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Building CAD Stations, Need Input

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January 26, 2011 2:04:00 PM

Hey Guys. I am in charge of configuring and ordering 4 new CAD Stations for my company.
It's somewhat easier since the choice is narrowed down to Dell (We have Business Account, that's just who we use. Custom building from the components is not an option, even though I know that money could be saved, so just ride with me please).

Here are the things to consider:

Main Software Applications used:
Autodesk Inventor (r2011), Autodesk Mechanical Desktop (r2009), AutoCAD Mechanical (r2011)

We need to be able to process large 3D models (large pieces of textile machinery and often several models combined in one file). Rendering is all done within the software package, and doesn't have to be extensive. All we need is shaded (fully colored) renderings.

Screen Resolutions currently running are 1920x1080 over DVI on Dual Monitors.

Budget is $2,500/machine

Expected lifetime is ~5 years.

The only thing I am having a hard time narrowing down is the 2 biggest factors in a system like this: CPU and GPU.

Dell offers the Precision 1500 with a Quad Core i7-880 at the top of the heap, and their top graphics card for that lot is a 1 GB NVIDIA Quadro 600.

Then you step up to the Precision 3500 with SEVERAL options on CPU, and of course, the graphics as well. The 3500 uses a Xeon processor (mostly W series, a couple of E and X - the latter which is pretty much out of price range). The graphics cards vary from the same Quadro 600 (and a few lesser) to well more than we need.

Due to a stint where I wasn't working in a technology based environment fully for the past 2 years, I have lost my edge in knowing the exact benefits of "this vs. this". However, I am still able to make sense of most of it.

My question boils down to this: where do I need to spend the money, and is the 1500 going to meet the ~5 year mark and be able to handle our modeling requirements?

For a comparison with 2 of our current systems:
Current System 1:
NVIDIA Quadro FX1500
Pentium 4 @ 3.4ghz

Current System 2:
NVIDIA Quadro FX3450
Xeon Dual Core @ 3.0ghz

So we want an upgrade that will perform without the lag either of these systems give us. That will be helped in part due to 64-Bit with more memory vs. the XP.

Thanks for any suggestions and help.

Best solution

January 26, 2011 3:12:10 PM

If Dell is your best source, consider customizing the link below to include..
-Base = 85% efficient PSU
-Processor = Xeon E5630
-Memory = 6GB DDR3-1333
-Video = FirePro V5800 or Quadro 2000
http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/precision-t3500/pd?oc...

I would then monitor memory usage and upgrade myself if needed. Can't justify the $440 for Dell to add 6GB more memory when it is a simple install.
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January 26, 2011 3:32:44 PM

^Other than the fact that you'd lose the warranty if you didn't get it through Dell. I could justify it as a business use.
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January 26, 2011 3:41:13 PM

Not so sure that adding memory yourself will void the warranty. The rest of the components will continue to be under warranty barring the "new" memory causing the system to run outside of Dell's specs. Upgrading capacity of the same spec memory should be fine. ...Dell just won't warranty the memory. Regardless, that is a GREAT thing to follow up on for business use / purchase.
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January 26, 2011 4:08:34 PM

Thanks guys.
I built the exact system you spec'd out sadams - got 4 in the cart as we speak.

I appreciate the speedy response. The 6GB will most likely be fine for us. We have been operating on XP machines with 4gb in them, only utilizing the 3gb cap really, so it will be fine most likely.

Again, many thanks.

DLB
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January 26, 2011 5:01:53 PM

Best answer selected by DLB_1.
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