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View Full Version : A good, CHEAP PC for Autocad


JoeXIII'007
08-11-2004, 08:42 PM
Curious as to where I could find a good, cheap PC (<$1K, preferably <$750) that could run AutoCad 2005 well. Sorry if such a thread has been posted in the past. Thanks. :cool:

Arefin Bari
08-11-2004, 08:51 PM
This PC is $899.99

here (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1087340590257&skuId=6733458&type=product&cmp=++)

also your local stores like compusa, circuit city and other pc store might have something better... :)

Chris Bright
08-11-2004, 09:00 PM
If you feel up to challenge you could try and build your own. I have priced out some pretty powerful pcs from this site for aroud 700. Newegg.com (http://www.newegg.com)

Max Lobovsky
08-11-2004, 09:07 PM
As a guy who does tech support for money and has built and upgraded a good few PCs, my advice would be to not build a PC unless you want to do it for the sake of doing it. Unless you pirate software, the price advantage is rather slim.

Personally, I would suggest getting whatever PC meets your price requirements from HP/Compaq. Dell, IBM, and Sony really are overpriced for a home user. The default set of components are usually good, except that a lot of PCs still have a default of 256MB memory which is definitley not enough. 512 is the minimum, and at $750 (assuming you aren't getting a monitor), I'd go for 768 or 1GB. Finally, I'm not sure if AutoCad uses multiple processors very well, but if you really want this machine for CADding, a Hyper-Threaded Pentium probably is your best bet.

And BTW, if you are looking for PC components, check out this site, too: www.pricewatch.com. If only that site existed for all products...

Tristan Lall
08-11-2004, 10:07 PM
Personally, I would suggest getting whatever PC meets your price requirements from HP/Compaq. Dell, IBM, and Sony really are overpriced for a home user. The default set of components are usually good, except that a lot of PCs still have a default of 256MB memory which is definitley not enough. 512 is the minimum, and at $750 (assuming you aren't getting a monitor), I'd go for 768 or 1GB. Finally, I'm not sure if AutoCad uses multiple processors very well, but if you really want this machine for CADding, a Hyper-Threaded Pentium probably is your best bet.Regarding memory:
Get plenty--but don't go overboard. For my Pro/E work (i.e. 3D CAD), I often wish that I had more than 512 MB of RAM, but it's not really an obstacle that often. When I'm in Autocad 2004, 512 is not a problem. Do not buy ECC or registered RAM. That's not needed on a sub $1000 (USD) computer--it adds error-checking to the RAM, which, while nice, is not worth the price premium. (It's also slightly slower, because of the ECC function.) Also, don't bother with fancy RAM that advertises higher speeds and lower latencies--just get DDR400 (i.e. PC3200), which is used on almost all modern systems. (Note--if you can get one of the really new P4s, they may need different RAM. But I doubt that those are within your price range yet.) So my recommendation is 512, though up to 1024 isn't out of line, if you can afford it.

Regarding processors and Hyperthreading:
Intel's P4 "C", "D" and "E" models (the newer ones on the Northwood, Gallatin and Prescott cores), the 3.06 GHz P4 "B" (Northwood), and the newer Xeons (Foster, Prestonia, Gallatin and Nocona) are the only mainstream processors with Hyperthreading (or an equivalent). Don't let that stop you from getting something else, if the price is right. Hyperthreading won't help you with Autocad specifically--it only acts somewhat like a dual-processor machine when the otherwise unused portions of the chip can be devoted to some other operation "in the meantime". For (a simplified) example, if one program needs to use the CPU's floating point unit, but would otherwise saturate the processor, Hyperthreading would allow another program to access the integer unit as if it were on a second processor.
In any case, if shopping P4s, go with a P4 2.6C or better; there's really no advantage to paying more for a new Prescott, due to a lack of optimizations in current software for its new features (SSE3, mainly).
Also, in terms of AMD, look into the Athlon64 line, with particular emphasis on the non-FX models (which are slightly more capable, but unreasonably priced). Any Athlon64 should be fast enough.
Multiple processors are out (in that price range), unless you want a dated Athlon MP (not recommended).

Regarding pre-built systems:
Dell (Small Business section) has a recurring deal, valid only in the US (lucky you...) which offers a Poweredge 400SC server for around $300-$450 (USD), depending on options. This machine is in fact an excellent workstation (or even home PC!), with a motherboard that supports socket 478-based P4s, on an Intel 875 chipset (the most capable one that Intel sells for socket 478 P4s). Unlike most servers, it has AGP capability, and will happily suit your needs. Some warnings, though--be careful customizing options on the Dell site. You may be automatically charged more (so be watchful for a $50 charge for seemingly nothing at all--that's a customization fee, which may or may not be worth it). Don't buy much RAM from Dell--they're expensive. In any event, this motherboard should accept any decent quality non-ECC, non-registered DDR400, in a single or dual channel configuration. (For a slight boost in performance due to dual-channel mode, install matching pairs of memory modules in the appropriate slots, as opposed to one at a time.)
Perhaps the best feature of any major OEM is the warranty (that is, if you're not interested in doing it all yourself). Don't overlook it, especially if the computer isn't for you personally (and someone at school might have to deal with it).
And don't ever, ever buy a Sony. (Way too much money, for mediocre performance, and, in the case of some of their fancier VAIO models, proprietary hardware.)

Pierson
08-11-2004, 11:21 PM
If you want to get a Dell system... You can get a refurbed/rebuilt system from their outlet: http://www.dell.com/outlet/

JoeXIII'007
08-11-2004, 11:31 PM
I'm looking at HP/compaq's site right now, and I think I've found something nice. It has an AMD Athlon XP processor. Question: How has your experience been on AutoCad with that? (That is, if you've used it.)

Tristan Lall
08-12-2004, 12:08 AM
I'm looking at HP/compaq's site right now, and I think I've found something nice. It has an AMD Athlon XP processor. Question: How has your experience been on AutoCad with that? (That is, if you've used it.)You're talking about an Athlon XP (as opposed to Athlon64), which is a previous-generation CPU. While not exactly old, unless there's a really good deal on it, be aware that they're being phased out, effective several months ago.
It will work just fine, though. It's modern enough that it won't "feel" any different from anything else on the market, but it's old enough that you may occasionally notice that it's slower than than a new P4 or A64. (Most of the time, it will "feel" identical.)

Cory
08-12-2004, 12:12 AM
The first system looks pretty nice, but it's got a really bad video card.

It's got 128 MB of RAM, but it's shared, which really sucks.

You're gonna want a good video card for intensive 3D modeling

MikeDubreuil
08-12-2004, 09:32 AM
As a guy who does tech support for money and has built and upgraded a good few PCs, my advice would be to not build a PC unless you want to do it for the sake of doing it. Unless you pirate software, the price advantage is rather slim.


If you're in college check with your Office of Information Technology (computer admins) to see if you can get discount software. My school has a very large Microsoft Campus Agreement where students can get Microsoft software for almost the cost of the media. I have bought Windows XP, Office XP, and Visual Studio .Net all for around $20 from my school.

petek
08-12-2004, 11:52 AM
AutoCAD doesn't require all that much in hardware to run, especially compared with solid modelling programs like Inventor and Pro/E. On Autodesk's site (http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=4005021) they list these minimum specs:
Intel® Pentium® III processor or later, 800 MHz
Microsoft® Windows® XP (Professional, Home Edition, or Tablet PC Edition) or Windows 2000 Professional
256 MB RAM
300 MB free disk space for installation
1024x768 VGA with true color
Mouse, trackball, or compatible pointing device
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0
CD-ROM drive

I'd recommend at least 64 MB OpenGL-capable graphics card. AutoCAD doesn't require OpenGL as far as I know, but you'll need it if you ever want to try a solids package. As others have said, you should have at least 512 MB RAM. If you want to use Inventor, you'll need at least 1 GB for everything to work right. The system requirements for Inventor 9 are here. (http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=4267172)

JAH
08-12-2004, 03:52 PM
Try ecollegepc.com The guy who actually runs it graduated from Purdue about 5 years ago and has had a lot of success with his venture. Prices are good and you can customize everything to your specific needs.

Joe Ross
08-12-2004, 08:12 PM
First of all, does your $750, or $1000 price limit need to include a monitor?

Let me run down the most important things to look for. One thing I
always try to do is get twice the manufacturers recommended specs

RAM: 512 or more, like Jonathan says. Autodesk says at least 256. RAM
is also relatively cheap, so definitely get the 512.

CPU: Unlike Jonathan, I think as long as you get a P4, Athlon 64,
Athlon XP, or Pentium M, you will be just fine. CPU prices go up very
quickly as they get faster and newer, so you can save a lot of money
by looking one generation back (like with the Athlon XP). Just stay
away from Celeron, Duron, or Sempron chips from Intel and AMD, and
CPUs from other manufacturers for Autocad. Autodesk only recommends a
Pentium III 800 MHz, so any modern chip will be at least one
generation newer and twice as fast. This is where you'll save the
money to make your budget.

Video card: ATI or NVIDIA, although for Autocad which uses OpenGL, I
would lean towards NVIDIA. Don't get any other manufacturers. You
don't have the money for an ATI FireGL or Nvidia Quadro video card,
which have drivers made specifically for autocad and would really make
a difference. Autodesk doesn't have a recommended video card, but they
do have a list of features the card should have:
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/ps/item?siteID=123112&id=2998493&linkID=2475323
Luckily, any card made by ATI or NVIDIA in the past 2 or 3 years has
all those features. An ATI 9200 or later or Geforce 5200 or later
should be just fine.

Monitor: Every place I've done any CAD work has always had a 19" or
greater CRT, or a 18" or greater LCD. A large LCD would definitely put
it out of your price range, so look at the 19" CRTs. I've seen new
ones for less then $200 and refurbished ones for less then $100.
Hopefully you already have a monitor, or else you probably won't get
it for less then $750.


I don't think the Poweredge 400SC is the best deal, because although
it starts cheap, you still have to add an OS, video card, etc.


disclaimer: I've never used Autocad for windows, so my
suggestions are based on reading hardware reviews and autodesk's site.
Ask ChrisH if he is happy with the computer I helped him spec out for
Autocad a few years back

JoeXIII'007
08-12-2004, 08:23 PM
First of all, does your $750, or $1000 price limit need to include a monitor?

Definitely.

crazykid234
08-12-2004, 08:49 PM
This PC is $899.99

here (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=1087340590257&skuId=6733458&type=product&cmp=++)

also your local stores like compusa, circuit city and other pc store might have something better... :)

If you wait long enough, the price can get as low as 589.99 for that and a 17" monitor and printer.

JAH
08-12-2004, 09:01 PM
I really do suggest ecollegepc.com I was bored so I priced one out that would suit your needs to get a price, and I got it for $932.

2800+ Athlon 64 CPU Retail Box with Fan
Gigabyte GA-K8VT800 (VIA K8T800, Serial ATA Raid, Sound, LAN 8XAGP)
512MB Ultra-Fast PC3200 DDR400 Memory
512MB Ultra-Fast PC3200 DDR400 Memory*
80GB 7200RPM ATA100
52X Mitsumi CDROM
128MB ATI Radeon 9600SE 8X AGP TV/DVI
Microsoft Windows XP Home
17" .27 DPI White Monitor
350watt Raidmax 228 Black Mid Tower ATX (4 5.25, 4 3.5 bays)
56K V.92 & 10/100 Ethernet Card
Motherboard has onboard sound
1.44 Floppy Drive
Standard White PS2 Keyboard
Standard White Scroll Mouse
Standard 1 year parts and labor

*Thats 2 chips of 512mb, so you're getting 1gb.

Seriously, don't just dismiss it becasue it isn't a huge brand. They have a pretty good deal. And it's a great processor.

Max Lobovsky
08-12-2004, 09:03 PM
If you wait long enough, the price can get as low as 589.99 for that and a 17" monitor and printer.
And if you wait long enough, you can get the Japanese Earth Simulator (fastest super computer in the world) in a PDA for $10 (on eBay). It's almost always pointless to wait to buy technology stuff. Buy it when you need it. It's going to drop in price consistently, but that doesn't mean it makes sense to keep delaying your purchase.

rmmlg
08-13-2004, 05:01 PM
As everyone has been saying, don't go too cheap on the RAM, especially if you go with a P4 or P3. I currently have 640 MB in mine, and Inventor 7 Pro works just fine. A gig would be nicer but 512 wouldn't give you any serious problems. Just don't make the mistake that I did and get one with less than 512, or you will be VERY frustrated.

Matt Reiland
08-14-2004, 10:38 AM
If you want to get a Dell system... You can get a refurbed/rebuilt system from their outlet: http://www.dell.com/outlet/
I would definately second this, my friends and I have all went this route, comes with the same warranty, the case and everything are as clean as new. Usually includes free shipping and ships immediately since it is already built. Add in a refurbed monitor and you are right back in your price range.

When most people think of refurbed they think of some worked over computer that has been on a Best Buy shelf getting smacked by 10,000 people. It has been my luck at Dell that I don't even think mine ever made it out of the box. My coworkers also bought 4 Laptops and had similar experiences.

Venkatesh
08-14-2004, 03:04 PM
I have used AutoCad for Windows, and I learned much about how it demands resources. Autocad doesn't demand very much from the CPU. A Pentium III is quite happy with it. However AutoCad hearts RAM. I'd recommend 512MB RAM for low and medium end work, and more for massive designs. The Athlon XP will be excellent for AutoCad, while the Athlon64 and the Pentium 4 will be even more so. Also, fast hard drives are good, as they speed up everything in general.

The system I had used AutoCAD 2004 on was a Pentium 4 2.0GHz (256K L2), with 512MB of PC800 RDRAM, a GeForce4 Ti4200 128MB, a Seagate Barracuda IV SCSI, and Windows 2000. Not a particularly common type of system, but it was one of the most stable and smooth systems I have ever used. I would never have built such a system as RDRAM was amongst the worst memories ever...

Anyway, if you intend to use this computer just for AutoCAD, then a minimal set of specifications will do just fine. However if you have other tasks you intend to use the system for, you should consider those also. One of the recent HP machines, such as the one linked above, will be excellent for all-round usage.

Good luck drafting.

sanddrag
11-21-2004, 11:33 PM
I was also looking around for a computer for my team. Dell has a lot of fairly nice computers available for fairly good prices, new, on their refurb outlet, and on eBay. The biggest problem is that most of them have integrated graphics and no AGP slot. Bummer.

My PC has an Abit IS7 motherboard with a P4 2.4GHz runing XP Pro. I have 512mb of RAM and a 10,000 rpm SATA HD. I have a Geforce FX5200 for graphics. It runs Inventor (version 5 :() really nice and SolidWorks 2004 (:)) really nice too.

At Cal Poly Pomona, they run SolidWorks 2003 on P3 933s with 256mb of RAM and XP Pro. I'm not sure what the graphics is. It runs alright but I haven't made any large assemblies or anything on it.

NoodleKnight
11-22-2004, 12:43 AM
I run inventor 6 on my dell inspiron 5100 laptop, p4@2.4GHz and only a meager 256 ram. I'd say it runs fine, I don't really mind the lag. I've always had bad experiences with Dell, especially their laptops (their desktops are an improvement), aside from numerous problems with driver conflicts, awkward out-of-the-box configurations, and a bunch of other errors, the whole assembly costed me a hefty amount of money. In my opinion, custom build is the way to go, also check out parts at www.newegg.com, they have pretty low prices and a good selection of computer parts.

sanddrag
11-22-2004, 03:22 PM
Does anyone have any experience using PCI graphics cards? Especially with Inventor? Because say I got a Dell for inventor and there is no AGP slot. Will like a PCI Geforce be good? Does anyone do CADing with integrated graphics (on motherboard)? My old computer with integrated graphics ran inventor fine, but it would not show dimensions in sketches. Is there always wierd stuff like that if you do not have a good graphics card? Thanks.

Last, there has been no talk of the Celeron Processor here. The low cost makes them somewhat attractive. But, I've heard lots of people that say they suck and to avoid them at all costs unless the computer is just for web surfing or something. Has anyone tried inventor or anything on one? I did video editing in Premiere on my old C700.

NoodleKnight
11-22-2004, 06:42 PM
Yeah, my team has toshiba laptops with celeron processors. Mainly, they're cheap (and also disapproved by many) because they don't feel as fast as the listed speed on the package. Inventor takes a very long time to load on one of these laptops, at the least try and get a low-end pentium 4, it'll be worth the extra few dollars.

rmmlg
11-24-2004, 03:53 PM
As for memory, I you shouldn't need more than 512 MB in order to do what you need to do with Inventor or AutoCAD (I have 640 on mine and am far from porblems with either (I'm running Inventor 8 Pro and AutoCAD 2005 (which FIRST just sent us)). Anything less than 512 is asking for trouble, as I found out last year when I became extremely frustrated with my 256MB computer in doing the simplest thigns in Inventor 7.

Cody Carey
03-03-2005, 04:24 PM
The processer can even be as low as 733-900 Mhz, all that you (or I needed for a 3ds Max computer) really need is 1Gig of ram (even as little as 512mb will work), a nice video card, and if you plan on doing any audio/video sinc, a nice video card. I built the following for under $300 and it works fine for max (and unreal tournament 2004) .

pIII 733Mhz (overclocked)
1 Gb of RAM
256 MB Radeon 9600 Video Card AGP
SoundBlaster live 5.1 sound card
dolby 5.1 speakers
3com 10/100 fast ethernet
world connect 10/100 fast ethernet
invidea G-force 128mb video card AGP

now, remember I was on a budget and did most of my shopping on ebay, but I'm sure that if you already have windows XP, you can assemble a comp with a better processor for less than $750.

devicenull
03-05-2005, 08:32 PM
With this comp, you qualify for the free beta of XP Pro 64 bit edition on MS's website. CAD should not have any problems with a 64 bit computer, but I'm not sure.

I just bought a computer very similar to this one for myself, haven't had a chance to test it yet, I'm waiting for my case to arrive.

Rosewill Value Series Black ATX Mid-Tower Super Case with 350W Power Supply, Model "R103A" -RETAIL (http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=11-147-010&depa=0)
ASRock "775V88" VIA PT880 Chipset Motherboard for Intel LGA775 CPU -RETAIL (http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=13-157-039&catalog=23&manufactory=BROWSE)
Intel LGA 775 Pentium 4 630 3.0GHz 800MHz FSB, 2MB L2 Cache Processor w/ Hyper Threading Technology - Retail (http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=19-116-198&catalog=23&manufactory=BROWSE)
2 WINTEC AMPO 184-pin 512MB DDR PC-3200, Model 35145588-P - OEM (http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=20-161-615&catalog=23&manufactory=BROWSE)
Jetway ATI RADEON 9600XT Video Card, 128MB DDR, 128-Bit, DVI/TV-Out, 8X AGP, Model "96XT-AD-128C" -RETAIL (http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=14-153-011&catalog=23&manufactory=BROWSE)
Maxtor 40GB 7200RPM IDE Hard Drive, Model 6E040L0, OEM Drive only (http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=22-140-133&depa=1)
Rosewill BLACK 52X32X52 CDRW Drive, Model RR-521, Retail (http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=27-190-010&depa=1)

Final price for this? $634.34 + shipping
Note: This is without a monitor. I recommend going to a local store to get one, as shipping would be very expensive for one. Its also without a floppy drive.. they aren't used much anymore IMO.
The processor and MB on this are pretty much cutting edge stuff. The computer won't dissapoint you, I think.
This is probably overkill for doing CAD work.. However, you probably wont need to buy another one for awhile.