Everybody's on a budget. At the same time, work deadlines are getting tighter and workloads are growing larger. So, what are the best investments that actually return higher productivity relative to their costs? When it comes time to upgrade your CAD workstation, here's where you can get the boom for the buck.
RAM Memory: Cheap and Powerful
RAM rarely makes the top of the list in terms of upgrades, which is a shame because memory is one of the most affordable upgrades on the list and enhances the performance of all the other components of the machine. The larger and faster RAM your workstation has, the better the performance of every process and application. Shoot for at least 6 GB, but go for 16 or more if it's in the budget, especially if you work with huge model files or compute-heavy applications like running analysis or rendering.
CPU Power: Good is Good but Best Isn't Always Better
Many workstations are now coming standard with dual core processors, and even quad or hex core processors. Some software utilizes multiple cores, but some do not. Check the recommended CPU specs for the software packages you use the most and definitely invest in the best CPU you can afford. But if you're running apps that don't make use of multiple processors, it's better to get the highest end single core instead of the lowest end dual or quad core. Still, CPU makes second on this list because a quality CPU means more productivity, especially for jobs like simulations and rendering, which are heavy on the processing.
GPU: Looking Good, Baby
Most workers want great-looking graphics, and in many jobs higher visual performance does relate to higher work performance.Higher end GPUs can offer greater power and speed, which is essential if you're running 3-D graphics. A hefty GPU also makes visuals more fluid, especially during tasks like pan, zoom, rotate, and animation generation. Having a quality GPU can also take some of the load of RAM if memory is getting tight.
Solid State Disk Drives: SSD is Coming Down in Price, Yielding Higher Value
SSDs are finally coming down in price, though still significantly more expensive than comparable HDDs. SSDs don't move, so these drives are ideal for field conditions where the machine is expected to endure a bit of punishment. SSDs also last longer, boot much faster, and generally offer more reliability. If SSD is anywhere near your budget limitations, it's definitely worth the investment.
Monitors: The More the Merrier
Sleek 1280 X 720 HD monitors make it much easier to see detail and get an idea of what the finished product is going to look like. But the large, detailed monitors that work so spectacularly for CAD aren't the best for viewing mundane items like email or spreadsheets. Invest in two monitors -- one for the visual clarity and intense detail, and another, lower-end monitor for regular workday tasks. This also eliminates the need to switch views every time you get an email or need to add billable hours to a client's spreadsheet.
For CAD users, Cadalyst is the brand of CAD information provider that offers the most complete and up-to-date information about CAD, including what products are worth the investment and which are best to skip. Visit the Cadalyst website for up-to-date, accurate industry information today.