CAD on a Mac? “No, no, no,” I hear many of you thinking. But hang on a second, lets take it from the start.
I personally love both the Mac hardware and software, but I also acknowledge the fact it might not be for everybody. So, what are the chances of running your favorite CAD software on a Mac and getting your work done?
Windows on a Mac
First of all, you can of course run Windows on your Mac. So if you are a fan of Mac OS X, you do not have to resort to a PC, but can use OS X for most things and run Windows when you need to get your CAD stuff done.
One option for running Windows on your Mac is using the Boot Camp utility, which is included with OS X since its 10.5 (Leopard) version. This enables you to install Windows on your Mac and run them both as a dual-boot solution, so you can use either Mac OS X or Windows, but not at the same time.
This is where Parallels Desktop (or any other virtualization software) comes into play. Parallels enables you to run two operating systems simultaneously, enabling to use them one at a time or even in coherence mode, where it seems as if you are running your Windows applications inside Mac OS X. Parallels Desktop comes at $79.99 and gives you plenty of options for getting your Windows stuff done on your Mac.
CAD software that runs on Mac natively
There is actually plenty of stuff for Mac out there as well. Of course it depends on every engineer's specific requirements, but for many there is something for their needs.
AutoCAD compatible means that it handles DWG files natively (read & write), includes many of the commands familiar from AutoCAD, includes most of AutoCAD's APIs and has a very similar interface to AutoCAD.
Then there is Siemens, whose NX 7 is also available for Mac. You can also find Shark FX by Punch! Software®, solidThinking, you have the Autodesk Alias Products, and many more. For specific references there is a pretty extensive and updated list of CAD/CAM software for Mac at MacUser.de community.
Yes, there are plenty of large CAD software producers whose products are available only for a PC and I also agree to the point that PC hardware might just be a better match for a heavy CAD user and thus for many engineers there is no question, whether to prefer a PC or a Mac. However, Macs cannot be completely overruled - even many of the peripherals (3D mice, for example) do support Mac as well.
- When you really love the Mac hardware (as I do, for example), you don't have to worry - even if you don't find your preferred CAD software supported natively, you can run Windows on your Mac as well.
- Depending on the software and hardware requirements there are definitely engineers for whom Mac might be a fair competitor to a PC
So my question to you is: if you can either select a CAD software that runs natively on Mac OS X or run Windows on it, what else is holding you back from getting a Mac for CAD work? Or are you using one already?
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