I have been tasked with looking at new workstations for a customer of mine. They want something powerful (as cheap as passable of course ~$6,000) but 3D CAD Quality! Need something to handle mainly 3D AutoCAD (verticals of course). Any suggestions? I have always been a Dell or HP man because of corporate guidance, but open to anything... Suggestions anyone?
See the getting started hardware fourm.
With a "gamer" case & 650W ps (they were on sale as a bundle & had lotsa fans), a plain DVD burner & a card reader, I was able to bring it all in for just under $1400 with parts from Newegg.com. Took me about an hour with a screwdriver to put it all together, and about another hour to load all the programs & software.
With C3d, I don't do alot of rendering, so I opted for a slightly less agressive video card to save some money. I also went wth the I-5 2500 chip for a savings of about $100. I couldn't see that much performance gain with the I-7 2600 for the money. Another area where I balanced money spent was in the choice of SSD / HD. I don't think SSD's are that cost effective right now. They're smallish for a primary drive, especally if you have a bunch of programs you need. So, I opted for the fastest, stabalest HD I could afford - a Western Digital Velociraptor of about 500gb. I think TB sized drives are a bit of a gimick. In 10 years at my last firm, we never got close to filling up a 500gb drive. Maybe TB drives in a server, but not a workstation.
I'm a big fan of going local if you don't feel comfortable with a screwdriver & a little patience. You can spec what you want, not what some corporate builder wants to sell you using the cheapest components they can get away with to maximize their proffit. The local guy will support you well too.
I just reread your post.
You don't need "DUAL intel QUAD processors" for autocad products. Right now and for the forseeable future, acad & verticles do NOT use more than one core or more than one processor. And, unless you're running 4 monitors, I can't see where you'd need DUAL graphics cards. Get one card with 2+ gigs of Vram & you should be good to go.
So - I'd recommend a new I7-2600 (only one) in a MoBo that supports SATA 6.0 data transfer. What you're looking for in a ACAD WORKSTATION is the fastest single core processor you can find, & right now that's the I7-2600. Its been newly designed for fast throughput & handles ram transfer very well.
Just rereading those specs is why you want to go with a local who will design you a system based on what you need not what corporate wants to bundle together to sell you stuff you don't need for their profit.
We do some rendering and use verticals such as C3D, MEP, Rivit and Inventor. So we could take advantage of the quad and the dual video cards. Or would it be better to go with a single higher end Video card instead of two middle of the road.
I can put one togther myself but we also have an IT department. They are kean on Dell and I don't think they will go for home built. I think if it is a good enough deal I could get a workstation builder (ie Boxx, Xi or the like) and get away with it. Are there any other "workstation" builders out their?
I don't see how you're going to take advantage of the quad cores. Autodesk products don't use more than one - period. Fastest single core is the way to go. I guess if you have Revit & C3d running on the same machine at the same time, you might use 2 cores. I don't do rendering, so I can't comment much on dual video cards, other than I can't see how they'd be used other than to power more monitors. For heavy rendering, more Vram on a single card was what I thought would be "best".
What you really want is a decent "gamer". That's going to give you the most bang for the buck, not a "workstation". Sounds strange, but it's true The gamers are about throughput to keep the game looking real..
Check out Xi & Alienware, and try to find the tamest case you can get. If your IT dept is keen on Dell, tells me they don't like to do any work.
Don't get hung up on the term "workstation", it has a different meaning to you than it does to those who build them. Once upon a time, workstations (mini-servers, really) were the only hardware which could reasonably run design software in terms of RAM and processor speed. Home computers were running Zork and thats about it. Workstations have evolved to handle applications which require *massive* computing requirements, doing so through dedicated software which is designed from the ground up to run multiple simultaneous repetetive operations. Note that this isn't what is done in CAD, aside from *maybe* some FEA work in Inventor or other analysis software, and animation rendering. The PC gaming industry has led to hardware that is optimized to handle straight line processing, and in virtually all cases that includes CAD applications. In a lot of cases the faster speed will actually outperform the multi-core/multi-processor workstations at a fraction of the cost.
I have been using 3D Autodesk Products for 15+ years and specking Computers most of that time. When I use the term "workstation" I mean really big computer that can handle the load of 3D CAD. I use a "gaming" Laptop to do my side business running Inventor Pro doing simulations on it. We do some Rendering using 3Ds Max but when we do it, we found we need lots of power for those special projects and time is allot more money than just the CAD time involved. Change orders in the magnitude of millions to 10's even some B projects, on the line sometimes. Alot of large customers want us to jump through hoops to stop fines and keep from spending more money.
I am really looking to see if any user has a love for one kind of Workstation or another.
$5k sounds like allot, but $15k would be better to handle the peaks we have a couple times a year. Currently I have Inventor Pro, Revit, Civil 3D AutoCAD MEP, Raster, and 3Ds Max all working on one project. Sometimes with the same user using all these at different times for different things. Someone said they didn't think AutoCAD was mutithreaded but I believe if you look back the documentation for 2011 or 2012 it is finally. I know it is not truly mutithreaded but with Win 7 64-bit it will take advantage of it especially when rendering.
The machines I am trying to replace are 1 yr Old Dell Precession T3500 w Single Xeon 2.53, 6GB RAM, Nivida Quadro FX 1800 768 MB dedicated and a 7200 RPM HD. These do not even come close to handling the peak load, they do OK handling the average to small jobs but not the larger projects we do.
I think you are confusing "wide" big with "tall" big. You need "tall" - fast, max RAM for your buck. But the workstations you are looking at are "wide" big - not fast but set up for programs that are designed to run multiple simultaneous processes, but thats not the software you are running. Its multi-threaded for a few things but not enough to make a difference.
Take that T3500. I'll bet its running ~ 2.6 GHz, and you only have 6 GB of RAM in it. Its a Xeon but that only makes a difference in the pocketbook. You really want 24 GB of RAM on that, or at least 12, but here's the kicker: its a Xeon motherboard. From Dell that means you are forced to get ECC RAM, which is more expensive than non-ECC RAM. Check the Dell configuration website - going from 6 GB to 24 GB will cost several *thousand* dollars that will not benefit you. For the cost of the RAM upgrade alone, you can get a conventional second generation i7 which is 1 full GHz faster (and overclockable to even more) *and* a full 16 GB of RAM. You would get faster results out that over the fully tricked out T3500, even without overclocking. Try flipping over to the Alienware side of Dell and doing some cost estimates. The differences can be a little jaw dropping.
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