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Budget MicroATX CAD "Workstation" Build

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Last response: in Systems
January 6, 2011 2:51:11 AM

Hi All,

This is my first PC build(and Tom's Hardware post) ever. I am trying to build a budget microATX "Workstation" for AutoCAD Architecture 2011 where I will spend much time in 3D. I may do some work is 3ds Max, but not enough to be concerned with render times.

I have come up with the following and would love some critique. PLEASE!!

OS = Windows 7 Pro
CPU = Intel Core i5-760 Lynnfield
GPU = NVIDIA Quadro 600 1GB(96 CUDA Cores)
PSU = PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mk II 500W ATX12V v2.2
MOBO = ASUS Maximus III Gene
RAM = G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
CASE = NZXT Crafted Series Vulcan Gaming mATX Computer Case
HD = WD Caviar Black 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb
(Upgrade HD to SSD later when prices come down)

Total cost = $999.91

Any suggestions? Good, Bad, Ugly?



More about : budget microatx cad workstation build

January 6, 2011 3:10:01 AM

1. Overclocking?
2. 64 bit OS?
3. personally I always use an aftermarket CPU cooler, and I always add extra cooling fans to the case.
4. I think this is a good time pricewise to buy an SSD in the 80GB-120GB size, so I would recommend not waiting.

I've built 3 similar machines for my office- i5-750, 8gb, Win7 Pro-64bit. I overclocked these to 3.5GHz but the stock CPU comes pretty close to this when it invokes its turbo mode. On 2 of the machines I built I used velociraptors for the boot drive, the other machine used an SSD. All of them have 640GB blacks for the second hard drive. The first 2 used ATI FireGL graphics cards. We thought we were having driver issues so no the third machine I used a Quadro.

We use our machines for AutoCAD but mostly for Revit. You don't need much GPU power for AutoCAD because you can run AutoCAD on almost anything, but Revit can benefit a little from it. However you mostly want to get a card that will come with good driver support, especially if you are using a 64 bit OS.
January 6, 2011 3:50:01 AM

YES on 64 bit

Glad to hear someone else has built similar systems(s). I originally was going to go for i-7 950, 12GB RAM, Quadro 2000 and SSD, but was 2X the price and figured I may not even notice the diff in AutoCAD.

I did not plan on overclocking, but am not against it if AutoCAD and Design Review will benefit(escp. in Realistic display style). I also will be batch processing many files, so the faster the better.

For SSD I was thinking...

Corsair Nova Series 128GB SATA II MLC for $220

Any idea what the "safe" SSD capacity is for Windows 7 plus many app's?
January 6, 2011 3:53:15 AM

Oh, and I do plan on looking into aftermarket cooler and xtra fans.

Guess I should not even mess with the factory cooler being it's a MicroATX case.