Zbrush on new MacBook Pro M1 Max?

Hello all!
I’m considering getting the new MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip to turn into my new perm workstation but I wanted to ask the community (people who are smarter than me when it comes to hardware) what settings would be best for working with zbrush and rendering in keyshot.
I’m a full-time sculptor and want something powerful that’ll last a long time that is easy to travel with (hence laptop) so I’m after thoughts as to what settings would be optimal since you can’t upgrade later on.

NOTE: Please don’t come after me for using Mac instead of PC. This is my preference and I’m not changing so please don’t criticize or attack me for it - I put up with this enough in the real world.


Hello @BellaNacht_3D ,

The Pixologic System Specs page contains notes on how to best optimize for ZBrush.

One aspect to laptops that it’s easy to overlook is drive space. Keep in mind that 100GB of free space is recommended for ZBrush’s scratch disk and quicksave directory. You would have to subtract this as well as the space you’ll need for other programs, OS installation, and file storage. ZBrush files containing dense or numerous meshes can easily be several GB in size, and ideally you will be saving multiple versions of a file. Modern operating systems require ever increasing amounts of space on a drive just in themselves, so be sure to factor all this in and leave yourself enough room to expand.


Bumping this up. I am also interested to know about the performance of ZBrush on the M1 Max MacBook Pro.

Thanks heaps! Yeah I just want to know what people think best settings would be. Obviously basic storage should be bumped up, I’m going to get 4TB version - but with a 64gb RAM option, should I go all out for 64 or go 32 etc etc etc.

There are some promising tests with game performance on YouTube but I haven’t seen anything yet testing Brush with the M1 Max.

Regarding the choice about ram. I suggest getting the most ram and storage space you can afford if you’re going MacBook because the new models can’t be upgraded later. So definitely get the 64gb Ram and 4TB . You could even partition it and plop ZBrush on its own 2TB partition. That way you could be sure that ZBrush would always have access to plenty of swap and storage space.

What will be really cool is if/when Pixologic rolls out a M1 native ZBrush. That should really fly.


I got M1 Max 32 GB version with 1TB. Going to be testing Zbrush in next few days and let you know how it works.

Beyond 1TB The storage gets insane expensive though. If possible at all in your scenario finding some kind of external storage solution could make sense.

I wonder if Zbrush will be able to access the larger amounts of memory. I would question whether 64 will help. Mine haven’t in the past, but I could be wrong.

But my Zbrush models are usually low Subtool count with averagr polycounts.

Anyway I will test and let you know.

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I totally get why you prefer Mac as well as the choice of Zbrush and Keyshot. They make a really powerful combo and are some of the last good remaining programs that you can simply buy once and not have to worry about all your subscriptions fees piling up.

I work a lot with dynamic subdivisions for all my modelling and to get that by the press of a button into Keyshot without having to collapse or decimate anything is priceless !

I got the M1 max 32 ram yesterday and both Keyshot and brush works really great, better than I expected actually. I am mostly impressed with the battery and how long it lasts !

Currently Keyshot does not support GPU rendering for the new Macs but CPU still gets the job done.
This Keyshot render took 3 minutes using CPU.

Hope this helps.


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Hello, given that the M1 Mac is using shared memory and the software does not use GPU cores, is it still better to get a 64GB M1 Max configuration with a 1TB SSD rather than 32GB with 1TB?

For those who have been using ZBrush on M1 Max, how is the fan noise?


Gorgeous! Thanks so much. I’m really leaning towards 64gb so the machine can last me years to come - since you can’t upgrade later. Also gorgeous sculpt+render! I’m struggling to get renders looking this nice - but that’s a me thing not a hardware thing ha. I make miniatures as a full time hustle, this is insanely nice!

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Ooh looking forward to it! Good luck too. Excited to hear how it goes

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I tested ZBrush 2021.7.1 now with M1 Max with 32 gigs.
It runs very fast probably due to high single core performance of the chip.

No fan noise at all.

Without the undo getting slow I am able to now sculpt subtotals over 15 Mil Active points. I am seeing ZBrush can utilize memory very well, and even it says swap being used I don’t see a slowdown.
I am able to go further to 50 Mil territory per subtool, but the undo gets somewhat slow on higher counts, I am able to sculpt though.

However this is faster than on any Windows PC I ever tried. I have never been able to consider 15 Mil active points as actual production workflow. Now I can.

Furthermore ZRemesher or decimate operations seem faster than on my 3950X desktop.

And this is through Rosetta 2, if native version gets made this could be mad good.


Amazing. I think that settles it, I’m getting one - now I’ve just gotta save up the cash because it sounds like an investment well made.

I struggle with some of my miniatures because once my poly count gets around 8 million my computer starts to lag so much it’s hard to go on.

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Awesome, I am sure you will notice significant increase in performance. Let us know how it works.


Good to hear your results. Based on your test, is 32GB sufficient or better to go for 64GB?


Based on my test I would say 32GB is sufficient. Mac is great with handling memory and this seems to be the case for ZBrush on Mac as well. I went on and copied the 50 Mil subtool about a dozen times, switched subtools and sculpted, seemed to work fine.

I also ran Substance Painter with heavy VFX model (over 1mil quads) 10UDIM maps, painting accross UV tiles in 4K. It ran totally fine. Even though I saw the memory going over 10GB worth, it was pretty smooth.


Thank you for testing. I have not used ZBrush so I don’t know what 50 Mil subtotal and 10UDIM maps are like.

My current Mac uses 700GB of 1TB SSD. I can probably move at least 200GB out to an external storage. When buying a M1 Max MacBook Pro, is 1TB sufficient? Since it is not video editing, will using an external TB4 drive be fast enough? I don’t know how much free space is needed for ZBrush to work efficiently.

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This was a super useful post as I’m looking at getting the M1 Max for Zbrush+Keyshot, as well. Thanks, Bellanacht! Definitely it’s a great investment and I’m looking forward to getting one in a few months.

P.S. Your minis are great! I make minis for 3d printing, as well, and I’ve seen your work around in facebook groups. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the test .

Aww nice!
You’ll have to send me your insta or your MMF so I can follow you <3

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Thanks! You can find me @nickeys.hatchery on IG. :slight_smile: