$1000 AutoCAD build

I need some guidance here. One of my friends has asked me to help him build a $1000 PC for AutoCAD/3D Max. I have no clue as to what the demands of this software are. Is it more intensive in terms of CPU, RAM, GPU or will it require a balanced system? The PC will not need the cost of the OS included but will need an optical drive. I have helped many friends build gaming PC's, editing rigs and workstations so I am really just looking for a push in the right direction but feel free to post build recommendations. Thanks in advance for any advice you guys can give and let me know if I left anything out.

Autocad requires a lot of RAM and a good GPU. There are specialized GPUs for this, but you wont be able to fit into 1k. Also a large monitor is also very much needed - I mean in terms of resolution and workspace.

What is a lot of ram? 8, 16, 32? Do nvidia and amd gpu's perform better or worse? 




Which would you build?

I believe Autocad prefers nvidia.

Here's my suggestion: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/VRDTNG

You can also consider a SSD for faster loading times.  120GB or 240GB should be good.  Stay away from the Kingston SSDNow V300, as well as their V-series in general, though.  They are incredibly slow.

That build looks well balanced, thanks for the pointers. 

I know this is a bit more then you wanted to spend but if this is your friends business/college build I would do something like this:


for something a little less powerful but within budget I would go for something like this:


The main things for auto cad is the amount of Ram as it uses lots and graphics card (normally you would get a workstation card Firepro/quadro because of the better drivers and performance) and of course the right amount of processor power. AMD's graphics cards perform fine in auto-cad for the most part but struggle with 3D programs CUDA cores are better for that stuff. Its also very important to note that you may have to do some extra work to get these programs to make full use of "normal graphics cards" they really lock down this stuff to force people to buy Quadro cards. Also worth noting Geforce 780 cards are great for this kind of thing and you might be able to get one at a large discount do to the 970 smashing its teeth in for gaming.

+1 for Some Tech Noob

good build advice i have to say ☺

Here's my $.02: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TMCPYJ

AutoDesk prefers professional drivers... so any GTX or Radeon series card won't be using hardware acceleration... however, it still needs a powerful GPU to handle the graphics... and you're better off with a powerful gaming GPU over a low-end professional card, and can buy a powerful gaming GPU at half the price of low-end professional cards...

Ideally, you'd be looking at Firepro or Quadro cards (3D S Max is compatible with GTX 690 and Titan, but the rest of AutoDesk is strictly Firepro and Quadro), which can utilize hardware acceleration in AutoDesk... However, for a DECENT professional card, you're looking at $700... nice ones go well into $2000+... So since you can't use hardware acceleration with unsupported cards, you might as well just get the best bang for buck card on the market in the R9 290...

All that being said, I don't think it's worth the extra money for the 970 in this particular case, and that would be better invested in a SSD which will increase productivity much greater than the difference between a R9 290 and a 970...

16GB of RAM is fine for these types of builds, and you can always add more memory later if needed

I've built several computers similar to this for use with AutoDesk, Solidworks, and Mastercam... they're quick, and get the job done... super-massive CATIA files (like, a whole car model) are fairly taxing on the GPU and slow to render, but again... you'd need a $2000+ GPU, possibly two in SLI, to really power that properly...

Overall I think he'd be happier with this build with the SSD included

Autocad requires a lot of RAM and a good GPU

No it doesn't, RAM usage will vary depending on how large the drawing/model is but generally it isnt that high. I've been getting by with 3GB of RAM for the last 6 years with zero memory usage issues, I only recently upgraded to 16GB as I built a new system. You could easily run everything on 8Gb and not see problems. Here is a screenshot of a floorplan from one of my clients with the usage from task manager. 

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RAM usage for 3DS Max will vary depending on the complexity of the scene and size of the render but you wont have any problem even if you went down to 8Gb.

I believe Autocad prefers nvidia

I have run both Nvidia and previously ATi cards with zero issues.

Ideally, you'd be looking at Firepro or Quadro cards (3D S Max is compatible with GTX 690 and Titan, but the rest of AutoDesk is strictly Firepro and Quadro), which can utilize hardware acceleration in AutoDesk

Hardware acceleration doesnt descriminate between GTX and Quadro cards, CUDA is CUDA regardless, if the card has CUDA cores it will use them. Screen shots for AutoCAD and Illustrator below with my 760 listed.

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Screen shot of my 3DS Max viewpoint performance with a 6.5million poly model, 126 fps (stats in the top left in yellow). A 750ti would  still be perfectly adiquate as long as it isnt being used to GPU raytracing where the 2Gb of Vram would be a bottleneck but Some Tech Noobs suggestion of a 970 is what I would spec too.

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My 760 4Gb craps all over my Quadro K2000 with room to spare, "Professional" graphics cards are the single biggest rip off in electronics, A Quadro K6000 is basically a Titan Black with and extra 6Gb of VRAM, 10bit colour and different drivers yet it costs 4.5 times a much (£800 vs £3600) if a business is paying for it then fine spec one (most workstation vendors only offer Quadro or Fire Pro cards in their systems because "professional") no lower than a K5000 but otherwise a GTX/Radeon is the way better choice for these programs, you wont get 10bit colour but you probably wont need it anyway in AutoCAD or 3DS Max. The Quadro drivers are also a complete mess, certified drivers (ones that are guarenteed to not have any bugs or issues) for Autodesk's sofware can vary, so the recommended driver for AutoCAD 2014 might be different for the recommended driver for 3DS Max 2014, and they have to be downloaded and updated manually with a GTX you can just use Geforce experience to keep them up to date.

The system Some Tech Noob specced is basically the same as my home office machine but with a GTX 760 and I actually prefer working on it to my dual Xeon machine at work as it has much better single threaded perfomance and and better viewport performance because the K2000 is so underpowered to the point that no amount of optimised driver will make any sort of difference. 

You could save some money on the RAM and GPU to put towards a 1440p monitor which would increase productivity much more than a simply increasing the overall pwer of the system.

CGSociety also has a technical/hardware sub-forum you can check out to see what others have buit and recommended.

Forgot to mention, as Drunken Panda said, an SSD is a must have.