I'm shopping for a desktop computer for my daughter who is learning AutoCad. I'm trying to get a fix on what CPU and what amount of memory would insure that AutoCad runs well. In addition, I'd like to know if I should avoid computers with shared video memory. Finally, what do I need to know about graphics cards? Do I need an expensive graphics card like the NVidia GeForce 4 Ti4600 or the ATL Radeon 9700 Pro?
If my daughter is going to be using AutoCad I would like it to run well on whatever desktop computer I decide to get. She is in the interior design/decorating line.
I have always had good luck with AMD chips. I like seeing NVIDIA on the chipset on the board. Just my experience.
NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 with AGP8X [Display adapter] (nothing fancy, about $25 last time I checked)
and a gig of ram. I built it.
I am a cheapskate. But I would recomend a SATA hard drive. No real cost increase, and the difference in speed is amazing. You'll appreciate that every time you autosave.
I have two with pretty much this set up, they are the fastest this cheapskate has ever owned. For a beginner, I think it would serve. I don't push the 3d envelope here, but I get a lot of work done (from time to time).
I shopped pricewatch.com for parts, and ended up with about $300 invested. I did reuse some parts, and obviously software costs not included.
A computer is as slow as it's slowest piece. I spent some time reading stuff I don't understand on a mother board message board. Front side bus speed is a spec I watch. And I think you kind of want to balance the amount of ram you use with the CPU speed. No need to process at real high speed if you have no place to put it.
Don't underestimate the value of a decent sized monitor.
If you want a boni fide manufacturer, fine. But if they are offering a real good deal look out for a component that is substandard. Usually when a Dell or a Gateway has a "good deal" the motherboard is one they need to unload because some piece is not good, and they build an otherwise cool computer around the part they need to dump. If the piece that is substandard is not mission critical, it can be a good deal. Otherwise, not.
Hope that helps. I like to build computers, but I do not keep up to date enough for it to be more than a hobby. And the specs change so DAMNED fast.
If you think you want to get into rendering, then a motherboard with dual processors or capapble of hanlding dual core chips might be worth looking into, but for myself I did not research it. CHECK WITH THE GAMERS. One fellow I typed to wanted to drop $500 on a second video card. He's pushing the graphics. Gamers. Go figure.