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Need a GPU for light CAD work on a Dell T-3500

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Processor i5 3317U/ i3 2120's/ i7 3770/ x5670's/ i5 2400
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Storage 256GB Crucial Mx100 SSD/ ?HDD's/ 500 GB 7200rpm-er's/ 500 GB
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Keyboard Dynex, 2 no name, SYX and a Logitech. All full sized and USB.
Software WIN8.1-64bit/ Mint 18 Sylvia/ Opti-Con Mint KDE/ T3500's on Kubuntu/HP 3770 is Win 10
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Ok the Dell is currently just a Cruncher w/ 12 GB RAM in triple channel. It has an R7 240 for basic video output.

This computer is now going to be more. I need something not for gaming but for light CAD work, Decks, Kitchen, Basements and such. It will be used to provide supply list's and as a print out for the customer (much cleaner than a pencil sketch).

The Budget is $300, or less.

Next, I need a pair of 1, or 2, TB HD's for Raid 1. I would like them to be inexpensive and 7200 speed drives. They will contain all the books, taxes and such, and project photos.

I would like to know if anyone thinks the T-3500 w/ Xeon5670 and 12 GB RAM will be inadequate for what I described. Also, will CAD programs work on Linux? Or, will a Win 10 license be needed?

This is rather new to me and I will need time to learn before becoming the Office Manager for my Nephew's new General Contractor Business. Which will include drawing up projects w/ a CAD program (don't know what CAD programs are available, even!).

Thanks, in advance for any, and all help!!
 

newtekie1

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I think you should figure out which CAD program your are going to be using before deciding what hardware to go with.
 
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Quadro P2000 or RTX 2060
 
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Since you specifically said this is for CAD work and "not for gaming" I recommend a workstation graphics card. Obviously these can be real budget busters but if you scroll down, you will find some in your price range.

Why do you want a RAID1? They are expensive (1/2 the storage space for the costs) and they actually double the odds of drive problems. RAID1 should NEVER be considered a backup solution. Why? Because any data corruption, malware infection, accidental deletes etc. will happen on both drives - that's how "mirrored" drives work. If your computer suffers from a catastrophic power hit, boom - both drives are gone. If a fire or flood destroys your home, or a tornado sends your home to the Land of Oz, or a bad guy breaks into your home and steals your computer, there goes your data too.

With today's faster computers, any performance gains (which are only with reads on RAID1) are marginal (at best). So performance is no reason to use a RAID1 array.

Years ago when drives were less reliable, RAID1 might have been a good idea. But not today. For one, drives are pretty reliable. But more importantly, a true backup drive is affordable.

The reason to implement RAID1 is to ensure 24/7 uptime for things like mission critical file servers. To do it properly you should have 3, not 2 but 3 identical drives with the 3rd sitting ready on the shelf (or better yet - off sit) to quickly (as in hot swap) replace a failed drive. That means for 1TB of storage, you should buy 3TB drives. That is not a good economical choice, IMO - especially since you have a pretty conservative budget.

If me, I would spend that money for separate (not mirrored) drives. Use the second as a real backup drive for those important documents. Or better yet, go with SSDs.

If you must go spinners, don't go with the inexpensive ones. Get "enterprise" class drives. These are intended for 24/7 use and come with better (often 5 year) warranties too.
 
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CAD programs will probably benefit from a fast CPU more than a new GPU.
Highest clock speed, single thread performance for CAD.
Depending on the software you intend to use, a new GPU might not offer any improvement.
No need for a pro card on your budget. They don't offer much for most users.
As for the RAID 1 spindles - I would try to avoid them. They are just gonna kill performance.
I'd take an SSD and an effective backup strategy.
Asking things like "Does CAD run on linux" tells me you need to do some reading.
I'd look here for as a starting point for knowing what you need.
 
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1, Whereas in the 90s, you needed top end componentry in all subsystems, especially storage, including memory management software to do CAD productively, today, with AutoCAD and the imitators being almost entirely single threaded ... an Intel i5 / i7 will be way more than enough. Extra CPU cores basically do squat.

2. Workstation Cards are a useless expensefor 2D and 3D Drafting. nVidia gaming cards rule the roost here. For new builds, we are using the MSI 2080 Gaming X Trio (fastest 2080 tested by TPU as yet). At your budget range, would recommend the 2060 which falls in the $300 - $400 range

3. If you are taking those CAD drawings and exporting them into rendering programs to create models or animation and things like that ... then you will want a Quadro for that usage. A typical A/E office might have 1 in 10 boxes doing rendering.

4. You will see somewhat of a performance jump with 2 TB SSHDs ($95) but no real increase in productivity. I own an engineering consulting firm and we have tested this every way from Sunday. While the on paper, the performance advantage may be pleasant to ponder, we wouldn't "go there" if not for the fact the 2TB SSHDs have 5 year warrantees and performance HDs w/ same 5 year warranty are 25% more in cost. We began using them 8 years ago and 0 failures to date. You want performance drives, not green drives, not NAS drives, not enterprise (server) drives, not surveillance drives.

5. I would strongly recommend avoiding RAID 1. It makes perfect sense until you have to manage it and the ocassional disappearance of 1 of the pair is frustrating. We give it a whirl every 3 years or so. Last attempt was again troublesome and, as in the past, we reverted to two SSHDs mirrored using a free software utility (FBackup). It mirrors the drive twice a day. I'd also suggest a 3rd drive for offsite storage using a USB HD docking station.

6. In the CAD industry ... there's AutoCAD and then there's everything else. When we engage architects, surveyors and engineering subconsultants, not using genuine Autodesk AutoCAD is big barrier to them getting hired. File translation issues from the "imitators" is problematic and with billing rates at $120/hr for our CAD Operators. here I would highly recommend AutoCAd Lite. Downside is. if ya can't get ya hands on an existing license ... AutoDesk products are now annual subscriptions ($360 a year for 3 years). There are Linux based CAD programs... even UNIX ... but again, if it's not AutoCAD compatible , it's perty much useless. As far as I am aware, AutoCAD versions exist only for Windows (7, 8 & 10) and Mac

7. Be aware that preparing building plans is covered by existing law in all states. Anything structural in nature (i.e. opening in bearing wall) or anything over a certain cost ($20k in NY for example) requires that the plans be prepared by a licensed engineer or architect. Having plans "rubber stamped" by a A/E is a Class E felony.

As an aside ... CAD boxes make great gaming, nice for after hours relaxation and as they age, passing them down to the kids ... qualifies as business write-off :)
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
Messages
4,029 (1.53/day)
Location
St. Paul, MN
System Name LappyTop/ Bay2- Lowerbay- RushCity1/ HP 3770/ T3500-1+T3500-2+T3500-3+T3500-4/ Opti-Con
Processor i5 3317U/ i3 2120's/ i7 3770/ x5670's/ i5 2400
Motherboard ASUStek/ HP UltraSlim's/ HP mid size/ Dell T3500 workstation's/ Dell 390
Cooling Air/air/ air/ Big Dell Air/ Air
Memory 8GB Kingston HyperX 1600/ 2GB/ 4GB/ 12 GB crucial in each 4GB sticks in 3 chan/ 4GB sammy
Video Card(s) intel HD4000/ HD2000's/ HD 2000/ 1 MSI GT710, rest are MSI R7 240's/ HD4000
Storage 256GB Crucial Mx100 SSD/ ?HDD's/ 500 GB 7200rpm-er's/ 500 GB
Display(s) 1366x768/ one acer x223w between the rest
Case ALU, beauty!/ HP 8200 UltraSlim's/ HP 8200 mid tower/ Dell T3500's/ Dell 390
Audio Device(s) Sonic Master/ onboard's/ Beeper's!
Power Supply ASUS brick, 17W i5/ 19.5 volt bricks/ Dell PSU/ 525W sumptin/ same
Mouse cheap GigaWire930, CMStorm Havoc and a Logitech M510 wireless/iGear usb x2
Keyboard Dynex, 2 no name, SYX and a Logitech. All full sized and USB.
Software WIN8.1-64bit/ Mint 18 Sylvia/ Opti-Con Mint KDE/ T3500's on Kubuntu/HP 3770 is Win 10
Benchmark Scores World Community Grid is my benchmark!!
Ok, from just a little research Smart Draw looks like what I want, with the templates and such. AutoCAD LT, is slightly cheaper but, does not come with templates, or anything.

OK, so, Looks like I will be purchasing an SSD and a big Spinner for backup.

Since I knew next to nothing, and now have a little more insight, I still have reservations on whether the R7 240 will bottle neck me.

I will buy a Win 10 LIC. and will get my RAM doubled up to 24 GB but the T3500 with the xeon 5670 will be what I am working with.

So, Smart Draw, T-3500, 24GB RAM, SSD OS and CAD, Large HDD for backup. That just leaves the GPU in the air.

BTW, this project is not an ASAP kind of thing. I have until Spring to be up and running, ready to draw.

The more I can glean from TPU, The better. I have neither time or money to take any classes, between now and then. So it's me and TPU FTW!!

Thanks in advance for any and all help!!
BTW, I am not competing with an Architect, in any way. I plan to take my nephews pencil plans and draw it up for the customer. I am hoping it will also help him with a supplies list. Say for a deck, it can help determine how many deck boards we'll need.
 
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