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Author: Subject: CAD workstation advice
Alan B

posted on 9/1/11 at 10:29 PM Reply With Quote
CAD workstation advice

Hi Guys,

I'm looking to replace home PC/CAD workstation....it needs to run Solidworks 2008 and Inventor 2010 so I'd probably be running Win XP64 pro.

I do pretty large assemblies a lot of the time and also need decent rendering and analysis capabilities.

Any advice on Processor? RAM ? graphic card? based on a mid-range kind of budget.

Looking to find the best value for money and balance between key components.

Cheers,

Alan

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RazMan

posted on 9/1/11 at 10:46 PM Reply With Quote
I'm not sure if you are looking for new or second hand but I have an HP XW6400 which runs 2 x quad core Xeon processors (8 cores in total) It is quite a mighty beast and perfect for demanding CAD progs like Solidworks, Rhino, etc and has served me well for the last 3 years on Win7 x64. TBH it is too powerful for me since I have changed jobs now and it seems a shame not to use it on something other than web browsing
Any good to you? I can U2U a complete spec if you are interested. There are some more details here

[Edited on 9-1-11 by RazMan]





Cheers,
Raz

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Alan B

posted on 9/1/11 at 10:57 PM Reply With Quote
Raz,

Appreciate the offer but the shipping would probably make it not viable.
I guess it wouldn't hurt to U2U me the specs though.

Thanks,

Alan

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RazMan

posted on 9/1/11 at 11:07 PM Reply With Quote
LOL I completely miss the fact that you are in Florida. I suppose I could deliver it for you if you buy the ticket

I have edited my post to include the full original spec. I have since added the second processor (at the cost of 250) and a very competent 3D graphics card. TBH I wouldn't choose anything with less spec nowadays - the 8 cores make short work of rendering and any maths functions. NFS runs a treat on it too





Cheers,
Raz

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bigandy

posted on 9/1/11 at 11:29 PM Reply With Quote
To run SW, or Inventor, I would recommend you get as meaty processor as you can afford. The number of cores is not hugely critical, but go for the fastest possible one you can. SW and Inventor don't really make the most of Multicore processors, so speed helps a lot. Team the processor up with a LARGE amount of FAST RAM if you are planning on working on large assemblies. A fast hard disk (Solid State) if your budgect can stretch to it, would be beneficial too, even if it is only a fairly small one for the operating system/software and working assembly to be stored on.

As for graphics card, I would recommend a SW/Inventor certified one. Large assemblies will kill low end GFX cards, so you are best plumping for a mid-high end certified one.

Everything else is just nice to have

Once good way of speccing out a workstation, is to look at what the big name workstation builders are speccing currently. That will give you an idea of what components work well together.

Andy





Dammit! Too many decisions....

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Alan B

posted on 9/1/11 at 11:38 PM Reply With Quote
Thanks Andy,

Good info.

Some questions if you don't mind....

Is 12228MB DDR3 @1333Mhz considired large and/or fast?

Is an Intel Core i7 950 3.06 GHz considered fast?

An ATI Fire pro V3800 512MB DDR3 is SW/INV certified but would you consider it beyond low end?

Cheers,

Alan

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PSpirine

posted on 9/1/11 at 11:45 PM Reply With Quote
Raz, how much were you looking for for your machine? Could you U2U me the spec and a price?

I might be upgrading my machine in April - depending on spec and price I may be very interested!

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bigandy

posted on 9/1/11 at 11:56 PM Reply With Quote
I use that Processor and gfx card in the workstation I have for the contract I am working on now, but with only 8gb of RAM. It works great, although if you are doing much rendering, you might want a better gfx card. It's not that it won't cope, it's just like the difference between an axe and a chainsaw. The former does the job, but it takes a bit more time

Andy





Dammit! Too many decisions....

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mcerd1

posted on 10/1/11 at 09:19 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Alan B
Is an Intel Core i7 950 3.06 GHz considered fast?


I've had an i7 920 at home for a year and its a still bit of a beast but cost a fair bit at the time...

at work I went for a cheaper LGA1156 based machine with a i5 750 CPU
(7** ones are quad core, 6** ones have built in graphics which you'll never use) also there are the 8** i7's on this chipset
I run Tekla at work on XP (32bit) so not quite as demanding as Solidworks, but I'll have anything up to 8 apps running at once and nothing has even slowed down yet...

so I wouldn't ignore the LGA1156 ones, especially if your budget it tight - that way you've got more money for graphics

[Edited on 10/1/2011 by mcerd1]





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dhutch

posted on 10/1/11 at 09:45 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bigandy
To run SW, or Inventor, I would recommend you get as meaty processor as you can afford. The number of cores is not hugely critical, but go for the fastest possible one you can. SW and Inventor don't really make the most of Multicore processors, so speed helps a lot.

This appears to be the case for NX4 as well, which given it was writen before multi cores where common. We're running lenovo boxes now with 3Ghz four core processors and 12GB of Ram. Dont know the remainder of the specs.



Daniel

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RazMan

posted on 10/1/11 at 10:05 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by PSpirine
Raz, how much were you looking for for your machine? Could you U2U me the spec and a price?

I might be upgrading my machine in April - depending on spec and price I may be very interested!


PSpirine
U2U sent

[Edited on 10-1-11 by RazMan]





Cheers,
Raz

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Neville Jones

posted on 10/1/11 at 12:21 PM Reply With Quote
Hi Alan,
Happy New Year! Hope you're not too cold!

I'm running the latest of Solidworks and Inventor, and just had to load Catia as well for a customer job. I'm also looking to build a new machine.

I lost my main machine to a motherboard problem just before Christmas, and have a temporary thing with a celeron 3200 and 2gig of ram, and one of the boys spare gaming cards.

All the above run ok for normal work of modelling. Except when I want to run FEA. I put another 2gig of ram in, and things improved a little.

So, if you are doing a lot of FEA work, get as much ram and processor power as you can afford. If little fea work, then go down on the processor power, but keep max ram.

An Intel processor is a must. Something to do with the onboard code, but any other processor and you may get occasional glitches. I'm sure some expert will contradict this, but it is from hard learned experience I speak.

Graphics can cost thousands, or less than a couple of hundred. If you are doing a lot of 'fly through' and animated type stuff(moving images), go up on the graphics processor. I've never yet had the need of one of those super expensive graphics cards, and 99.999% of cad work doesn't need them.

You know the work I do, so can temper your own decision against that. You just don't need the most powerful and expensive machine that can be built, for the bulk of everyday cad work, and 3d modelling. Despite what the software providers may recommend.

Cheers,
Nev.

[Edited on 10/1/11 by Neville Jones]

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Doctor Derek Doctors

posted on 10/1/11 at 12:54 PM Reply With Quote
The best way to run CAD cheaply is to use an old IBM T42 (or similar) Thankpad. They can be bought refurbed for around 150-175 with XP Pro and they are easily capable of running CAD.

Mine is 6+ years old and is running Solidworks 2010, CATIA V5 and AutoCAD with no problems whatsoever. Its also built like a tank, hugely reliable and quite compact. Being a laptop I can also take it into the garage and make CAD models as I'm measuring and building parts.

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iti_uk
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posted on 10/1/11 at 01:34 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Doctor Derek Doctors
The best way to run CAD cheaply is to use an old IBM T42 (or similar) Thankpad. They can be bought refurbed for around 150-175 with XP Pro and they are easily capable of running CAD.

Mine is 6+ years old and is running Solidworks 2010, CATIA V5 and AutoCAD with no problems whatsoever. Its also built like a tank, hugely reliable and quite compact. Being a laptop I can also take it into the garage and make CAD models as I'm measuring and building parts.


Although this will undoubtedly run these applications, being able to handle large assemblies at an acceptable speed is another matter. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that there isn't a laptop computer out there which could handle a large (e.g. full vehicle) model at a workable speed, simply due to graphical and RAM limitations.

Chris

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mcerd1

posted on 10/1/11 at 02:17 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by iti_uk
quote:
Originally posted by Doctor Derek Doctors
The best way to run CAD cheaply is to use an old IBM T42 (or similar) Thankpad. They can be bought refurbed for around 150-175 with XP Pro and they are easily capable of running CAD.

Mine is 6+ years old and is running Solidworks 2010, CATIA V5 and AutoCAD with no problems whatsoever. Its also built like a tank, hugely reliable and quite compact. Being a laptop I can also take it into the garage and make CAD models as I'm measuring and building parts.


Although this will undoubtedly run these applications, being able to handle large assemblies at an acceptable speed is another matter. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that there isn't a laptop computer out there which could handle a large (e.g. full vehicle) model at a workable speed, simply due to graphical and RAM limitations.

Chris

Second that

there is a huge difference between being 'able' to run CAD and running big CAD models all day every day at work

My new work machine (i5 750, 2Gb RAM, XP 32bit, GTS250) was very cheap (~350 for the bits) but compared to the old one (3.0 Pentium D, 1Gb RAM, RX550) its night and day - the old one whould run everything, but you soon get sick of waiting 15min for it load up a big drawing





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Alan B

posted on 10/1/11 at 03:01 PM Reply With Quote
Thanks guys...good input so far..keep it up.

Nev, thanks for your concern for my well-being...these Florida winters can be brutal...

[Edited on 10/1/11 by Alan B]

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Neville Jones

posted on 10/1/11 at 03:37 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Alan B
Nev, thanks for your concern for my well-being...these Florida winters can be brutal...
[Edited on 10/1/11 by Alan B]


You poor bastard, I really feel for you! You must have upset someone really big to have to go and live there.


Cheers,
Nev.

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Doctor Derek Doctors

posted on 11/1/11 at 12:03 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mcerd1
quote:
Originally posted by iti_uk
quote:
Originally posted by Doctor Derek Doctors
The best way to run CAD cheaply is to use an old IBM T42 (or similar) Thankpad. They can be bought refurbed for around 150-175 with XP Pro and they are easily capable of running CAD.

Mine is 6+ years old and is running Solidworks 2010, CATIA V5 and AutoCAD with no problems whatsoever. Its also built like a tank, hugely reliable and quite compact. Being a laptop I can also take it into the garage and make CAD models as I'm measuring and building parts.


Although this will undoubtedly run these applications, being able to handle large assemblies at an acceptable speed is another matter. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that there isn't a laptop computer out there which could handle a large (e.g. full vehicle) model at a workable speed, simply due to graphical and RAM limitations.

Chris

Second that

there is a huge difference between being 'able' to run CAD and running big CAD models all day every day at work

My new work machine (i5 750, 2Gb RAM, XP 32bit, GTS250) was very cheap (~350 for the bits) but compared to the old one (3.0 Pentium D, 1Gb RAM, RX550) its night and day - the old one whould run everything, but you soon get sick of waiting 15min for it load up a big drawing


Funny that because I'm spinning a near entire car around in CATIA V5 R16 on my T42 as I right this. Its not always about the numbers and the specs, its about how maintain, set-up and use your computer.

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mcerd1

posted on 11/1/11 at 08:39 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Doctor Derek Doctors
Funny that because I'm spinning a near entire car around in CATIA V5 R16 on my T42 as I right this. Its not always about the numbers and the specs, its about how maintain, set-up and use your computer.

I take it you've got one of the T42's with a half decent graphics card then

for the record my old machine had a nice clean install, but when you've got a 60+Mb AutoCAD file or a Tekla model with anything more than 300 or 400 parts - then you need something with a bit more guts than my old pile of s***e (tekal doesn't even do fancy rendering...)
I've had models with 8000+ parts before, the one I'm working on now in 2500 parts and growing every day.... the old machine took 10 - 15min just to load it (and it had enough RAM for the job)
and once it loaded it was slow and horible to work with, you could spin the model round ok (a little stuttery on the 2x 24" screens) but doing work on it was a different story

as you say you don't need to go crazy and buy the best PC on the planet, but if your going to go to the hassle of a new machine you might as well get the best you can aford


[Edited on 11/1/2011 by mcerd1]





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Neville Jones

posted on 11/1/11 at 12:13 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Doctor Derek Doctors

Funny that because I'm spinning a near entire car around in CATIA V5 R16 on my T42 as I right this. Its not always about the numbers and the specs, its about how maintain, set-up and use your computer.


How about a screenshot. A genuine one, not I'net available sort of thing?

More than a little odour of bs to these posts. Any serious user of high end cad would detect this smell, as one or two previous seem to.

Maybe just my nose playing tricks?

Cheers,
Nev.

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irvined

posted on 12/1/11 at 11:48 AM Reply With Quote
As I run Mac/Linux systems I decided to use a virtual machine from amazon. I use a 64 bit m1 large image running solid works 2010 amongst others. At home I just have a dsl line, and two high res monitors connected to a fairly old MacBook.

I like it as I can access it from anywhere and dont need to worry about losing data. It's as responsive as it was runing a locally on a new high end laptop I had for work but without any financial outlay. It costs 35p per hour, or you can use the spot price right now it's 15p.

If your not using it 24/7 it could be a nice option if your confident configuring a remote system.





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