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RE: Windows XP support ending soon. New computer specs?

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  • RE: Windows XP support ending soon. New computer specs?

    My present computer (Dell Dimension 3000, XP) is on it's 2nd or 3rd re-pop so I've been checking out replacements, especially without support for XP .

    I like Dell and wouldn't mind another, but I'm dizzy from trying to compare offerings!

    I really only use the computer for internet, watching videos, etc. and I might try to learn CAD after I retire, so how much or what size computer do I really need? I use Win 7 Pro at work and 8 doesn't scare me. It's just how many "milli-chunks" and "megaplotz's" one needs that has me crazy.

    Probably looking in the $400-$700 range.
    Len

  • #2
    I am not too well informed, but people ask me this all the time anyway.

    I usually give a soft answer suggesting at least 4 cores and lots of memory. Lots = 4gig or more. The OS uses lots of memory and CAD likes to do as much as possible in memory.

    The quad core allows the OS and virus scanner to do all their background tasks without using ALL the computer's resources. That leaves enough for seamless video processing.

    The other biggie is a good video card. CAD uses the GPU to do a lot of the work, so a good video card (inside or add on) is a big plus.

    Dan
    At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

    Location: SF East Bay.

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    • #3
      I'm a big fan of the intel core processors. Sounds like a Core i5 CPU with 8gb (or more, if you can swing it) of RAM would be right up your alley. Get a decent dedicated GPU (video card). I personally am an nvidia fan - they have a wide range of offerings, mostly geared toward gaming but they have some geared toward drafting workstations too (for your purposes, I imagine either type would be just as good, but I've never used CAD). Spend $100 - $150 on an nvidia or ATI video card and that should fix you up for CAD. There are probably others on here who could give you more specific advice on decent, reasonably priced video cards for CAD.

      Good luck!
      Max
      http://joyofprecision.com/

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      • #4
        I wouldn't get an i5 for a desktop PC. Few support hyperthreading. You're better off saving a few bucks and use the i3. They're faster and even though they have two cores, they support hyperthreading which gives you four threads--Same as the i5.

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        • #5
          I build/repair computers for a side hobby/small income (friends/family type of thing). I am not so much a software guy as more of a hardware guy.

          I will gladly help you if you choose to go the build it yourself route or just want advice on prebuilt.

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          • #6
            I have been using a Dell 6300 laptop (dual core) for 3D CAD and it works quite well. Probably others might work even better, but I find it difficult to see how I would notice, since this one is nice and fast, doing everything it is asked to. it has a good video system, and a display of higher resolution than most any you can buy now.

            We have a monstrosity of a "desktop" at work, a thing bigger than most servers, more of a "floortop" than a "desktop", nearly a yard square. It has at least two big processor modules, a huge power supply, and fans all over it. I have no idea how much memory... Despite all this crazy stuff it isn't really any faster running Solidworks than my laptop is running my CAD program.
            CNC machines only go through the motions

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            • #7
              Hi,

              Just went through this just after Christmas. I picked up an Asus X552E laptop, $350US. Not my first choice, but satisfactory for my similar to your use. It has an AMD quad-core 1.5ghz processor with 4gigs of RAM and Nvidia GPU.

              It came with Win8 and free upgrade to Win 8.1. Which despite the wailing, rending of sackcloth, and smearing of ashes, isn't nearly as bad as made out. Yeah it looks different and some few things are in different places, but the learning curve is really quite shallow. A far more minor learning curve than going from DOS/3.11 to Win95 was.

              I am using DraftSight for 2D CAD and have been working with free Sketchup for 3D when I need it. I have enough horsepower with these specs to get things done. More RAM is always good, but I don't feel underpowered at 4gigs.

              Good Luck!
              Dalee
              If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

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              • #8
                That's another thing about the new Intel processors. Many of them have integrated GPUs and most of the i7 models will smoke a $100-$150 video card. To do better you have to move to a $300-$400 video card. Spend that money on a better i7 and don't skimp on the motherboard either. Buy cheap, get cheap goes with the cliché of you get what you pay for.

                I'm not a gamer. I use my PC for a few business applications, TV tuner/recorder, Word, Excel and the internet. But... I like the snappy response I get from an i7, 8Gb memory and a SSD for the system and programs. Data and backup are on separate HDDs.

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                • #9
                  I use Cad and Sketchup a lot, and have never felt underpowered using recent integrated boards, usually AMD. The real frontier for desktops for non-gamers is quiet and cool. There's integrated micro iTX boards out there that can run fanless or nearly so, and draw maybe 20w. They run off a power brick rather than having a big case power supply, and have graphics, CPU and even wifi and bleutooth built in. I built my own case for a bookshelf Home Theater PC, with an optical drive and full size 2tb 3.5" HD.

                  The front and base are MDF, the cover is 1/16 perfed aluminum.

                  Location: Jersey City NJ USA

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
                    I wouldn't get an i5 for a desktop PC. Few support hyperthreading. You're better off saving a few bucks and use the i3. They're faster and even though they have two cores, they support hyperthreading which gives you four threads--Same as the i5.
                    The lower end i5s have 2 physical cores, with hyperthreading to expose 4 virtualized cores. The higher end ones do not have hyperthreading but that's because they have 4 physical cores (much preferable to 4 hyperthreaded cores). If you step up to the i7s, as you suggest, then you also have 4 physical cores but with hyperthreading there are 8 virtualized cores for the OS to use. The i3s are absolutely not faster than the i5s. I recommend i3s all day long for most laptop users because they run fast and are very power efficient. But for general desktop use, I like the i5s (especially the 4 core).

                    What you mentioned about the newer i7s and the integrated graphics chipsets is a compelling reason for the OP to consider an i7, for sure. I was really skeptical that they had become as good as you claim, but after doing some quick research they look pretty impressive! On par with the geforce 650 apparently - and that's nothing to sniff at.

                    If you can swing it, an i7 and a bunch of memory is really nice to have. My current and last PCs are/were both laptops with i7s and dedicated nvidia GPUs. They're monsters, I love them. I'm a software engineer by trade so I like to have a bunch of "oomph", with some portability... and I usually find an excuse to throw a nice gaming gpu in the mix as well.

                    If the OP compares what he's using now to pretty much anything out there that's in his budget, it will be just a world of difference. You really can't go too wrong.

                    EDIT: CCWKen, what you mention about motherboards can't be overstated, I agree 100%. I'm a big fan of Asus and Gigagabyte motherboards, in particular.
                    Last edited by mars-red; 02-01-2014, 09:56 PM.
                    Max
                    http://joyofprecision.com/

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                    • #11
                      Since we are talking about individual components,, I feel the one single place not to skimp, and its not much more buy high quality, is the power supply unit (PSU).

                      It the one item that touches everything, and ****ty parts that go bad can ruin anything and everything. If you build a computer, spend the extra $50 to buy highly rated/quality PSU's (Seasonic, Corsair, PC Power and Cooling, Antec etc) while each one of the brands may have a dog or 2 in their line up, they tend to have the better quality. And thats not all of the list of course.

                      Just my .02

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                      • #12
                        If you get a new puter and if it comes with Win 8 you can down grade to Win 7 courtesy of Microsoft they had to many complaints about 8.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mars-red View Post
                          The i3s are absolutely not faster than the i5s.
                          I guess Intel specs must be wrong then. The fastest i3 beats the fastest i5. (New Models for Desktops) Granted, this is CPU clock speed only but they're dang fast and shouldn't be overlooked for a budget PC.

                          http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/...select=desktop

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
                            I guess Intel specs must be wrong then. The fastest i3 beats the fastest i5. (New Models for Desktops) Granted, this is CPU clock speed only but they're dang fast and shouldn't be overlooked for a budget PC.

                            http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/...select=desktop
                            Yeah there's a lot more to it than clock speed, and going by that can be downright misleading. Cache and number of physical cores are huge factors. Also don't forget that i5s have what intel calls "Turbo Boost" (silly name) so they will actually run at overclocked speeds in short bursts when demand is high. The i3s, last I knew, did not support that. I'd take a gander at benchmark comparison charts rather than specs, I think you'll find that even though the i3s are great processors, the i5s are faster when you compare apples to apples.
                            Max
                            http://joyofprecision.com/

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                            • #15
                              Thanks to all for the info!

                              Given the vast span of offerings this all helps tremendously though, as mars-red pointed out, virtually anything will be a huge step up.

                              I think my machine is so old it's marked "Made in USA"!
                              Len

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