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Cad workstation motherboard

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December 29, 2011 3:14:52 PM

Hello,

I'm looking at building a Cad workstation to run solidworks, and in particular render the products i design.

They designs i produce will mainly be Solidworks assemblies with low-medium number of parts.

Any suggestions for a mid range motherboard, memory, processor (potentially graphics card - though i already have a good one) would be much appreciated. I have a large tower, powerful psu, suitable hard drive (sata) etc

what operating system would you recommend

Rob
December 29, 2011 3:44:53 PM

this is my current spec of items i want to re-use:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 B3 (2.4GHz 1066MHz) Socket 775 L2 8MB Cache (2x4MB (4MB per core pair)) Retail Boxed Processor

Thermaltake Toughpower Modular 850W PSU 14cm Fan 12v ATX 8x SATA 24pin

Seagate ST3500320AS 500GB Hard Drive SATA II 7200rpm *32MB Cache* - OEM

December 29, 2011 3:48:03 PM

In our office we run AutoCAD and Revit. For AutoCAD we get by just fine with 4GB of ram and 32-bit versions of Windows. For Revit we have had to switch to 8GB of ram and 64-bit Windows 7 in order to work with some of the larger models that our clients send to us. You will have to decide if solidworks needs 4GB or not. I personally would not go with a 64-bit OS unless my work demanded it. I have too many programs that will not run under the 64-bit OS.

I run more AutoCAD than Revit. I have a 3 year old machine that I spec'd with a dual core E8500 processor at 3.8GHz, Gigabyte motherboard, 4GB of ram, Windows XP 32-bit.

Our guys that run more Revit use machines that I built about 2 years ago, with i5-750 processors at about 3.5GHz, 8GB of ram, Gigabyte motherboards, Windows 7 64-bit.

We run mostly ATI FireGL video cards, with one Nvidia Quadro card. AutoCAD and Revit don't really need fancy video cards, but they need good video card DRIVERS, especially with Win7 64-bit, and we had to buy good cards in order to get sufficient drivers.

I will hopefully build myself a new CAD workstation in the next 12 months. If I built one today I would use an i5-2500k, at least 16GB of ram, Gigabyte motherboard, 120GB SSD for the system drive and multiple mechanical drives for secondary storage, Windows 7 64-bit, one of the video cards mentioned above. Unfortunately because I have a lot of software that won't run on the 64-bit OS, I would have to maintain a 32-bit machine running alongside the new one in order to run the older programs.

All of our CAD machines are now overclocked to 90% or more of their maximum speed. My machine has run 24/7 for 3 years solid, the machines that I built for the other guys have run 24/7 for over 2 years solid. Whatever I build in the future will be overclocked to at least 90% of what I can get from it. Needless to say I use one of the best aftermarket CPU coolers that I can find, and I add more fans to the case. Some of our machines with Antec 300 cases have 4 case fans, 1 cpu fan, 1 video card fan, and 1 psu fan. That's a lot of fans. My machine is right under my table and I don't hear it at all.

You'll note that my older machine has a dual core processor but our newer machines have a quad core. AutoCAD and Revit only use one core, but for the way we use our machines I have discovered that there area lot of benefits to more than 2 cores. I think a desktop workstation should have 4 cores (or more), only consider a dual core processor for a secretarial machine or a laptop where heat and battery life are considerations.
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December 29, 2011 3:51:01 PM

Robbie_G_83 said:
this is my current spec of items i want to re-use:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 B3 (2.4GHz 1066MHz) Socket 775 L2 8MB Cache (2x4MB (4MB per core pair)) Retail Boxed Processor

Thermaltake Toughpower Modular 850W PSU 14cm Fan 12v ATX 8x SATA 24pin

Seagate ST3500320AS 500GB Hard Drive SATA II 7200rpm *32MB Cache* - OEM



You didn't say you were going to re-use the CPU. I did this for one of our CAD guys. He had a Q6600 and an Intel motherboard. The Intel motherboard is high quality but doesn't allow overclocking. I swapped in a Gigabyte motherboard, upped his ram to 8GB, installed an aftermarket cpu cooler, installed Windows 7 64-bit, and overclocked the cpu to 3.4GHz. I was hoping to get the cpu to run at a faster speed but I was told later than it would not run as fast with 8GB of ram as it would with 4GB of ram.
January 2, 2012 9:26:19 PM


Thanks for your help so far.

Been having a look around and come up with the following spec:


Existing Cosmos Coolermaster tower.

Existing Seagate ST3500320AS 500GB Hard Drive SATA II 7200rpm *32MB Cache*

Existing NVidia geforce 8800 gts 512mb graphics card

Existing Thermaltake Toughpower Modular 850W PSU 14cm Fan 12v ATX 8x SATA 24pin

Proposed new items:

Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 Socket 1155 onboard 7.1 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard

Intel Core i7 2600k 3.4GHz Socket 1155 8MB Cache Retail Boxed Processor

Corsair 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 2000MHz XMS3 Memory Kit CL9 1.65V

Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound

Zalman CNPS11X Extreme Socket Intel 775, 1155, 1156, 1366 AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 Processor Cooler

Coolermaster High Air Flow Turbine Master 120mm Fan


I currently run the existing items above on an Asus P5E WS motherboard with a Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 B3 (2.4GHz 1066MHz) Socket 775 L2 8MB Cache (2x4MB (4MB per core pair)) processor. This can only run DDR2 ram up to 833mhz, max 8gb - currently 2 installed.

Is it worth spending the best part of £550 above, or should i see what improvements i get from installing 8gb or Ram first? (approx £80) Although if i did this and it wasnt a good improvement, I'd be stuck with ddr2 ram :-/

Thanks for the help again


January 2, 2012 9:28:14 PM

i think my biggest concern is updating on to a motherboard that is out of date now :-/ - i did get it in early 2008.
January 2, 2012 11:42:20 PM

Robbie_G_83 said:

Is it worth spending the best part of £550 above, or should i see what improvements i get from installing 8gb or Ram first? (approx £80) Although if i did this and it wasnt a good improvement, I'd be stuck with ddr2 ram :-/


I would vote for new cpu and motherboard.

The 2600k will provide about twice the performance of your current Q6600. I don't have any experience with your apps but I would be surprised if you are running out of ram in which case you would see very little benefit from adding ram. IOW either you have enough ram or you don't, if you don't then you will know it because the program will stop frequently while it reads stuff from the hard drive.

If you overclock the 2600k then you can get about 1/3 more performance out of it.
January 3, 2012 11:07:22 AM

Best try and stump up the cash from somewhere then!

How easy / difficult is it to overclock? Never tried it before
a b B Homebuilt system
January 3, 2012 2:10:59 PM

get new CPU like the i7 2600k, add more rams and get a new mobo, it should do you well
January 3, 2012 6:19:32 PM

Robbie_G_83 said:
How easy / difficult is it to overclock? Never tried it before



For a modest goal it isn't difficult at all, just a few settings to change. Some people get all picky about changing ram timing and things that will only gain that last fraction of a percentage. I don't worry about that stuff.

A good aftermarket cpu cooler is a requirement before you start to overclock.
!