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Thread: New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

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    Default New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

    My office is replacing some Pentium 3 era boat anchors, and I would appreciate some input on the new systems.

    We are an ADT2006 office. We don't use much of ADT's modelling capabilities, but do use wall, door, & window objects in most of our drafting. We use detail manager & schedules a lot, and most of our larger sheets contain lots of xrefs. I have noticed that schedules & xrefs tend to bog machines down.

    My budget is in the $2000 - $2500 range. I am trying to incorporate the following:
    *Single processor, Pentium D, Pentium 4 HT, Xeon - I could use some suggestions as to which to choose;
    *2GB RAM;
    *128-256 MB dual monitor video card, likely NVidia FX1400 or FX3450;
    *Single optical drive;
    *Single IDE hard drive

    We have a Windows 2003 dual Xeon server on a 10/100 network. We will not be upgrading to a gigabit network anytime soon.

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    Active Member Jordan Truesdell's Avatar
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    Default Re: New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

    Does anybody know if there is a real advantage to getting a Xeon processor vs a dual core processor? Xeon seems to command a premium price but if acad can handle multi-threading (I assume it can) it would seem a dual core (D) processor with 2x2MB caches would be the best choice. Maybe a 940?

    Also, if you're not doing rendering or real-time, does >128MB of video ram make a difference. I would think it wouldn't. In fact, I haven't really figured out why there's still a market in cad-centric video cards except for those doing real-time rendering on screen. In Acad2006, I can't tell a difference in performance between my 256MB Nvidia Quadro GX 1400 and the on-board, shared RAM card in the workstation at the next desk. I have also had mixed luck with my foray into dual monitor setups. I ended up dropping the second monitor for just using the primary at 1920x1200. It looked cool, but didn't seem to add any productivity.

    Personally, I've found that on my Dell Precision M70 (mobile) with the above card, 1.86GHz mobile processor, and 2GB of RAM, that I still can't use the head's up stuff, just becase the turning on the transparency makes the processor usage spike from ~30% to 95+% on the acad.exe process. I don't think four processors running at 3GHz would make it as fast as runnign without it, to be honest. I think maybe autodesk should plan a field trip to iD software to figure out how to fast onscreen work. Maybe the schedules and xrefs will speed up with an 8x+ increase in processor speed (that's what you're planning, right?).

    Try this - load up your files with problems and then open the Task Manager - see how much memory acad is using. You should probably get 1.5x that in physical ram, as a minimum. If that's less than 1GB, then don't sweat getting 2GB.

    For security, I'd skip the optical drive - you can always get a 1GB USB key for the IT guy or just serve up most stuff over the LAN, and if you're serving your CAD files over the LAN, you can just get a vanilla (7200RPM) IDE or SATA drive, and you don't need much capacity (80GB, tops).

    You can get a Dell (apologies to those that hate them) for the lower end of the price you're looking at if you can settle for an ATI x300 - and that's without any "special" pricing - and that includes a 20" 1600x1200 LCD monitor. If you keep your eye on bargain sites like fatwallet.com for a couple of weeks, you might be able to get in for under $1500 for what you want. I'd use the extra (if its in the budget already) to get nicer monitors for everybody. I'd still like a 24" WS or the new 30" monitors that have hit the streets in the past year.

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    Active Member powermarc's Avatar
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    Default Re: New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

    Quote Originally Posted by jnj1502
    My office is replacing some Pentium 3 era boat anchors, and I would appreciate some input on the new systems.

    We are an ADT2006 office. We don't use much of ADT's modelling capabilities, but do use wall, door, & window objects in most of our drafting. We use detail manager & schedules a lot, and most of our larger sheets contain lots of xrefs. I have noticed that schedules & xrefs tend to bog machines down.

    My budget is in the $2000 - $2500 range. I am trying to incorporate the following:
    *Single processor, Pentium D, Pentium 4 HT, Xeon - I could use some suggestions as to which to choose;
    *2GB RAM;
    *128-256 MB dual monitor video card, likely NVidia FX1400 or FX3450;
    *Single optical drive;
    *Single IDE hard drive

    We have a Windows 2003 dual Xeon server on a 10/100 network. We will not be upgrading to a gigabit network anytime soon.
    A Pentium D system with a speed of 2.8GHz or higher (preferably 3.0GHz or higher to give your systems some more usable lifetime) would be a good place to start.

    1.5 to 2GB of RAM is a proper amount for ADT, especially if you have a lot of schedules and xrefs as you say.

    Since you want to run dual displays, a 256MB video card is not out of the question. Are you also upgrading your displays? Running dual 19" LCD's at 1280x1024 resolution each would be a good setup, and can be done for a reasonable price these days.

    DVD/+RW drives are cheaper now, so no excuse not to get one of those either.

    80GB SATA (IDE is for optical drives only now) is a good size for a workstation. You're probably not storing your mp3 collection there, anyway.

    The only concern with your network that I would have regarding speed is that you are attaching all networked computers using a switch, not a hub. A switch would ensure full speed connections to your server. You don't need gigabit ethernet anyway unless you're doing something like editing full motion video directly from the server.

    I will try to post some hard specs for a system later (with pricing) for you over the weekend.

    Hope this helps,
    Marc

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    Default Re: New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

    Marc:

    The network is run through a switch, not a hub. The cabling is a bit screwy, but we can fix that easily enough.

    We won't have a budget for new monitors, so the existing 21" CRT behemoths will be reused. My experience with higher-end video cards has been similar to Jordan's, in that I didn't see $500 worth of improvement going from low-price to mid-price. We won't be rendering, just ADT-ing. Thus, I'm leaning toward the FX1400 card.

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    All AUGI, all the time thomas.stright's Avatar
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    Default Re: New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

    Quote Originally Posted by jnj1502
    Thus, I'm leaning toward the FX1400 card.
    I have the FX1400 in my new Machine, Nice card. I have it Running 2 20"CRT's at 1280x1024.

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    Active Member powermarc's Avatar
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    Default Re: New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

    Got some specs - this came out to $1841 currently on the Dell Small Business site:

    3.2 GHz Intel P4 Dual Core
    2GB RAM
    160 GB SATA hard drive
    DVD/+RW optical drive
    no floppy
    128 MB Quadro FX 1400 video card, dual monitor capable
    3yr warranty

    Nice deal, for now. Dell always changes their discounts, so it may be more or less next week, who knows?

    Thanks for your patience,

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    Active Member Jordan Truesdell's Avatar
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    Default Re: New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan Truesdell
    Try this - load up your files with problems and then open the Task Manager - see how much memory acad is using. You should probably get 1.5x that in physical ram, as a minimum. If that's less than 1GB, then don't sweat getting 2GB.
    You know what, just ignore that part. I just saw the system requirements for ADT2007. The MINIMUM RECOMMENDATION for ADT2007 is 2GB of RAM. That's right 2,048MB of RAM. That's more than the disk space required (at a paltry 1.9GB). Oh, and you'll need at least a 3.0GHz processor. I don't really know what that means, since GHz is a poor indicator of computational power, and even Intel admits it now. Hrm...just buy whatever is the fastest dual core they make. And plan on upgrading for 2k8.

    Back to the memory...what I find interesting is that although the 2GB is a minimum, that is the MAXIMUM that WindowsXP can use for applications unless you happen to be fiddling with your boot.ini file to expand that to the absolute maximum addressable space of 3GB. Yes, even if you have 4GB of memory (the max that XP supports), you can only use 2GB for applications without the special boot option. I wonder if AutoCAD happened to include the IMAGE_FILE_LARGE_ADDRESS_AWARE bit, 'cause otherwise it just don't matter; your're capped at the 2GB limit regarless of the /3GB switch..

    Curious about memory sizes in 32 bit MS OSes? Look here.

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    Certified AUGI Addict jaberwok's Avatar
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    Default Re: New machine specs (budget $2000 - $2500 range)

    Don't worry about it.
    Acad has always (except R10/386) run on lower spec hardware than quoted.
    I think it's like a car manufacture telling you how fast their new model can go without them pointing out that there isn't an airfield runway long enough.

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