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  1. #1


    Member Since
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    Running engineering software on a new MBP
    I'll be a freshman at Tufts this fall, in the School of Engineering. I'll be getting a new MacBook Pro some time soon (I'll probably go with the 15" model). Anyways the are some engineering applications I'll have to run and a lot of it seems to be primarily Windows software. This page gives three applications that could be problematic for Macs:
    • AutoCAD 2010
    • Microsoft Excel with VBA
    • MathCAD 14


    Note that the page I got that information from is about a year old. I believe there's a new version of AutoCAD for OS X, and I know there's a Mac version of Excel.

    The first question I have is, is there any way to run MathCAD 14 without Windows? Perhaps through WINE? If not, I have to decide between Boot Camp and a virtualization tool. Perhaps it doesn't make sense to avoid using Windows if I'll inevitably have to use it eventually... Anyways if I'm downloading Windows anyway, does it make sense to run Excel and/or AutoCAD on Windows?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

    chscag's Avatar
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    I think you will be better off installing Windows 7 on your new MBP by using Boot Camp. Then, you would be able to run AutoCAD for Windows, MS Office 2010 for Windows, and MathCAD 14.

    It's true there is an AutoCAD for OS X and of course MS Office, however, according to system requirements, MathCAD 14 and 15 are Windows only.

    Dual booting to Windows 7 will give you the most memory and graphic power that is needed for AutoCAD and MathCAD. I honestly do not know if you could run AutoCAD or MathCAD well enough in a VM. And I'm sure you won't be able to do it with WINE.

  3. #3


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    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    I think you will be better off installing Windows 7 on your new MBP by using Boot Camp. Then, you would be able to run AutoCAD for Windows, MS Office 2010 for Windows, and MathCAD 14.

    It's true there is an AutoCAD for OS X and of course MS Office, however, according to system requirements, MathCAD 14 and 15 are Windows only.

    Dual booting to Windows 7 will give you the most memory and graphic power that is needed for AutoCAD and MathCAD. I honestly do not know if you could run AutoCAD or MathCAD well enough in a VM. And I'm sure you won't be able to do it with WINE.
    Thanks for your input. Do MS Office and AutoCAD run better on Windows than on OS X, even though they'd both be native? And would I have any trouble automatically backing up both partitions of the HD?

  4. #4

    chscag's Avatar
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    I have both Mac Office 2011 and Windows Office 2010. While Mac Office 2011 is very good, in my opinion, it's not up to par with Office 2010. Windows Office 2010 is faster, and overall it's easier to use. Again, my opinion, others may disagree.

    As for AutoCAD, it's only recently been ported to the Mac, so use your own judgement on that one.

    As for backing up the Mac and Windows partition: The Mac side is easy; just use Time Machine. The Windows side is a bit more complex. I use the built in Windows 7 backup program. It backs up files and will also make a clone image of the Win 7 partition. The caveat is that the backup must be directed to an external drive formatted to NTFS. Time Machine will only back up to a drive formatted to HFS+.

    You can either use two external drives or one large external drive partitioned into two drives.

  5. #5


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    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    I have both Mac Office 2011 and Windows Office 2010. While Mac Office 2011 is very good, in my opinion, it's not up to par with Office 2010. Windows Office 2010 is faster, and overall it's easier to use. Again, my opinion, others may disagree.

    As for AutoCAD, it's only recently been ported to the Mac, so use your own judgement on that one.

    As for backing up the Mac and Windows partition: The Mac side is easy; just use Time Machine. The Windows side is a bit more complex. I use the built in Windows 7 backup program. It backs up files and will also make a clone image of the Win 7 partition. The caveat is that the backup must be directed to an external drive formatted to NTFS. Time Machine will only back up to a drive formatted to HFS+.

    You can either use two external drives or one large external drive partitioned into two drives.
    I guess that means you have to be in Windows in order to back up the Windows partition? So you can't back up both every night?

  6. #6

    chscag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malch View Post
    I guess that means you have to be in Windows in order to back up the Windows partition? So you can't back up both every night?
    You can backup both every night if you wish, however, it means after completing the Time Machine backup from OS X, you'll have to boot to Windows and do a backup for it.

    Kind of a pain if you need to do daily backups. Fortunately for me, I don't need to boot to Windows 7 that often and only do a weekly backup. I do backups for OS X every other day.

  7. #7


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    I thought I had made up my mind now I'm back with more questions...

    If my research is accurate, it looks like I can use Parallels to access a Windows partition (set up with Boot Camp) via OS X. I think being able to access Windows-based files on OS X will be really useful so at this point I'm pretty sure I'll use Parallels (or a different VM). Boot Camp seems like a good idea as well but I'll have no need for it if the Windows applications run well through Parallels. So I have a few questions:
    • Do VM-accessed applications run faster if Windows has its own place in the hard drive set up with Boot Camp?
    • Which version of Windows? Do earlier versions tend to run faster through a VM? Would I notice a difference between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 in terms of speed running through Parallels? What about Home vs. Pro vs. Ultimate?
    • If my Windows "partition" exists on my Mac HD and is only accessed through Parallels, can I back it up with Time Machine? If it's a separate Windows partition set up with Boot Camp, does Parallels (or other VM ware) allow you to back it up without booting to Windows?
    • Not too related but could affect my thinking: can Windows use thunderbolt ports? e.g. for backup to an external drive?


    If I'm buying Windows and Parallels anyway, looks like I'll be able to try out the different configurations for myself rather than just speculating. If that's true, the only decision I have to make now is which version of Windows to get.

    Thanks in advance!

    P.S. If it makes a difference the MBP will probably have 2.3 GHz, 8 gigs of ram... the works.

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