My dad called me this morning and was wondering if his old AMD 3200+ with 512 Mb Ram would run the 64 bit version of AutoCAD 2009. I told him that in all likelihood, he'd need something with a little more oomph.
However, I have no idea what sort of specs I would need to get him a machine that will adequately handle his AutoCAD needs. If he runs the 64 bit version, he'll need Vista 64 bit, which if I understand correctly needs at least 4Gb of RAM to work smoothly. But what about a video card? And a processor? The catch is that I'd like to spend as little as possible, just something that will cover the bare necessaities. He doesn't game, just AutoCAD and MS Office.
Here's an idea, it really isn't risky, but might involve "some" knowledge in rivatuner.
Buy an 8800GT (brand isn't important) for about $110-120, download the latest rivatuner and Quadro drivers. Install rivatuner and the geforce drivers that came with the card, then reboot and follow these steps:
1.) Open rivatuner
2.) On the upper selection area look for "Low-Level system settings" and open it
3.) Go to the NVStrap Driver tab.
4.) On the PCI DeviceID settings look for a dropdown box that says "Graphics adapter identification". Select "Custom" there.
5.) Cycle through the new options that you'll see now, until you find one that says (NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700). Press apply and Ok.
6.) Reboot your system.
7.) Uninstall the Geforce drivers and use Driver Cleaner Pro to make sure you got them all.
8.) Install the latest Quadro drivers.
9.) Be the happy owner of an FX 3700 for $120.
I work in 2D cad also and I have no issues with any simi modern graphics card that I have used. If your dad doesn't do rendering, then I wouldn't worry about the card that much. Use a different CPU then the one evongugg suggested. I would use something in the 45 nm range. Reason is this: SSE4. It won't make a huge difference, but if you are building from scratch you might as well get it. Some AMD's have that too. I wouldn't be afraid to get a phenom.
Thanks for the input, guys. I was hoping to get out of this for $300-$500, but it looks like it may be more than that. My dad designs cabinets (or is going to attempt to), and they use AutoCAD 2008 at the school he's going to, and he thought about using the 2009 at home.