Computer specs for cad/cam
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    Default Computer specs for cad/cam

    I am thinking of adding some limited cnc capability to my small farm workshop. I figgered the first step was to learn how to operate the software(no use having a machine that I can't operate) after downloading a cad program I found it wouldn't work on my 10 year old computer. So I made some enquiries at a couple of computer retailers and one place told me that a $400 laptop would do everything I need and the next said nothing less than this $6500 one would run cad cam. I left thinking the first didn't know what he was talking about and the second taught I had sucker written on my forehead. I haven't had much to do with computers in the last 10 or so years I have realised that I am so far out of date I don't know what is required. I would be most grateful if someone could point me in the right direction as far as specifications for a computer capable of running cad cam programs stabily.

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    A "mid-level" business class notebook or desktop with a discrete graphics card will be enough for most low-end CAD/CAM work. Something around a $1K notebook or $700 desktop will work, but a lot depends on the software you want to use or how big a display resolution you want.

    If you need to save money look for a used Dell Precision system, you can get a very powerful computer fairly cheap with some careful shopping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    If you need to save money look for a used Dell Precision system, you can get a very powerful computer fairly cheap with some careful shopping.
    I loved the keyboard on my two precisions that met shop life with a thud. switched to the hp elite w -which oil/energy people recommended- a little slower, but lives at machines and on welding tables and backpack. The Precision is a really nice desktop replacement cad machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by memphisjed View Post
    I loved the keyboard on my two precisions that met shop life with a thud. switched to the hp elite w -which oil/energy people recommended- a little slower, but lives at machines and on welding tables and backpack. The Precision is a really nice desktop replacement cad machine.
    Yeah, I'm writing from my old M6700, which is getting up there. Had a M6300 before it, will likely get one of the 7000 series when the need arises. I don't use it next to the machines (sneakernet) so I'll trade speed for robustness.

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    - Buy this:
    Lenovo ThinkPad P50 i7 6820HQ 2.7GHz 16GB 512GB SSD 2GB M1000M 4K 3820 x 2160 | eBay

    - Put Fusion 360 on it.

    - Watch some YouTube tutorials.

    - Be making parts in a few hours.

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    In my particular instance, I put CAD-CAM in the office on a laptop which is hard-linked to my shoplink radio downloader to the machines.
    This was great, no packing programs by hand down to the floor, no manual input errors.
    And, lightning fast.
    Works out great, but here is what I have to fix:
    I put my CAD-CAM license on the laptop so I could do drawings at Customer site, show them the parts, drawn in front of them... sales stuff.
    Great Idea, never did do that.
    Also, every CAD-CAM seat was another license fee... thousands... and wanted around that.
    Now, that is moot due to Fusion 360... but anyway...
    The larger consideration was synchronization, which I will soon address.
    A better way, is to set up CAD-CAM in office with Windows 10 PRO and WI-Fi to my laptop.
    This way when I do floor edits, which I could just punch back to the office, I can remote access the main CAD-CAM computer and do my edits off the floor, and keep everything current rather than worrying over having various out-of-date files I might accidentally run.
    Just keeping everything on the same page can be a big issue. This solves it, and I won't have to run upstairs to maintain all the edits, which are usually minor, bum still, important.

    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    - Buy this:
    Lenovo ThinkPad P50 i7 6820HQ 2.7GHz 16GB 512GB SSD 2GB M1000M 4K 3820 x 2160 | eBay

    - Put Fusion 360 on it.

    - Watch some YouTube tutorials.

    - Be making parts in a few hours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    - Buy this:
    Lenovo ThinkPad P50 i7 6820HQ 2.7GHz 16GB 512GB SSD 2GB M1000M 4K 3820 x 2160 | eBay

    - Put Fusion 360 on it.

    - Watch some YouTube tutorials.

    - Be making parts in a few hours.
    Keep your eye on Costco. A month ago I got a brand new version of basically the same computer discounted to $699. The Lenovo warranty is extended to two years with Costco handling the warranty (Costco is very good on warranty type repair). Plus a no questions asked return in the first 90 days.

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    In the general case, a gaming oriented desktop will give you pretty good bang for the buck. I recommend Microcenter and Newegg.

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    Agreed ,I got a Dell gaming laptop and run Fusion and Gibbs(trial 3d for training). Graphics card and ram being most important.It's the new solid state hardrive which is suppossed to handle drops, which killed my last 3 laptops(not even big drops).IIRC it was $599 at Best Buy.

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    My computer is an AMD Phenom II with 4 gigs of DDR2 800 memory, which runs Fusion 360 just fine. I think the newest part in it is 9 years old. I have a discrete video card running my 1440p monitor. I am still using Win7 Pro so not sure how going to Win10 before the end of the year will work out.

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    I am far from an expert on this topic but I did just go through the same situation. Due to a lack of upgrade potential on most laptops if you can make due with a Desktop you can probably save some money. I picked up a used Dell optiflex 7080 for 150$ which has the potential for cheap upgrades but so far has not been an issue. I can run Mastercam while downloading tools from the Sandvik Coroplus library and watching tutorials on the second screen. As parts and tool paths get more complicated things may slow down but so far so good. This computer has 8gb or ddr3 ram 500gb storage and a gen 4 I5 running at 3.0 ghz. Many programs will post recommended computer specs for their software online and unless your doing fairly complicated parts being in the middle to lower end of those specs should be fine. The PC i use at work is a brand new Dell with the video card updated and I7 8th gen with something like 12 cores, and a Solid State 1TB hard drive It will run Mastercam on one screen, and Solidworks on the other with no issues ... that said it cost over 10x the price of what I bought.

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    I bought an HP Envy 795 and it did pretty well for me using Fusion and SolidWorks. It was a little slow sometimes in the bone stock configuration. I believe I paid $700 for it new. It had no graphics card, and used onboard graphics from the Processor. It had a decent 12GB of RAM and a lot of memory in a solid state and hard disc drive.

    I since brought it to 16GB RAM and added a 3 year old ASUS graphics card, and now it does an excellent job running Fusion and SolidWorks.

    In my opinion you really don't need a lot of computer to run CAD/CAM. You will see a big speed difference with a good processor when running a lot of adaptive toolpaths, and you'll have a generally better experience with more complex toolpaths, part designs, and assemblies, when running more RAM and a graphics card.

    I have maxed out a $3,000 work computer running SolidWorks assemblies with 1,300-1,500 parts in them, so it should be easy to imagine that if you're running only a handful of parts at a time that it won't take that much computer to do so.

    Couple things worth mentioning, get a good monitor (or screen if it's a laptop), and make sure the computer has enough power supply to support upgraded components in the future if there's any potential you'll want to update it. The computer I got has a 400w power supply and it's on the limit by just adding the graphics card.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug View Post
    Keep your eye on Costco. A month ago I got a brand new version of basically the same computer discounted to $699. The Lenovo warranty is extended to two years with Costco handling the warranty (Costco is very good on warranty type repair). Plus a no questions asked return in the first 90 days.
    This is a Great laptop for cad/cam. If you were doing purely CAD with 10k+ parts You would need the $6500 computer the guy was talking about. For single parts/small assemblies and CAM there is no need to go overboard. The quadro graphics card is made for this kind of usage and not so much gaming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Krankieone View Post
    ownloading a cad program I found it wouldn't work on my 10 year old computer.
    I sympathize with the "upgrade" scam
    I use year 1999 software for CAD and 15 year old CAM on a Dell with XP.
    Dell optima workstation ($80 from the local architects office obsolete)
    Goes to the FAdal via floppy disc, i just ran a 30k Line Gcode program.

    it is not ever the "magic" software, i just know how to use it.
    ks118-proof-4.jpg
    Nothing i cannot do with this "old" software.....
    We went to the moon with pencils paper, and NC coding sheets.

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    Implicit in all of this is a decent computer but a good video card. Gaming has done good things for video. Performance that used to cost $25K is now rather inexpensive.


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