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Thread: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

  1. #1
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Looking for some input with regard to a new Civil 3D workstation specifically.

    What workstations are you using/building/buying?

    For my next workstation, I'm hoping to have an i7-7700K +/- 4.5 Ghz or higher, stick with 32 GB RAM but want it to be +/- 3000 Mhz or faster. I'll swap out OEM drive for a Samsung 960 EVO/PRO NVMe SSD (more on that below), and perhaps have an 8 GB NVIDIA P4000 GPU (although with the other specs, anything 4 GB or higher would be great). I confess that the GPU was tentatively selected based on price-point alone, and I've not tested anything better than my old K4000 to-date.

    I know there's a lot of articles, and posts for workstations running AutoCAD (which Civil 3D is built on), but Civil 3D is another animal altogether, performance wise. We're not at a stage where we're considering thin clients + VDI/RDS + vGPU, so I'm looking for client (desktop) specs, and/or lessons learned. We're just upgrading user workstations at this time.



    I recently started looking at what new technologies have to offer, and the first thing I tested was introducing a Samsung 960 EVO PCIe+NVMe SSD. I was surprised that it was actually cheaper than the equivalent capacity Samsung 850 PRO SATA SSD, and that it listed exponentially better performance. I have to say, that making the Samsung 960 EVO PCIe+NVMe SSD drive my Civil 3D Temp folder alone, is the single best performance upgrade I've had to-date. For some reason latest Dell BIOS+UEFI doesn't support PCIe+NVMe as my boot drive? Grrr.

    Using the same project data set on my same server/network, I shaved +/- 20 seconds off the Civil 3D drawing open times (depending on drawing complexity, how many XREFs, etc.). If I open 50 drawings per work day, that saves me +/- 17 Mins, which doesn't seem like a lot, right?

    Extrapolating that 17 mins per work day over 5 work days per week, at 50 work weeks per year (17 mins x 250 work days), that's 70.8 hours (or 8.8 work days, or 1.77 work weeks) per year. That's a lot of real time and money I'm being paid to just open drawings (not even work on them)!

    ... Now, here's where you ask your manager to consider how much they pay an employee for 1.77 work weeks per year, and how many CAD users they have? Haha


    Here's my current workstation's specs:

    Dell Precision T3600
    Windows 10x64 Enterprise
    Intel Hex-Core Xeon E5 1650 3.2 Ghz (3.80 Ghz max turbo)
    32 GB RAM @ 1600 Mhz
    3 GB NVIDIA Quadro K4000 GPU + 3 x 24" Dell Ultrasharp monitors
    256 GB Samsung 850 PRO SATA SSD (Boot)
    250 GB Samsung 960 EVO PCIe+NVMe SSD (My C3D Temp, Support, Plot, etc folder location)
    1 TB 10K RPM WD Velociraptor HDD (Apps, Backups, Data, VM's, etc.)


    I've historically had Dell Precision workstations, but am disappointed that they're all Xeon now, in lieu of offering i7, and cap out @ 3.5 Ghz which isn't much of an upgrade to what I have now. The Optiplex, and XPS systems are equally disappointing.

    I've looked at Xi Computers, but find their website to be cumbersome, and the systems seem to be way overpriced as well (despite getting more of the specs I want).


    Cheers
    Last edited by BlackBox; 2017-06-07 at 08:38 PM.
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

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    Administrator rkmcswain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBox View Post

    What workstations are you using/building/buying?
    All Civil 3D shop here.

    Here are the specs on the last few we purchased. These were specifically spec'ed out to be better than our normal workstations. So far, so good.

    i7-7700K @ 4.20GHz (liquid cooled)
    64 GB Ram DDR4
    (2) 512 GB PCIe SSD drives, striped (RAID-0).
    Quadro P1000
    Win 10
    (2) HP E271i (27") monitors
    R.K. McSwain | CAD Panacea |

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    Certifiable AUGI Addict cadtag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    I've bought a couple of Xi boxes over the years, and they've been stellar performers and highly reliable (& upgradeable!!). For max performance today though, i'd look very hard at BOXX.
    Real pirates wear silk suits & ties, and write EULAs
    The only thing more dangerous to the liberty of a free people than big government, is big business.

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    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by rkmcswain View Post
    All Civil 3D shop here.

    Here are the specs on the last few we purchased. These were specifically spec'ed out to be better than our normal workstations. So far, so good.

    i7-7700K @ 4.20GHz (liquid cooled)
    64 GB Ram DDR4
    (2) 512 GB PCIe SSD drives, striped (RAID-0).
    Quadro P1000
    Win 10
    (2) HP E271i (27") monitors
    What brand / manufacturer did you buy that spec from (sounds fantastic!)?

    What RAID Controller are you using; PERC or Software RAID?

    Any HDD for system image backup when RAID 0 causes a bad sector, or otherwise corrupts the Virtual Disk? Or does IT just have generic image for CAD user on standby?


    Cheers

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by cadtag View Post
    I've bought a couple of Xi boxes over the years, and they've been stellar performers and highly reliable (& upgradeable!!). For max performance today though, i'd look very hard at BOXX.
    Thank you, as well - I appreciate the recommendation.

    If you're still with 'the firm', what's their current performance spec?


    Cheers

    - - - Updated - - -

    Also, forgot to inquire about the use of Gigabit or 10 Gigabit network (switch, NICs, etc)?
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

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    Certifiable AUGI Addict cadtag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    still hanging in with the borg & mixing things up, doing a dock for Miami Beach today, apartment complex yesterday, state park tomorrow.

    'official' specs are pretty mediocre, essentially off Dell's <quote> workstation<unquote> spec -- waste of money Xeon chips, over-priced 16G ECC RAM, and unsupported Nvidia card.
    Real pirates wear silk suits & ties, and write EULAs
    The only thing more dangerous to the liberty of a free people than big government, is big business.

    Toward a Sustainable Water Future: Visions for 2050 http://ascelibrary.org/doi/book/10.1061/9780784412077

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    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by cadtag View Post
    still hanging in with the borg & mixing things up, doing a dock for Miami Beach today, apartment complex yesterday, state park tomorrow.
    Cool - I just finished another roundabout yesterday, I'm currently doing some scale entry/exit concepts to increase capacity at the County dump, then I need to get a plan revision out for a Senator's new canoe/kayak park, and that 1,000 AC subdivision just got started again. I wouldn't be me if I didn't mix things up a bit too. Haha

    Quote Originally Posted by cadtag View Post
    'official' specs are pretty mediocre, essentially off Dell's <quote> workstation<unquote> spec -- waste of money Xeon chips, over-priced 16G ECC RAM, and unsupported Nvidia card.
    Figures; those setups might work well for the Revit & 'Max render users, but doesn't help anyone in an AutoCAD product. Thanks anywho!



    I'm anxious to find out more about RK's setup (above).


    Cheers
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Do you have an Enterprise agreement with Dell? If so chances of getting a non-workstation computer are pretty much nil.

    Unless you're getting a multi-socket board or a monster 10+ core Xeon, that won't be of much benefit over a desktop processor for rendering either. And that's assuming a GPU-based renderer like Cycles isn't being used.

    There's a lot of movement towards visualization, pre-design studies with Infraworks, rendering for sales presentations, etc. You just KNOW the bosses are going to be asking "I've seen a bunch of pictures/movies/etc., can we do anything like that to make us look better?" So don't quiiiite count out rendering operations just yet. No need to go overboard (recent post in the Autodesk Maya forum had someone switching from a 1080 to dual Quadro P6000's... overkill much...) but it's worth considering.
    If you are going to fly by the seat of your pants, expect friction burns.
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    Administrator rkmcswain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBox View Post
    What brand / manufacturer did you buy that spec from (sounds fantastic!)?

    What RAID Controller are you using; PERC or Software RAID?

    Any HDD for system image backup when RAID 0 causes a bad sector, or otherwise corrupts the Virtual Disk? Or does IT just have generic image for CAD user on standby?
    1. Private builder, white-box.
    2. Not sure. I can find out if you would like.
    3. No secondary drive(s). Users shouldn't be saving anything worth saving to the local drives. If/when it dies, we'll replace and re-image.
    R.K. McSwain | CAD Panacea |

  9. #9
    Administrator BlackBox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    Quote Originally Posted by rkmcswain View Post
    1. Private builder, white-box.
    2. Not sure. I can find out if you would like.
    3. No secondary drive(s). Users shouldn't be saving anything worth saving to the local drives. If/when it dies, we'll replace and re-image.
    That would be most helpful; please and thank you, RK!
    "How we think determines what we do, and what we do determines what we get."

    Sincpac C3D ~ Autodesk Exchange Apps

    Computer Specs:
    Dell Precision 3620, Core i7-7700K 4.2GHz, 64GB RAM, Samsung 970 Pro M.2, 8GB NVIDIA Quadro P4000

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    Certifiable AUGI Addict ccowgill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civil 3D | High-Performance Workstations

    We are in the process from switching from Custom (mostly because of speed of service) built machines back to Dell
    My current machine is a Precision 3620
    I7-7700K @ 4.2 ghz
    32 gb ram
    NVIDIA Quadro M4000
    Single 512 gb SSD
    Windows 10
    3 - 24" ASUS monitors
    Christopher T. Cowgill, P.E.
    Autodesk Expert Elite
    AEC Collection Civil 3D 2020
    Windows 10

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