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Home Built to run Autodesk Inventor with simulation

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August 25, 2010 9:58:32 PM

I hope this is the correct place to ask this question, I am looking into building a computer to mostly run Autodesl inventor with Simulation. I think I want a quad core, plenty of ram with a very good video card. Obviously I run dual monitors and It needs to have some power. I prefer to build a computer than to buy one so any input is appreciated. FWIW I have a Dell Poweredge 4400 I can take parts from if that would be helpful.

Thank You in advance for any help you can provide
August 25, 2010 10:13:22 PM

Do you have a budget? When do you plan on purchasing said rig? Does this budget just include the tower, or peripherals, OS, etc.?
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 26, 2010 6:06:58 AM

I googled "autodesk inventor multithreaded>" and came up with this link:

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/ps/dl/item?siteID=123112&id=12107410&linkID=9242018

from which comes this:

"In order to fully benefit from multi-core processors, you need to use multi-threaded software. Unfortunately, Inventor is currently a single-threaded application."

and this:

"Due to the lack of multi-threading, Inventor is not capable of using more than 50% of the CPU on a dual-core computer, so there is no significant performance gain over a single CPU computer.

The only way to take advantage of a dual-core processor when using Inventor is to run multiple Inventor sessions on your computer.

Starting in Inventor 2009, you can, however, use multiple processes in Task Scheduler by clicking Settings menu > Multiple Processes."

But they make no statement as to what gains you will see. I'm not familiar with Inventor, perhaps the article will make more sense to you.

Anyhow, it would seem from what Autodesk is saying that a fast, dual core processor would be a better investment than a slower quad.

Regarding graphics cards, it would seem later versions of Autodesk have shifted to Direct3D. Further, from this link it would seem the graphics requirements aren't too stringent, since they stopped certifying drivers, and list no recent nVidia cards, and even older ATI graphics cards:

http://www.inventor-certified.com/graphics/search.php?full=ON&limited=ON&Win7x64=ON&Win7=ON&Vista64=ON&Vista=ON&XP64=ON&XP=ON&PCIe=ON&AGP=ON&PCI=&Chipset=ON

So, since many graphics cards would suffice, we need more info on what else you may want to do, or prepare to do.

This thread may be interesting to you:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/251568-33-firegl-3350-autodesk-inventor-autocad

Summary: A fast dual-core cpu + any reasonable 3D graphics card will give good results.
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August 26, 2010 6:13:55 AM

Interesting, I always assumed Inventor would be multi-threaded. In this case, as as mentioned, and go with a fast dual-core.
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August 26, 2010 12:53:14 PM

Great information and very Knowledgeable replies. I want this box for home use when I need to work on a project and want to be home interacting with the family. The dell rep offered me a Dell Inspiron 545S Desktop for $265.00 here are the specs.
E2220 2.6ghz dual core
4gb RAM
DVDRW
640gb Hard drive
19 card reader
6 USB
Windows 7 home premium

I would do a fresh install with XP Pro 64bit if I was to go this way. I really dont know what else I would use it for maybe the kids to play light video games otherwise that's about it. I think with the Dell I would need to change out the video card is this correct?.

I appreciate the time given for the replies.

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a b B Homebuilt system
August 26, 2010 7:31:37 PM

You didn't mention the graphics, motherboard (for PCIe slots), or psu capacity, and atm I didn't have time to look up the specs for an Inspiron 545S. I will do so in a couple of hours.

But for now, the guess would be onboard graphics, likely to have a PCIe slot but case and internals may not permit installation of a 3D graphics card, and a 200W psu. In other words, it may be problematic to install a graphics card in that system, unless it already comes with one.

BBL.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 26, 2010 11:00:57 PM

The Inspiron 545S you were offerred is likely a refurbished slim-line desktop unit returned to Best Buy. I couldn't find a copy of the typical Dell manual that shows an interior view of the case and mobo. The best I could find was this:

Inspiron Setup Guide:
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/insp535st/en/setgde/F957NOD.pdf

which told me it has a 250W psu and one PCIe x16 expansion slot. The case could hold (unless there are interior restrictions) and the psu will support an HD 5450 low-profile video card. It may also support a much preferred card, the HD 5550, but risks of "unsuccess" via heat and power draw are somehwat increased. The follow charts show why they should both work in the Inspiron:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5450,2549-12.html
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5550-radeon-hd-5570-gddr5,2704-14.html

Both show temps and power (for the total system at the wall) using a much more power-hungry cpu than the Inspiron sports.

Sapphire HD 5450 1GB Low-profile video card ($55), 512MB versions available at ~$50, with 2 half-height brackets so you can get all the ports out the back using two slots:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102876&cm_re=low_profile_graphics_card-_-14-102-876-_-Product

HIS HD 5550 1GB Low-Profile video card ($70) also with two half-heght brackets:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161341&cm_re=low_profile_graphics_card-_-14-161-341-_-Product

That setup will give you enough graphics punch. The old E2220 will work for you, but wasn't what I had in mind when I recommended a fast cpu lol, plus the specs *I* see call it a 2.4GHz cpu.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116070&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&PageSize=10&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&IsFeedbackTab=true#scrollFullInfo

I was thinking of going well over 3.0GHz so you have enough cpu to not be waiting for it to draw, or simulate.

While I personally wouldn't go this route, its hard to argue against a $265 operable package when a copy of Win7 plus a keyboard and mouse is going to cost around $130 to start. That leaves $135 for the cpu, mobo, memory, psu, case, HD, and optical drive. If the 545S does have a 250W psu, if it will take a low profile vid-card inside, if it has a mouse, kb, enough memory, an optical drive, if you're happy with the size of the disk drive . . . all questions you should ask the Dell rep . . . and if you are happy with a "refurb" . . . then you don't have a lot to lose. Buy one of the two vid cards and go for it. And there should be no need to dump the Win7 pre-loaded on it. Just realize you cannot transfer that Win7 anywhere else.
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August 27, 2010 12:28:22 PM

After giving this some thought I have decided to build a computer with the help (Hopefully) of some of you. It's clear the better value isnt with a Dell, HP etc but rather the convienience. After spending some time on the Autodesk website after reading Twoboxer's post (Thank You) it was clear I pay alot for convienience when it comes to computers. Funny a guy I work with just bought the best quad core Dell he could buy for his home computer, his intentions are to use it for Inventor when at home. He keeps bragging about how when he brings up the task managers the CPU's are hardly "Breaking a sweat" I couldnt stop laughing yesterday after reading everything I could find on the Autodesk website about single threaded application. So, you you know my needs, I'm not overly concerned about the budget, but with that said I dont want to buy components I wont benefit from. In fact I want to build the best value possible so I can bet my co-worker my cheap computer will out perform his high dollar unit.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 27, 2010 1:27:06 PM

you could probably build a Athlon II X2 system for around the $300 that dell would cost when you add the video card, that would be noticably faster than the E2220.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 27, 2010 10:17:43 PM

OK, full disclosure - I don't do AMD-based systems lol. Why? Same reason I don't speak Italian fluently lol. So you;ll get an Intel-based platform from me.

Second, to set a boundary, I'm going to infer from earlier stuff some things you are NOT going to do, mainly overclock or prepare for SLI/XFire (ie, two graphics cards because one isn't powerful enough for your needs). With that in mind:

$ 90 Gigabyte mATX mobo http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128420
$180 i5 650 3.2GHz dual-core http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115220
$ 78 2x2GB G.Skill (4GB) memory http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007611%20600006050%20600006066&IsNodeId=1&name=4GB%20%282%20x%202GB%29
$ 60 Seasonic 520W Bronze PSU http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151094
$ 65 Sapphire HD5550 1GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102892&cm_re=hd_5550-_-14-102-892-_-Product
$ 75 WD 640GB Black http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319
$ 19 Sony Optiarc DVD/CD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118039
$ 99 Windows 7 Home premium 32-bit http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116752

Subtotal = $666 (hehe)

Case, mouse, and keyboard are highly subjective, so take these as a starting point and check Newegg for cases to see what interests you, looking at size, location of switches and USB ports, looks, etc.:

$ 60 Antec 300 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042&cm_re=antec_300_case-_-11-129-042-_-Product
or
$ 70 Lian-Li (Lancool) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112235

$ 29 Logitech Wireless KB/Mouse http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823126069

Total ~<$750

Some notes:
1) CPU - high-clock, dual core as discussed: For uses other than Inventor, would spec a different cpu.

2) PSU - A known high-quality psu with less power would cost $10 less. This psu is just a good buy, though much larger than you need. Should run very efficiently and last a long time, through a couple of builds.

3) HD - Used a fast, 5-yr warranteed HD. Pretty much the last step in speed before spedning LOTS of money on faster solutions.

4) 32-bit OS: Would suggest 64-bit, but afraid you might use something with Inventor that does not have 64-bit drivers. If that's not the case, go 64-bit, same price.

5) I did not look for Newegg combo deals. Usually this can save at least the shipping costs, after getting a decent fix on our spec.

This system should run Autodesk Inventor significantly faster than most quads, and it will also suffice for entry-level gaming.
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August 28, 2010 3:37:47 AM

AMD wasn't a consideration, I will be using two 22" HD monitors and I'm curious why you would spec a different CPU if not for Inventor?, not that it much matters just wondering. I am looking into Windows 7 64 bit as the OS, I have heard some love it, some hate it when Autodesk is involved. In your opinion are the solid state drives worth the extra money?. One more question, why i5 and not i7? also do you think I should spend a little more and get a better video card?
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
August 28, 2010 5:30:09 AM

Sure I'd spec different cpus, here's some examples:

1) Wife needed a new machine. She will never game nor Photoshop nor transcode anything. She doesn't store photos, only her iTunes library and cookbooks. But she tends to open 4 or 5 browser windows to track bird cams and chats, then opens Outlook for email, while loading her audio books into iTunes . . . while cooking.

She doesn't need speed, nor many cores, because nothing is cpu-bound for more than a split-second. And there was no need to use anything other than onboard graphics. I gave her an i3 530, 4GB, Win7, and gave her an SSD because it was her birthday :)  It fits in a 12"x 12"x2.5" high case on her kitchen desk behind her 23" monitor, runs cool and quiet. She's happy. So I am at peace :) 

2) For any PC that will be involved in gaming, I don't see much point in using less than an i5 750. Minimum entry price here is currently $285 for it plus a mobo, and realistically a few bucks more can be spent on the mobo. And if one wanted to prepare for 2xvideo cards, the price might climb to ~$350 (all extra spent on the mobo). I'm sitting alongside one now, it's my #2 PC and has an HD 5750 for gaming because my second screen is 1680 res.

That cpu won't run Autodesk as fast, but if you were careful it would come close because it overclocks itself when you don't stress too many cores. Also, it can be one-button-overclocked to 3GHz using utilities that come with Gigabyte/Asus mobos (but so could the dual core). I didn't sense you were willing to explore that level of complexity.

For gaming, it's in the top-tier of processors.

3) For a top of the line gaming system, where you are spending money in larger increments for smaller improvements in performance, I'd use an i7 930 and 2 vid cards appropriate to the screen resolution I'm using. These systems are more expensive, and perhaps more important throw off SIGNIFICANTLY more heat, using much more power. Most likely only "needed" if for some reason you choose to game at 2500 resolution.

Win7-64: I might try it myself for Autodesk. But I wouldn't recommend it to someone else, for exactly the reason you gave, when the 64-bit OS is not needed for some other observable reason. I didn't observe one from you.

SSDs: Worth the money? Very tough question. They are as fast as one can get, with the only complication being money. For those of us who are in a hurry to boot when we are late for a raid, or need to load a new zone, SSDs are worth the price. If you spend a lot of time using an application that thrashes the disk, an SSD is indicated. If you can afford one. You use it for the OS and the game or two, app or two that are currently important. All else goes on a second drive, which can now be large, slow, and greener a normal HD.

Why not i7? Answered above - HEAT, and a COST disproportionate to the gains for 99% of us. Oh, and electricity too.

Finally (yes this has an end lol), if you wanted to be prepared for stuff like gaming, I'd use the i5 750 and a better mobo, but I'd stick with the graphics card you have. We can probably get it to run Autodesk as well as the (stock) dual core, if you are willing to work at it a bit. You can game with that card at lower than HD resolutions (as you can with the dual core), it might well prove enough. If/when you exceed its capacity, a new graphics card, $230-$360, would be the next step, if your screen res is 1920x1080.
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August 28, 2010 10:41:08 PM

Best answer selected by Large Ram.
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August 28, 2010 11:44:21 PM

I dont know if you do this for a living or not but this site and (myself) is lucky to have you participate. I spent alot of money on all the software and hardware I have purchased over the years especially with Dell and Autodesk and truthfully I dont think my Dell rep would know very much of what you explained. I run my companies by surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me (Easy to do) and I hope you make a living that rewards your diligence, and ability to apply critical thinking. I'm ok on the money part so if there is a better mother board or video card etc spending the extra money wont keep my family from eating. We will be upgrading to 2011 very soon, we just finished the server's migration and now it's on to the workstations. After we finish an assymbly we run dynamic analysis on everything to insure the integrity of the design, I just want to make sure I have the best bang for the buck.

Again

Thank You
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 29, 2010 4:43:39 AM

First, thanks very much! Did make a living as you described, now retired. Participate here because I respect the reviews done by the real staff, and love the "sport".

Second, did you introduce a new variable here? Are you doing multiple workstations, or just one? It would change the approach, not so much the hardware. If mulitple, I'd stick with the dual core/mobo above (multiple stations wouldn't seem likely to be needing future-gaming-protection) and do one system if possible (to run a dynamic analysis to ensure the appropriateness of the design :)  ). If a single personal workstation that might see expanded function, then plz tell me the screen resolution you'll be using.

Finally, I'm now away from home base for a week - will likely have access here during that time but can't be certain.
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