What is the most important component to upgrade in a PC for CAD work?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by johnbro23, May 16, 2005.

  1. johnbro23 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I'm trying to get my parents to buy a new computer and I'll mainly be using it for CAD, but a little for gaming also. I can't spend more than $1100 or so, so I'm going to have to decide what to upgrade and what not to. So with that in mind, what do you think I should upgrade?

    Processor?

    Memory?

    Video Card?

    I'm definitely upgrading the Memory becuase I know a lot of CAD programs I use in school are memory hogs. I'm not so sure about upgrading the video card or processor. Do you have any suggestions?
     
  2. barneygumble macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 18, 2005
    #2
    Ram, Ram, Ram
     
  3. oriol macrumors member

    oriol

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    right behind ya!
    #3
    u want a PC for CAD, processor, why OS Xp over work the prosessor so if u don't have enoght capasity XP will take it all. try to get the best Video card u can affort. memory is the cheapest thing so u can upgrade that later.



    my two cents.
     
  4. johnbro23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    So you guys are saying don't upgrade the processor. I think the Dell 8400 comes with a 3.0 P4 w/ HT, so that should be good enough. I'll upgrade the ram to 1 GB (for now) and possibly the video card up to 256MB from the base 128MB. What do you think about that system? That will come to about $1200 (with the 19" CRT that I wanted)
     
  5. jestershinra macrumors regular

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    Sep 4, 2004
    #5
    Very nice. It should suit you just fine. I would recommend getting the gig of RAM in as few sticks as possible, to minimize the amount you have to throw away if you upgrade.
     
  6. Phatpat macrumors 6502a

    Phatpat

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    Washington DC
    #6
    On a related note, does anyone know if typical CAD programs (Solidworks, pro/e, Inventor) will benefit from a dual core cpu? I thinking about an AMD 4200+.
     
  7. Bibulous macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 19, 2005
    #7
    and get the largest monitor you can afford, hate to draw on a 19" screen :D
     
  8. snkTab macrumors 6502a

    snkTab

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    Cincinnati, OH
    #8
    yeah I was about to say don't forget the monitor. it might be better to lose effiency in speed if you are able to better grasp the whole picture because you can actually see the whole picture.
     
  9. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

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    #9
    Don't forget the graphics card. Integrated graphics is .. :eek: junk.
    You want good 2D performance for drawing.
    So a "real" video card is needed.
    I'm not sure about 3D performance, it probably depends on the CAD program.
    The CAD programs I use benefit from fast 2D performance.
     
  10. johnbro23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Do you think 128MB of VRAM will be enough? Or should I upgrade to 256MB for $180. That doesn't sound like its really worth it to me.
     
  11. minimax macrumors 6502

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    #11
    CAD needs a fast CPU and in case of rendering also a fast GPU foremost. RAM is less important unless you want to do some serious multitasking.
     
  12. johnbro23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Hmm thats about the opposite of what everyone else said... :confused:
     
  13. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #13
    All the suggestions are great.See if you can get a 3d Labs video card(used is your best bet they're expensive).
     
  14. MrCommunistGen macrumors regular

    MrCommunistGen

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    #14

    In most cases the ammount of VRAM the card has is less important than the kind of GPU you are using. For example a Radeon 9800 Pro with 128MB will outperform a radeon 9600 with 256MB (at least in 3d) because the graphics processor is so much faster... these days companies try and sell the public on: BIGGER NUMBERS ARE BETTER... but oftentimes they boost specs on the cards that don't offer any real performance boost, but give them a way to make more money off of you. On a slow card, boosting frame buffer memory gives only a minor boost to performance, because it isnt a lack of memory that's causing the slowdown.

    Though CAD is not an area I am very familiar with, I'm pretty sure that N'vidia's Quatro line and ATi's FireGL line are specifically designed for CAD work and would be better suited than a consummer card.

    Thats all I have to say for now... I'll add an addendum to this if I get time.

    -mcg
     
  15. johnbro23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Well, here's the choices Dell is giving me for the Dimension 8400:


    128MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon™ X300 SE

    256MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) nVidia GeForce 6800 [add $180 or $5/month1]

    256MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon™ X850 XT PE [add $540 or $16/month1]

    Keep in mind I'm trying to keep this under $1200... preferably under $1100.
     
  16. minimax macrumors 6502

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    Feb 9, 2005
    #16
    rendering asks a lot of your CPU's FPU in rendering calculations. Also the GPU will do a lot of graphical calculations but not to the extent you need to sustain a certain framerate as in games, so VRAM is a smaller factor for 3D-applications.
    And 512 MB DRAM is enough for any program. Only if you want to run multiple applications (as in CAD / VIZ / PS etc) 1GB would be recommended. I'm sure there are plenty of people that believe you need 2GB of DRAM to run Photoshop properly, but overkill = money down the drain.

    edit: this is what you need for 3D drawing / visualisation mostly. If you do drawing in 2D like AutoCAD / Vectorworks even a low-end system can easily keep up.
     
  17. johnbro23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    I plan on working a lot in Viz, so I'm going to go with 1GB of ram. I think thats the safe way to go, and leaves room for expansion down the road.

    So here's my specs, tell me what you think...

    Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 630 with HT Technology
    MS XP Home
    2x256MB RAM from Dell
    512MB RAM from Crucial*
    160GB HD
    Dual Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + 48x CD-RW Drive
    19 inch M993 (18 inch viewable) Flat CRT
    128MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon™ X300 SE

    Total (plus ~$80 for Crucial RAM):
    $1075 :)D)

    *I looked up Crucial's ram and it says it needs to be installed in pairs? Does that mean I can't just get 1 stick of 512MB, I have to get 2?
     
  18. minimax macrumors 6502

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    Feb 9, 2005
    #18
    Looks like a solid system, although personally I'd opt for an Athlon 64. Less power as in consumption and more power as in rendering.
     
  19. minimax macrumors 6502

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    Feb 9, 2005
    #19
    btw why not use your present emac, or you NEED 3D Viz / AutoCAD?
    Your mac will run vectorworks / artlantis without any problem!
     
  20. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #20
    Yes, RAM has to be installed in pairs. You only have 4 sockets in the machine, consider going with a 1 Gb kit (2x512) for 1.5 Gb total -- US$138 for the pair here
    http://www.datamem.com/parts_that_fit_list.asp_Q_M_E_Dimension+8400_A_MF_E_Dell_A_C_E_

    You can install another internal hard drive to use to backup/clone your main drive -- you stand to lose a lot of billable time if one drive goes down.

    Consider the 19" CRT a stop-gap until you can afford a 20" LCD or better. (20" LCD = 21" CRT for screen area)
     
  21. johnbro23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Pittsburgh, PA
    #21
    Well the thing is is that I don't know Vectorworks. I've tried it out, and I'm just overwhelmed. It's like I need to take a class to learn it. I've tried building simple things... I can't even figure out where 3d orbit is. Every time I shift my view, the axis that I'm drawing on does weird things. I figured out layers, I built a 4 wall building and realized I wasn't getting anywhere and I wasn't going to get anywehre until someone taught it to me.
     
  22. minimax macrumors 6502

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    Feb 9, 2005
    #22
    Why not buy a book about vektorworks then? For $1075 you can surely buy some good books on it ;)
    To be honoust, I've worked a lot with AutoCAD and only shortly (during my traineeship) with Vektorworks but I really prefer it over AutoCAD. It has so many smart functions that let you draw quick and effective it blew me away.
     
  23. ReanimationLP macrumors 68030

    ReanimationLP

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    On the moon.
    #23
    Go to Newegg.com, configure yourself an A64 rig and build it. You'll get a ton more "bang-for-the-buck" by doing that ;)
     

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