Newbee: Need help building a home CAD system

Hello all,

Need your guidance on putting a CAD PC together. I'm a CAD student and would like to build a PC workstation dedicated to CAD software. Autocad 3D, 3DSMAX, Revit, Inventor, others.....

I've been looking at the Dual CPU AMD socket 940 w/ the Opteron Italy 270HE, 275 WOF, or the 280. I've also been reading up on the TYAN and SUPERMICRO mobos. Video card, leaning toward the nVIDIA QUADRO 3000+ series. Stuffing these in the Antec P180B case.

I'm open to any and all suggestions from you experts out there. I haven't lock anything down yet. Any suggestion is great appreciated. Would a QUAD Core be better instead of two Dual Cores? Intel vs. AMD? XEON vs. OPTERON? Power supply recommendation? Antec, Enermax, Gigabyte (Odin), PC Power & cooling, Seasonic, etc.... Minimum power requirement recommendation? I figure that this PC will be number crunching intensive when in 3D animation.

This system will not be used for gaming. Strickly for CAD and 3d animation.

Thanks in advance for your kind support.
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  1. Well, to be honest, I don't think a workstation graphics card is necessary for most CAD users these days...especially not architects and engineers. People who make their living doing computer-special effects? Maybe.

    Autodesk's website, if you dig around deep enough, tells you that many, many people use modern "gaming" cards for CAD, and have no difficulty. Also, ATI (at least, up to the x19xx series, don't know about the HD2x00 series) certifies their mainstream cards for Autodesk-product use.

    NVidia doesn't, but people (including Autodesk themselves) claim they work fine, as well.

    What I hear is more important, though, is cores. Quad cores are the way to go, here, unless you want to purchase a dual 771 socket and run eight cores. Load the system up with as much RAM as you can (including video RAM), and you should be good to go.

    Which 3d animation? If Lightwave, you might be better off with the Quadro/Fire cards initially, but it looks like Lightwave is working to increase OpenGL support throughout version 9, which means mainstream cards are getting support, and will eventually run just fine, provided you don't need some technical details that I (sadly) don't quite understand yet.

    As most modern gaming cards support OpenGL 2.0, it shouldn't be too hard to find a card that works, unless you're using older programs, with other graphics/rendering standards.
  2. Thank you very much. More research will be done into the Intel Q-core. Will take a look into the possibility of the build now and replace the CPU at a later time when faster CPU's are cheaper 3-5 yrs from now. Will weigh the pro and con in spending more $$$ in the mobo that will be compatible with future CPU. Any recommendation on the P35 or X38 Q-core? I will be looking into the 8800 and the ATI series VC cards for my app and check on the website that you provided.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and taking the time to help out a total stranger.

    This is a great read, especially Jimbo's posts toward the bottom. It looks like I was spot on, provided you're looking for a CADPC for home use.

    As far as X38 versus P35...well, neither is future-proof, as Intel is introducing a new socket next fall, and a new mainstream northbridge this spring (replacing the p35 first, and then both of them).

    If you want to wait, there will of course be benefits in terms of performance, but you'll have to wait until either January or October for anything real.

    Also, Windows Vista/ XP will make a substantial difference...I would recommend 64-bit versions of either.
  4. Dual AMD use much cheaper ram then dual Intel uses you may even be able to use DUAL AMD quad-core With Desktop DDR2 ram real soon.
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