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Buying a work PC for Solidworks 2011, Autocad

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August 26, 2011 4:04:28 PM

I'm getting ready to purchase a new work computer. I will need the computer for CAD/CAM. I will use Solidworks 2011 and Autocad 2010. We also use part nesting software which can bog down the computer when Solidworks and Autocad are open. I found an Optiplex 790 on Dell's website which seemed like it would be adequate for our needs. Its specs are as follows.

Core i7 2600 3.4 GHz 8mb
Win 7 64
4 GB memory 1333 (will add more later)
500GB sata
1 GB AMD RAEDEON HD 6450

I went the solidworks site and went to look up recommended systems and video cards. I was surprised at the limited number of systems that are approved. The dell Optiplex 790 was not listed nor was the video card. It looks like if I went with dell the recommended system is the Dell Precision with Xeon processors.

Do I really need to get the Precision line to get the performance I need? Any helpful insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Matt
August 26, 2011 5:03:12 PM

The graphics card is the weak link in this system, and the system only comes with a 200 Watt PSU, so upgrading the graphics card is not an option. I think you need to look elsewhere.
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August 26, 2011 5:49:26 PM

Trade the i7 2600 down /2500k is ideal/ for more RAM and definitely buy a better graphics card. You should go for at least something like Geforce 550 or better 460 /560-560ti if you can afford it, from there up it will not matter much unless you are working with large assemblies/. I generally prefer Nvidia consumer cards for OpenGL tasks /Solidworks/. If the money are not big issue for you you may buy a professional OpenGL card - the ATI models there are better in the middle class, Nvidia's in the top IMHO. And buy a good monitor with at least 1920x1200 /not the 1080 models, the ratio is not the issue but you'll need the absolute resolution size/.
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August 26, 2011 6:12:31 PM

Thanks so much. I was pretty off the mark according to what you have posted. Thanks for the guidance in this territory. I knew I could get some great responses. Thanks for the help.

I think our limit would be in the $1,500 range. I'm looking at the Dell Precision line now but ones in that range don't seem adequete.
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August 26, 2011 6:37:49 PM

Can you assemble it yourself?
For ~$1500 you may get something like this /check the actual current prices/:
A P67 or Z68 motherboard for 150-200
An i5 2500K for ~200
8 GB RAM should be 120-150 /2x4GB sticks should be considered better/ Corsair Vengeance and GSkill Ripjaws are popular at the moment for good price/performance, not so important if it's 1600 or 1333, more important is to be enough so you may configure your Windows to work without a swap file on the HDD.
A Geforce 560Ti - last time I checked it was ~230
I like Hitachi HDDs, Samsung Spinpoint and WD BLACK series I consider being also among good ones. I think you should get at least 1TB /and 7200 rpm for your primary HDD/.
HP ZR24w IPS monitor or similar - the modification I know was around 500, but now I see there is a new one and cheaper - it's the cheapest 24" 1920x1200 IPS decent quality monitor I know about.
The rest you may choose according to your likes.
It should go to somewhere around $1500 at newegg.com prices


Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, Enermax /Silverstone/... XFX ... PSU 650W should be ideal /must be all range active whatever brand it is/. I consider PSU as being important, it may so easily save or burn so much more expensive parts :) .
If you can, get an UPS /it doesn't make a good PSU obsolette/ line interactive with voltage regulator, especially if you are somewhere where the grid power is not very stable - even a weaker one like 650VA may save you a lot of headaches. But with this last one it will probably not fit in the $1500 budget.
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