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Decided that my current pc is getting on and needs replacing for more memory and power for the 3D CAD stuff we are now doing in Vectorworks Architect/Renderworks and acting as the main pc in a peer to peer network of up to 3 to 4 pcs. But what would be the perfect pc spec be? For VW I need at least 256RAM and 2GB of hard drive space but I am also running outlook, word, excel, corel, etc at the same time. I would stick to Dell as the other pcs are Dell and they have been reasonibly good up to now, but:

1. Processor - single or dual? At the momment considering single Intel Xeon processor 3.20 ghz.

2. Memory - considering 4.0 gb.

3. Hard drive - considering 300 gb but should I have a second hard drive for back up? and does it have to be the same size as the first hard drive? Do I need a 3rd hard drive? and what for?

4. cd/dvd drive - considering 48xdvd-rom/cd-rw combo drive. But do I need a dual drive configuration?

5. no floppy drive.

6. Video card - considering 512mb nvidia quadro dual monitor or vga graphics card

7. Screen - feel that I need big as I am doing several programmes on one go and the cad shortcuts take up most of the screen leaving no room for the drawing - the CAD ga, CAD detail, specification, checking emails, etc. considering a dell 30 inch ultra sharp black widescreen flat panel but this is ?1,249 in its self!

anyway the total cost is ?3,668 exc vat and shipping! Sounds expensive and perhaps i am over specing in certain areas

any help appreciated

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Look at a 2 screen setup

2 x 17" LCD is about 30" diagonal -

we have the low end LCD's and they work fine

with a 300 gig drive not really a need for dual DVD drives

as you can image the content on the hard drive

Dual Core Intel processor or AMD dual core at 3.0 ghz is the best dollar (or pound) value

if you are running a network, use the other drives as your backup there are Sync programs that only backup the files that have been modified


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I can not help you out on the PC specific specs except to say go for faster/more than you think you'll need. A few added $100 or couple of $1,000 for better hardware specs is really minor as a business expense when viewed against cost of labor.

Having the ability to write DVD's is a big plus for sending large files/animations to clients.

As for the 30" screen. A definite yes but make sure you match your graphics card to the screen requirements. You'll find out that having a large screen allows more program windows open at the same time but maximizing the drawing window is far more valuable. I set mine up with tool palettes on the sides, drawing window at center, no overlap (hate palettes over drawing window). I am currently reworking menus so most often used items are in menus near the screen center (on a 30" screen mousing distance becomes a time and refocus issue).

Good luck on your purchase and have fun!

G5 quad, 6.5 GB Ram, 1 TB HDs, 30" Apple Display

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Note that while displays may seem expensive, they go obsolete more slowly than other components. But for price/performance, you might consider two Dell 2001FP or 2007FP 20" LCDs rather than one 30" display. You would get 3200x1200 pixels rather than 2560x1600 for about half the cost.

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". Video card - considering 512mb nvidia quadro dual monitor or vga graphics card"

What about the video card? I'm considering an upgrade as well, although in the Mac arena, and was wondering if the Quadro would be that much faster at rendering than the next level down 256mb version.

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I just upgraded with a new machine from XI computer in California which probably doesn't help you. I would suggest you look at their web site since they consistently out perform all other CAD stations on the market in our price range. I went dual core athalon and nvidia graphics card. I would suggest that you separate your data from your work station though. Either set up a separate HD (raid) or buy a cheap machine and turn it into a linux based server. I even went as far as separting e-mail, word processing etc onto a separate less expensive machine. This has turned out to be a smart move as my CAD income producing machine is protected from viruses and being slowed down by other applications.

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Two 10,000 RPM Sata drives in Raid 0, faster boot times, application load times, saving files, etc. I have autosave set to every five operations and I don't notice a hit even on large files. The only drawback is twice the chance of disk failure (one drive goes and all data is lost). I backup twice a day.

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But which platform does it work best on?

Irrelevant, as a program it works equally well on all platforms. Choosing is deciding which platform you work best on not VW. So its either WindowsXP or Apple OS.

As you won't be buying Apple you don't even need to consider/worry about the release of the Universal Binary version for Macs which is the only thing holding VW on the new Intel based Macs back.

If you want a Dell then it's going to be Intel based as they don't use AMD processors. Look to the Precision range for more workstation use, and ensure you spec the dual core processor machine to be as up to date in the world of buying pc's as you can be, remembering in these terms its "out of date" in a month !!

The 24" screen is better value than the 30" if your sticking to Dell for all your purchase.

Renderworks will benefit from the dual core processing more than VW itself, but it will still be faster in general programs use than a "old" single core processor.

1.5 to 2 gb of ram.

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