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Opinion: AUTOCAD system build

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May 20, 2014 4:21:01 AM

Hey, I'm working on a "budget AUTOCAD system" for a friend of mine. AUTOCAD needs a lot of processor and a lot of RAM. Normally it uses a workstation graphic card but that is way to costly :) 

I've put together some computers in the past but never chosen the parts myself. For AUTOCAD, this selection of parts will do fine but I was wondering if this is a good selection for composing the PC. I mean, will everything work together, will everything fit, I'm I overkilling with some parts or maybe "underkilling" with others, ...?

CPU: Intel Core i7-4770 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
Motherboard: Asus H87M-PRO Micro ATX LGA1150
Memory: Corsair 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600
Main Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk
Secondary Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Superclocked
Case: Antec One ATX Mid Tower
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 620W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit)

Here are the parts on PC Part Picker:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3NuXM

I was thinking of maybe buying the i7 4770K and a Z87 motherboard for overclocking but I have like zero experience in that and don't know if it's hard, worth buying a more expensive motherboard & processor and if the risks aren't too high...

Thanks for your replies!
May 20, 2014 6:27:45 AM

Yemanja,

Something I find interesting- and admirable- about AutoCad is the way in which the software is written so that even older systems can run the latest software efficiently, and the file sizes are small. That said, a workstation system today should be configured to run the most demanding application and anticipate software that might be even more demanding. Today, that means having good 3D modeling, rendering capabilities, and possibly animation and video editing. In my view, the ability to use workstation software and the corresponding video drivers that open viewports, run high anti-aliasing, and ability to fine tune the display in a lot variables and higher level color matching is increasingly important.

The system you posted would probably run AutoCad 2015 quite well. However, if you visit the Autodesk site>

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/syscert?siteID=123...

> you will see that the graphics cards that are certified are all Quadros and Firepros with a few GTX cards listed. this is for the reasons mentioned and if you check some other more demanding applications like Autodesk Revit >

http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/syscert?siteID=123...

> the GTX cards are not listed. I believe that any system running AutoCad should have the ability to run Revit, or a program of similar capabilities and this returns to the idea of having string 3D capabilities. Having a strong 3DS Max system is also a good measure. Whether the proposed system uses these exact programs it's the importance of the 3D, modeling, and rendering aspects. With respect to rendering, a lot of rendering is based on CPU's cores- you can select the number of cores devoted to rendering.

Returning to the idea for the AutoCad system, if you decide on those components, it is advisable to have a look at the ASUS Approved Vendors List to find the RAM tested as compatible with that particular motherboard. This will eliminate memory compatibility problems. I upgraded a Dell Precision for a friend and had to buy RAM three times to get it to work, and the first two choices varied from the correct RAM be only one letter in the model number- the type and speed was correct, but not the suffix.

Anyway, if it would interest you, here is a recent idea for a workstation system based on the Xeon E5-1620 v2, which is quite fast- 3.7 / 3.9 GHz and, importantly, as LGA2011 may be upgraded to 6, 8, and 10 core CPU's. LGA2011 also has twice the memory bandwidth of LGA1150 and double the PCIe lanes. There are LGA2011 motherboards that accept 512GB of 1866 ECC RAM and have 7 PCIe x16 slots. - Expandable!

On the subject of ECC, error-correcting RAM, I am convinced it has important properties in rendering and 3D modeling.

The graphics card is the ATI V4900 (1GB), which I feel has the best cost /performance value among workstation cards. I used one for a couple of months and only changed to a Quadro 4000 (2GB) because I work with some very large 3D models.

Notice there is no SSD listed. In my current HP z420 workstation I added a Samsung 840 250GB and except for saving about 30 seconds on startup and some time loading files, I don't see a tremendous benefit. Of course, an SSD may be added, and today I would use the Samsung Evo series.

The system uses a WD Black for performance but the WD Blue is a very good HD - great performance and not inexpensive.

BambiBoom PixelDozer Cadsolidworkarendgrapharific Blazomatic iWorkarama TurboScream 9000 ™$#©™_3.26.14

1. CPU > Intel Xeon Quad-Core Processor E5-1620 v2 3.7 / 3.9GHz 0GT/s 10MB LGA 2011 CPU, OEM> $295 (Superbiiz) (Passmark CPU score= 9199, rank = No. 38)

2. CPU Cooler > Cooler Master Hyper T4 - CPU Cooler with 4 Direct Contact Heatpipes > $30 (The Stock CPU coolers are supposed to be sufficient, but I've seen terrifying temperatures when rendering.)

3. ASRock X79 Extreme3 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $200

4. 16GB RAM > (2 X 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) ECC Registered Server Memory > $164 ($82 ea) (Using 2- 2X8GB allows expansion to the full 32GB)

5. AMD 100-505649(100-505844) FirePro V4900 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 Workstation Video Card > $155.

6. WD BLACK SERIES WD1003FZEX 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive> $80.

7. CORSAIR CXM series CX500M 500W ATX12V v2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply > $60

8. Case > LIAN LI PC-7B plus II Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $70.

9. Optical Dr > SAMSUNG DVD Burner 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 24X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM SATA Model SH-224DB/BEBE - OEM > $20

10. Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro - 64-bit - OEM > $140


TOTAL = $1,214

Cheers,

BambiBoom

HP z420 (2014) > Xeon E5-1620 quad core @ 3.6 / 3.8GHz > 24GB ECC 1600 RAM > Quadro 4000 (2GB)> Samsung 840 SSD 250GB /Western Digital Black WD1003FZEX 1TB> M-Audio 192 sound card > AE3000 USB WiFi > HP 2711X, 27" 1920 X 1080 > Windows 7 Ultimate 64 >[Passmark system rating = 3923, 2D= 839 / 3D=2048]

Dell Precision T5400 (2008) > 2X Xeon X5460 quad core @3.16GHz > 16GB ECC 667> Quadro FX 4800 (1.5GB) > WD RE4 500GB / Seagate Barracuda 500GB > M-Audio 2496 Sound Card / Linksys 600N WiFi > Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit >[Passmark system rating = 1859, 2D= 512 / 3D=1097]

2D, 3D CAD, Image Processing, Rendering, Text > Architecture, industrial design, graphic design, written projects


May 20, 2014 6:46:32 AM

CAD prefers NVIDIA over AMD/ATI, I would go with an NVIDIA card as opposed to a FirePro. Other than that the above build is about perfect.
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May 20, 2014 8:52:57 AM

Wow, thanks for the extended answer! So you really think a low-end-workstation graphic card is better then a high-end-gaming graphic card for Autocad? I know they require more precision graphic cards then fast gaming cards but just hope a low-end-workstation card will be sufficient.

If I were to choose a Nvidia QUADRO card, would a Quadro K600 be (strong) enough since Autocad would prefer rather Nvidia then AMD? She can't afford the high-end workstation, maximum around 250-300 dollar/euros
May 20, 2014 8:58:28 AM

HiTechObsessed,

Your point about Quadro vs. Firepro is an important consideration as there are a number of software makers that specific apply CUDA acceleration >

http://www.nvidia.com/object/gpu-accelerated-applicatio...

> and as it happens, I use a lot of them- Autodesk, Adobe, and Solidworks. For a couple of years, I used the specialized Quadro driver for Solidworks on a Quadro FX 4800 and I also tried the special driver for Adobe CS. There was even a special model of FX 4800 called the "CX" specifically for Adobe CS4.

Because of the performance requirements of modern 3D CAD software, there is so much optimization and specialization I would say that the wise builder of a workstation would start with a list of all the applications that would ever be possibly used, choose the most demanding, and then check test results of all the graphics card possible benchmarked in that application. Then, find the fastest Xeon with as many cores possible using clock speed as the priority before core count as so many applications are still single-threaded.

While I've had eight Quadros since about 2000, I've had only one Firepro. As impressed as I was with the V4900 for the price- the performance in Passmark Performance Test is about the same as a Quadro 2000 that cost more than double, I did return to Quadro for the reasons mentioned. I hesitated though to suggest to our friend Yemanja to so what I've always done, which is to buy a used but nearly new Quadro. I've had : Quadro FX550, FX570, FX 580 (2), FX 1700, FX 1800, FX 4800, and 4000 all purchased used- a little- and never had a failure. The FX 580 from 2002 is still running in an Optiplex 740 (Athlon 6000+ 3.0GHz, 6GB RAM, WD RE4 500GB). The FX 4800 cost $1,200 new and I bought one 18 months old for $160. the Quadro 4000 purchased in December 2013 costs about $760 new and I bought one still in the wrapper- never installed- for $300. As I say, I hesitate to suggest this as there are no guarantees, but my attitude is that is a person has the skill- and takes the risk of having a workstation without a warrantee, a used Quadro is not out of line with the skills and risk of trouble that the whole project encompasses. If and when I can, I'll be changing the Quadro 4000 to a K5000, but that will be when a "new other" is under $1,000. For Yamanja's project, providing there is an understanding of the risks, I would suggest that a Quadro K4000- now (5.14) about $500-550, Quadro 5000- about $450-500, or Quadro 4000- $350-450 as "new other" on Ebay.

Cheers,

BambiBoom
May 20, 2014 10:36:02 AM

Ok, she sure didn't make it easy on me. It's like giving me € 10.000 to buy her a car for going streetracing....

Anyway, I think I will go with the FirePro V4900 like you suggested, bambiboom. Maybe they prefer the Nvidia but the price difference is apparently just sooo high + they support the FirePro's too so I guess it's not going to give that much trouble.

The only thing I might want to cut back on is maybe the motherboard. The ASRock X79 Extreme 4 (They don't sell the Extreme 3 here anymore) seems pretty costy. You might have a suggestion on a little cheaper motherboard? Or are there specific reasons for picking the X79?
May 20, 2014 1:48:12 PM

Yemanja,

It's a pity that the ASRock Extreme 3 is not available as that model is the least expensive motherboard supporting the Xeon E5-1600 series and also ECC RAM, plus, the X79 chipset is an excellent good performer. Most motherboards supporting the Xeon E5-1620 will have the C602 chipset. The next motherboard in terms of cost will be about $275 in the US, but the one I would recommend is >

ASUS Z9PA-U8 ATX Server Motherboard, C602 chipset, LGA 2011 > $290

https://www.asus.com/Commercial_Servers_Workstations/Z9...

> The news about LGA2011 is all good except the motherboards do cost more than others.

Do you have an absolute maximum for the budget? If you mention the country you are in as I can look at a couple of items on sites there. Do you have a favorite source for parts?

Cheers,

BambiBoom

May 21, 2014 1:50:19 AM

Hey bambiboom,

I live in Belgium but I get my parts from http://tweakers.net/pricewatch/.

Her budget is as low as possible :)  I have now this in total: http://tweakers.net/gallery/597233#tab:wenslijst. This is ok but I have the Extreme 4 selected. Don't know if the Extreme 4 is needed and/or there are any other good motherboards (equal to an Extreme 3) for like only € 100 or so... But if you really strongly advise on getting an X79 Extreme motherboard then I'll just give her this build as it is.

I already am very thankful for all your help and advise. Helped me a lot!
May 21, 2014 3:54:54 AM

Yemanja,

I am not Checking, it appears that the ASRock Extreme 4 does not support the Xeon E5 CPU nor ECC RAM. The Extreme 4 only uses the i7. The Extreme 9 uses the X79 chipset and supports the Xeon E5 and ECC RAM >

http://tweakers.net/pricewatch/294631/asrock-x79-extrem...

http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/X79%20Extreme9/?cat=Spec...

> but unfortunately, costs € 275.

It is not necessary to use the X79 chipset- most motherboards for the Xeon E5 use the C602. The Asus Z9PA-U8 is a very good C602 board >

http://tweakers.net/pricewatch/354031/asus-z9pa-u8/spec...

> and costs € 223.

As mentioned, that is the problem with LGA2011 boards for Xeon- higher cost.

If the cost is simply not possible, you could consider a Xeon E3 on an LGA1150 board. The memory bandwidth is half of the LGA and limited to 4-cores, but the Xeon E3 are quite fast.

Here's a idea done earlier for an E3 system >

BambiBoom PixelDozer Cadamodagrapharic WalletJoy Scream Iworkomatic 5000 ®©$$™®£™©™_ 3.26.14

1. Intel Intel Xeon E3-1230V3 Haswell 3.3GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1150 80W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80646E31230V3 > $250

2. ASRock H87WS-DL ATX Server Motherboard LGA 1150 Intel H87 DDR3 1600/1333 > $130

3. 16GB RAM > (2 X 8) Kingston 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) ECC Registered Server Memory > $180 ($90 ea)

4. AMD 100-505649(100-505844) FirePro V4900 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 Workstation Video Card > $155

5. Western Digital Blue WD10EZEX 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive, Blue > $65

6. CORSAIR CXM series CX500M 500W ATX12V v2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply > $60

7. SAMSUNG DVD Burner 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 24X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM SATA Model SH-224DB/BEBE - OEM > $20

8. Corsair Carbide Series 200R Black Steel / Plastic compact ATX Mid Tower Case > $60

9. Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro - 64-bit - OEM > $140

_______________________________________________________

Total = US $1,064.

1. For higher performance, consider using the Xeon-E3-1270-v3 which is 3.5 / 3.9 GHz which costs € 290>

http://tweakers.net/pricewatch/339844/intel-xeon-e3-127...

Note that the 3.7 / 3.9GHz E5-1620 is faster and costs less- €270

I might mention that buying a CPU boxed- always costs more. look for listing of "tray" for builders.

2. Note that using 2 X8 GB of RAM leaves two RAM slots open to expand to the maximum 32GB.

3. The motherboards is an H87 chipset and would have a higher performance with a Z87.

Just an idea in case the budget can not allow the Xeon E5.

It would be a pity though as the Xeon E5 and LGA2011 would have a much better performance in large or complex projects and might be useful to your friend perhaps three years longer by changing to a 6 or 8 core CPU, adding RAM and so on. that is, faster and over a longer period of time, actually less expensive- cost per year of use.

Very pleased to help!

Cheers,

BambiBoom

!