Posts Tagged ‘Upgrade’

The Best Hardware Configuration for AutoCAD 2013, Part 4: Processor, Video Card, RAM and Hard Drive

October 31, 2012 35 comments

So far in this series, I’ve discussed how to determine if your hardware can handle the AutoCAD 2013 upgrade, how to outline your current and future needs and how to find new hardware if you decide it’s time for a new system. If you are looking for new hardware for AutoCAD 2013, here’s some specific components to look at closely.

The Processor and Video Card

Make sure to focus on the processor and the video card when looking for a new workstation. Especially the processor. This component is the most difficult to upgrade latter on.

A video card is easy enough to change out, but they can be very expensive. If you are working with 3D models and create a lot of renderings, make sure to get a good video card. “Regular” 2D CAD work will also require a good video card. Go through Autodesk’s list. Don’t fall into the trap of getting a gaming card. CAD requirements of video cards are very different from game requirements. CAD is a precision tool. Games are not. Games need speed. CAD needs accuracy.


RAM is another component that is easy to update later. Make sure you get ECC RAM (Error-Correcting Code Memory). One of the requirements of being a “workstation” is having ECC memory. This type of computer memory can detect and automatically fix common types of data corruption. That means fewer crashes while working in your CAD software!

Each motherboard will carry a certain amount of slots for the RAM chips. Get that number of chips. Each slot has a channel in which it can pump data through. If a slot is empty, then that channel isn’t being used.

Hard Drive

What are you going to do for internal storage? I’m talking about the hard drive. Workstations typically have support for RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent Disks. Essentially this type of storage system has multiple hard drives, each mirroring the other. If one fails the workstation still works because the second drive is still running. It’s automatic and can keep your CAD users working. Of course this will increase cost, but it could prolong the life of your workstation.

How much storage space is enough? If you are storing data files, images, videos, etc. on your network instead of your workstation, then you shouldn’t need much storage. 500 GB should be enough for most systems, probably even 350 GB. Make a list of all of the software programs a user needs, include the operating system, and add up the space needed. Leave room for growth and there you go.

The price of hard drives is always dropping, and the amount of storage space on each drive is always increasing. Getting a little less storage capacity could help reduce cost.

Author: Brian Benton

The Best Hardware Configuration for AutoCAD 2013, Part 3: Review Recommended Hardware

October 24, 2012 6 comments
AutoCAD 2013

AutoCAD 2013

As I mentioned before, you will be better served if you treat the recommended specifications as the minimum requirements. So let’s say you have determined that you need new hardware to run AutoCAD 2013. How do you pick the proper hardware?

Autodesk, like many software vendors, has lists of certified hardware. These certifications are there to ensure users that AutoCAD 2013 will work properly when using that hardware. Autodesk has provided a list of video cards and other equipment that they promise will work. Does it mean that it will be fast? No. But they do promise it will work properly.

Independent Software Vendor Certification

Autodesk and other vendors have established cooperation with several hardware vendors to certify that the workstations you purchase will run their software. These are called ISV Certifications. ISV stands for Independent Software Vendors. If you were to purchase a workstation from Dell, HP or Lenovo (for example), they will have systems that have ISV Certifications. That means the hardware manufacturer (HP, Dell, Lenovo) has sent a workstation to Autodesk for testing. Autodesk runs the workstation through the paces and says, yes, this will properly run AutoCAD. This is important because not all computer components are created equally, nor are all components created to run CAD software.

Autodesk has a website where you can go and look at individual components, or look at full workstations to help find the system that is right for you.

ISV Certification is typically only done with workstations. Workstations are not your typical PCs. Workstations are made for durability, long-term use in harsh environments, and for high precision work. They are industrial strength machines. They will cost more, but users will find that they have less downtime, less “lag” and overall better performance. Workstations guarantee that the machine you purchase has a minimum set of requirements for video cards, processing power and storage requirements. If you are running CAD software every day, you really should be running a workstation.

Find the Right Workstation for You

How do you pick the workstation you need?

  1. Make sure it is certified by Autodesk for AutoCAD 2013.
  2. Determine your budget.
  3. Then take a look at what each vendor has to offer.

Next we’ll talk about individual hardware components to focus on.

Author: Brian Benton

The Best Hardware Configuration for AutoCAD 2013, Part 2: Current and Future Needs

October 18, 2012 3 comments
AutoCAD 2013

AutoCAD 2013

We started this series by looking at our current hardware and if it’s up for the job. Next, let’s examine if your hardware will still work with your future needs, which may include going from 2D to 3D or adding cloud computing and mobile devices to the mix.

2D vs. 3D

If you truly want to make sure you are getting proper hardware, make sure to consider the type of work you do. If all you do is 2D work, then your hardware needs will be less than if you are creating 3D models or creating photorealistic renderings. Many firms are considering a jump to 3D. If so, often new hardware will be an important part of the upgrade.


Do you reference data across your network? Networking needs can go beyond workstation issues. It’s possible your workstations are slow because they are using data on a slow server or network. Check it out.

Work in the Cloud

AutoCAD 2013 has a lot of native cloud-based integration. Will you or could you perform work in the cloud? Autodesk’s cloud-based rendering service is currently free, but this won’t last for long. They are currently offering it for free until they fully work out the costs and pricing. However, you could save on hardware costs for your rendering by using this cloud rendering service as a short term answer instead of investing in new hardware.

Mobile Devices

Will you incorporate mobile devices? Autodesk has AutoCAD WS, a mobile CAD program that can view and edit AutoCAD DWG files. This mobile connection is also built into AutoCAD 2013. This may mean that you will also need to consider mobile hardware in the form of smartphones or tablets.

Autodesk Design Suite

If you are purchasing or have upgraded to an Autodesk Design Suite then you will also have greater hardware needs.

Answer these questions before you even start looking at new hardware. Determine what you are currently doing, what you plan on doing, and what you currently have hardware wise.

Next we are going to look at those recommended requirements for AutoCAD 2013.

Author: Brian Benton

The Best Hardware Configuration for AutoCAD 2013, Part 1: Can Your Current Workstation Handle The Upgrade?

October 10, 2012 7 comments
AutoCAD 2013

AutoCAD 2013

Autodesk releases a new version of its flagship design software AutoCAD every year, as it has since AutoCAD 2004 came out in 2003. This yearly cycle poses a dilemma for CAD and IT managers because new software may require new hardware. Before you install AutoCAD 2013, you need to know if your current hardware can handle it. Budgets are tight (when aren’t they?), and production cannot stop.

Here are some steps that you can take to make sure your hardware is up to snuff to run AutoCAD 2013.

Assess Your Needs

First off, if you are currently running AutoCAD 2010, 2011, or 2012 and are completely happy with the performance of your hardware, then 2013 will probably run fine for you. If it has been three or more years since your last hardware update, it is time to look at your hardware needs. Three years doesn’t mean you will have to update your hardware, but it is a good time to assess your needs.

Start off by spec’ing out your current hardware. What operating system are you running? Are you using a Mac or a PC? Are you using the current version of your OS?

At this time, AutoCAD 2013 does not support the latest version of Mac OS — OS X Mountain Lion. An update for this should come out soon enough though. Also, Windows 8 (due in late October 2012) is not currently supported either. This doesn’t mean it won’t work, it just means that Autodesk does not guarantee that it will work or work properly. Keep the OS in mind.

If you are using a 32-bit version of Windows, consider updating your OS to a 64-bit version. AutoCAD 2013 comes in both versions, but the 64 bit version will perform better.

Minimum vs. Recommended System Requirements

Autodesk has system requirements for AutoCAD 2013. There are two categories; minimum and recommended. Each category contains lists for 32- and 64-bit systems as well as for 3D requirements. Take the minimum requirements literally. These are the minimum specs you need to turn on AutoCAD. Running with these specs in production will be painful at best.

You will be better served if you treat the recommended specifications as the minimum requirements. If your current hardware meets the recommended specifications, or exceeds them, then it is likely you will be ok. But do you want to work on a level of production that is “ok”?

Next I’ll discuss planning for future needs.

Author: Brian Benton

Got a CAD Hardware Question? Ask the CADspeed Experts.

May 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Hardware Upgrades for CAD ManagersWant to optimize hardware for 3D CAD applications? Have a question about your CAD hardware? Looking to upgrade? Confused about the options? Here’s your chance to get help from the expert team here at CADspeed.

Get the CADspeed Expert Opinion

Find the answers you are looking for with CADspeed Q&A. Simply contact CADspeed with your hardware-related question. Our hardware experts will try to address your questions in an upcoming blog post.

Blog posts are developed by contributors who are experts in the area of professional hardware, 3D CAD software, or other related topics, including current bloggers, consultants, freelance writers, and even CAD users/managers/IT personnel themselves.

Get the answers, and get productive with CAD. Contact CADspeed with your hardware-related question today.

Note: Due to the high number of inquiries, we may not be able to address every question. Editors will try to group similar questions together to address as many as possible. General questions have a better chance of being answered than specific questions about brands or models.

Hardware Requirements Released for AutoCAD 2013

April 24, 2012 2 comments

Autodesk has released the platform and system requirements for AutoCAD 2013, which was launched on March 27, 2012. You can review the system requirements on the Autodesk website.

Below are a few frequently asked questions about AutoCAD 2013.

Does AutoCAD 2013 software support 64-bit operating systems?

Yes. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)

Does AutoCAD 2013 software support Windows Vista?

No, AutoCAD 2013 does not support the Windows Vista® operating system.

Does AutoCAD 2013 software support Mac OS X?

AutoCAD 2013 for Mac supports some versions of Mac OS® X. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)

What are the differences between AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD 2013 for Mac?

AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD 2013 for Mac are based on much of the same source code; however, AutoCAD for Mac 2013 has a look and feel that is familiar to users of other Mac software. (See the system requirements on the Autodesk website.)

Does AutoCAD 2013 software support multiple CPU systems?

Yes, AutoCAD 2013 software supports multiple CPUs. The performance of AutoCAD graphics and rendering systems benefits from multiple CPU systems.

Mobile CAD: Discover Three Cool New Features of AutoCAD WS v1.4

March 12, 2012 1 comment
New Features of AutoCAD WS v1.4

New Features of AutoCAD WS v1.4

Every time we put out a new version of the AutoCAD WS application, the first meeting we have after the release is about what we are going to add to the next release. Our product development strategy has always been to listen closely to the feedback and emails we get from our users and to try and provide functionality and workflows that addresses their needs.

The latest upcoming release — AutoCAD WS 1.4 mobile application— is a fantastic leap forward in terms of delivering a more complete solution for AutoCAD WS users. Outlined below are three major additions to the existing feature set that we feel will really appeal to AutoCAD WS users — and given that we currently have more than 3.5 million registered users throughout the world, that’s a pretty tall order.

3D Support

The biggest story of the new release is that you will be able to view 3D files in the AutoCAD WS mobile app. We’re very excited with the way this 3D viewing functionality has evolved: it lends itself to touch screen phones and tablets in a very natural and intuitive way. There are a number of different views preprogrammed into the app that will help you see your drawings from key angles, or you can go totally freestyle and rotate your designs in any direction to get an understanding of what they will look like in 3D.

Plot from Mobile

For the first time we are enabling the AutoCAD WS mobile app to plot directly from within the app. Whether you’re looking at a 2D or 3D version of your design, you should be able to plot your drawing as a PDF or DWF and attach it to an email for sending from within the mobile app. In addition, we have joined with HP to take advantage of their HP ePrint & Share service, enabling you to plot your designs directly to any web-connected HP Designjet or other HP ePrinter, anywhere in the world from wherever you are. It’s a great way to share hard copies of your drafts with colleagues and clients — even while you’re still in the field.

GPS Integration

This is a feature that we have had a lot of requests for from the AutoCAD WS community. Using the built-in GPS capabilities of your smartphone or tablet, you will be able to locate yourself within your drawing. The accuracy of the positioning will depend on your mobile device, but this feature will enable you to move around within your design and make location-specific comments.

All in all, for our first release of 2012, AutoCAD WS 1.4 offers a pretty varied selection of highly requested features. But we’re not stopping here: as we approach the upcoming launch date, we’ll of course be turning our thoughts to yet the next release.

Author: AutoCAD WS Team

Four Things to Do With Your Old CAD Hardware System, Part 2: Donating and Recycling

December 1, 2011 1 comment

Donating or Recycling Your CAD WorkstationWe’re talking about what you can do with the older CAD hardware systems after an upgrade in this two-part series. The first section reviewed possible internal needs. Now we’ll look at what to do with hardware systems that are surplus or simply too outdated to be reused.

Note: before donating or recycling old computer equipment, consider your data security needs. If your CAD data is proprietary or classified, take steps to make sure you don’t inadvertently transfer information along with the hardware system.

3. Donate It

If you really have no use for an old machine or two around the office, call your local nonprofit organization or school district. Sometimes tech schools also accept old computers to use in labs or as training tools. Many organizations have minimum donation standards, so be sure to ask to make sure your potential donation truly meet their needs. There’s no point donating a machine that will only be a burden, not an asset.

Many charitable organizations, like Goodwill, take your old computer parts and sell them to raise money. Look for a company in your area.

4. Recycle It

It’s important that you do not throw your old computer parts into the trash. Computers include many hazardous chemicals that should not end up in landfills. Many states have a law about the disposal and recycling of electronics.

Find a reputable recycler in your area that will dispose of the electronics properly. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of organizations that accept computers as donations or for recycling on their website. If you don’t know of any local organizations that accept computer systems, start here.

Make a Plan for Your Old CAD Systems Too

Some PC manufacturers have their own donation programs. Dell, for example, works with a foundation that provides computers to disabled children ( We recommend asking manufacturers or retailers if they have an in-house donation or recycling program when you are planning your software and hardware upgrade, which can simplify the logistics for your IT team.

What do you do with your old CAD systems after a hardware upgrade? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Cadalyst Staff

Four Things to Do With Your Old CAD Hardware System, Part 1: Internal Needs

November 29, 2011 1 comment

Exponential growth in the capabilities of CAD software eventually will require companies to upgrade CAD hardware systems so an organization can benefit from the new design functions. The overall goal of any upgrade should be to maximize these benefits to improve the company’s workflow (and the bottom line).

Here at CADspeed, we’ve helped you plan a CAD software and hardware upgrade with your IT department with this philosophy in mind. But once the upgrade is complete, what should you do with the older CAD hardware systems?

First we’ll look at the possible internal needs within an organization.

1. Not All CAD Operators Have the Same Needs

The truth is, not every CAD user may need the latest and greatest hardware. Many organizations have employees performing different levels of CAD work. High-level users obviously should be the first in line for upgrades. Will their older machines work for users who aren’t doing 3D rendering or CAE work?

Naturally, the entire CAD department needs to work together on projects, so prevent obvious conflicts that could occur on different operating systems or software versions, for example. You want your team to be as efficient and effective as possible. The point is, take a good look at how your CAD department functions and make sure your CAD hardware systems are meeting your needs.

2. Non-CAD Employees

Older CAD hardware still may have a lot of life left in it for non-CAD users. Systems that were cutting edge only three or four years ago for CAD may be still be perfectly usable for other staff members who won’t ever open a CAD file. Managers, administrators, support staff and assistants could extend the life of older systems, which are still perfectly capable of running less-powerful software.

For example, if you have employees who use mainly email, web browsers and basic office programs, older CAD systems may run these less-intensive software applications without any problem. Take a look at your entire organization, not just the CAD department.

Next, we’ll look at what to do with hardware systems that are surplus or simply too outdated to be reused.

Author: Cadalyst Staff

Installing Autodesk 2012 Software? Prep Your System First!

November 1, 2011 2 comments

Autodesk has released it’s juicy new 2012 software upgrades, and you finally have that software license in your hand. Here’s a few tips from the Autodesk folks on preparing your system before installing Autodesk software.

Installing your Autodesk software consists of the three main steps shown in the diagram below. This guide will take you through the first step of preparing your system before beginning the installation process.

Installation process for Autodesk 2012 products.

Installation process for Autodesk 2012 products.

Before you begin your installation, it is important that you first prepare your system. Preparing your system is essential to a smooth and successful installation of your Autodesk product and consists of five simple tasks. Click on the tasks below for further explanation.

The concepts and procedures apply to all Autodesk 2012 products.