Computer For CAD Work: What You Should Know Before Making A Purchase

A powerful workstation is one of the defining factors that will contribute to your success while CAD designing, therefore it is crucial to know what to consider before creating your CAD workstation.

So what is a Workstation?

A designer’s workstation is the working environment that supports him/her in the effort of developing design ideas and bringing these ideas to life with the tools in a workstation. Therefore, most workstations consist of a personal computer for designing, a design software, a sketch pad to check ideas and other idiosyncrasies that help CAD users focus on the task at hand. In today’s tutorial, emphasis will be placed on the most important tool in any workstation; the computer system.

Choosing a Computer for CAD work

cad workstation

When choosing a computer for CAD work, three important criteria must be taken into consideration;

The graphic card of the system

This is a collection of hardware and software tools that generate a feed of output images to the display monitor. In simpler terms, graphic cards are the tools required to translate the images a machine or computer produces.

The Systems Memory

Memory space plays an integral part in computer-aided design for—available ROM –determines how fast the system runs while managing bulky designs, as well as storage space—available RAM—for saving projects directly on your computer. Although most computers aided design platforms now come with cloud storage options, having an alternative on your personal computer eliminates any cloud connection issues.

The processing speed

A computer can only function as fast as its processing chips and the faster your personal computer is, the quicker you would be able to execute certain design tasks—rendering, animating, etc.—while working on a project.

Choosing between a Laptop and a Desktop Computer

Now that the most important features have been outlined, the next step to choosing the perfect personal computer for Computer-aided design is choosing the aesthetics of the computer that will make up your workstation. To do this, the following criteria must be explored and the answers to the questions they raise will determine the computer each designer requires for his/her drafting purposes.

Here is a post attempting to help you select the best Laptop for CAD.


A mouse will make you or break you when it comes to working with AutoCAD. Note that you will not be able to use AutoCAD without an at least 3-buttons computer mouse. Whether you are planning to use AutoCAD on your laptop or on a desktop, you will need a mouse. Here is a good post that will help you know how to select the best mouse for AutoCAD.

How you Work

How you approach designing plays a huge role in choosing between a laptop or a desktop computer. If you are the type that loves the flexibility and handling multiple tasks while designing, then having a mobile computer-laptop-is probably the best choice you can make. While for individuals who love order and thrive on their ability to focus solely on one task, then setting up a desktop computer is the way to go.

Where you work

Freelancers, amateur designers, and CAD hobbyists will probably love the freedom using a laptop give when designing. Using a laptop means you can design models on-the-go without the limitations of being glued to a desktop computer. While designers and graphic artists working in structured firms and animation studios basically make use of desktop computers in order to fit in with company policies. Immobile desktop computers also make networking and collaboration easy in the workplace.

Last thought

Choosing between the mobility of a desktop and the flexibility a laptop gives is determined by how each individual works or where he or she is situated during design hours. CAD users can also choose to have both an office desktop and a working laptop for home use depending on office policies. Saying one mode of computing is better than the other is completely false due to the fact that you can equip any computer system you plan to continuously work through, with any specifications–disk size, processing speed, video/graphic card–you choose.

If you use AutoCAD and want to know what is the system requirements for AutoCAD

System requirements for AutoCAD 2020

Operating System Microsoft® Windows® 7 SP1 with Update KB4019990 (64-bit only)
Microsoft Windows 8.1 with Update KB2919355 (64-bit only)
Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit only) (version 1803 or higher)
ProcessorBasic: 2.5–2.9 GHz processor
Recommended: 3+ GHz processor
Multiple processors: Supported by the application
Memory Basic: 8 GB
Recommended: 16 GB
Display ResolutionConventional Displays:
1920 x 1080 with True Color

High Resolution & 4K Displays:
Resolutions up to 3840 x 2160 supported on Windows 10, 64-bit systems (with capable display card)
Display Card Basic: 1 GB GPU with 29 GB/s Bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant
Recommended: 4 GB GPU with 106 GB/s Bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant
Disk Space 6.0 GB
Network Deployment via Deployment Wizard. The license server and all workstations that will run applications dependent on network licensing must run TCP/IP protocol.
Either Microsoft® or Novell TCP/IP protocol stacks are acceptable. Primary login on workstations may be Netware or Windows.
In addition to operating systems supported for the application, the license server will run on the Windows Server® 2016, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 editions.
.NET Framework .NET Framework Version 4.7 or later*DirectX11 recommended by supported OS

Check the system requirements for other versions of AutoCAD

What others say (unedited)

get as much RAM as you can. a good GPU and CPU will work for most 2D applications

AutoCAD does not utilize multiple cores so the clock speed of a multi-core chip matters…not the numbers of cores.


If you stick with straight-2D then onboard graphics would suffice. But if you want any kind of modeling or shading (3D) then get a workstation video card. I use Quadro 600/660 cards for Civil 3D. Do NOT use a video game card…that’s a different kind of 3D.

Bump up RAM,if you can.


The GPU is the most important factor besides lots of RAM (8 or 16 megs is good, more is better, but 16 is good). Autocad has a hardware acceleration feature that only works with certified GPU from Nvidea, AMD and intel

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