Computer purchase recommendations

Choosing the right computer system to run CAD and more. January 3, 2001

I am looking to purchase a new computer system capable of running AutoCad R14, CabinetVision, Excell, IE, and eventually to link to CNC and allow me to develop and maintain my web site. I am at a loss after getting conflicting information from computer sales people. Specifically, what processor, how much memory and do I need a video card?

Forum Responses
I would recommend a Dell. Get 128 MB of ram and all the processor that you can afford (733 p111). Make sure you’ve got a 19” or 21” monitor.

There are usually some decent reviews of hardware like this in Cadence Magazine. If you use ACAD, I would strongly suggest you get a subscription.

I would get all the processor you can afford. The amount of ram you’ll need is dependant upon your operating system, and whether you're networked or not. I would think 128 MB at the very least. Video cards are a personal preference. Check out some of the gaming sites--most likely, if the gamers like them, they work nicely with CAD. Most of the manufacturers have prepackaged CAD workstations, that have decent setups, i.e., Dell, Micron, Gateway, etc.

Brian Personett, forum technical advisor

You certainly can't go wrong with a Dell, but with the wide variety of uses you have planned, it may be wise to consider more than one computer. You can do all of those tasks from one machine, but if your hard drive, motherboard, operating system, etc., happens to go down (and at least one of those eventually will), you will be up that proverbial creek.

I have four different computers. I don't actually need all four, but each is configured for specific applications, along with some ability for backing up another in case of the inevitable. Luckily, it's quite easy to purchase serviceable used computers at rock bottom prices these days, so you may come out better price-wise to go that route.

I get a local guy to build all of our computers. In most cases they handle setting up and maintaining the networks, the whole deal. I tell them what I want and they take care of it. If there is a problem I call them. I realize that I am paying a little more for the box, but my concern is the service. I'm a cabinetmaker, not a computer geek. I honestly have not even priced a computer anywhere else since 1989.

Brian Personett, forum technical advisor

I am an Engineer and the Corporate MIS Manager for a multi-location manufacturer in the US. We run CNCs and other equipment from a variety of platforms (mostly Windows).

If you have some experience with computers, mail-order a unit. We have had very good results with Dell machines, but they are not flawless. If money is a big concern, consider an HP from Microwarehouse.

As for monitors, do not buy a generic one, regardless of price. I consider ViewSonic brand to be the best value.

I bought a reconditioned 21" Dell Ultrascan direct from Dell over 18 months ago. Paid 1100 bucks for it and it is still running gangbusters. I am sure they are now in the mid-hundred range.