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Hullo all,

 

 

I have to deploy a 3D CAD graphics workstation, it will be using AutoCAD, Pro Engineer and Rhino 3D aswel as general office tasks and other industrial software (PLC's and CAM software)

 

 

It doesnt need to be uber powerfull but I am considering a dedicated workstation graphics card and ECC ram and maybe ES hard drives to ensure reliability/redundancy.

 

Small form factor would also be good, and a decent 24" screen

 

Tell me what's the go!

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Most "workstation" computers I've seen don't come in small form factor. Mainly because adding lots of drives and the video card rules out a small limited case. I've got a HP workstation which is supposed to be used to CAD.

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It wont require a large amount of storage, maybe just a 2 drive mirror will be sufficient and offsite backup by usb hdd, either way I'm not overly fussed if it is full ATX or mATX but I have limited bench space.

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When it comes to cad (i have a regular client who designs boats) speed is an issue.

 

SSD for the main drive, as CAD apps love cache; low-end GPU that supports image calculation\CPU assist (dont know what does these days, I havent needed to know THAT for a long time), ECC if you must and I believe almost all those apps are multithreaded, so a dual core is the minimum you'd wanna run. If you can afford i7's with HT, you'll be flying.

 

in short:

 

i7 or i5 - hyperthreading enabled.

Matched ram (or ECC if you can afford it)

120Gb Vertex2 SSD (cache reading is fast)

 

 

As for monitor: If color accuracy is not an issue, ASUS do some of the sharpest for cheap.

Otherwise Apple cinema displays have a huge resolution and good quality reproduction.

 

Depends how you work, if its 80% visual, 20%numbers for you, you'll want accuracy, if you work with numbers to help design then visual is just a rough guide, then get something cheap. Every cad worker I know (dads a builder, i know a lot) work differently.

 

Good luck :)

Edited by Master_Scythe

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Thanks M-S

 

What concerns me the most is that we will eventually producing tool paths from the designs for CNC machining and 3D printing.

 

Now back when I was just the poor bastard who run the CNC we would have first run issues where the CAM software occationally produces an error which if first run coordinates were not manually checked we would get a dodgy tool offset either crashing the tool or leaving a step or gouge in the part.

 

I am of the understanding this was because the CAD/CAM machine used to compile the CNC tool path was not ECC and when the coordinate data is exported an occational line of data would dodgy.

 

Same thing I hear about 3D printers, if there is an error in the program the model may fail.

 

I would much prefer to NOT have to verify 10,000 lines of XYZ coordinates because I like my sanity...

 

So my greatest concern is avoiding those kinds of errors, other than that I'm guessing the box should be fairly easy to build, I was thinking of the ASUS AMD mobo's as they support ECC

 

And the monitor will need to be pretty good on the eyes, any reccomendations there?

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AutoCAD (and its spawn like Inventor) and Pro/ENGINEER have optimisations for Quadro cards.

 

Consider an entry-level model, $200ish for the Quadro 400, $250ish for the Quadro 600. Both of these are available with low-profile brackets if you want to go the SFF route.

 

Everything else that's been suggested seems fine to me, from a career CAD Administrator point of view. If it was more than one machine, I'd suggest a Dell Precision just for the "it all works together" factor, but since it's one, it's probably better to DIY.

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If you're lazy, the HP workstations are great. I have the HP XW4600 but it's obselete but HP sell the Z series workstations.

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Whats your budget mate. I just did a quick little build up from PCCG just as a outline. Feel free to chop and change to suit needs it just what id look at doing :P

 

Posted Image

 

Grab yourself a Dell 2711 from $799 or less if you can use a 10-15% discount and you'll be screaming along.

 

Edit: I just priced the the same machines our mine/blasting designers use at work and they came out at $3500 from dell for a extremely similar machine and with a 24" monitor .

Edited by mudg3

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Good build, mudg3. For OP's purposes, I'd swap in one of those entry level Quadros, and some ECC RAM (if that board supports it).

 

Otherwise, yeah, good pick.

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Yeah looks about right mudg3 but budget is going to kill me on this as we are in the middle of a factory move.

 

Show me your drag your arse along the ground CAD workstation builds!!!

 

TBH, this will not be a flat out CAD production machine as our 3D guy is only part time and most of the stuff I do is fairly basic (apart from the CAM compilation, PLC and datalogger stuff)

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Agreed Squall.

ECC ram isnt much more these days, i'm impressed.

 

and Quadro cards eh? thats what I was unsure on. I knew it existed, i wasnt sure which card. Thanks for that :)

 

 

Mudg3, you've gone overboard on: RAM (and its not ECC), motherboard, power supply, case, and the dvd-rom is double the price it normally is.

 

EDIT: I dont have time to system build RIGHT now, but i will tonight. If you check back here sometime around 9pm i recon, i'll spec you a cheap system.

Should be OK keeping it around the $1k mark.

Monitor may inflate that a little... we'll see.

 

Quick question though to people; Dont all motherboards support ECC ram? or is it a specific specification?

 

And Betzie, where are you in the world? what store do you have access to? umart or MSY near you possibly?

Edited by Master_Scythe

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Asus AMD boards take ECC, so woulda cheap x6 1055T build with ECC be better than a cheap Quad Xeon on a mainstream board which doesnt support ECC?

 

And the other thing, Quadro vs ATI FireMV and how will these cards go on a standard board that might have an onboard GPU, would that cause any issue?

 

edit:

 

Melbourne M_S

 

Centrecom and MSY are the closest but I can web order and have it delivered, but yea, would much prefer to buy from a melbourne store.

Edited by Betzie

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I so wish I didn't spend 6 years as a Computer Aided Dispatch developer and architect. Everytime I see CAD workstation I get disappointed

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Betzie:

I'm not convinced on the ECC.

My understanding is that a lot of the issues with running CNC machines used to be damage or failures in the serial connection.

We run a router at work, non-ECC RAM, and the only issues we've ever had, is someone messing around with the set origin (user error) and hardware failures in the serial connection.

 

EDIT: That's not to say if the ECC is cost effective you should ignore it. Get ECC. But if there's a significant premium, it will help with machine stability on EXTREMELY long uptime, but not much else.

Edited by TinBane

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Quick question though to people; Dont all motherboards support ECC ram? or is it a specific specification?

Intel is forthcoming with the information for their boards:

 

http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/...b/cs-009023.htm

 

Couldn't quickly find anything from the other vendors.

 

I would suggest that it's down the board manufacturer to specify support for Fully Buffered/ECC/registered DIMMs.

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Agreed Squall.

Mudg3, you've gone overboard on: RAM (and its not ECC), motherboard, power supply, case, and the dvd-rom is double the price it normally is.

 

EDIT: I dont have time to system build RIGHT now, but i will tonight. If you check back here sometime around 9pm i recon, i'll spec you a cheap system.

Should be OK keeping it around the $1k mark.

Monitor may inflate that a little... we'll see.

 

Quick question though to people; Dont all motherboards support ECC ram? or is it a specific specification?

 

And Betzie, where are you in the world? what store do you have access to? umart or MSY near you possibly?

MS we still dont know what kind of work Betzie does. I've simply speced to what we use in the mining environment which is massive. The case it overboard the PSU is overboard and same with the motherboard. Depending on budget we can easily scrap a couple of hundred dollars off there.

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ok had a poke around and came up with these

 

 

this one is not as fast probably over the top but possibly more reliable

 

Intel Xeon X3450 Quad Core 2.66GHz 8MB Cache LGA1156 CPU $305

ASUS P7F-X Server Intel LGA1156 Xeon 3400 Series, Intel i5 and i7, 4xDDR3, 6xPCIE $293

4GB DDR3 Kingston 1333MHz PC3-10600 CL9 ECC Registered RAM x2 $246

Leadtek nVidia Quadro PCIE Q600 1GB 128-bit DDR3, DVI, DisplayPort $259

120GB 2.5" Intel X25-M SATA II Solid State Disk (SSD) $279

2TB 2000GB Western Digital Enterprise RE4 WD2003FYYS SATA II 3.0Gb/s 7200RPM 64MB Cache x2 $558

400W Seasonic X-Series 80Plus Gold Fanless Power Supply $189

Fractal Design Define R3 $145 207W x 440D

$2553

 

 

 

a smaller and more affordable option i doubt a gpu will be needed and think its worth a try without considering how easy they are to add

 

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition, 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Core), Six Core, 9MB Cache (3MB L2, 6MB L3), 45nm, 125W Socket $229

ASUS M4A88TD-M EVO/USB3 Motherboard $119

4GB DDR3 Kingston 1333MHz PC3-10600 CL9 ECC Registered RAM x2 $246

Intel 510 120GB SATA III SSD $369

Samsung EcoGreen F4 2TB HD204UI x2 $218

Seasonic X-560 80Plus Gold 560W $175

Silverstone Fortress FT03B Black $185 235W x 284D

CoolerMaster Hyper 212+ CPU Cooler $33

$1574

 

 

i doubt ecc would make a difference but i really dont know

this is a tinny fast pc without ecc

 

Intel Core i5 2500 $209

Gigabyte GA-H67N-USB3 Mini-ITX Motherboard B3 $149

Corsair Vengeance CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 $119

Intel 510 120GB SATA III SSD $369

Samsung EcoGreen F4 2TB HD204UI x2 $218

Seasonic X-400 Fanless Gold 400W $179

Lian Li PC-Q11 $135 200W x 260D

$1378

 

 

Microsoft Sidewinder X4 Keyboard$49

Logitech MX518 Gaming Optical Mouse $45

23" ASUS VH238T WideScreen 2ms Full HD Black LED with Speakers $189 or the dell u2711

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Whats your budget mate. I just did a quick little build up from PCCG just as a outline. Feel free to chop and change to suit needs it just what id look at doing :P

 

Posted Image

 

Grab yourself a Dell 2711 from $799 or less if you can use a 10-15% discount and you'll be screaming along.

 

Edit: I just priced the the same machines our mine/blasting designers use at work and they came out at $3500 from dell for a extremely similar machine and with a 24" monitor .

I was going post up a build with that xeon chip but I see you also had the same idea :D

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$1700 is tops for EVERYTHING :(

 

Remember this will be in a workshop not an office or studio, the core needs to be competent but the chassis can be a dunga for all I care.

 

Posted Image

 

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

 

Centrecom didn't have ECC ram listed so the above so I need to add $170 or so at a guess.

 

Needs to be that monitor, 1920x1200 is bliss, 1920x 1080 is poo

 

Must have raid 1 if not an ES drive, I cannot afford a loss, there will be other contingency, will not need much space tho, so 500gb is ok.

 

The office licence is kinda needed aswel as this machine delivers data in excel to the laptop onboard the CNC, although I can hold out on it while the CNC is being fabricated.

 

 

 

I am a technical industrial project manager, I am currently building a specialised application drilling machine with CNC function, it will have a crappy laptop driving on the machine driving the PLC

 

ThisPC will be the 'server' for the machine, developing and hosting detail for the laptop onboard the factory machine

 

*sigh* difficult to explain without publishing my project docs, but remember, this will be in a warehouse and prolly on 24/7

 

The PC will manage a product and certification database and moonlight as a CAD workstation + there will be some data logging and PLC programming.

 

 

 

edit:

 

why the imageshack so shit?

Edited by Betzie

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ditch the gpu for now and buy a good non generic psu

main reson i mentioned the flasher cases was due to you wanting it to use up as little deks space as possible also dust filters can be good for reliability provided they are cleaned

macotechnology and pccasegear is where i grabed the above prices from and it was maco that had the ecc ram

a ups is the other important thing i was meaning to mention

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ditch the gpu for now and buy a good non generic psu

No, don't ditch the GPU.

 

I've used AutoCAD for 3D on integrated graphics... it's really not fun.

 

It even gives entry level GeForces and Radeons a workout.

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ditch the gpu for now and buy a good non generic psu

No, don't ditch the GPU.

 

I've used AutoCAD for 3D on integrated graphics... it's really not fun.

 

It even gives entry level GeForces and Radeons a workout.

 

so you would rather use a generic psu that has a higher chance of creating instability or killing the pc than to just wait till they ahve the cash to add a gpu if needed?

and what igp was it? as the one in that mb is much better than that in older intel mb

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one of the problems is be getting the money for a gpu later, they wont see the need/value after the machine is deployed

 

later on I can wrangle a PSU if it carks (iirc the coolermaster generic PSU's are pretty good)

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so you would rather use a generic psu that has a higher chance of creating instability or killing the pc than to just wait till they ahve the cash to add a gpu if needed?

and what igp was it? as the one in that mb is much better than that in older intel mb

It's really not a question of "if needed". Believe me, it's what I do for a living.

 

The testing was done on the IGP on a Dell Optiplex 990, which is a sandy bridge system. (Core i5 2500k, IIRC)

 

This is AutoCAD, not SketchUp. (And I'm assuming it's the manly AutoCAD, not that anaemic AutoCAD LT)

Edited by SquallStrife

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one of the problems is be getting the money for a gpu later, they wont see the need/value after the machine is deployed

 

later on I can wrangle a PSU if it carks (iirc the coolermaster generic PSU's are pretty good)

and if it kills the mb gpu and both hdd when it dies? as its fairly common for them to take things there plugged into with them

sounds like a gpu of some kind is important though so SquallStrife what gpu's would you recomend?

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