5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a Workstation for AutoCAD
Whether you are just starting your career as a designer or drafter, starting a new project that requires the use of Autodesk AutoCAD, or your hardware simply needs updating, it's important to consider a few key things before purchasing a CAD workstation for AutoCAD.
As AutoCAD is used for creating any 2D drawing, 3D model or construction digitally as opposed to by hand, it takes up a lot of power on hardware. It was designed to help designers and drafters create their designs quicker, so what use would it be to run the software on a CAD computer that would slow the program down? But how do you know which hardware to choose when there are so many options out there?
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a CAD workstation for AutoCAD:
1. Understand your workloads
The first step to choosing the right CAD computer for you is to consider what you will be using the software for. For instance if you will be using AutoCAD for draughting with 2D drawings or small 3D models, you will not need a machine as highly specified as someone who will be using AutoCAD for large 3D models.
2. Think about other software/programs you may need to use
If AutoCAD is the software you will use on a daily basis for draughting, but you occasionally need to render your model in 3ds Max, it's important to look for a CAD workstation that can run this program just as efficiently. Even if the model you are importing into 3ds Max isn't that large, the specifications to simply run the software alone are much higher than what is required for a modest workload of AutoCAD.
3. Consider a machine with high disk space
Whilst this might seem like an obvious point, it is something that is quite often not looked at in detail. For instance the latest version of AutoCAD (AutoCAD 2021) takes up 7GB of disk space on a Windows operating system. However this doesn't include any specialised toolsets, large datasets, point clouds and 3D models that may be accumulated over time, or the installation of other software like 3ds Max etc. As a result, it’s important to allow for extra disk space than what you think you need.
4. Invest in a high-end graphics card
Whilst AutoCAD has an option to turn on software graphics acceleration eg calculating the displayed graphics using the CPU only, the performance on that would be rather poor and slow. Especially if you're handling 3D models or using more than one monitor or a 4k monitor. The software is extremely graphics intensive, so it makes sense to support it with a CAD workstation with a high-end graphics card for the best performance.
5. Choose the right CPU & RAM specifications
When choosing CPU and RAM specifications, there are lots of things to consider depending on the software you are using as well as the demands of your workload. Both are equally important. One complements the other in terms of overall performance. The amount of tasks that a CPU can handle is largely dependent upon the amount of RAM that is available to it since this will hold the data that the CPU will process, thus allowing more applications to be open simultaneously.
Autodesk tend to develop their products around Xeon CPU’s than i7’s and i9’s because of the larger caches and bigger calculations. We predominately recommend Xeons into an enterprise CAD environment, particularly where rendering is used heavily. Also for the gain in reliability and system longevity as it is a business grade processor.
To help users of AutoCAD choose a CAD computer to support their use of the software, we've recommended some hardware specifications and workstations based on different workloads below:
For more information on finding the right CAD workstation for you, take a look at our workstation recommendations guide or get in touch with us.
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