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$500 CAD Machine

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July 23, 2011 5:04:04 AM

Yes it's another one of these threads :pfff: 

My laptop just died and I'm replacing it with a desktop. I'm a senior in Mechanical Engineering so this will mainly be for CATIA and Solidworks.

Should I focus more of my money on a good processor or on a good graphics card?

Here is what I currently have right now, feel free to change anything.

AMD Athlon II X3 450 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $79.99
(Possibily thinking AMD Phenom II X4 840)
ASRock 770 Extreme3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $76.99
(Cheapest motherboard I found that has a USB 3.0 port)
EVGA 01G-P3-1450-TR GeForce GTS 450 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $119.99
(Cheapest I found with 2 DVI outputs for duo-screen)
Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $39.99
SAMSUNG 1TB Spinpoint F3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $59.99
(Possibly two for RAID 1, suggestions?)
G.Skill Ripjaws Series 2x2GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $36.99
(Really just picked the cheapest with nice ratings, suggestions?)
Antec 300 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $59.95

Total: $473.89

All suggestions would be appreciated

More about : 500 cad machine

July 23, 2011 5:53:59 AM

Thanks for the quick reply, I thought eyefinity was for 3+ monitors, what benefit does eyefinity have for 2 monitors in terms of what I want to do?

Also this may be a dumb question, but I thought I needed 2 dvi outputs to connect to two monitors

Related resources
July 23, 2011 6:08:25 AM

it is 2+ monitors. and you can use the vga port it has
July 23, 2011 6:48:02 AM

Oh right, so I guess one to DVI and one to VGA then, and from the resolution I want, I guess the difference will be negligible

This also means I can get a cheaper gpu.

Wouldn't eyefinity be kind of pointless on a 2 screen? as the center would be between the two screens.
July 23, 2011 12:29:58 PM

klondikebear said:
Oh right, so I guess one to DVI and one to VGA then, and from the resolution I want, I guess the difference will be negligible

This also means I can get a cheaper gpu.

Solidworks has some specific GPU requirements:
http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/videocardtesting.h...
A regular GPU may work, but none are listed. this may a conspiracy to sell workstation GPU's though.

Quote:
Wouldn't eyefinity be kind of pointless on a 2 screen? as the center would be between the two screens.

yes

Solidworks also recommends 6+GB of ram if you are running WIN7/64
July 23, 2011 1:13:39 PM

jerreddredd said:
Solidworks has some specific GPU requirements:
http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/videocardtesting.h...
A regular GPU may work, but none are listed. this may a conspiracy to sell workstation GPU's though.

Quote:
Wouldn't eyefinity be kind of pointless on a 2 screen? as the center would be between the two screens.

yes

Solidworks also recommends 6+GB of ram if you are running WIN7/64

So it looks like all the recommended video gpus are "professional" ones instead of desktop ones. Is there really a difference? It seems like the professional ones are so much more expensive.

Also I should bump it up to 6gb of ram then, when looking at ram, is there specific things I should be looking at?

For example these three corsair ones look to me the same however three different prices

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I should just get the cheapest one?

Also is there a need for a mbo with a usb 3.0 slot? I don't use usb 3.0 right now but will I need it when it becomes mainstream in a few years? Or should I just get a mbo without 3.0 right now, and just upgrade later
July 23, 2011 1:34:17 PM

klondikebear said:
So it looks like all the recommended video gpus are "professional" ones instead of desktop ones. Is there really a difference?
Short answer, yes.

I would recommend finding a used workstation. It's the only way to get a decent CAD machine in this price range. Businesses usually upgrade their workstations every 2 years, so there are a lot of used ones on the market. You're looking for any system that has a Quadro FX card that's running at least 512mb of GDDR3.

Here are a few examples:
HP XW8400 Workstation
HP Workstation xw8200
Dell Precision T3500
July 23, 2011 2:17:21 PM

klondikebear said:

Also I should bump it up to 6gb of ram then, when looking at ram, is there specific things I should be looking at?

For example these three corsair ones look to me the same however three different prices

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I should just get the cheapest one?


those are triple channel kits, the MB you are looking at is dual channel. so, you would need 2x4GB =8gbs. this would be my budget DDR 1600 pick for mem:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also Solidworks is multi-threaded, but doesn't really benifit from the more than 2 cores. the biggest benifit is in the Cache and clock rate or efficiency of the CPU. this being said I would recommend a dual core processor such as the i3-2100 with and h67/61 MB or a AMD Phenom II X2 555/565
CATIA aslo doesn't seem to benefit from multiple cores.

as for the GPU a I think grody is spot on. a professional card with 512k of mem.
this one has 2 DVI out for dual monitors.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
this one you have to use an adapter for the second monitor - it works though
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I always prefer nVidia product for the better drivers

July 23, 2011 3:01:26 PM

So I followed grody's advice, and looked through some more used setups

http://cgi.ebay.com/HP-xw8200-Dual-Xeon-3-6-GHz-4-GB-30...

http://cgi.ebay.com/HP-xw8200-Dual-Xeon-3-6-GHz-4-GB-73...

The first looks like the obvious choice but it's "used" instead of refurbished, should I be cautious of this? Also how does the Dual Xeon Processors work? Does that mean it's twice as fast as one 3.6 Ghz? Also how does the SCSI Hard Drives work? Do I place whatever file(s) I'm working on in this drive so it's faster, then move it off when I'm done?

July 23, 2011 5:42:19 PM

klondikebear said:
So I followed grody's advice, and looked through some more used setups

http://cgi.ebay.com/HP-xw8200-Dual-Xeon-3-6-GHz-4-GB-30...

http://cgi.ebay.com/HP-xw8200-Dual-Xeon-3-6-GHz-4-GB-73...

The first looks like the obvious choice but it's "used" instead of refurbished, should I be cautious of this? Also how does the Dual Xeon Processors work? Does that mean it's twice as fast as one 3.6 Ghz? Also how does the SCSI Hard Drives work? Do I place whatever file(s) I'm working on in this drive so it's faster, then move it off when I'm done?


these are old single core xeon processors running on DDR2 800. a current a i3-2100 with DDR3 would run circles around these machines.

July 23, 2011 6:43:41 PM

Hi klondikebear,

I too am a mechanical engineering student and what you have picked out is more than plenty. I have an e6750 @ 3.2 and an 8800gt and it runs Solidworks 2009 fine. I'm not doing terribly demanding tasks, but moderately complex assemblies run without a hiccup. It runs better on my home computer than the ones at school, which are i7-2600 with some god awful graphics card.

For Solidworks, a good CPU is definitely important, but I would say the graphics card is where you should put more of your money.

The short answer to the differences between workstation cards and commercial cards is drivers. The hardware is similar, although workstations cards do have some extra horsepower for things like line anti-aliasing, OpenGL logic, etc. but I don't know enough about them to tell you specifically what is different.

Unless you are interested in a workstation only, I wouldn't buy a refurbished/used one. I would suggest building it yourself and getting a commercial graphics card, as it will have better features for gaming, videos, multimedia, etc. The performance of a non-workstation card will be good enough to get you through college.

I would suggest the HD 5770 below (now 6770) over the GTS 450 though, it'll give you a bit more performance for the same price or less.

SAPPHIRE 6770 - $120 ($100 after MIR)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also, I found this card that would be better than both. I'm not sure how you feel about rebates or ZOTAC, but it seems like a good deal.

ZOTAC GTX 460 - $115 after MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 23, 2011 10:07:48 PM

Quoting from Solidworks:

"In general, rebuild times depend on the speed of the CPU, simulation analysis and image rendering depends on having more cores and RAM, and file opening mainly depends on the hard drive speed."

Basically, you can get by with 2 cores fine, but a third and fourth core will help out plenty. If you don't mind going over the $500 mark a little bit this is what I would get:

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition - $110 (promo item)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It gives much better performance and if you are ok with overclocking can get over 4.0 GHz with a simple multiplier change.

Also, with regards to RAM it is definitely good to have at least 4 GB, but you need hundreds/thousands of parts to use more than that, so 8 GB might be overkill on a budget build.
July 24, 2011 7:39:41 AM

Quote:
The short answer to the differences between workstation cards and commercial cards is drivers. The hardware is similar, although workstations cards do have some extra horsepower for things like line anti-aliasing, OpenGL logic, etc. but I don't know enough about them to tell you specifically what is different.


there have many complaints about Gaming GPU's not rendering correctly when rotating objects in Solids works and studdering when rendering 3d objects in other CAD type programs. That is why I was recommending a professional card. all benchmarks I have seen show no performance gain past the second core, processor speed efficiency seem to be what most CAD programs need. I would strongly consider a i3-2100 Dual core or a i5-2400 if you still think 4 cores are better. these processors are much faster than their AMD counterparts an don't need to be overclocked to perform.

July 24, 2011 9:01:30 AM

The only reason I can think there would be stuttering is large assemblies and all the eye-candy is turned on. Professional cards tend to focus on high polygon counts and low frame rates, whereas gaming cards focus on low polygon counts and high frame rates.

Workstation cards only begin to shine when doing heavy rendering. Once you start applying add-ons to drawings for things like textured surfaces, gradients, ray tracing or shadows, only then will you notice a difference. And if those things are necessary you can put on the visuals once the design is complete.

"CAD" at its heart, is vector graphics, plain and simple, and it doesn't take a lot of power. Solidworks, for example, has transparency features, preview on open, real view scenes, etc. that are all graphically demanding, but don't always add to productivity.

The only reason I don't think a workstation card is right is the $500 budget. For that price you won't get a decent professional card.

As for the CPU, i7's dominate CAD, but I was more concerned with the budget and what benchmarks have you looked at? I would be interested to see more, as I've only seen a few for Solidworks and AutoCAD.

http://www.solidmuse.com/benchmarks/punch_holder_result...

The top results are all i7 quad cores.

Best solution

July 24, 2011 10:18:03 AM
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Soma42 said:

The only reason I don't think a workstation card is right is the $500 budget. For that price you won't get a decent professional card.

As for the CPU, i7's dominate CAD, but I was more concerned with the budget and what benchmarks have you looked at? I would be interested to see more, as I've only seen a few for Solidworks and AutoCAD.

http://www.solidmuse.com/benchmarks/punch_holder_result...

The top results are all i7 quad cores.


I looked at the one you posted as well as:
http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/shareyourscore.htm

and a few others that mainly bench marked the 2007 version.

They all showed the same thing if you look closely, its all about the clock rate and inefficiency of the CPU, not so much the number of cores. The Sandy Bridge architecture rocks... well, the Intel architecture in general rocks.

These charts also showed the advantage of having a professional GPU card, even a low end one like a FX580. The Gaming cards I did see used that scored well seem to be $200+ cards.

anything over a FX 580 is probably a waste of good money for most people. its all about balance. working with only $500 I would get the FX580, which is a reasonably price and build around it. It also depends how complex of projects/models the OP is going to rendering/building on it.

personally I think I'd try to find another $150 in my budget and get a i5-2500k OC to a stable 4.2G and slap in the FX580.
July 24, 2011 2:24:10 PM

Soma42 said:
The only reason I can think there would be stuttering is large assemblies and all the eye-candy is turned on. Professional cards tend to focus on high polygon counts and low frame rates, whereas gaming cards focus on low polygon counts and high frame rates.

Interesting, this definitely changes the way I think of professional cards

jerreddredd said:

These charts also showed the advantage of having a professional GPU card, even a low end one like a FX580. The Gaming cards I did see used that scored well seem to be $200+ cards.

anything over a FX 580 is probably a waste of good money for most people. its all about balance. working with only $500 I would get the FX580, which is a reasonably price and build around it. It also depends how complex of projects/models the OP is going to rendering/building on it.

personally I think I'd try to find another $150 in my budget and get a i5-2500k OC to a stable 4.2G and slap in the FX580.


I'm convinced I should probably go towards the FX580, the only one on newegg is http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

One thing to worry is it comes with 1 dvi and 2 dp's, no hdmi's. Reviews say it comes with an dp to dvi adapter, but it doesn't list it under the product details.

Now for the cpu, I'm not sure what to make of it, so you're saying the i3-2100 will out perform the phenom ii x4 955? They are priced similiary, but when looking at the specs, it still seems like the 955 is better. I've been told at the 100-200 price range, amd is superior to intel
July 24, 2011 5:26:39 PM

I didn't even think to look up the recommended specs, but here it is:

*Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise x64
*Intel Core 2 Duo (min) (Core i7 recommended)
*8 GB RAM (or more)
*200 GB hard drive (or larger)
*nVidia Quadro FX1800 or 2000 graphics card (these are considered mid-range)
*nVidia Quadro 4000, 5000 or 6000 Graphics Card (for ultimate graphics performance)
*High speed internet connection for downloading updates

And just a interesting note, for the last link a 9800GT isn't that far behind a Quadro FX 1800 (~$400). Benchmarks don't always tell the whole story, but I would've guessed a 9800GT wouldn't even be on the first 20 pages.

http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/shareyourscore.htm

I guess the question you need to ask is this only for CAD or will you be using this build for multimedia/gaming as well? My 8800GT is still going strong and runs Solidworks just fine, so if it's only for CAD I would say go for the FX580 and you won't regret it, but if you plan on doing more than CAD go for a GTX460 (non-SE).

The i3-2100 will give you far better single threaded performance and with hyper threading it will give you comparable multi-threaded performance, so it is probably the better way to go.
July 24, 2011 5:41:55 PM

It will be for an everyday computer and CAD, I don't play any graphic intensive games.

It looks like the i3-2100 vs phenom ii x4 955 is quite debated, and from reading multiple different threads, the i3-2100 is superior due to it's architecture (I still don't really understand what this means. Does it just mean everything works together more efficiently due to the way it's layed out?).

So I guess it's decided, i3-2100 and fx580. Can you tell me more about how hyper threading works? Is this something you enable or does it automatically happen?
July 24, 2011 6:26:47 PM

klondikebear said:
It will be for an everyday computer and CAD, I don't play any graphic intensive games.

It looks like the i3-2100 vs phenom ii x4 955 is quite debated, and from reading multiple different threads, the i3-2100 is superior due to it's architecture (I still don't really understand what this means. Does it just mean everything works together more efficiently due to the way it's layed out?).

So I guess it's decided, i3-2100 and fx580. Can you tell me more about how hyper threading works? Is this something you enable or does it automatically happen?


its some thing that should be automatic, though on older MB's you had to enable it I believe. the software must actually support hyper threading also.

Wiki on HTT:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyper-threading
July 25, 2011 1:35:40 PM

How much of an improvement would I see here? Because there's always something better for a little more money

I noticed the 600 has 96 CUDA cores, how does that compare with the FX580's 32 stream processors? or are they not comparable
July 25, 2011 8:14:40 PM

klondikebear said:
How much of an improvement would I see here? Because there's always something better for a little more money

I noticed the 600 has 96 CUDA cores, how does that compare with the FX580's 32 stream processors? or are they not comparable



tricky question. I don't want to start a war... lets just say the quadro 600 is significantly faster than the FX580 due to a better architecture and the extra Memory (1Gb vs 512Mb). the quadro 600 is the latest generation card the FX 580 is about 3 years old, I believe.
July 26, 2011 2:11:49 AM

so yes it's by far worth the $15? Why is something new and better worth just a little better than year old technology? Is it reliability?
July 26, 2011 2:44:21 AM

klondikebear said:
so yes it's by far worth the $15? Why is something new and better worth just a little better than year old technology? Is it reliability?


Supply and demand would be my first guess. My second would be, it's a marketing technique. If you don't lower old tech cost you force people to adopt the latest and the suckers who don't know there's something new still pay full price, but maybe I'm just grabbing at straws.

Intel does the same thing though. The q9550, for example, is ~$300 and is crushed by the new $220 i5-2500k. It discourages people with old socket 775 to upgrade and forces them to buy a whole new motherboard, ram, cooler, etc. if they want decent performance per dollar, although it's not exactly the same as this case...
July 26, 2011 4:33:42 PM

I concur with Soma42's explanation.
July 26, 2011 4:58:13 PM

Okay so here is an updated list, I think I'm pretty much ready to order.

CPU: Intel i3-2100 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($124.99)
MBO: ASRock H61M-VS LGA 1155 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($59.99)
GPU: PNY Quadro 600 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($169.99)
RAM: G.SKILL 2x4GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($54.99)
PSU: Antec EA-380D http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($39.99)
HD: Samsung Spinpoint 1TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($59.99)
Case: Antec 300 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ($59.95)

Puts me at a total of $580

I could shed some weight on the case, but I kind of like the simplicity of the Antec, unless there's another one that doesn't look like a transformer
July 26, 2011 5:21:57 PM

Lol, yeah some cases are cheap but aren't easy on the eyes.

Looks like you have a nice build going, just as a side note as well, you can find bare bones kits on www.tigerdirect.ca (seeing as you are, like me, a Canadian), and more importantly, if you wait for them to come on sale (ie. those "1 day deals on the front page" you can save $30-$50 on top of the kit. However that would require shipping so you would lose a bit on that (but seeing as your ordering from newegg it'd be the same as their shipping anyway).

Just a thought, but it looks like your build is set anyway.
July 26, 2011 7:17:45 PM

I'm trying to start my next build as well and I'm torn between the Antec 300 and the Rosewill Challenger.

I think I'm leaning towards the Challenger right now though. It's also about 3 lbs lighter.

Rosewill CHALLENGER - $50
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill has a couple other cases around $50 that are worth checking out as well.
July 26, 2011 11:39:32 PM

wait wait wait, I'm not Canadian -.-

dangerboyjtf2, what made you think I was from Canada?

July 27, 2011 3:10:26 PM

klondikebear said:
wait wait wait, I'm not Canadian -.-

dangerboyjtf2, what made you think I was from Canada?


LOL, I saw dangerboyjtf2's post and felt bad that I missed that you were Canadian and i was posting in US prices. Since you aren't I won't feel bad anymore.

August 14, 2011 4:09:47 AM

Best answer selected by klondikebear.
August 14, 2011 4:17:01 AM

Hey I just want to thank you guys for all your help, I have built up the computer now and it runs CATIA flawlessly, much better than the laptop I used to work on.

Everything went together with ease and it's all running smoothly. Not bad at all for the first time, although it needs some wire management upgrades, haha.
August 14, 2011 6:29:25 AM

klondikebear said:
Hey I just want to thank you guys for all your help, I have built up the computer now and it runs CATIA flawlessly, much better than the laptop I used to work on.

Everything went together with ease and it's all running smoothly. Not bad at all for the first time, although it needs some wire management upgrades, haha.


Glad to help.
!