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

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex   ⋮   ⋮   104 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, Revit or many others?

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 the Articles on this blog that talk about building the best Computers for DCC (Digital Content Creation) Software such as Cinema 4D, After Effects or for Video Editing and 3D Modeling & Rendering.

The thing is though, I do not consider Software such as Cinema 4D, Maya, 3DS Max or Blender, CAD Software.

The reason is, that the mentioned Apps are targeted at Content Creation for visual purposes that 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 am sitting in the Movie Theaters and watching 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 Softwares such as Cinema 4D, Maya and the like 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 that at a certain Polygon resolution suffice for making an object believable and smooth.

Image-Source: AutodeskCAD Software though is targeted at mathematically precise Forms of content creation.

Content that simulates real-life properties. It is of utmost importance that e.g. 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 Softwares “DCC” and the Precision Softwares “CAD”.

CAD Softwares come in many forms and Brands, some open source, some whoppingly expensive.

In this Article on building the best PC for CAD Applications, I’ll focus on Autocad, Solidworks, Inventor, and Revit, as these are some of the most popular ones out there.

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 relies on high clocking Hardware, especially in the CPU and GPU for active work.

Active work meaning, 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.

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

Tasks that take days to process have a high probability to be targeted by developers earlier for making them ready for multi-processing. And of course, as soon as they are possible to be worked on by multiple cores, 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 multi-threaded workloads:

Cinebench Multi-Core Scaling

Image-Source: 3djuego.com

For these type of tasks, 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 and snappiness performance require a high-clocking CPU and GPU, whereas parallelizable tasks such as Rendering and Processing needs 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 a power or temperature limit.

Cinebench Scores - Laptop for CAD

Image-Source: guru3d.com

In the above Cinebench Benchmark, the single-core performance was measured at the maximum possible clocks the CPU will automatically clock at.

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 probably run at its advertised max 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.com. Again, in Single-Thread 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

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 a Software’s Code is old and hasn’t been updated or optimized 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 and have your Scene nicely optimized in Hierarchical Categories.

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?

Wouldn’t that speed things up nicely?

It would, but unfortunately, because the Objects are dependent on each other as they are in a hierarchical chain, The CPU will have to step through the top-most Hierarchie first and then move on to the lower ones.

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 quite a simple example 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 work as fast as possible with a responsive and snappy Viewport in CAD Applications.

Only considering IPC and Core-Clocks, the currently best CPU for CAD Apps when actively working on projects is the Intel i9 9900K which Turbo Boosts up to 5GHz on one Core.

Some more great runner ups are:

  • AMD Threadripper 1900X
  • AMD Ryzen 2700X
  • Intel i7 8700K, 8086K
  • Intel i9 9900X
  • Intel i7 7740X

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

What about Xeon?

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 Reliability, Durability & Support and a high Price for Performance.

Intel Xeons are a lot pricier than i7 or i9 CPUs (or AMD CPUs of course for that matter), 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 some cases make your CAD Software a bit more stable.

Also, often times expensive CAD Software Manufacturers only offer support when you actually have a XEON (that they recommend and then, of course, should also support) and not a mainstream or HEDT 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 = special case), Revit you name it.

BUT, again, as with CPUs, the Quadro Cards have other things to offer.

They have different Drivers than their Mainstream counterparts that enable some features in various CAD apps and also offer 10Bit Color support for your Monitors.

Also, again, the question of Support is not to be neglected.

Many CAD Application Manufacturers only offer (good) support if you have Hardware that matches their Hardware Recommendations, and that is usually Xeon + Quadro or an AMD Radeon Pro WX counterpart.

Ask yourself, do you value stability and professional support over performance, go with a Quadro / WX.

If it’s just your own Workstation you have to worry about and you can help yourself and want the fastest experience possible and would like to save some money (because Quadros are so much more expensive) go with a Geforce GTX or RTX GPU.

As seen in the Benchmarks, an Nvidia RTX 2080Ti is on top of the charts pretty much everywhere but followed closely by some lower-tier cards such as the 2080 RTX and 2070 RTX.

Quadro Benchmark CAD Computer

Image-Source: Pugetsystems.com

Even High-End Cards such as the Quadro P6000 that cost about 4000$ can’t compete with a 1200$ RTX 2080Ti in AutoCAD.

Quadro Benchmark CAD Computer

Image-Source: gamersnexus.com

That said, Solidworks does benefit vom Quadro cards very much. It seems this software has been well optimized to make use of the additional Features that Nvidia Quadros have to offer. Take a look at these recent Benchmarks here by Pugetsystems:

Solidworks GPU Performance

Image-Source: Pugetsystems

Even the smallest Quadro seems to be quite a lot faster than a strong 1080Ti.

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 getting 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 i7 8700K, and an AM4 Mainboard for a Ryzen 2700X CPU and so on.

MSI Mainboard for CAD

Image-Source: tweakpc.de

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 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.

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 models are and how many you have opened at the same time.

Another factor of course always is how many different Applications you have opened at any given time.

Running Windows 10, for example, and having Chrome, a Mail Program, some other DCC Softwares like Photoshop and Illustrator and a Word-Processing App open together with 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 what we have in mind.

For lighter CAD work you should be looking to buy at least 16GB of RAM. Yes, you can get away with 8GB, but it might get nasty very quickly, so better to be on the safe side!

With more complex assemblies you should be leaning towards 32GB of RAM over 16GB.

Corsair RAM for Computer for CAD Applications

Image-Source: Corsair

If money is no Object, of course, go with 64GB of RAM which should settle it once and for all.

If you are going the Xeon CPU route you can get ECC RAM that will correct some calculation errors and might make your CAD Software slightly stabler.

Good non-ECC RAM for Mainstream or HEDT CPUs such as the i7, i9 or Ryzen / Threadripper Line-up, that I can recommend include the Corsair LPX DDR4 Vengeance RAM that comes in all sorts of sizes.

As Clock Speed in RAM is usually negligible as a performance influencer, you can start with the cheapest, which is usually DDR4-2400MHz and work your way up from there if you want to.

Concerning ECC RAM, I have had good experiences with Kingston as in the Kingston ValueRAM DIMM 16 GB DDR4-2400 ECC RAM.

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 from CGDirector - 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!

104
Comments

Cornelius

hello Alex

I am Sculptor that Uses Fusion 360 and Blender to make my models and then 3D print them. As i look at getting different printers and other CNC/ Additive tech, Plus the software they use. I find my laptop lacking. I also don’t have too much to spend. Is there a build out there just for these programs. I there a tower or laptop. i am currently using an ASUS Harman/Kardon from about 2016 it has an intel core i7 7gen and a nvida geforce gtx 950m but it has started to lag out. any advise would be great.

thanks

Cornelius

Hey Cornelius,

Thanks for dropping a line!

If I may ask, how much are you willing to spend? Please let me know so I can give you the best recommendations based on your budget and use case.

Alternatively, you can go ahead and check the site’s PC Builder Tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/. Just input your budget and select the most appropriate use case and the tool will automatically give you the best laptop recommendation based on your inputs.

Cheers,
Alex

johannesmichael

Hi Alex

Lots of info I was looking for! Great, thanks a lot.
I was thinking of this rig for CAD (Revit, Navisworks, and VR with 3D models) but also for programming (incl. ML/DL and data science to some medium level…).
Most of the time, I am not modelling, I am analyzing 3D models mainly.
I am mostly interested in your opinion on the Radeon 5700 XT. How does it perform compared with all the Nvidias? (I chose it because of the PCIe 4.0.)

Thinking of:
1 x AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
1 x ASUS PRO WS X570-ACE
1 x Corsair Cooling Hydro Series H150i Pro
1 x Corsair Force MP600 2 TB
1 x be quiet! Dark Power Pro P11 750W
1 xCorsair DIMM 64 GB DDR4-3600 Kit, Vengeance RGB PRO
1 x SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 5700 XT NITRO+
1 x Fractal Design Define R6 USB-C Black TG,

Hi johannesmichael,

Thanks for asking!

You put together a great build and I see no issues with your chosen components so go for it!

The performance of the 5700 XT compared to other NVIDIA GPUs is rather relative. It’s better to look at it from the point of view of what render engine you will be using. CUDA (which is only supported on NVIDIA) is leading the GPU render engine field with support for both Octane and Redshift. However, there are other GPU render engines such as Cycles or VRAY that support both CUDA and OpenCL (AMD).

Generally speaking, you are safer with a CUDA-capable GPU but if you already know you will just be using Cycles for example or won’t use GPU render engines at all, then a 5700 XT is definitely a good option, especially value-wise.

Cheers,
Alex

johannesmichael

Hi Alex

Thanks for the answer.
The CUDA thing is an argument regarding Tensorflow too,…….
Forgot about that.
Rethinking.

Happy new year!

Mousse

Hi
i was wondering if i could get the surface book 2 15″, i7 8th gen, 16gb, 256 gb for solidworks, autocad, revit and matlab. Currently a second year civil engineering student would this configuration be good for use for the next 4-5 years

Hey Mousse,

Thanks for asking!

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 with your chosen configuration of i7 8th gen CPU, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD with a GTX 1060 GPU is currently on sale and can be had for $1,799.00 at the moment. If you can get the Surface Book 2 at its sale price, it will be a good buy and could even last you the next 4-5 years.

However, if you miss the sale and the Surface Book 2 goes back to its SRP of $2,499.00, you’re better off getting the Gigabyte AERO 15-X9-9RT5. The AERO 15 is priced at $2,499.99 but has more powerful specs than the Surface Book 2. Below are the specs of the Gigabyte AERO 15-X9-9RT5:

CPU Intel Core i9-8950HK 2.90GHz 6-Core Processor
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB
Memory(RAM) 16GB DDR4-2666
SSD 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive
HDD –
Weight 2.1 kg (~4.62pounds)
Display 15.6″, 1920×1080

While the Surface Book 2 may slow down towards the end of the 4-5 years, you can expect the Gigabyte AERO 15-X9-9RT5 to still be performing nicely and last you the whole 4-5 years with hopefully minimal decrease in performance.

Cheers,
Alex

Mousse

thank you Alex

Laur

I am occasional working with maya but my work is done more in autocad 2019 , Siemens and Eplan P8 I must sometimes work with Inventor and solidworks since at work I have these two installed . My workstation a Dell 550 ist not allowing me to do much work at home so I decided to put some money and buy or made one myself . My budget is around 700€ . I know is not much but all the real work I am doing at office and at home is just fixing the builds and rendering . What do you think I should do . I wanted an AIO since at work I have one but I don’t know what to buy so later to upgrade different parts . I tried to read everywhere but no one is offering concrete answers ! And now I am trying with a PC. Keyboard mouse and peripherals I have already so basically I need just the pc

Hi Laur,

Thanks for asking!

€700 is around $780 and some change in US$ and for that amount of money, you can come up with a build like the below:

Parts List:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600X 3.6GHz 6-Core Processor ($125.00)
CPU Cooler: AMD Wraith Spire Cooler (Included with CPU) (-)
Motherboard: ASUS Prime X470-Pro ATX AM4 ($131.99)
GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1660 6GB – Gigabyte Windforce ($229.99)
Memory: 16GB (2 x 8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000 CL15 ($59.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: WD Black 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($69.99)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($64.99)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 275Q ATX Mid Tower Case ($87.48)

The total of the build comes up to around €689 and you basically get a decent Ryzen 5 2600X CPU and 16GB of RAM. This combination will not perform like top of the line components but they will still perform nicely for your use case.

And in the event you want to look at other recommendations, feel free to have a look at the site’s PC Builder Tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/. It’s a web-based tool that gives you the best recommendations based on your use case and budget.

Cheers,
Alex

Brenden McElroy

Alex-
I primarily use Fabrication CADmep and Navis Works. A little bit of Revit now and then, mainly extracting cad backgrounds or creating blocks. I’m 3 years into the middle of a four year long project and the desktop custom build I had done a couple years ago is really starting to struggle with the large file sizes. Cad files are typically 100 mb and I’ll have multiple open working from area to area and the NWD file for Navis is pushing 1.5 gb.
My current build is:
• Intel i7-8700K 3.7 GHz
• G.Skill 4x16GB Ripjaws DDR4 PC4-25600 3200MHz
• Quadro P5000 Video Card
• Samsung 960 Pro M.2 SSD
Where do I go from here? Everything I read says my machine is more than adequate but I’m spending way too much time waiting for the files to render, commands to run, saving, you name it. When I jump into a smaller job everything runs fast. I’m not going to say money is no object but short of spending 15K on a machine, I’m in if it’ll give me a noticeable uptick in performance.
Interested in any advice you might have.
Brenden

eka saputra paonganan

Hello Alex,
I’m looking for a laptop which i can use for AutoCAD, Sketchup, Blender, Photoshop, Civil 3D, Revit, but i want use that laptop for gaming too, but just a little bit for gaming (like battlefiled).
I have a few option for this laptop like :
1. MSI WS65 9TM – 452ID | i7-9750H | 15.6″ UHD,Core™ i7-9750H,DDR IV 32GB (16GBx2),1TB SSD,Quadro RTX5000 16GB,WIN 10

2. MSI GT76 9SG – 023ID| WIN10 , 17.3″ FHD ,Core™ i7-9750H,RAM 32GB (16GBx2),1TB+1TB SSD(512GBX2),GeForce® RTX 2080

3. MSI GS75 9SG – 058ID | WIN10, 17.3″ FHD,Core™ i7-9750H,DDR IV 32GB (16GBx2),GeForce® RTX 2080 8GB,Windows 10 HOME

If you have another suggestion for me, i would like to know it.
Thank you Alex.

Best regards,
Eka

Hey Eka,

Thanks for asking!

Your three choices all look good but right off the bat, I’d like to scratch your first option off your list. I don’t tend to recommend the use of Quadro GPUs unless the software you use specifically require a Quadro graphics card for that matter. In addition to that, consumer-grade RTX cards still perform better than their Quadro counterparts for less the price.

The two remaining options have pretty much similar specs with the storage option being the only exception. If you have the budget for it, I suggest that you go for the MSI GT76 9SG – 023ID for the added 1TB HDD storage option. That way, you can use the 1TB SSD for your OS and commonly used software while the your other files go to the 1TB HDD.

If you want to save a little money, going for the MSI GS75 9SG – 058ID is still okay? You lose the additional 1TB HDD found in the MSI GT76 9SG – 023ID but you still have a 1TB SSD for your storage needs. All in all, whether you go for the MSI GT76 9SG – 023ID or the MSI GS75 9SG – 058ID, you can’t go wrong. You can expect both laptops to perform nicely in terms of your work-related tasks and still crush it when it comes to your gaming sessions!

Cheers,
Alex

James Duffy

Hi Alex,

Thanks for all the articles you have written! I wouldn’t have even known where to begin without any of this! I’m a product designer and looking to put together my first PC because my laptop can’t really hack it and I mostly work at a desk anyway. I mainly use SOLIDWORKS for 3D modelling and Keyshot and have a budget of around the £1500. I’ve seen the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X is almost half price and was in your list of runners up, is it worth go? Or would I be better opting for the Ryzen 7 2700x and using the extra money else where? Any help would be very much appreciated!

James

Cyan

Hello Alex,

Thanks for the wealth of information on your site. The best for creatives I believe.
Very clear explanation on the gpu vs cpu effect on using design apps.
I am an industrial designer looking for a mobile solution for using Autocad, Alias, Rhino, Photoshop, illustrator type of programs on a laptop. I should be able to work on the fly and present in 3D as well.
I would love to be able to draw on screen like a wacom cintiq but I have not found a laptop that is both extremely powerful for Cad and active pen sensitive like a wacom. Maybe I need to separate those wishes.
The closest one might be the HP Zbook x2 https://store.hp.com/us/en/ConfigureView?catalogId=10051&langId=-1&storeId=10151&urlLangId=&catEntryId=3074457345618651818&quantity=1
The i7-7600 and quadro m620 might be weak what do you think?

Most of my work is in 3D and less on 2D, I would like my purchase to be as future proof as possible. Recently I have killed my 2011 macbook pro, which was having a really hard time with my demands anyways. Maybe not 8 but 5 year of good use would be great. I am still not sure if Quadro RTX is the way to go vs. an RTX2080. also are the max-Q versions much slower, is this a concern?

I have looked at the Razer Blade Studio Edition, It’s equipped with a 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-9750H six-core processor, 32GB of 2667 MHz DDR4 RAM, a single 1TB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD, and an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 Studio $3999
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1512589-REG/razer_rz09_03135em3_r3u1_15_6_blade_15_multi_touch.html

The Lenovo Think Pad P53 is an option…Intel® Core™ i9-9880H with vPro™ (2.30GHz, up to 4.80GHz with Turbo Boost, 8 Cores, 16MB Cache), 32GB (16GB + 16GB) DDR4 2666MHz, 15.6″ UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) OLED, 350 nits, multi-touch, AR/AS with Dolby Vision™ HDR 500, NVIDIA Quadro RTX4000 8GB for $3359
https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-p/P53/p/20QNCTO1WWENUS1/customize?

There is also a Dell Precision 7540 with i9-9880 RTX3000, 32GB, 1TB for $4182.86
https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/pdr/precision-15-7540-laptop/xctop754015us4?selectionState=eyJPQyI6InhjdG9wNzU0MDE1dXM0IiwiTW9kcyI6W3siSWQiOjMsIk9wdHMiOlt7IklkIjoiR0JQV0dNNSJ9XX0seyJJZCI6OCwiT3B0cyI6W3siSWQiOiJHQjAxOEpNIn1dfSx7IklkIjoxMSwiT3B0cyI6W3siSWQiOiJHV0k5ODZZIn1dfSx7IklkIjoxNDYsIk9wdHMiOlt7IklkIjoiR0lYSjlFUCJ9XX0seyJJZCI6MTQ5LCJPcHRzIjpbeyJJZCI6IkdaODZRM04ifV19LHsiSWQiOjc0OSwiT3B0cyI6W3siSWQiOiJHRVpEMkE4In1dfSx7IklkIjo3NjAsIk9wdHMiOlt7IklkIjoiRzVITlZaSSJ9XX1dLCJUaSI6IiIsIkRpIjoiIn0%3D&cartItemId=

Another option is the Alienware m15 with i9 9980H RTX2080 maxQ, 16GB, 4TBfor $4379.99
https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-laptops/new-alienware-m15-gaming-laptop/spd/alienware-m15-r2-laptop/wnm15r2mxs?configurationid=17569239-5e1a-43f5-b099-38890cb805c7

Your recommendation is the MSI P65… i9-9980H, RTX2070 maxQ, 32GB 1TB $2899
https://www.amazon.com/P65-Creator-654-i9-9880H-Windows-Professional/dp/B07QQ2KNZ9
Now writing this it seems like a good deal but the 2070 card is a concern.

I am also looking into the Asus ProArt series but they dont have any 15 inch with RTX5000 available yet..

Are there any real world performance differences with any of these machines? is it overkill to spend this much or will it enhance especially my viewport performance working on large assemblies for example with a Quadro RTX4000/5000 vs a RTX2080.
Also as a designer I would like something that looks good, presentable, and solid built, I appreciate your input and keep up the great work. Thanks.

Best Regards,

Cyan

Hi Cyan,

Thanks for dropping a line and thank you for the kind words.

First off, I don’t tend to recommend the use of Quadro cards UNLESS the software you use are designed specifically to use a Quadro GPU. Performance-wise, an RTX GPU will still perform better compared to its Quadro counterpart. To get a better picture of the comparison between the performance of RTX GPUs vs Quardro cards, please check this article out: https://www.cgdirector.com/octanebench-benchmark-results/

That being said, the laptops you listed are all excellent choices! In terms of performance, there could be real-word differences between these machines but the differences may be too minimal to be game-changing, so to speak. Given all that, I suggest that you consider the MSI P65 Creator-654. Not only is it the cheapest among your choices but it also comes with the same i9-9980H CPU found in your other choices.

The MSI P65 Creator-654 may only have a Max-Q version of the RTX 2070 for its GPU and you are right – the Max-Q versions are a bit slower compared to their laptop or desktop counterparts but again, the decrease in performance is not that significant to be noticeable in the real world.

When you come to think of it, the Alienware m15 with the same i9-9980H CPU as the MSI P65 Creator-654 but with a higher-tiered RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU is also a good option but for almost $1,500 more, the increase in price could not justify the performance gains the RTX 2080 Max-Q brings to the table when compared to the performance of the RTX 2070 Max-Q.

All in all, the MSI P65 Creator-654 should be your top choice and you can’t be sure you can’t go wrong with it.

Cheers,
Alex

BeeRad

I use a variety of CAD programs from BricsysCAD,(similar to AutoCAD) 2020 specification software, to Chief Architect, and my little Lenova Yoga can’t handle the 3d in Chief very well. I’ll be passing it to my daughter. As was done with my old Dell Precision M70 Price is not a huge concern but I want a sweet spot so I can have a machine that I can use for awhile. I anticipate using more 3d rendering into the future, and I am trying to figure if i need to go 17″ also. Even though i can work at my desktop I will need to show clients their projects in an interactive environment. I am not into building my own, but would be ok with someone who can, or an off the shelf name brand pre-loaded would be fine also. Just looking for some help.Thanks!

Hey BeeRad,

Thanks for asking!

If I may ask, how much are you willing to spend?

If you want a bang-for-your-buck laptop that can handle BricsysCAD and Chief Architect, you need not look further than the Gigabyte AERO 15-X9-9RT5. Below are the specs of the AERO 15:

CPU Intel Core i9-8950HK 2.90GHz 6-Core Processor
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB
Memory(RAM) 16GB DDR4-2666
SSD 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive
HDD –
Weight 2.1 kg (~4.62pounds)
Display 15.6″, 1920×1080

The Gigabyte AERO 15-X9-9RT5 is currently priced at around $1,999.99 but with this laptop, you get a snappy i9-8950HK CPU with 16GB of RAM. This CPU-RAM combination in the AERO 15 is more than capable enough of giving you a smooth and fast workflow and you’re actively working inside the software. In addition to that, it features an RTX 2070 GPU which at the moment boasts of having the best price to performance ratio among graphics cards. Also, the RTX 2070 packs support for CUDA core acceleration which brings about a better render performance in the event you need to use the GPU render engines. All in all, you can expect the Gigabyte AERO 15-X9-9RT5 to be able to handle whatever task you throw at it!

In case you want other recommendations, you may want to have a look at the PC Builder Tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/. You just need to specify what you need the workstation/laptop for and choose a budget and the tool will give out the best parts/recommendations based on your input.

Cheers,
Alex

Earl Alfaro

I need a machine that is optimized to run a CFD (computational fluid dynamics) program – Simerics-MP+ for Marine, at higher than average speeds. At the same time I may be multitasking having AutoCAD 2018 and/or Rhino3D open at the same time. My work involves 2D/3D cad modeling, rendering, and occasional use of the CFD software I mentioned earlier. There is so much to take into consideration and I need experienced guidance. My budget will be between $1900 and $2500. Thank you in advance, for the specification you might provide.