I just started working at a new company and I'm supposed to get C3D 2014. I have reviewed the "official" system requirements, but I was wondering, based on people's experience, what the "real" minimum system requirements are. I am afraid the laptop the company gave me is not going to handle C3D. This is what they gave me:
Dell Latitude E6530
Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit
Intel Core i5-3320M @ 2.60 GHz
Intel HD Graphics 4000
8.0 GB RAM
The graphics processor is integrated with the CPU - not a discrete graphics card. Based on my past experience with other computers and other versions of AutoCAD & Microstation, I don't think this computer is even close to being able to efficiently and effectively run C3D 2014. I'm curious what others think. If anyone out there is running C3D 2013 or 2014 on a similar system, what has your experience been? What are the "real" system requirements for a laptop to run C3D 2014?
And unless mobility is really (and I mean, really) important, I'd recommend a desktop over a laptop. No heating issues, more power for less price, no speed throttling on battery power.
You didn't mention the storage specs but I think an SSD hard drive, 240GB or larger, is a must for any system now. The productivity increase will pay for the extra cost over a traditional hard drive.
Interesting comment on the SSD, we just did a farly deep testing of the following systems:
Dell Optiplex 9010 desktop
nVidia GT-640 2gb
7200 rpm dirve
Xeon 3.6ghz E5-1620
8gb ECC ram
nVidia Quadro K600
The results were interesting, for regular Windows type testing the workstation blew away the desktop except for game video performance (to be expected since the GT-640 is an ok gaming card).
What really suprised us was both the Catalyst Autocad performance tests, Bentley Microstation Benchmark tests, and our own testing of time to open files, generate point clouds, rebuild corridors, etc the desktop either beat or matched the workstation on everything. The only thing the workstation really made a difference on was rendering and encoding animation times where the number of logical processors was 8 Xeon and 4 for the i5. Anything else and the processor speed won since most of C3D & MicroStation only use one of the processors.
We bumped the memory up to 16gb on both machines and really did not see much improvement in either.
The only thing we could figure concerning the C3D results was that the horsepower it takes to process the file when opening is slower than what the drives can feed it so the SSD really didn't make a difference concerning CADD performance (it did make a vast difference for some other applications).
Performance testing (one app at a time) often doesn't mimic real world use.
A 5 year old Lenovo S10 with a mechanical drive on Vista 32 vs a brand new S30 running Windows 7 64 performs application benchmarks in about the same time. Especially for old applications. However the S10 takes 90 seconds to load Civil 3D vs about 20 seconds on the S30.
Where the SSD makes a difference is in real world use, launching applications 3-6x faster, faster boots. Handling multiple applications, etc.
Also, sometimes I think the workstations are over-built in ways that are not beneficial to pure performance. One of our offices purchased an HP workstation but it was clocked at a very low GHz rating and was easily outperformed by a generic Lenovo desktop even with all the corporate overhead. The workstation spent a minute or two counting memory at bootup, dual power supplies, ECC RAM and all the rest of the "workstation" lingo and was basically a paperweight.
Autodesk needs to spend some time optimizing AutoCAD for multi-core workstation processors because currently it is mostly single threaded. A lot of money that is spent on workstations is being wasted because of this.
I pretty much agree with your comments, if just looking at C3D performance the "workstation" didn't show any advantage even opening files on the SSD, but... if the user was doing a large amount of other work also then the workstation might perform better.
As you said, until C3D starts leveraging multi-threaded programming the workstation option really isn't worth the 2x -2.5x cost factor in my opinion unless you are doing a fair amount of animation & rendering where all the cores available can be used.
I also did some SSD testing. The SATA drives are somewhat better - it was with a PCI express revo drive that I found a noticable performance improvement. The revo drive runs in RAID0, so it splits the 1/0 into two parallel streams and writes to two SSD drives, doubling the speed. Also, the drive mounts to the same PCIe slot as graphics cards, so it bypasses the SATA controller, and is faster again.
I also found a better feel in responsiveness with low latency memory modules - it was trial and error to find a specific module set that was stable.
If, I knew then what I know now... I'd seriously have tried a refrigerated computer case - they are marketed more towards the teen gaming enthusiast with too much money, but so is most of the other gadgets I mentioned above. The idea is to cool the cpu below zero which allows increasing the cpu speed to 5Ghz or better. It seemed like Civil 3D likes cpu speed and I bumped to 4.2Ghz but had stability issues above that speed, with a water cooled core.
Just to cover the gpu I used everything from A GeForce 6150 to a Geforce 280GTX, a Quadro FX 5600, AMD Firepro, and now have a Quadro 5000 2.5GB, the higher end cards did not make much of a difference, with the exception of the Quadros were the only ones that provided a clear 4D simulation in navisworks.
I kept notes on a wiki site so they are available here
Overall, I am also still looking for that Civil 3D computing sweetspot
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