Skip to content Skip to footer

What computer should I buy for SketchUp modeling?

What computer should I buy for SketchUp modeling?

In this post, we dive into the essential question: What type of computer is best suited for running SketchUp Pro?

While it's common knowledge that not all computers are created equal, the specific requirements for smooth SketchUp modeling may not be as well-known.

Join us as we explore the key factors to consider when selecting a computer setup for SketchUp, ensuring that you have the performance and capabilities needed to bring your architectural designs to life seamlessly.

Computers, Hardware and Modeling in 3D.

I was going to lead into this post with “Not all Computers are created equal” but I think we all know that. And I used it in my last post; so, not a good idea. Okay, onto the main topic of this post: What kind of computer do I need to run SketchUp Pro?

Trimble has made this somewhat easier for us by publishing “SketchUp Pro – System Requirements” on their website for both Windows and Mac based Operating systems. Side note: I try not to say PC for a Windows OS computer because PC means, simply, ‘Personal Computer’. Both Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Macs are run on ‘Personal Computers’. An excerpt from that page lists the same hardware requirements for both operating systems:

Recommended Hardware

  • 2.1+ GHz processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 700MB of available hard-disk space
  • 3D class video card with 1 GB of memory or higher and support for hardware acceleration. Please ensure that the video card driver supports OpenGL version 3.1 or higher and is up to date.
  • 3-button, scroll-wheel mouse (See! Even they recommend this! Some people didn’t believe me… so I felt compelled to point it out 😉

Minimum Hardware

  • 2.1+ GHz Intel™ processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 500MB of available hard-disk space.
  • 3D class video card with 512 MB of memory or higher and support for hardware acceleration. Please ensure that the video card driver supports OpenGL version 3.1 or higher and up to date.
  • 3-button, scroll-wheel mouse. (Twice on one page! wow)

Now that we have the requirements we can go to our computer’s system information page and check to see if it meets those requirements. (Links on ‘How to’ are found at the end of the post.) I work on an Asus ROG G751JY Laptop which is now quite old by computer standards; I purchased it in 2016 and have continually upgraded it since. It also looks like I will not be able to upgrade it to Windows 11 due to its ‘older’ hardware. Let’s look under the hood of this machine: you can see the original purchase specs here

Device specifications

A few things to take away from here are the Processor, Installed RAM and the System Type.
Nvidia (the Graphics card maker) reports:

Operating System: Windows 10 Home, 64-bit
DirectX version: 12.0
GPU processor: GeForce GTX 980M
Driver version: 388.73
Direct3D API version: 12
Direct3D feature level: 12_1
CUDA Cores: 1536
Core clock: 1038 MHz
Memory data rate: 5010 MHz
Memory interface: 256-bit
Memory bandwidth: 160.32 GB/s
Total available graphics memory: 20454 MB
Dedicated video memory: 4096 MB GDDR5
System video memory: 0 MB
Shared system memory: 16358 MB
Video BIOS version: 84.04.1F.00.46
IRQ: Not used
Bus: PCI Express x16 Gen3

Here we see the Total Graphics Memory, the Dedicated memory and the Shared memory. Dedicated memory of 4Mb is the most important factor. My recommendation is to have a minimum of 8 and if you can, 16mb or more. This way your computer won’t have to dip into the Shared memory as often.

Most modern computers will handle small SketchUp files and while you are learning the program your computer should do just fine.

Okay, this was a beast of a machine when I first bought it. It still is in some ways; weighing in at 8.4 lbs (3.8kilos). I took out the optical drive and added a 3rd hard drive. Yes, 3 physical hard drives. 1T SSD for the Operating System, 1T SSD backup drive, and a 2T SSD working data drive. Basically that is where I store all my files. So, 4 Terabytes of storage on this computer. And I still sync folders to the cloud but that will be another post.

How is your computer matching up to this one? Like I said, this one is getting old and I can notice where and when a large SketchUp file slows it down. Unbelievable huh? But it does. Now, don’t let this scare you because most modern computers will handle small SketchUp files and while you are learning the program your computer should do just fine. As you start creating more complex models you will notice your computer ‘bogging down’, as mine is when I get into files larger than 250Mb. Taking a sampling of my SketchUp files, (over 3000) 6% are over 100Mb, 50.8% are between 10Mb and 99Mb so that puts 43.2% below 10b.

Here are 3 Images:

This model is of the 2016 venue of Magic Mike Live Las Vegas (it no longer exists as shown but a form of it has been revived in the Sahara in 2021).

The model shows 2 floors, each at about 8000sqft and the file size is over 200Mb. My computer does slow down a bit with this one.

These next two have a very similar file size at just over 8500Kb (8.5Mb), but are very different models. Can you pick out the reason why?

The set is around 7000 sqft and the Chicken Hutch (with the people) is about 20 sqft. If you said the chickens are the reason then you would be correct. Why? The chickens contain a lot of geometry. Showing you the model in Wireframe mode you can easily see the geometry. Notice that the hutch and the 2D people have very simple lines but the chickens show much more geometry to make a 3D body.

All of the courses and workshops presented at will be below 10-15Mb in size. Most newer computers, and even some tablets, have the minimum requirements to run SketchUp Pro. Below are the links to help you find your computer’s system information.

Windows: From Tech Guide – How to Check Your Computer Specs: Find CPU, GPU, Motherboard, & RAM

Mac: From Apple Support – Get system information for your Mac

Leave a comment