Windows 10’s Settings are so much complex than MacOS and Linux.
  • There are some features not available on Windows 10 by default.
    • For example, Spotlight. I use UELI as an alternative, but it still lacks whole disk search function.
    • There is no OS based tag feature also.
      • You can add tags on photos at least, but it’s related to metadata, not the operating system.
  • [Desktop computer specified] It’s hard to bring the computer to a shop to repair when it breaks, unless you own a car.
  • [Desktop computer specified] Sometimes PC doesn’t have I/O ports which 99% of modern laptops have. Adapters are needed.

Windows Supports Productivity Well. But I Don’t Trust Them In Terms Of Privacy

Aside of the fact I absolutely need Windows for 3D work, I also value online privacy. I know that Windows is the most hated OS on many privacy communities because of the telemetry and spywares, but switching to Linux is not a practical solution for me. Maya doesn’t work on Linux unless you pay certain amount of money to Red Hat. There is no Adobe CC which is required to share working files with clients.

So, I chose to harden Windows system as much as possible. I do following things for the sake of my mental health:

  • Block telemetry and remove unneeded applications with W10 Privacy
    • For this purpose, I previously used O&O ShutUp10. It’s also easy to use, but I don’t recommend this anymore because Windows Update changes back some of the settings I tweaked with this app.
  • Use open-source software as much as possible
    • FireFox with add-ons like Multi-Account Containers, Ublock Origin and HTTPS Everywhere.
    • Joplin instead of Notion. A markdown-lover’s favourite app with end-to-end encryption.
      • But I’m considering to switch Anytype or Obsidian for fantastic features and usability. (Obsidian isn’t open-source, while it promises strong privacy protection, though.)
    • But, why I don’t use Blender mainly now? Because it’s still not an industry standard, at least in here. If you willing to go professional, you must learn what professionals use.
  • Encrypt disks
    • I use VeraCrypt to keep my data from thieves. Techlore's tutorial is very helpful for non tech-suvvy people.

Although The System Has Some Concerns, I Recommend Windows For Creators

If all of your machines are running only MacOS, and more than half of your tasks are 3D related, I highly recommend switching. But I wish someday the operation system barrier will be taken away from 3D world as well as other creative fields.