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Best Workstation PC / Laptop for CAD, Autocad, Solidworks, Revit, Inventor

CG Director Author Alex Glawion  by Alex Glawion   ⋮   ⋮   164 comments
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Best Workstation PC / Laptop for CAD, Autocad, Solidworks, Revit, Inventor

What is the best Computer or Laptop for CAD Software such as Autocad, Solidworks, Inventor or Revit?

What is CAD-Software anyway, and why is it so difficult to find reliable information on what type of Hardware Components you need to build a greatly performing PC for CAD?

Well, let’s dive right in!

What is CAD Software and what is it not?

You might have already read some of our Articles that talk about building the best Computer for DCC (Digital Content Creation) Software such as Cinema 4D, After Effects or for Video Editing and 3D Modeling & Rendering.

The thing is, though many throw all of the 3D-“Modeling” types of Software into the same category, I do not consider Software such as Cinema 4D, Maya, 3DS Max or Blender, CAD Software –

CAD and DCC Software have some fundamental differences, that will also influence what Parts we should pick for our new PC.

The reason CAD and DCC Software have some fundamental differences, that will also influence what Parts we should pick for our new PC.

The main difference between these two types of Application Categories, is that the mentioned DCC Apps are targeted at Content Creation for visual purposes.

They don’t necessarily need high precision but rather should make an Image or Animation look believable or photorealistic, but not mathematically correct.

Because, hey, when I go watch a VFX Movie, that Space ship hovering over the Earth is quite believable, but if it is Mathematically correct and possible, is not really the issue here.

Another important factor in DCC Software such as Cinema 4D or Maya is, that they are mainly based on Polygons and not Curves.

Yes, there are tools that let you create curves and NURBS Objects, but the main work is usually done with polygons.

If you have enough Polygons you can make an object look round and smooth, even though it is actually made up of many small flat faces.

CAD Software though is targeted at mathematically precise Forms of content creation.  If you zoom in on a car that was modeled in Solidworks, it will always be smooth, no matter how close you zoom in. (Sort of like the difference between Vector Software [CAD] and Pixel-based Software [DCC])

Content that simulates real-life properties.

It is of utmost importance that a rocket nozzle on a SpaceX Booster Engine is modeled to an extremely high mathematical precision, otherwise, the Rocket might not last very long after launch.

If it launches at all.

Nurbs vs Polygons - Best PC for CAD

Image-Source: Autodesk

For the sake of this article let’s name the polygon 3D Software Packages “DCC” (Cinema 4D, Maya, 3dsmax, Blender, ..) and the Precision Software Packages “CAD” (Solidworks, Autocad, Revit, Inventor, SolidEdge …).

CAD Software comes in many forms and Brands, some open source, some crazily expensive.

In this Article on building the best PC for CAD Applications, I’ll focus on Autocad, Solidworks, Inventor and Revit, as these are among the most popular CAD Packages you can find.

Of course, lots of the theory and Part Recommendations can also be applied to other CAD Software as they all tend to work very similarly.

How do CAD Apps utilize the Hardware?

Very Similar to 3D Modeling and Rendering in DCC Apps, CAD Software benefits from a high-clocking CPU – for active work.

Active work means, you are sitting in front of your workstation and actively modeling and working on a project.

These I call attended tasks and they require you to interact and be present at all times, otherwise, your project does not progress.

The other type of task is the unattended task. This includes things like Rendering and Simulation caching and other processing tasks.

Unattended tasks run on their own and usually take longer than a few milliseconds to process (often hours or days).

Tasks that take days to process have a higher probability to be targeted by developers earlier in order to make them ready for multi-processing.

And of course, as soon as these tasks can be worked on by multiple cores simultaneously, they can be processed much faster.

Look at this Single VS Multi-Core Performance scaling to get a feel for how more Cores can improve performance in workloads that support multi-threading:

Cinebench Multi-Core Scaling

Image-Source: 3djuego.com

For speeding up tasks that can be parallelized (Rendering, (Most) Simulation, Image Processing ..), you will need the maximum number of Cores and not necessarily a high core clock.

Of course, having both, a high core clock and lots of cores is best, but not always possible.

So to recap:

  • Your Active Work performance requires a high-clocking CPU
  • Parallelizable tasks such as Rendering and Processing need lots of Cores.

Best Hardware for CAD

So let’s apply this to some real Hardware. What parts do we need for a PC anyway and what components make the CAD work we do the fastest:

Best Processor (CPU) for CAD Software

As you can see in these benchmarks that measure the CPU performance in Autocad, Solidworks, Inventor and Revit, the tendency is quite clear.

The higher the IPC a CPU has the better it performs in the respective CAD Software.

IPC - Best Computer for CAD

Image-Source: guru3d.com

IPC (Instructions per Cycle) of course is something that is not openly advertised by the manufacturer, so let’s take the Boost clock as an indicator.

The Turbo Boost Clock of a CPU is probably the closest we can match the IPC indicator of a CPU, with the benefit, that Boost Clocks are advertised on CPUs and this lets us easily buy and compare CPU Performance.

CPUs are clocked at a predefined Base Clock and can automatically overclock a Core or multiple cores to a higher Clock as long as the entire CPU with all its Cores does not exceed certain power or temperature limits.

Cinebench Scores - Laptop for CAD

Image-Source: guru3d.com

Let’s make an example: an Intel i7 8700K CPU has a base clock of 3,6GHz and a Boost Clock of 4,7GHz.

In this specific case the CPU can overclock 1 Core up to 4,7GHz, 2 Cores up to 4,6GHz 3C: 4,5GHz, 2-5C: 4,4GHz and all 6 Cores up to 4,3GHz.

This means, when we work in a Software that currently utilizes only 1 Core of a CPU, this CPU Core can and will most likely run at its advertised maximum Turbo Boost Clock.

The higher the Clock, the better the Performance.

Look at these Inventor Benchmarks of Finite Element Analysis Meshing. High-Core-Clocks with High Turbo-Boost Clocks win all the way (Lower is better):

Best CAD PC - Inventor Benchmark

Image-Source: Autodesk-Forum

Here are some Revit Benchmarks made by Pugetsystems. Again, in Single-Threaded Workloads a High-Core Clock (IPC) wins, in multi-threaded workloads such as Rendering, more Cores win.

Performance relative to an i7 7700K that has 4,5GHz Boost Clock, 4 Cores, 8 Threads

Workstation for CAD - Revit Benchmark

Image-Source: Pugetsystems.com

These Autocad 2D and 3D Performance Benchmarks were taken with the Cadalyst Benchmark Tool and show how high-core-clocks win every time.

Best Computer for CAD - Cadalyst Benchmark Autocad

Image-Source: tomshardware

The 3D Performance Benchmarks too have high-clocking CPUs at the top of the ranking:

Best Computer for CAD - Cadalyst Benchmark Autocad

Image-Source: tomshardware

And one last CPU Benchmark for Solidworks, confirming what we have already seen:

Best Computer for CAD - Solidworks Benchmark

Image-Source: tomshardware

Turbo Boost and IPC are so important because many tasks cannot be parallelized.

Either because the Software’s Codebase is old and hasn’t been updated or optimized (for parallelization) in a long time, or because certain Tasks just can’t be parallelized, because of things like dependencies.

Think about this example concerning dependencies: You are modeling a House in Revit or Sketchup and have your Scene nicely optimized in a non-destructive Hierarchical structure.

It looks a bit like this:

  • House Wall Extrusion
    • Room1
      • Window Boolean
        • Edge Bevel
          • screw Booleans on Edge Bevel

Now we will thicken the House Wall Extrusion a bit.

We have 5 different Objects and would think that having a CPU with (in this case) 5 Cores would speed up the thickening of the House Wall Extrusion, because every core can work on one object, right?

Best PC for SketchUp

Image-Credit: Sketchup Help

Wouldn’t that speed things up nicely?

It would, but unfortunately, because the Objects dependent on each other as they are in a hierarchical chain, the CPU will have to start stepping through from the topmost Hierarchical Element first and then move towards the deeper Elements of the hierarchy.

There is no way the “screw Booleans” can already be calculated before the Edge Bevel has been finished processing and so on. Because of dependencies.

A single CPU-Core will have to work through the entire hierarchy chain by itself.

A single CPU will have to first calculate the thicker Wall Extrusion, after that it can calculate the Window Boolean, then the Edge Bevel on The Window Boolean, then the Edge Bevel on that Window Boolean Edge, and only after all of these have been stepped through can the CPU calculate the screw Booleans that are in the Edge Bevel.

And this is an example which is quite simple, made for easy understanding. What usually goes on inside a CAD Software is much more complex.

So long story short: We need a high clocking CPU, that optimally has a nice Boost Clock on one or more cores, to be able to actively work as fast as possible with a responsive and snappy Viewport in CAD Applications.

Here are the currently highest clocking CPUs which will bring the most performance to your active work:

  • Intel i9 10900K – 3.7 GHz base, 5.3 GHz Turbo Clock
  • Intel i7 10700K – 3.8 GHz base, 5.1 GHz Turbo Clock
  • Intel i9 9900K – 3.6 GHz base, 5.0 GHz Turbo Clock
  • Intel i7 9700K – 3.6 GHz base,4.9 GHz Turbo Clock
  • AMD Ryzen 9 3950X – 3.5 GHz base, 4.7 GHz Turbo Clock
  • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X – 3.8 GHz base, 4.6 GHz Turbo Clock
  • AMD Ryzen 7 3800X – 3.9 GHz base, 4.5 GHz Turbo Clock
  • AMD Ryzen 7 3700X – 3.6 GHz base, 4.4 GHz Turbo Clock

These are all high-clocking CPUs that will give you a smooth working experience within your CAD Application.

What about Xeon or other “professional” CPUs?

What’s the deal with Xeon? It seems to be recommended very often on CAD Software Manufacturers Sites, so it should perform well, shouldn’t it?

Well, the thing with Xeon is, you usually trade Software and Driver certification, official Support and a high Price for Performance.

Intel Xeons are a lot pricier than the CPUs I listed above, their clocks are lower, IPC is lower & the Turbo Boost Clocks are lower.

BUT, Xeons have ECC Memory Support (Error Correcting memory) that can in very rare cases make your CAD Software a bit more stable.

Also, often times expensive CAD Software Manufacturers only offer support when you actually have a Xeons (that they recommend and then, of course, should also support) and not a mainstream or High-End-Desktop CPU.

So if you absolutely need reliability and need immediate support for your systems, then you would have to go the Xeon Route for many of the top tier CAD Apps out there.

Then again, if you value performance over reliability and can support yourself by googling or asking in forums, you should be getting a performance CPU as mentioned above, such as the Intel i7, i9 or AMD Ryzen / Threadripper CPUs.

Best Graphics Card for CAD Software

Let’s clear up this Quadro vs. Geforce debate once and for all.

The Benchmarks will support my writing: The Geforce GTX or RTX Cards are faster in almost all CAD Benchmarks. Autocad, Inventor, Solidworks, Revit you name it.

BUT, professional GPUs such as Nvidia’s Quadro Cards have other things to offer.

They have different Drivers than their mainstream counterparts which enable some features in various CAD apps. Take Solidworks for example: It has a feature called RealView, which is only supported on Pro-GPUs.

Also, the question of Official Vendor Support should not be neglected.

Many CAD Application Vendors only offer (good) support if you use Hardware that has been certified by them, and this certified Hardware consists of mostly Professional-Tier Components like Nvidia’s Quadro Series or AMD Radeon Pro GPUs.

Ask yourself, do you need specific features (e.g. in Solidworks) that are only supported on Pro-GPUs or do you need official vendor support?

If it’s just your own Workstation you have to worry about and you can troubleshoot on your own and want the fastest experience possible and would like to save some money (because Pro-GPUs are so much more expensive) go with a Geforce GTX or RTX GPU, or an AMD Mainstream GPU.

An Nvidia RTX 2080Ti leads in performance against most Pro-GPUs in many Benchmarks, and costs less.

Quadro Benchmark CAD Computer

Image-Source: gamersnexus.comThat said, Solidworks is a bit of a special case: It does benefit from Quadro cards. It seems this software has been well optimized to make use of the additional Features that Nvidia Quadros have to offer (Or mainstream GPUs have been artificially crippled…).

If you do want to go with a quadro, these Benchmarks by Pugetsystems will show you the performance of current GPUs:

Solidworks Quadro GPU Benchmark Performance

Image-Credit: Pugetsystems

Now that we have the most controversial Parts of a CAD Computer out of the way lets move on to some standards:

Best Mainboard for CAD Applications

Different Mainboards won’t influence your performance all that much, but you should make sure the Motherboard you are buying supports all the features you need and matches the Hardware that you are going to plug into it.

Of course, you should match the Mainboard Socket to the CPU you chose earlier. Get an LGA 1151 Mainboard for an Intel Core i9 10900K (or similar) CPU, and an AM4 Mainboard for a Ryzen 3900X CPU.

MSI MEG X570 Unify Hero

Image-Credit: MSI

Other features you should look out for might be the amount of PCIe-Slots that you can plug Graphics Cards into, the amount of USB connectors, the amount of supported RAM Modules and RAM Slots as well as the number of Storage Devices such as M.2 Slots you have available to use.

For the Intel i9 9900K, that I currently recommend highly for CAD Apps, you will need an LGA 1151 v2 Mainboard such as the ASUS Prime Z390-A ATX 1151.

Do give our Motherboard Guides a quick read, if you are having trouble picking a suitable motherboard. We have a Motherboard Guide for Intel CPUs and AMD CPUs.

Best RAM (Memory) for CAD Software

CAD Work is very similar to working in 3D Applications like Cinema 4D or Maya.

The amount of RAM needed depends very much on how complex your projects and assemblies are and how many you have opened at the same time.

Also, if you tend to have multiple RAM-hungry Applications opened at the same time, you should make sure you have lots of RAM.

Running Windows 10, for example, and having Chrome, a Mail Program, some other DCC Software like Photoshop and Illustrator and a Word-Processing App open at the same time in addition to your CAD Software will surely eat away at your RAM much more than when you have only one App open at a time.

But it is ease of use that we are looking for, and closing down other Applications just so we can use our CAD Software is not efficient.

For lighter CAD work you should be looking to buy at least 16GB of RAM.

With more complex assemblies or when you are using multiple Apps at the same time, you should be leaning towards 32GB or even 64GB of RAM.

Corsair RAM for Computer for CAD Applications

Image-Source: Corsair

For Mainstream or HEDT CPUs such as the Intel i7, i9 or Ryzen / Threadripper CPUs, I recommend the Corsair Vengenace LPX DDR4 RAM that comes in all sorts of Memory capacities.

Memory Clock Speed can influence your CPU’s performance and it is advised to aim for RAM clocked at 3200Mhz or higher.

Best SSD / HDD / Storage for CAD Work

Assemblies and other Project Files can get quite big, especially on complex projects, and you will be happy to have enough space to keep the entire projects saved in multiple revisions as well as a fast drive to read and write the Data from and to the storage Device.

The currently best type of storage Device for a lot of PC-Users, including CAD purposes, are the NVME M.2 SSDs.

This stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express M.2 (the form factor) Solid State Drive and basically is an SSD that has been further developed to

  1. be smaller
  2. use a faster interface and
  3. be much faster in reading and writing data.

samsung_970_evo

An NVME SSD you can plug into the motherboard without needing any cables. It is smaller than a candy bar and about 5 times as fast as a regular SATA SSD and even about 25x faster than a mechanical HDD.

I recommend getting a Samsung 970 EVO M.2 SSD that come in different sizes.

Of course, NVME Drives are somewhat more expensive than HDDs or SATA SSDs and the best plan usually is to get both.

A smaller NVME SSD for active projects, apps, and the OS. And a large HDD for Backup and Archiving.

Best Case for CAD Work

The Computer-Case, of course, will not influence the performance of your CAD Build in any way. Well maybe in terms of air-flow, but that can usually be neglected as CAD Work tends not to make your CPU or GPU overheat all that fast.

There are lots of Cases out there in all kinds of Colors, Sizes and from all kinds of Brands.

There is not much you can do wrong here. Be sure to get a big enough case for your components, usually ATX Midi-Tower or bigger.

A nice Case that I keep coming back to is the be quiet! Silent Base 601 orange, as it looks professional and has some noise dampening features that will make your best Computer for CAD quieter.

bequiet PC Case 601

Image-Source: be quiet

Best PSU for CAD

The Power Supply Unit should have enough Wattage to be able to Power your Components.

If you are unsure as to how much Watt your selected Components actually need, check out this easy to use Wattage-Calculator over on bequiet’s Website.

Some reliable Brands to look out for are Corsair, beQuiet, and Seasonic that I have all been able to successfully use and test for quite some while now.

It is wise to get a somewhat stronger than needed PSU in case you upgrade your Computer in the future either with added hardware components or with new components all-together.

That way you can keep your PSU across different builds for several more years, as PSUs usually don’t go out of date and are always compatible with Hardware in the years to come.

For the Build that we are putting together in this Article, Intel i9 9900K, Asus Z390-A Mainboard, 32GB RAM, Samsung 970 EVO SSD, I’d recommend a 650 Watt PSU (or higher) such as the Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 650W ATX 2.4, but there are lots of others that you might prefer.

Finished PC Builds

That’s about it for the Main Hardware Components needed for a great Computer for CAD Work!

Let’s take a look at some finished Builds at different price points, that will work well with CAD Apps such as Autocad, Solidworks, Inventor, Revit and lots of others.

Keep in mind, that these are Performance builds and not Reliability/Support Builds. If you are responsible for CAD Computers at a large Company you might want to trade performance for reliability and support, but that, of course, is up to you.

Performance Builds: Best Computers for CAD

Best Performance Computer for CAD, AMD ~700$

PCPartPicker part list

Some Build notes:

If you are experienced enough to do a BIOS upgrade you should consider the AMD Ryzen 2600 that will work on this board with a BIOS upgrade. If you still want a second Generation Ryzen CPU but don’t want to flash your BIOS, go with a 400 Series Chipset that supports these already.

Consider upgrading to an Nvidia GTX 1060, if you can spare some more cash.

Best Performance Computer for CAD, AMD ~1500$

PCPartPicker part list

Some Build notes:

This is a basic AMD build that you can build upon. The Case is professional looking, minimalistic and quiet. There is no room for Optical drives, you will need a different Case if you want to have DVD/CD Drives.

The AMD Ryzen 2700X is the fastest of the second Generation Ryzen CPUs with excellent Multi-Core and good Single Core performance. All AMD Ryzen CPUs usually come with included CPU coolers, so no extra Cooler needed here.

I added a Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe Drive in this build that will give you extreme Storage Performance. The Asus Turbo Series GPUs are Blower-Style GPUs, meaning you can stack them on top of each other in Multi-GPU Builds, without loosing too much Cooling performance.

Best Performance Computer for CAD, Intel ~1900$

Some Build notes: This is a basic build that you can build upon. The Case is professional looking, minimalistic and quiet. There is no room for Optical drives, you will need a different Case if you want to have DVD/CD Drives.

The Intel CPUs need additional CPU Coolers, so I added an excellent CPU Air Cooler from BeQuiet here. Air Coolers are usually quieter than AIO or Water Cooling solutions, as they only have one Fan. If you are planning on some more extreme overclocking, you might want to consider getting a different CPU cooling solution though.

Reliability Build: Best Computer for CAD

Best reliability Computer for CAD, Intel XEON / Nvidia Quadro ~6350$

  • CPU: Intel Xeon W-2145, 8x 3.70GHz
  • CPU-Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4
  • Motherboard: ASUS WS C422 Pro/SE
  • Memory: 2x (or 4x) Kingston Server Premier DIMM 16GB, DDR4-2666, CL19-19-19, reg ECC (KSM26RS4/16HAI)
  • Storage: Samsung – 970 Evo 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
  • GPU: PNY Quadro P6000, 24GB GDDR5X, DVI, 4x DP
  • Case: Fractal Design Define S – ATX Midi Tower
  • Power Supply: Corsair Professional Series Platinum AX760 760W

This is an excellent Reliability / Durability / Stability Computer for CAD Applications with the potential of being granted Support from more picky Software Manufacturers. The Xeon gets you ECC RAM Support and the Quadro offers Drivers with additional Features in many CAD Apps as well as 10bit Monitor Color output. The price tag sure is hefty, but that is what you pay nowadays for reliability.

Custom PC-Builder Tool

Head on over to the Web-Based CGDirector Custom PC-Builder Tool that lets you configure your Computer at custom price points for all kinds of purposes. It suggests parts that work well together and gets the maximum performance out of your budget.

CGDirector PC-Builder Tool

PC-Builder Facebook Title Image

Build your own Computer

Assembling your Computer yourself has many benefits. It is much cheaper to buy the individual hardware Components and assemble them on your own. It is lot’s of fun, it’s easy and you learn a lot.

With that knowledge, you might be able to troubleshoot any problems that might arise later on yourself, without having to bring your Computer back to a shop to have it fixed.

You can upgrade yourself when newer and faster hardware is available and you learn a lot about how computers work, which is always great to know!

Start by taking a look at what parts you need for building your own Computer. After that, here is an easy to follow Video Tutorial on how to build/assemble your own Computer:

Best Laptops for CAD Software such as Autocad, Solidworks, Inventor, Revit and more

So what about Laptops? We have been talking about Desktop Computers all this time but fortunately, everything we discussed above can also be applied to a Laptop.

The Theory behind what is important to create a greatly performing Laptop for CAD Work is the same as in desktop Computers for CAD.

We will need a high-clocking CPU, a GTX or RTX GPU, 16-32GB of RAM and a fast M.2 SSD.

In Laptops, as the Hardware components are usually supposed to draw much less power the components will not reach the performance of Desktop Computer Parts.

But that is to be expected from such a small enclosure. In a Laptop, you get the benefit of Mobility but trade it for performance.

In Laptops too, we will differentiate between performance vs reliability/support, as both the Xeon CPUs and the Quadro GPUs are available for Laptops.

Best Performance Laptop for CAD Software

If it’s Performance you are after, you will want to lean towards a high-clocking CPU and a higher-end GPU such as the GTX 1070 as you will find in the following Laptop:

The GIGABYTE Aero 15X v8-BK4 15″ Ultra Slim Laptop.

Best Laptop for Animation - Gigabyte

Image-Source: techspot.com

The Specifications on this Gigabyte Laptop are:

  • CPU: i7-8750H
  • GPU: GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB of VRAM
  • RAM: 16GB RAM
  • SSD: 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Win 10 Home
  • 15,6″ IPS Screen with a FullHD Resolution

Check the current Price here.

Some notes on this Laptop:

This Gigabyte Laptop has the “Gaming” branding in its Title. This can be misleading to many looking for a workstation Laptop.

The reason Laptops are often-times advertised as Gaming-Laptops is because of the strong Graphics Card. The Area of 3D and CAD is not big enough to have its own branding name. This Laptop though will be excellent for CAD work as well because we need a strong GPU for CAD.

It even has a higher Tier Graphics Card, the Nvidia 1070 GTX with 8 GB of VRAM. It weighs just slightly over 2KG.

Two more great choices with similar Hardware are the Asus GX531GS (Zephyrus S) and the Raze Blade 15.

Best Reliability / Support / Stability Laptop for CAD Software

The Lenovo ThinkPad P52 (2018) 15.6″ Business Laptop.

Best Laptop for CAD Work - Lenovo P52

Image-Source: Lenovo

The Specifications on this Gigabyte Laptop are:

  • CPU: Xeon E-2176
  • GPU: Quadro P2000 (4GB)
  • RAM: 16GB RAM
  • SSD: 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Win 10 Pro
  • 15,6″ IPS Screen with a FullHD Resolution

Check the current Price here.

Some notes on this Laptop:

The Lenovo ThinkPad P52 has a 6-Core Intel Xeon CPU that boosts up to 4.4GHz. With 16GB of Ram, an Nvidia Quadro P2000 GPU and a PCIe-M.2 SSD you will get the Reliability Workstation Experience inside a mobile Form factor.

That’s about it! What Computer or Laptop for CAD are you thinking of buying?

Alex Glawion - post author

Hi, I’m Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist, Motion Designer and Compositor.

I’ve built a multitude of Computers, Workstations and Renderfarms and love to optimize them as much as possible.

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I’ll do my best to help out!

164
Comments

Giannis

Hello, first of all I really like your content.
I’m an architect and I mainly use autocad, rhino 6, 3ds max, vray, photoshop etc.
I just made a pc build with Ryzen 9 3900X, 32gb of ram and I use my old gpu gtx 970.
I want a suggestion about an upgrade for my gpu. I don’t care about gaming. I’m looking for a gpu as cheap as possible without having bottleneck with my cpu.
Thanks

Ryan

Hi,
I cannot find the Asus PRIME Z390-A in stock anywhere, could you suggest a good alternative for an Intel Core i9-9900K?

harl joseph

hi alex
i love your site and i like the way you write easy to understand articles keep it up man
i need your recommendation for a cad build
my budget right now is $1200 but can stretch it to $1300 max
your help is much appreciated
harl joseph

Hey Harl Joseph,

Thanks for the comment and thank you for the kind words!

I suggest you max your budget out to $1,300 so you can get slightly better components and make your build a little more future-proof. Here’s what you can get for that amount of money:

Parts List:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 3.9GHz 8-Core Processor ($328.98)
CPU Cooler: AMD Wraith Prism Cooler (Included with CPU) (-)
Motherboard: MSI MPG x570 Gaming Plus ATX AM4 ($169.99)
GPU: EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 Super SC Black Gaming ($399.99)
Memory: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($149.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: WD Black 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($119.99)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($69.99)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 200R ATX Mid Tower Case ($74.99)

The cost went slightly over-budget at around $1,313.92‬ but I don’t think you’d mind because you get twice the amount of RAM and twice the storage space as opposed to what you’d get if we keep your budget below $1,300. But more importantly, you can expect a great performance from this build, thanks largely to its Ryzen 7 3800X CPU and 32GB of RAM. All in all, this build delivers the performance you need without putting too much of a dent on your budget.

Cheers,
Alex

Stanolz

Hello Alex,
Thank you for providing such a great article.
I am trying to build a PC that will help me with Autocad , Solidworks, Chemical Engineering softwares like ChemCAD, HYSY, ANSYS etc..
I started my build with AMD Ryzen 9 3900X , 32 GB Corsair vengeance Ram, Samsung 970 Plus Evo 500 GB SSD, NHD15 for CPU cooling but I am stuck with what GPU, motherboard and PSU would be the best for me.

More information: I was looking at NVIDIA Quadro P2000 GPU and I can afford that so do you think this is a good combination, or there is something better out there, or maybe downgrading my cpu and spending a bit more in GPU.
My budget is around £1700. Could go to £2000 if it can make performance boost.

Bharat K

can you suggest me a good laptop for cad wiht budget 1500$ thanks

Hey Bharat K,

Thanks for asking!

With your budget, I suggest that you consider the Dell G5 5590 Gaming Laptop priced at around $1,489.99. Below are its specs:

CPU Intel Core i7-9750H 2.60GHz 6-Core Processor
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
Memory(RAM) 32GB DDR4 RAM
SSD 1TB NVMe Solid State Drive
HDD –
Weight ~6.27 pounds
Display 15.6″, 1920×1080

The Dell G5 5590 may be marketed as a gaming laptop but you can be assured it has more than enough power to handle your CAD tasks. Thanks to its i7-9750H CPU and 32GB of RAM, the Dell G5 5590 can be expected to deliver task responsiveness when you’re actively working inside the software. The 1TB NVMe SSD also adds to the laptop’s snap factor while the RTX 2060 graphics card has got GPU rendering (in case you need to do this) covered. All in all, the Dell G5 5590 Gaming Laptop is just unbeatable for its price.

Cheers,
Alex

Chris

Hi Alex. I just read your article. It was awesome. I really enjoyed it.

I’m an engineering instructor. I’m looking for a laptop with that can run SolidWorks efficiently that also has touchscreen capabilities.

I give my students feedback on their engineering plans, thus, having the ability to write on the screen and make annotations on their work is critical for continued academic growth.

A laptop that folds like a tablet would be preferable.

Any suggestions on a make/model? I have a 4-5k budget. I wholeheartedly appreciate any support.

Hope all is well.

Stay safe.

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the comment and I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the article!

If you have to have a laptop that folds like a tablet, the best I can recommend is the HP Zbook Studio X360 G5 6EH95UT priced at around $2,582.79. Below are its specs:

CPU Intel Core I7-8750H Processor
Graphics Card NVIDIA Quadro P2000
Memory(RAM) 16GB DDR4-2666
SSD 512GB Solid State Drive
HDD –
Display 15.6″, 1920×1080

The laptop’s i7-8750H CPU and 16GB of RAM will deliver a more than decent performance when you’re actively working inside the software while the 512GB SSD will help speed things up a bit. More importantly, this is a 2-in1 laptop with a 15.6-inch touchscreen IPS display that can be folded back like a tablet. Let me know if this works for you.

If you want to see other options, I suggest that you check the site’s PC Builder Tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/. Just choose Laptop, select 3D CAD Applications, and input your budget using the Slider and the tool will give you the best laptop recommendations.

Cheers,
Alex

Clint De Luna

hello,
i’m an archi student in college
can you help me with a build for CAD
i have around $1000 saved up is that good enough?
please help thank you

Hey Clint,

Thanks for asking!

For your budget, you can get a CAD-centric build like the below:

Parts List:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X 3.8GHz 6-Core Processor ($204.99)
CPU Cooler: AMD Wraith Spire Cooler (Included with CPU) (-)
Motherboard: MSI MPG x570 Gaming Plus ATX AM4 ($169.99)
GPU: GIGABYTE Geforce RTX 2060 OC ($309.99)
Memory: 16GB (2 x 8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($74.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: WD Black 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($79.99)
Power Supply: EVGA 650 GQ 210-GQ-0650-V1 80+ GOLD 650W Power Supply ($109.99)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 200R ATX Mid Tower Case ($70.25)

The total cost of the build comes up to around $1,020.19 and it’s a little over your budget but I’m sure you won’t mind because once you compete this build, you can expect it to perform decently when you’re doing your CAD tasks.

For other options or if you want to increase your budget, you can check out the site’s PC Builder Tool. Just input your budget and choose the most appropriate use case and the tool will give you the best recommendations based on your budget. You can find the tool here: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/

Cheers,
Alex

Foti

Hello Alex

Main use for the desktop, archicad,rhino, grasshopper with 3d rendering. Any heavy final 3d presentations will be outsourced, I don’t have the time for those, but will provide basic renders from twinmotion and some light post production with adobe Ps,Ae,Ai,Id. I was thinking of the surface studio2 with the 32gb ram. thought? And that is price area of my budget.
I was looking at razer studio, it would sit on my desk 99% of the time.

Thanks

Hi Foti,

Thanks for dropping a line!

The Microsoft Surface Studio 2, especially if you bump up the RAM to 32GB, is a good option given its AIO (all-in-one) design. However, at its price of $3,999.99, it’s underpowered for the amount of money you are paying for it. It comes with an older 7th gen i7-7820HQ CPU (released back in Q1 of 2017) and an older GTX 1070 graphics card. For that amount of money, you can build a PC from the ground up, include a monitor with excellent colour accuracy, and still save a couple of hundred dollars in the process.

Here’s a maxed-out build for your use case:

CGDirector.com Parts List: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=Db1Gf0i0jfb

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 3.5GHz 16-Core Processor ($719.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 AM4 ($89.90)
Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite ATX AM4 ($329.60)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2080 TI 11GB – MSI Gaming X ($1249.00)
Memory: 64GB (4 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($329.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($229.99)
Power Supply: Corsair RMx Series Platinum RM850x 850W Power Supply ($127.21)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 275Q ATX Mid Tower Case ($101.00)

The total cost of the build runs up to $3176.68 but this all-rounder build is maxed out and you can expect excellent performance from this build for your use case. It also has the latest components that makes your build more future-proof. Throw in a Dell UltraSharp 27 UP2716D, a 27-inch IPS display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 and excellent colour accuracy with its 100% Adobe RGB and sRGB coverage, priced at around $499.00 and you’re good to go. The best part? You get a high performance build and a display with excellent colour accuracy and still have around $300 or so left for your other peripherals.

Cheers,
Alex

foti

Thanks Alex, I will go down the road, just never built one and kinda daunting for the moment. I guess the razer and MS was just a plug and play options for me. But you are right, I will try and will see about a benq monitor. Thanks again

Cynthia

i take up archi in college and i need a reliable laptop for cad purposes
i dont have a lot of money and the maximum i am wiling to spend is $1k
i know it’s not a lot but it appreciate it if you can give me suggestions

Hey Cynthia,

Thanks for asking!

There are a couple of laptops in the $700-$800 price range but these are rather underpowered for your use case scenario. I have one in mind but this is a little over your budget – it’s the HP Pavilion 15-dk0045cl Premium Gaming Laptop priced at around $1,099. Below are its specs:

CPU Intel Core i7-9750H 6-Core Processor
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
Memory(RAM) 16GB DDR4-2666
SSD 128GB Solid State Drive
HDD 1TB Hard Disk Drive
Weight ~4.92 pounds
Display 15.6″, 1920×1080

As mentioned, the HP Pavilion 15-dk0045cl Premium Gaming Laptop will set you back $1,099 but it does come with an i7-9750H CPU and 16GB of RAM which will give you a snappy active work experience. It also comes with two (2) storage options – a 128GB SSD where your OS and commonly-used programs and applications will be installed and a 1TB HDD for your other files. The HP Pavilion 15-dk0045cl Premium Gaming Laptop may be priced a little bit over your budget but you can be sure it’s well worth it.

Cheers,
Alex

Sean Taylor

Hi Alex,

I love this site man it’s just so full of helpful information keep it up

I need your help I want to build a desktop so i can learn CAD but i don’t know where to start

I want a ryzen processor because i heard that it’s easier to upgrade

What do you suggest?

Thanks man

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

Hey Sean,
This of course depends entirely on your budget as you can build a PC for almost any kind of budget. Here’s a starting Build for 1500$ which will already perform really great.

CGDirector.com Parts List: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=zq1Dk0b0jia

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 3.9GHz 8-Core Processor ($339.99)
CPU Cooler: AMD Wraith Prism Cooler (Included with CPU) (-)
Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite ATX AM4 ($199.99)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2060 SUPER 8GB – MSI Gaming X ($488.52)
Memory: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 CL15 ($149.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($99.99)
Power Supply: Corsair RMx Series RM650x 650W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($119.99)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 200R ATX Mid Tower Case ($74.99)
Total: $1473.46

Hope this helps as a start.

Cheers,
Alex