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Top end Windows machine or go to Mac?

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OK, so I still have not pulled the trigger and asked for a quote on a higher grade of machine. Any thoughts on this setup?

Dell Precision Workstation

Intel Xeon E5 1607 Processor, Windows 7 Pro


3 GB NVIDIA Quadro K400

Some questions I have:

Xeon vs. i7 processor? I am seeing a lot of i7's in this forum's signatures. My research tells me that the Xeon is more common in workstations, but should I be asking for an i7?

Is the 3GB Quadro K400 a better GPU than the 4GB GeForce GTX 745?

Are specs above significantly better than the specs below? The specs above are coming in at $900 more than those below.

***** previous specs/older quote *****

Dell OptiPlex 9020 Desktop

Windows 7 Pro, 64 Bit


Intel Core i7-4790 (Quad Core, 8MB, 3.60GHz w/HD4600 Graphics)

1 TB Hard Drive, DVD +/- RW,

nVIDIA GeForce GTX 745, 4GB DDR3, 1 VGA, 1 DVI, 1 HDMI

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Xeons are not worth it in my mind. You have to pay for more expensive ram and motherboard. They are made for servers that have to do high volumes of work, not for our industry.

I also feel the same about the quadro, an expensive card that VW says is not preferable to the high end gaming cards. Jim probably can recommend the best card for the money.

Since you are going to be working in a 64 bit environment, I would get the most ram you can, as you will be able to address more memory than you can probably fit in your machine. This means you can have piggy programs like photoshop, excel, and vw open at the same time and they will still remain more responsive.

Is the hard drive solid state? Solid state drives have super fast read/write times, which can make your computer much more responsive.

Don't forget as well that one of the most important upgrades you can get for a computer is your monitor.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

As stated above, Xeons; while being slightly better as far as performance over say, a similar series i7 CPU, are significantly more expensive, require significantly more expensive motherboards and (sometimes) RAM as well. If you render all day every day then a 20% speed gain would be worth it, as you could save weeks out of the year in render time, but if you only do it an hour or two a day, youre only saving 10 mins a day at the cost of sometimes hundreds of dollars.

Also as stated above, Quadros are geared towards "workstation" category machines as you would expect a Vectorworks machine to be included in, but we do not release Quadro-specific drivers like 3DS Max or other software packages do, so they really just aren't worth it. They're significantly more costly, drivers are updated less often, and in general we see better OpenGL performance out of their cheaper, gaming counterparts. Specifically the GeForce GTX 970 series as of the writing of this post if you're going for the best bang for the buck.

An SSD (Solid State Drive) is highly recommend, as it makes not only boot up time for your machine much shorter, but makes each little thing your machine does just a bit faster. You will have difficulty quantifying it without running a direct stopwatch comparison between a standard HDD and an SSD, but trust me, you will FEEL the difference in every tiny moment where a machine used to lag behind your input.

16GB of RAM should be more than fine for most uses, but yes in general, the more the merrier, with 24 or 32GB where you will no longer see a return on investment for more.


As a semi-aside to this thread, would you folks find it useful for Tech Support to post an up to date every 6-months-or-so Buyer's Guide for hardware such as graphics cards and CPUs? We generally don't advise specific computer models, since specs change so rapidly we could never keep up, but would specific components and overall recommended specs by us (as an enhancement to the minimum specs we list officially) be desirable?

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Thanks, Grant and Jim. It looks like I am back at the 32GB i7 with 4GB nVIDIA GeForce GTX 745. Since I do not intend to run multiple or super high res monitors it sounds like that GPU should work for me.

As for the new monitor, we are looking at a Dell Ultrasharp 27" 2560x1440 LED. Any thoughts?

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Thanks again, all. I really appreciate your feedback. I have decided on this system and plan on confirming the order later today unless someone out there thinks they should talk me out of it.

The whole rig with Office 2013 and 3 year hardware warranty is coming in at $2,900 with tax. The vendor is local and trusted so that factored in, too. I searched a couple on-line custom builders (Falcon and Origin) and while I felt I could get a slightly better machine (namely a higher grade GPU) with them, I prefer to keep my dollars local.

Dell OptiPlex 9020 Desktop

Windows 7 Pro, 64 Bit


Intel Core i7-4790 (Quad Core, 8MB, 3.60GHz w/HD4600 Graphics)

256GB SSD primary drive (for the OS and software)

1 TB SATA secondary drive (for less used stuff and archiving)

DVD +/- RW

nVIDIA GeForce GTX 745, 4GB DDR3

27" Dell Utrasharp 2560x1440 U2713HM

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