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Thread: Specify me a PC

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    Specify me a PC

    I have finally started working on the task for my college course which involves CAD.

    Firstly, as I mentioned in the 'CAD Software' topic, I have to research 3 CAD packages and specify which one I will use. The first one I have stared writing about is AutoCAD 2008, which is what we have on the computers in college. Then I am going to write about Cycas, both the Amiga version and the newer Linux/Windows version, and for the third one I will probably use something for the Macintosh, maybe ClarisCAD or something.

    However, these CAD packages will need a computer system to be run on. I think we only have to do one system, but I thought I would write about a system for each of the above CAD packes. As you probably guessed, I can quite easily specify an Amiga for Cycas, and wouldn't have much trouble specifying a 68k/PPC Mac for the Mac package (I havn't decided which one to use yet).

    But, AutoDesk say that AutoCAD 2008 requires a 2.2GHz Pentium 4 processor and my lack of knowledge of PC stuff made currently and during the last few years makes it difficult for me to determine what kind of hardware to use.

    So, I thought I might be able to utilise your knowledge of modern computers. Here are the requirements for AutoCAD 2008:

    Intel Pentium 4 processor, 2.2 GHz Recommended
    Operating Systems:
    Microsoft Windows Vista
    Windows XP Home and Professional (SP2)
    Windows 2000 (SP4)
    512 MB RAM
    750 MB free disk space for installation
    1024x768 VGA with True Colour
    Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 (SP1 or higher)

    I would be grateful if someone could suggest to me some hardware which would run AutoCAD nicely. I'm guessing that something better than a 2.2GHz P4 would be ideal. I could really do with some advice on graphics cards and memory as well. Ideally, the system would run Windows 2000 as I like it more than XP, but that is not essential. I do not want to go within a 100 foot radius of Vista. The drawings will not really require anything very powerful as they are quite simple. I don't think it would benefit from having multiple/dual core processors therefore it would be easier to stick with single ones. Doesn't have to very recent either, as long as it is better than the above requirements.

    Many thanks
    Steve

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    To be honest if you want something to fill those specs then any generic pc from any store would work although you would have to make sure they don't put Vista on. If you want a cheap option you could try joining your local freecycle group and see if you can pick one up for nowt (that should apeal to the Yorkshireman in you) or try thier sister site where you can pick up stuff for next to nowt.
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    @Stephen Coates

    Well from the specs its quite a simple build in all honesty, and a cheap one too

    if you were building this from scratch including the lot here goes

    A quick build 520.09/*300.53 without monitor/OS

    • XP4400 Dual Core 64bit
    • 2GB DDR2 PC800
    • Radeon XT1950 Pro 256MB GDDR3 graphics
    • Sharkoon Rebel Chassis
    • 550Watt Silent PSU 24pin
    • 250GB SATA2 HDD
    • Asus MultiLayer Optical DVDRW
    • 19" LCD Monitor with 5ms refresh and 300cd/m2
    • Keyboard
    • Mouse
    • Speakers


    The components in greater detail

    chassis 25.84
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=527915

    PSU 19,85
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=132721

    motherboard 36.54
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=775027

    processor 43.23 - XP4400+ x2
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=632503

    memory (RAM) 2GB DDR2 PC800 23.48
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=527001

    Graphics ATI Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB GDDR3 78.24
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=673526

    hard disk Maxtor 250GB SATA2 34.19
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=510721

    Optical Drive ASUS DVDRW Multi Layer 16.44
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=787238

    Keyboard / Mouse / Speakers 11.74
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=215574

    TFT Monitor 19" Asus 5ms 300cd/m2 132.27
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=644855

    WinXP Pro SP2 85.06
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Produ...oductID=487054

    For the complete kit above 520.09 (+10 PnP)
    If i had a hammer, I would hammer in the morning, i would hammer in the evening, i would hammer all day

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buleste View Post
    To be honest if you want something to fill those specs then any generic pc from any store would work although you would have to make sure they don't put Vista on. If you want a cheap option you could try joining your local freecycle group and see if you can pick one up for nowt (that should apeal to the Yorkshireman in you) or try thier sister site where you can pick up stuff for next to nowt.
    Note that I won't actually be buying such a system, but just need to research it and list the specifications etc. But the knowledge will of course remain with me should I ever want a new PC in the future. Regarding freecycle, I joined a while ago, but so far havn't got anything.

    Zetr0: Cheers for the links. Definately a little bit confusing with the processor/graphics card. Is that quite a high end system by todays standards or is it quite low end? (Shows how up to date I am). I will look at those parts in more detail tommorow.

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    @SC

    I would say its Mid to High end, I would personally consider it an entry level gaming system. this would be able to play all the latest games with 90% of the features enabled.

    you could reduce this more by shopping around, note the 300 price tag without OS or Monitor, so if you wanted a Linux box and already had a decent monitor or KVM it would be very cheap for the specification, compared to off the shelf systems from like PC world or other main dealers like DEL.

    If you were to Base a PC on the specifications that you have for the program, then its would be under 200, but it would be limmited as well as most of the parts would likely be second user, as the main PC buying market is pushing core duo and AMD's Phenom based products one could be hard pressed to find a single core P4 at 2.2ghz let alone a 462 motherboard of that specification out side of ebay.
    If i had a hammer, I would hammer in the morning, i would hammer in the evening, i would hammer all day

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    If you want to specify a workstation for running CAD, rather than actually looking to purchase one for real then any of the specs listed here are too low. And the reason for that is that those specs are a minimum. To do serious business related CAD work these days you need quite a high spec workstation with a specific workstation grade graphics card.

    Steve, something you need to consider in regard to CAD is that for anyone using AutoCAD professionally any of the systems already listed, and the minimum specs for the application are nowhere near to what is actually required for real world use of the application.

    Firstly you will never see anyone using a CAD package on a small monitor. Expect to see at least 21" monitors as a minimum, and these days you are more likely to see at least 26" or more likely 30 screens being used. Why? CAD requires high levels of detail for the accuracy needed when designing so the larger the screen and the higher the resolution the better.

    You mentioned about not needing dual core, but 3D and CAD is the only area that all programs are actually optimised for multicore CPU use. The benefits from utilising multi core processing for such programs is big as there is a lot of processing going on once a schematic or 3D realisation of the finished product starts to increasing in complexity and a single core CPU will start to struggle when this happens.

    Next for ram, the more you can get in the system the better as CAD and 3D will eat through ram very quickly. As mentioned above a lot of CAD drawings are eventually concluded with a 3D rendered visualisation of the completed design. The more ram you have, the faster the system will be able to process and move around the design as you work, and the faster the final rendered concept artwork will be completed.

    For AutoCAD 2008 I would recommend the following minimum spec.

    Intel Core 2
    4GB Ram
    nVidia Quadro FX 570 or ATi FireGL v3600 graphics card
    74GB SCSI HD
    24" LCD

    Obviously you don't need a sound card for such a system. And the graphics cards I've listed are both entry level workstation cards from both of the main makers, although Matrox cards are also used for CAD and Video workstations often. Why pick workstation cards rather than normal mid to high end gaming cards? The main reason is that workstation card drivers are optimised specifically for a handful of applications. These normally including 3DSMAX, Maya and AutoCAD.

    Also an Intel Core 2 CPU is probably not an option most workstation buyers will go for. They will instead normally go for an Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme at the lower end, up to quad core Xeon in more workstations these days, and quite often dual Xeon motherboards these days allowing for 2x quad core CPUs in the same system.

    To give a good idea of a full system at the entry level of workstations used for CAD and 3D have a look at the Armari site found at http://www.armari.co.uk and look at the Magnetar QS system. Even though his is an entry level system it might still sound expensive at 1,599 but remember that these systems are using workstation grade components, not home user grade parts.

    Most CAD workstations will cost more like 10,000 and for most professional CAD companies that isn't seen as expensive.

    You might think I'm being silly with these specs, but I am not. These are realistic specs for systems currently being used in companies to run AutoCAD. It requires a lot of processing power.

    Yes, any entry level PC purchased from somewhere like PC World would today be able to run AutoCAD, but it wouldn't be nice as a workstation designed to professionally use AutoCAD with.

    Obviously if you just want to specific a system that can run AutoCAD to learn it for say university course work then a dual core Intel Core Duo CPU, 2GB Ram, 300GB HD, any mid to high level gaming spec graphics card that supports OpenGL and a large monitor of 24"+ will work fine.

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    @ Harrison
    Why SCSI HDD? I would have thought a SATA2 drive would be just as good and cheaper to get a larger drive plus no need for a SCSI card.
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    Forgot to mention something else. Nearly all AutoCAD users these days run the 63bit versions of their OS of choice. This allows much faster processing of the specific operations CAD software uses, and allows them to address more than 4GB (which is the limit of 32 bit OSs). It is not unheard of for many CAD workstations to have at least 8GB of ram, and some I've seen recently have 64GB. Very nice!

    As for the specific OS, you can actually get AutoCAD for Linux and many run SUSE, Red Hat or another business supported Linux Distro for CAD use. Others run 64-bit Windows XP. I've not yet seem anyone running 64-bit Vista because as far as the business world goes it is too new and the workstation grade graphics card drivers are not mature enough yet.

    No one runs Windows 2000 any longer though and a lot of software won't even run on it. 3DSMAX and all Adobe software for example will not install or run under Windows 2000. Not sure if AutoCAD has completely dropped support for 2000 yet, but it will very soon if it hasn't already.

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    Business and design workstations all still use Ultra SCSI. It is a much faster continuous throughput compared to SATA which is normally specified in burst rate which is not a continuous speed.

    Take Ultra-640 SCSI for example. This has a 640MB/s throughput and can support 16 devices on the chain. In comparison SATA2 has a real world maximum data rate of 300MB/s.

    Ultra SCSI drives are still mostly used in video and 3D workstations too, rather than the cheaper SATA drives. However you could get away with using SATA2 drives for a lower cost system.

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  10. #10
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    I'm thinking as it's a college project i would say that it would be going in for the cheaper option (Yes i know steve this is all hypothetical). Thats a point SC, even though this is a hypothertical question what max budget would you give and what lifespan would the PC need?
    A1200 Power Tower
    OS 3.9 / CGX4 / OS4.0
    Blizzard 210Mhz (overclocked to 266Mhz) 603e PPC with 25Mhz 040 (Overclocked to 33Mhz) 256Mb RAM
    ZIV
    CV64/3D
    3.2Gb HDD + 20GB HDD

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