Best Desktop Computer for CAD Design Software Program Work
- 1 Best Desktop Computer for CAD Design Software Program Work
- 1.1 What are the main requirements for the best desktop computer for CAD?
- 1.2 Which CPU is the best?
- 1.3 How to choose a motherboard?
- 1.4 What computer mouse is best for CAD?
- 1.5 What keyboard to choose?
- 1.6 Best graphic cards to use for CAD
- 1.7 Which computer monitor is the best?
- 1.8 What kind of power supply to use?
- 1.9 How to choose a hard drive? HDD vs. SSD vs. M2 NVMe.
- 1.10 Which plotter/printer to choose?
- 1.11 Performance considerations for 2D and 3D modelling CAD design work.
- 1.12 Are Laptops viable choice for high-end CAD design?
- 1.13 Best computer for CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) and CNC programming
- 1.14 Popular premade brand computer workstations for CAD
- 1.15 The final word
CAD stands for Computer-aided design, and basically, it means the use of software to create, modify, or adjust a design. This type of software comes in many forms, and it has been used in all kinds of the industry for an extended time. For instance, it is used in the automotive industry, constructions, etc. Any industry that requires something to be designed in 2D or 3D with extreme accuracy and analysis will use CAD software. For this, you do need a powerful computer. All software of this kind is demanding and advanced. Below you can see the best desktop computer for this type of work.
What are the main requirements for the best desktop computer for CAD?
The main requirements for your PC will be based on the CAD software you are planning to use. If you are planning to use industry-grade CAD software, be prepared to purchase a PC with impressive specifications. Some of the most ‘’demanding’’ software include SolidWorks, Revit, Inventor, and AutoCAD. These are also some of the best software options you have today.
There are a few main requirements you need to consider. These are essential components of a computer, and each one should (better said) must be top-notch. Let’s start from the beginning.
CPU is the first thing you will need to consider. Intel processors are highly recommended. Some examples include i7 or i9 CPUs. Xeon is a popular choice, as well. Keep in mind that the CPU must come with ECC or error-correcting code technology, eliminating risk from data loss and improving stability. If you want to make a quick purchase or choice, look for premium Intel processors of the latest generation. Older CPUs can barely work, while some cannot be used for CAD software. If you are considering a second-hand PC with Intel i3 or i5 (older generations), you are making a mistake.
The next main thing or component to consider is the RAM. It would be best if you had 16 GB or more. This factor will depend on the data set and model size you are developing. If you are creating more extensive and more complex designs, you obviously need more RAM. 32 GB of RAM are even better and, at the moment, considered the optimal choice.
- Graphics card
Graphics cards will be used every single time you use CAD software. There is no need to add that you need a powerful model of the modern generation. One example is NVIDIA Quadro, which can come with 16 GB of memory. This particular unit is optimized for 3D graphic software. In a nutshell, specific graphic cards or GPUs are designed and made for CAD software. We will recommend some of them later on.
Which CPU is the best?
As previously mentioned, Intel processors are more common and more desirable for this particular purpose. Look for clock speed. The higher, the better. The best options at the moment are Intel® Core™ i9 9900K, Intel® Core™ i7-9700, Intel® Xeon® Silver 4216, and AMD Ryzen 9.
Here is a comparison table for the above mentioned CPU’s:
- Rendering performance
Here is one important exception. If you want your CPU to render your designs, you need a unit with multiple cores. In this case scenario, we recommend AMD processors over Intel. They have more threads and more cores, but these are also better valued for money. You will definitely want to consider AMD Ryzen Threadripper. It is ideal for advanced and heavy-duty rendering. Other AMD processors are still appealing choices, such as Ryzen 9 or 7.
- Creating drawings performance
For this purpose, you can opt for a more affordable processor. There is no need to get the most advanced unit available on the market. Most users are comfortable with Intel i7 processors, especially the 8th and 9th generation. Some can get away with the 7th generation of this CPU. For this purpose, you need to be more focused on the CPU speed than the cores and threads.
How to choose a motherboard?
A motherboard is the simplest thing to choose and the most important one at the same time. For instance, a motherboard won’t affect your performance, but it must support all components you are planning to use. The main thing to consider is the socket, which must match the CPU. An LGA1200 Motherboard, which will come with a Z490 chipset, is ideal for the latest Intel i9 processors. If you are looking for AMD CPU, you should consider AM4 Motherboard (it has X570 Chipset). This motherboard is recommended for AMD Ryzen 3900X.
You will need to consider USB ports, slots for RAM memory, max supported RAM memory, and supported graphics card. Getting a motherboard that can support way more than 16GB is excellent. You will be able to use your PC for a more extended period, with upgrades.
What computer mouse is best for CAD?
You can use any mouse you like for CAD software. But, keep in mind you will use it for at least 7-8 hours per day. A small mouse won’t do you any good. The one that has a low DPI will be useless also.
The goal is to look for a high-end mouse that is ergonomic (must have), has programmable buttons, and has high DPI meaning it will be more accurate. Gaming mouse can be used as well. These typically have all the right ingredients a CAD user will need, and they usually come in cool colours and with many programmable buttons. Wired or wireless is up to you. There are no significant differences here.
Don’t forget more special models available on the market. One of these is Logitech M570, which allows you to control trackball with your thumb. 3Dconnexion 3DX-700028 is another option trendy for CAD applications. These and similar devices will require time to get used to them, and they are not very convenient for everyday computer use.
What keyboard to choose?
Sadly, there are no keyboards designed for CAD software only. You can either choose high-end models or gaming keyboards, which work well. But, there are a few things you will need to consider. A mechanical keyboard with large keys is a must. Ergonomic design is excellent simply because you will use that keyboard for an extended period. Examples of popular keyboards among AutoCAD users are Logitech G910, Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic, and Logitech Craft.
Best graphic cards to use for CAD
The best graphics card will depend on the type of designs you create. If you are planning to use it for 2D, then NVIDIA Quadro that has 2GB of memory, is sufficient. However, it won’t be very suitable for 3D designs. In that case, you need to consider Quadro with 5 or more GB of memory. NVIDIA Quadro is the most popular graphics card for CAD software right now and has been for a while, but other options are available.
Yes, you have other options as well. Graphics cards such as GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2080 Super Turbo 8G, ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB, ASUS GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11G, and EVGA 06G-P4-2066-KR GeForce RTX 2060 will get the job done. If you are a complete beginner in this case scenario, look for a memory of the card. More is merrier. Also, look for graphics cards that are specifically designed for 3D processing. Almost all manufacturers come with their own GPUs designed for this purpose, which makes things easier.
Gaming graphics cards can be used for CAD software. After all, they still have plenty of VRAM, and they are designed for heavy-duty usage. But, older models are inefficient at the moment, and they are slow. The best thing to do is to opt for one of the models we have recommended above or get one that is recommended for CAD software by the manufacturer.
Here is the comparison chart for the abpve mentioned recommended graphic cards:
Which computer monitor is the best?
You may believe that a computer monitor is a completely irrelevant part of your configuration. But, you are going to look at the design you are creating on that very screen! That’s why it is one of the most critical pieces of equipment for all designers. There are a few things you will need to consider.
A too-small monitor will be ineffective, and you will need to zoom in and out all the time. A too big one will make you move the head all the time. An ideal size is around 40 inches. 38 inches can be used as well.
Resolution is crucial. You already have a GPU that can power any monitor available today, so you need high resolution. 3840×1600 pixels on 38 inches screen will be sufficient. The higher resolution is, the more details you can see, which is a perk. Curved displays look cool, and they are a great choice. Most of them have high-resolution capabilities. But, the curved design won’t affect your productivity. We recommend monitors such as Dell U-Series and Samsung high-end models. Your goal is to get a 4K resolution.
In the recent period, we saw 8K becoming more and more popular. This type of monitor can be used for CAD, and you have the resource to power it. Keep in mind that the monitors are too big, so some users may find it distracting. If you are looking for a monitor of this type, look for Phillips 499P9H 49-inch SuperWide Curved Monitor, Dell UltraSharp UP3218K, and LG 49WL95C-W.
What kind of power supply to use?
Your power supply for CAD software is irrelevant. But, it is essential for your components, especially the motherboard and GPU. Trying to work with one that has 200-300 Watts of power is pointless and can only damage your PC.
Due to high energy consumption, you need a power supply that can power your PC. You will need a model with around 1000 Watts of power. Yes, in some cases, it may be too much, but it won’t harm you. It will also serve you for many years and allow you to upgrade and use it with more demanding components.
It would be best if you also had a quiet model that won’t make almost any noise at all. This is a mandatory characteristic of premium power supplies. It means that you need a high-end model, and there is no alternative here. An additional advantage of these power supplies is the fact they have built-in protection systems, so in case of damage, they won’t damage your motherboard or any other component.
How to choose a hard drive? HDD vs. SSD vs. M2 NVMe.
You will have three options for your CAD computer when it comes to storage. You can either get HDD or SSD, or M2. The ideal configuration will be hybrid. You will use SSD with at least 240 GB of capacity. This is the drive where your operating system will be installed. HDD can be added with a massive capacity of 1 terabyte if you have plenty of data to store, including your designs. You can also opt for SSD only. But you will need one with 500 GB capacity or more. CAD designs are large in size, so you need plenty of space.
M2 drives can be used as well. They are about 7x faster than SSD drives and are somewhat more expensive right now.
Using HDD only is a mistake. You get a slower PC that is more prone to damage to the storage drive, in which case you can lose all your designs.
In simple words, SSD is the best cost effective option, but you need to pay more for adequate capacity. M2 is ideal for small housings but also for best possible speeds file storage can offer, while HDD is the most affordable and the slowest option.
Our final recomendations would be to choose M2 NVMe if you can for Windows installation location as well as SolidWorks (or any other CAD software program) installation location (PDM included). SSD is second best, speed-wize and is an option that
Which plotter/printer to choose?
These are two optional pieces of hardware you may want to consider for your CAD computer. The first one is the plotter. It is similar to a printer, but it uses a pen or a pencil (other forms are supported as well) to transfer graphics on paper. Some of the best models for this purpose are HP DesignJet T525, Canon Image PROGRAF, and Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000.
If you are looking at another model, take into consideration the precision, maximum cutting size, and types of media supported. For CAD designed, all media types should be supported to use your plotter without any issues. High resolution is mandatory and something we highly recommend for this purpose.
Printers are obvious pieces of equipment, and there is no need to explain them. All you need to look for are wide and large format models. Some examples include Epson Artisan 1430 Wireless Color Printer and HP CQ890C DesignJet T520-24 inch Printer. Once again, the ability to support multiple media and high printing quality are mandatory.
Performance considerations for 2D and 3D modelling CAD design work.
2D designs come with several drawbacks compared to 3D design. For instance, they are much harder to edit, they need to be transferred into a physical prototype to be adjusted and analyzed, and they have annoying complicated checking processes. 3D is an exclusive deal and allows you to see the design of how it will look alike when made in physical form.
On the other hand, when it comes to a PC needed for these two design types, the situation is different. A PC that can power 3D CAD software won’t have any problems be used for 2D. On the other hand, we have a PC designed for 2D. It won’t be practical for 3D. It is usually low on VRAM memory, RAM and the CPU is slow.
Make sure you know what you are going to design. If it is 2D, a more affordable PC will be great. If it is 3D, you need the ultimate machine. If you are planning to switch to 3D design, it is always better to get a PC capable of supporting this design work.
Are Laptops viable choice for high-end CAD design?
Yes, you can use a laptop for CAD design, 2D and 3D. You are going to need a premium model. I don’t think a mid-range laptop will serve you well in this case scenario. You need a unit with an Intel i7 processor (8th generation or newer) or even i9. Your GPU needs to have at least 6GB of VRAM, while your RAM must be around 16GB. Believe it or not, these are not ideal specifications for CAD computer. It will work, but it will be less efficient than a PC with the specifications we have mentioned above.
One issue here is the monitor. Most of these laptops come with 15.6 inches display, which isn’t great for CAD. On the other hand, if you must work while on the go, a laptop is the only alternative. They can be used for high-end CAD work, but you will need more time to complete the same project, and you will need a premium laptop, which comes at a cost. Some examples are MSI WE63 and HP ZBOOK 15V G5.
Best computer for CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) and CNC programming
Computer Aided Manufacturing is a process in which your CAD design will come to life. It is based on three main factors. The software, the machinery that will transform the design into the finished product, and the Post Processing in which a machine will understand the language and perform specific actions. Due to the fact, CAD and CAM are related processes, and you can use the same type of computer, paired with additional tools in CAM case. You can use HP Obelisk Gaming Desktop Computer, SkyTech Archangel Gaming Computer PC, Dell i5680-7813BLU-PUS, and similar models.
CNC stands for Computerized Numerical Control, and it allows you to make anything, from any material using various bits. For example, you can use this method to make a metal cube, wheel, or anything similar. It is less demanding than CAD, so that you can use a less powerful computer. We discovered that these ones work well for CNC applications.
- Skytech Blaze II
- HP Envy TE01
- Acer Aspire TC-885-UA92
Popular premade brand computer workstations for CAD
Some manufacturers offer computers that have been designed and made specifically for CAD. These may be known as workstations, and they are a safe choice. You get premium components, and you don’t need to assembly it all by yourself. Here are a few examples.
HP has one of the best computers for CAD. It is HP Z4G4T i77820X, and it will impress you. The case doesn’t look impressive but keep in mind that this is a proper CAD workstation. The processor is a bit older than we like, i7-7820X, but that’s why there are 64GB of RAM memory, which is more than needed for CAD. Quadro P5000 GPU is included so you can get a better idea of how powerful this PC is.
Dell is an even more impressive brand when it comes to CAD. They make computers specifically designed for a particular software. For example, you can opt for Dell Precision T1700 for AutoCAD, Dell Precision Tower 5810 for Inventor, and so on. They also offer laptops for the same software. If you want something a bit more special, there is Dell Alienware Aurora Gaming PC. You get i7-8700K, liquid-cooled CPU, 16GB of RAM and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 8GB.
The best workstation made by Apple for CAD is the iMac Pro (late 2017 or newer). This particular model comes with Intel Xeon W with 10 cores and an impressive 128GB of RAM memory. There is also Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16 GB and, as you would expect 2 TB SSD. It is one of the best computers at the moment. Keep in mind it uses Mac OS, so you will need some time to get used to it.
Lenovo’s premium model for CAD is ThinkStation P520 Tower, and it is actually designed for this type of use, not home applications. You will enjoy using Intel® Xeon® W-series processor, NVIDIA® Quadro P6000, and up to 256GB of RAM (depending on a version).
The final word
All you need to know is that a PC for CAD software is a bit special, extremely sophisticated, and powerful. This is the most demanding type of computer use (besides high-end gaming), so you need premium components capable of meeting CAD requirements. Now you know how to find one that has all you will ever need to get the Best Desktop Computer for CAD.