Buying A Workstation PC

Imagine your PC as an artist’s canvas. As a hobbyist or enthusiast content creator, your workstation represents both your brushes and your paints. The more capable your workstation, the more paints and brushes you have at your disposal, allowing your skills and imagination to flourish, free of limitations and restrictions. As a creative professional, a PC is more than just your tool. It’s your livelihood. If you earn a living from the work performed on your PC, look at the purchase of Photoshop and Lightroom workstations as an investment.

The ideal workstation is powerful, reliable, and most importantly, well-optimized. At MAINGEAR, we recognize that our creative users all have specific needs. A sculptor wouldn’t use tools designed for a painter, and that’s why it’s important that your PC is tailor made for the software you use every day. Regardless of your price point, whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, we’ve got the perfect system for you, and as always, MAINGEAR PCs ship 100% bloatware-free, with unrivaled craftsmanship and support.

Optimizing Your Workstation For Autodesk AutoCAD

As is the case with most software titles, developers will publish a list of required system specifications to help guide their users on choosing the right hardware. While these specs can be helpful, most of the time they are merely indicating the minimum configuration suitable to run that software, and for most users, just meeting the minimum requirements will make for a slow and frustrating experience. For users looking for an optimized high-performance system, consider this hardware guide before purchasing your AutoCAD workstation.

AutoCAD is a lightly threaded application, with most tasks and tools only utilizing a single CPU core. This means it’s best to prioritize a very fast CPU, rather than one with a huge number of cores. It’s also relatively light in RAM and VRAM usage, which means you don’t need a wealth of memory and graphics horsepower to deliver impressive performance. The critical deciding factor should be the kind of models and drawings you’ll be working with most often. Simple 2D models tend to be highly efficient and not very hardware intensive, whereas more complex 3D models and renderings will likely require some added performance for an optimal workflow.

Processor

Because AutoCAD is a lightly threaded application, your CPU choice should be skewed towards higher speeds and not higher core counts. The only exception to this would be users working with complex and demanding 3D renderings, such as those made in Mental Ray and Revvit, where a higher core count CPU will certainly aid with render times.

For those modeling and drawing primarily in 2D, a mid-tier CPU will typically exceed expectations. In terms of pure price-to-performance, the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X is hard to beat, boasting 6 cores and a boost speed of 4.4GHz. If you’re working in 3D, or on more laborious renders in general, a faster CPU with a couple extra cores would go a long way. The 4.9GHz boost speed of the 8-core Intel Core i7-9700K is a great choice for power users who want to get the most bang for their buck.

Graphics Card

In AutoCAD the graphics card is responsible for displaying the 2D and 3D models you see on the screen. While speed is important, unless you’re working on very large complex models, an entry-level to mid-tier graphics card is ideal. It’s important to note that the only graphics cards certified for use in AutoCAD are NVIDIA’s Quadro line. Gaming oriented cards like those in the NVIDIA GeForce series will perform just as well in most cases, and do offer some performance-to-cost advantages, but if you ever needed to obtain support from Autodesk you will likely be told you’re using an unapproved system configuration. Keep this in mind if that degree of first-party support is a big factor for you.

Aside from the fact that Quadro cards are certified, there are other advantages to using one in your CAD workstation, such as enhanced precision and driver stability. Unlike when gaming, where a graphics cards primary focus is on speed and frames per second, a Quadro card focuses on precision and error-free calculations. Given the importance of speed in a game, a graphics card used for gaming will likely minimize textures, shading, or rendering after only approximating a final output—in order to keep the overall frame rate high. This results in a faster, smoother feel to the gamer, but at the expense of detail and accuracy. For that reason, a gaming graphics card can be a less than ideal choice for your CAD workstation. The algorithms on a CAD-oriented graphics card, such as the those found in the Quadro line, tend to complete all rendering operations, even if that introduces delays or variations in the timing, prioritizing accuracy and rendering quality over speed. This ensures the result in your computer-generated design is much more accurate, precise, and free of errors. This is especially helpful when working with wireframe rendering and object interactions.

VRAM, or the amount of graphics memory on your GPU, shouldn’t be much of a concern in AutoCAD, as the program is fairly efficient in how it utilizes available VRAM. For those primarily in 2D, we recommend using an NVIDIA Quadro P1000, which has plenty of speed to accompany its 4GB of onboard VRAM. For 3D models, and power users, our ideal configuration is equipped with an NVIDIA Quadro P4000, packing 8GB of VRAM in addition to its 1,792 CUDA cores. For majority of users, there is little to no reason, nor a noticeable performance advantage, in using anything higher than that. When configuring your AutoCAD workstation on a budget, we recommend putting out less money on a high-end GPU, and instead using that savings to ensure you’re getting the fastest CPU your budget allows for.

Memory

AutoCAD is by no means a memory intensive application, and for that reason we typically recommend 16GB for most users. Autodesk lists 8GB of RAM in its minimum system requirements, but we feel it’s better to have more and not need it, than need it and not have it. More complex models will utilize more memory. You should also consider more if you’re a heavy multitasker or if you’re working on extremely complex 3D designs, and plan to keep many other applications running simultaneously.

Storage

As with most workstations, we recommend solid state drives wherever possible. NVMe SSDs, which utilize PCIe lanes to communicate between the CPU and storage interface, provide the fastest speeds available and are becoming increasingly more affordable. Intel’s 660p NVMe SSD is a great choice for AutoCAD workstations, serving up sequential read and write speeds up to 1800MB/s at an impressively reasonable cost. Intel’s 660p NVMe solid state drives are oftentimes priced about the same (or less) than many leading SATA-based SSDs, which operate at one-third of the speed. For these reasons using NVMe storage should be considered a no-brainer. Users on a budget can easily get by with a single NVMe SSD for operating system, applications, and general storage, but for users looking to increase efficiency, a multiple drive solution is ideal. A workstation made up of multiple NVMe drives would allow the operating system and software to run independent of a media/project disk, improving performance by dividing up the workload across multiple storage volumes.

Specific Needs For Your Workflow?

While our turnkey solutions are ideal for most video editors, we understand some of you may have specific needs beyond our standard solutions. Whether it’s an SDI video connection you need for a preview monitor, an external audio DAC for sound design, or support for GPU-based rendering plug-ins for motion graphics, we are standing by to further assist you with customizing your perfect workstation. That’s one of the biggest benefits of working with a knowledgeable custom builder like MAINGER: we can tailor a solution to your exact needs so you’re only paying for hardware you need and getting exactly the power and capabilities that your work demands. Likewise, if you’re looking for more of a render-node or a desktop geared primarily towards project exporting, we can build that for you! Just give our Creative Solutions Team a call at 1-888-MAINGEAR.

Autodesk AutoCAD Workstations

We’ve pre-configured the best options together to create a PC that can run Autodesk AutoCAD flawlessly. Below you’ll find price aggressive desktop and laptop solutions, all backed by our world class warranty.

CAD 2D

Desktop Workstation
$2099
  • Built for creating 2D CAD drawings


• AMD Ryzen 5 3600X Processor
• NVIDIA Quadro P1000
• 16GB DDR4 Memory
• 1TB M.2 NVME SSD
• Windows 10 Pro

CAD 3D

Desktop Workstation
$3099
  • Built for creating 3D CAD drawings


• Intel Core i7 9700K Processor
• NVIDIA Quadro P4000
• 32GB DDR4 Memory
• 1TB M.2 NVME SSD
• 2TB M.2 NVME SSD
• Windows 10 Pro

Custom Configure Your Workstation

Everyone Has An IT Rep At 1-888-MAINGEAR

We all have questions sometimes. Many professionals have access to a dedicated IT team, but as a hobbyist or freelancer, you’re oftentimes stuck searching the web for the answers you need, wasting time and creating confusion. Take solace in knowing that our award-winning support team is standing by to assist. Our dedicated and knowledgeable technicians are wellversed in not only your PCbut the programs you use every day. Our technicians live and breathe these things, and we have Photoshop and Lightroom experts available to help. We believe in honesty and transparency, so if there’s ever an issue outside of our scope that we can’t personally resolvewe’ll gladly take the time to point you in the right direction and work together towards a resolution.

Give us a call at 1-888-MAINGEAR

Mac Or PC? Making The Switch?

We could spend all day discussing the competitive differences between PC and Mac, but one thing remains undeniably true: you can stretch your budget further with a PC. For example, if you had around $2000 to spend and were debating between a PC and an iMac, you’re simply going to end up with more on the PC side. You’d likely end up with 2-3x the storage, a faster and higher core count CPU, more graphics memory, and 2-3x the RAM. All for the same price. Why pay more for less?

There are a multitude of reasons why one may switch from Mac to PC, and while it’s much easier to seamlessly transition these days, we realize you may have questions or reservations. Members of our support team are trained and experienced within MacOS and are standing by to assist you with making the switch easy and efficient.