Which PC to buy for best performance using CAD/CAM

  eee 13:32 10 Jul 2003

I need to buy a new PC for using a wide variaty of 3D CAD/CAM applications on, speed and graphics performance are the most important requirements.
Thanks, Ian

  wee eddie 18:57 10 Jul 2003

would help, also the level of program, that you will actually be using.

Are you talking about Dual Processor & Raid HDDs etc.

Or are you looking for the top end of a mass market manufacturer

  AMD 4 ever 19:03 10 Jul 2003

Ask for a custom build: click here

  -pops- 19:51 10 Jul 2003

Most important - a large, very good quality screen/monitor. If you can afford it, a plasma screen would be best for presentations.


  AMD 4 ever 20:26 10 Jul 2003

I used Jetcam cnc programmer and run it on several armada cnc macines, all pc's with a custom build dual cpu. Main ingredients have to be large and fast hdd, preferably scsi. dual or very powrerful cpu, large amounts of ram and a good graphics card, suitably rated psu. As you are fully aware the software can cost as much as the hardware running autocad 2002 etc...so worth investigating!!

  Pauper 23:35 12 Jul 2003

eee, an idea of the actual programs would help to understand your requirements, I use Pro-Engineer 3d cad software and run it on a P4 2.2, 1024mb ram and, crucially, a cutting edge graphics card - I cannot recall the model at this time, however this is the most expensive component in the pc. As previously stated, a fast hard drive is a good idea for speedy retrieval of files, particularly if you want to use assemblies with multiple components and/or parametric technology. At the other end of the scale I have also run a slightly earlier version of the software on a P3 500 with 256mb ram and a cheap Hercules 32mb graphics card so an idea of your proposed budget would be useful information.

As well as the actual pc, concentrate on the items with which you will be interacting, my personal preference is for CRT monitors, and a good 19 to 22 inch will be ideal, it is worth paying for a quality top end crt over an equally expensive but lower end flat panel display. As far a mouse is concerned you will probably need extensive use of a middle button, have a play with wheel mouse and see if you can make repeated use of the button function on the wheel mouse, if this proves awkward then you may well end up frustrated so a standard 3 button mouse may prove better. A small mouse will permit rapid and accurate input by movements of your wrist and fingers rather than having to move your whole arm which as is needed by a larger type, MS Intellimouse explorer etc, but watch for symptoms of rsi after prolonged use.

If you are looking at tablet input devices I will have to leave this to someone else as I only use a cheap one at home for photo manipulation etc.

Most manufacturers of cad software, or any software for that matter, will give you an idea of the level of pc which will be required, but if you are paying a lot of money for your licence and support then you will also want to leave yourself room for future upgrades to both the pc and the software itself. It is quite common for manufactures of professional cad programs to limit backwards compatibility in order to force people to upgrade and continue to purchase support packages.

Post back with some specifics and I will try to help as much as possible.

  Simsy 18:10 13 Jul 2003

or even experience, (although I do have a prog via coverdisc that I can't some to terms with!), but I have heard it said a number of times in the past that Pentium processors are better for this specific task because of the way they handle "floating point" calculations.

Now I don't know what that means, or even if it was true, and if it was, if it is still with the recent advances! But it might be a question you can use in your research.

Good luck,



  chico2k 11:08 15 Jul 2003

What about a Purpose built workstation

the Sun machines have been good in my experience

Pricey but you get what you pay for as they say


  eee 11:24 31 Jul 2003

Thanks for your previous responces,especially pauper for details. I wish to run CATIA V5 and ProENG 2000i2 and later, My budget is approx £1500. Should I go with Pentium or AMD? Also is there a particular Graphics card most suited to the above software.
Many thanks.

  Pauper 13:50 31 Jul 2003

eee, that's a good choice of software - do you know if there is any level of compatibility between them ?

Cat5 is the latest for that suite although as I do not use Catia it is difficult to give many facts. The latest for Pro-E however is now Wildfire, we are currently waiting to upgrade, but I have seen and played with a rep's demo (on a laptop!) and it is far superior to 2000i2, it also offers a good degree of backwards compatibility to previous version which has not been available until now.

In case you have not been here, this is the link to the Catia site

Catia - click here the system requirments specified on the IBM link page click here are not too extreme and are well within the capabilities of most standard pc's, note the information detailed under Win XP/2000 section relating to the graphics card as these are important to allow for texturing and animation.

The PTC site can be found with this link:
Pro-Eng - click here again there is a link page for the recomended system requirments click here again the system requirments are very reasonable with the exception of the graphics card. Where Catia merely specifies the requirments of the card, PTC states that it will only support those which are certified, it's you call as to whether or not you feel you will loose support for using a non-approved card, but as I said in my last post, I have run 2000i on a little 32mb Hercules card so I would have no concerns about running Pro-E on a lower spec but still reasonably good off the shelf graphics card.

So, assuming that your 1500 does not include the purchase of the system, I would personally opt for a P4 2.4 or 2.6 processor, anything faster will just eat into your budget unnecessarily and is not required – just make sure there is some capability for a future upgrade. 512mb of ram will be a good starting point, 1024mb even better but not a necessary requirement, as for the type – get the best you can (help from anyone?). After this look at a graphics card, either a reasonable off the shelf job, or an approved card such as those from here - click here , even an approved FireGL 8800 is only £250 which should prove acceptable. after that, go and find a nice big quality monitor. You should be able to build a system yourself for well within your price range, but you may have to shop around to have someone build it for you within your spec. One area which you can afford to skimp on is the sound department as any standard on board will suffice. As I mentioned previously, both Catia and Pro-E require a three button mouse so have a look around to see what style suits you best, but do make sure you sped time on this small but important aspect as it will greatly influence your ability to use the cad system both comfortably and effectively.

I will probably realise I have missed something as soon as I post, but if you need any questions answering just shout.

  Pauper 14:47 31 Jul 2003

Just to clarify "So, assuming that your 1500 does not include the purchase of the system", by system I meant the cad software not the pc. Also, by recomending P4's, I am not knocking AMD but have never tried them so could not vouch for their ability to run a cad system.

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