I’ll appreciate any help regarding building a system primarily used for solid modeling with SolidWorks. I am also interested in using it for a media center. I’m hoping to build this system for $1,000-1,200.
There is a restriction in how this system will be used. I’m a high level quadriplegic, my only means of input is a voice recognition program called Dragon Dictate released for Window 95. It uses the computers ram and cpu. My main problem is a hard lockup I suspect due to this antiquated vr. Newer versions don’t have the mouse control needed in CAD.
I know next to nothing about multi-core processors. Can I dedicate the vr to one core and isolate it from the rest? Will this help eliminate lockup? Opinions wanted.
The system currently being used:
Windows XP Pro with SP2
AMD 1.66 Ghz
512 MB RAM
Creative Sound Card PNP PCI
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 with 256 MB RAM
1 3.5” Drive
1 WD 38GB Drive (IDE)
1 19GB Drive (IDE)
1 100MB Zip Drive
rest is unknown
I have some parts in mind for the new system:
Intel Duo Core E6750 processor
2 SATA Drives 250GB Min.
G.Skill 4MB RAM DDR2
MSI P6N SLI mobo
CoolerMaster RS850-EMBA power supply
XFX PVT84JDD3 GEFORCE 8600GT VIDEO
M-AUDIO revolution 5.1
Can I dedicate the vr to one core and isolate it from the rest?
Yes you can. It's called Processor Affinity and you can set it from the Task Manager Window.
This setting isn't sticky and needs setting each time the program is started. It works great for testing though.
To get the Affinity options to be permanent you'd need to use the XP Application Compatibility Toolkit.
You can download that Toolkit from the MS website.
Will Affinity help eliminate lockup? Probably not (although it might for an older Win95 program).
More likely extra RAM and a more powerful CPU would better solve lockups unless its an underlying program incompatility option. Have you already set your VR software up in Win95 compatibility mode?
If you have and you still are having lockup the aforementioned XP Application Compatibility Toolkit had more powerful options to try and get older programs to behave.
About the stability issue - I think it goes without saying that a more recent version of Dragon Naturally Speaking is probably your best bet. I'm guessing you've fully researched and talked to the Nuance and SolidWorks people about VR support in Solidworks.
I'd hate to think thats its just an obscure switch or option that's keeping you from the new version of Dragon Naturally Speaking. If you haven't done so I'd push at them a little harder trying to find out exactly why a 12yo piece of software has the support you need and the new versions don't. Kinda doesn't pass the "old logic test".
I've used DNS ver 8, MS WinXP and Vista versions of VR (plus a couple of games oriented VR software packages). IMO DNS is far and away the best performing and has many more control options.
The Duo/Quad issue can go both ways-it depends mostly on the software. And what you do with the software. The differences range from noticeable to insignificant. As far as typical home theater/media center PC usage goes typical "heavy graphics" does not tax either a Q6600 quad or the less expensive Core 2 Duos even with a modest graphics card. Either CPU will be fine for watching and listening to HD video and audio. When you start talking about more demanding software usage like video and audio editing, and using Solidworks you can start to see differences in CPU performance.
Comparing E8400 Wolfdale 3.00Ghz Duo & Q6600 2.4Ghz Quad time to complete typical tasks.
(E8400/Q6600) Lower times are better
3D Studio Max 9 render 01.03 / 00.47
iTunes Audio Render 01:06 / 01:22
AVG Anti-virus scan 01:03 / 01:20
Divx 2min DVD Render 01:31 / 01:30
MS Powerpoint to Acrobat PDF conversion 01:51 / 02:14
Pinnacle Studio MPEG2 from CAM to DVD 01:25 / 01:28
Premier Pro 2.0 editing 24 sec of HDTV 03:44 / 02:34
You can use the THG CPU charts to compare different CPUS in about 35 different benchmarks.
It looks like the latest version of Solidworks 2008 is still not fully multi-threaded for Dual/Quad CPUs "Does SolidWorks make use of multiple and/or dual core processors?SolidWorks is multi-threaded. Many of the user interface activities such as redraw and dialog box interaction, etc.,take advantage of this technology. However, the solving process used for parametric modeling is by nature very linear and cannot take full advantage of multiple or dual core processors. No benchmark tests have been done to determine the increased speed associated with running on a multi/dual core-processor machine but there should be a slight performance gain." I got that tidbit from http://www.javelin-tech.com/
For that reason I think an E8400 Wolfdale is probably your best option. E8400s are a bit hard to find right now and more expensive than an E6750. E8200 Wolfdales (2.66Ghz) are due out shortly and should be around the E6750's price. I'd hold out for one of those E8x00 CPUs.
Considering your budget a system like this should be a MAJOR upgrade over what you're using now.
Antec Sonata III Mid Tower Computer Case & Antec Earthwatts 500W PSU $130
GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L Intel P35
Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz CPU $240
CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) RAM $114 ($74 after rebate)
EVGA 8600GT 256MB PCI Express x16 video card $100 ($70 after rebate)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 500GB SATA-3.0 HD $120
A-DATA PD10 4GB USB Flash Drive (2 each for file back up - replaces Zip100 drive) $36
LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner $30
Thats about $860 before taxes and shipping (about $75 for my address)
You can find links to all that hardware through this Wish List @ NewEgg
Thanks for the info. I read a post saying that a high ghz duo was better for heavy graphics than a quad. would you agree?
I can't speak for the graphics, but I do use CAD for my work. I do terrain modeling, which does get into some serious number crunching. I can see a huge difference between my 3.0 ghz home machine with 2 cores and my 2.4 ghz (Q6600) machine with 4 cores. The 4 cores makes a big difference for me. My stuff, though, is just line work. Its 3d polylines, but it is just linework.
The reason I’m still using DD is of being heavy into AutoCAD and SolidWorks. I find it difficult to draw or model without a mouse. I like DDs mouse emulator, wherever you want to place your mouse, you can do it within 2-4 commands. Say “mouse grid” and you get a tic-tac-toe looking overlay, each numbered 1-9. Then say 3 for example, the top right square is subdivided into 1-9, and so on. You can also say “mouse left”, “faster”, “slower”, “pixel lower left 40”. I’ve all but given up trying to find newer VRs with that capability. I tried DNS 8, but it seems to be geared towards word processing, spreadsheet, and database types. If anyone knows newer VRs with what I need, please let me know.
Also, thanks every one for the info and advice. As for the E8400, is it really running hot?