Review of the best CAD workstations and what is CAD?

Review of the best CAD workstations and what is CAD?

Oct 25, 2018 | Life, Products

Disclosure: We use affiliate links in this post because it earns us a little commission if you buy a product through my page, but these are all products we recommend. We only show good quality products and products we tested. All prices are excluding shipping/importing fees.

What the heck is

CAD

Computer-aided Design or in short CAD

Remember back in the good old days when there were no such things like computers, smartphones, tablets or other electronics used for creating technical drawings of all sorts? No? Well, here is some history…

It goes way back to the drafting table where the drafting technician has to draw lines on paper by hand. Wait, who is the drafting technician?

But first, what is a technical drawing?

A technical drawingdrafting, or drawing, is the act and discipline of composing drawings that visually communicate how something functions or is constructed. Thanks to Wikipedia!

Most importantly it is a discipline and an art to express what the technical designer wants to put on paper or computer screen nowadays. Communication is key in the process and thanks to the visual drawings they made it is so much easier to understand what the drafter has in their head.

A drafting technician, drafterdraftsperson, or draughtsman is a person who makes a drawing (technical or expressive). A professional drafter who makes technical drawings is sometimes called a drafting technician. Thanks again Wikipedia!

Now, What is CAD?

Computer-aided design or CAD is the use of modern computers to aid in the creation of a design. Can be any design you can imagine. And yes, for this you need good quality software like Autocad for example to do the job.

Spindle

A spindle example drawn at the VDAB Centre in 2010

Me and

CAD

Why I use CAD?

I was a student at the technical school Don Bosco Hoboken in Belgium and graduated as a mechanical engineer (sort of) in 2009. I loved drafting the stuff we were going to produce on the milling machine or CNC. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control and is an advanced and more automated machine than the manual milling machine.

I simply loved creating drawings more than standing behind the CNC and make my hands dirty. Not that I don’t dare to make them dirty, though ? Just the cooling liquids are not that healthy. After school I went to the public library and searched for the well-known TEC / CAD college book to learn more about Autocad. An amazing piece of software to produce 2D and 3D drawings. Even back then in 2004!

After Don Bosco I attended a course at VDAB to further develop my Autocad and Inventor skills. We didn’t use Inventor at school and I really wanted to learn more about the software. The course lasted half a year and I started working as soon as it came to an end.

I began working at a solar company in Lokeren and had to endure 2 heavy weeks struggling with messy Inventor drawings created by the previous draughtsman. Simply put, it was hell and too far from where I lived. So, it lasted only 2 weeks and I changed my mind. My second job was at Engie Axima, a company that takes care of the HVAC installations of companies and offices. I worked 2 years there and changed to Scaldis, Salvage & Marine Contractors on 11 December 2013 and I’m still there today.

Scaldis is a company that installs offshore structures for the oil and gas industry, renewable energy & salvage works. Our area of interest is the North Sea, Baltic Sea and hopefully we expand the area to the east as well.

And so I became a master in the Autocad software, which I use every single day as soon as I started working. My hobby became my profession and that is what I love doing.

Saas-Grund by Roger G.

© Photo by Livemedia

Review of the best

CAD Workstations

Do you like waiting?

Heck no, you don’t. If you hate waiting then you’re just me. We’re humans right! We don’t like to wait. How awful is it to wait for a single block to load into your project, or whatever amazing render you are creating and it takes ages to even open or save or at last render.

I know the feeling, trust me…

Your workstation is the most important tool you can use to maximize productivy, quality and even quantity when it comes to the engineering process of a drawing.

Below I recommend some top-quality and entry-level workstations and laptops to give you the best experience in your specific branch.

Things to consider

before you buy

Processor/CPU

Intel Core i9 X-series processor

Intel Core i9 X-series processor

 

The power behind each and every laptop, workstation or just any electronic device out there. AMD & Intel are top quality processor providers and are currently ruling the market. Be sure to get the right amount of cores (the more the better) and also the speed is important depending of your budget and choice.

Memory/RAM

DDR5 memory RAM

DDR5 memory RAM

The more RAM, the better. 16 GB of RAM is a must for CAD systems! In combination with Google Chrome for example, the amount of RAM can get critical for your work.

Hard drive/HDD/SSD

Samsung SSD 1TB hard drive

Samsung SSD 1TB hard drive

 

Be sure to get an SSD (Solid State Drive) instead of an HDD (Hard Disk Drive). Solid States are simply much more powerful, faster, safer and they are more efficient. A big-capacity HDD can be perfect for your storage, but for software a fast SSD is highly recommended.

Video card/GPU

Graphics Card AMD RX 580 - Geforce GTX 1060

Graphics Card AMD / Geforce

 

CAD systems are better with a good video card as it will transfer the image of your drawing to your computer screen. The more RAM a video card has the quicker the task will be executed.

Monitor

Curved monitor

Curved monitor

 

A monitor is hereby important to fit your entire drawing on one single screen or multiple screens. Optimal 2 screens are perfect for CAD technicians. One for the main drawing and one for all the toolbars.

High-end Workstations

$1,000 – $3,000 range

by Dell

Dell XPS 8930 Tower Desktop

Dell XPS 8930

Product details

  • 8th Generation Intel i7-8700 6-Core 3.20 GHz Processor (12M Cache, up to 4.60 GHz), Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory + 2TB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive, DVD-RW Drive
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB GDDR5 Graphics (1x Display Port, 1x HDMI, 1x DVI), Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • Dell Wireless 802.11a/c + Bluetooth v4.1, Integrated 5.1 Channel Audio with Waves MaxxAudio Pro
  • 1 Year Limited Warranty, Dell USB Laser Mouse – Black, Dell Wired Keyboard – Black, No Monitor Included

Product review

I bought my XPS 8300 desktop tower in 2011 and upgraded it with a bigger case to fit a more powerful graphics card in to expand its power capabilities. Today it is still a powerful beast of a PC. Back then there wasn’t Thunderbolt, or USB 3.0 so I had to upgrade a PCI express card with the new USB interface for faster data transfer. Yay!

I’m very satisfied with my system, it is still powerful and works like a charm.
So, I can only recommend investing in Dell’s XPS tower desktops.

Read PC MAG’s review here

Product price

$1,047.89

(shipping costs excluded)

Brand-new 2018 Dell XPS 9370

Dell XPS 9370

Product details

  • Intel Core 8th Generation i7-8550U Processor (Quad Core, up to 4.0 GHz, 8M Cache)
  • 13.3” 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge Touch display | Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz Memory | 256GB PCIe Solid State Drive
  • Widescreen HD (720p) webcam, Windows Hello compliant | Power button integrated fingerprint reader
  • Killer 1435 WiFi 802.11ac 2x2 with Bluetooth | Windows 10 Professional 64 bit

Product review

As a Dell user I want to add this one to my list, being reviewed by many users this laptop is a beast when it comes to power. 4 GHz and a 4K display, 16 GB of memory and a 256 GB capacity SSD.

My only tip is to pick the right capacity for the SSD because this isn’t easy to replace.

Product price

$1,699.00

(shipping costs excluded)

by HP

HP ZBook x2

HP 14" ZBook x2 G4

HP ZBook x2

Product details

  • 2 in 1 Mobile Workstation
  • Intel Core i7, 7th Gen, 2.70 GHz, Dual-core
  • 16 GB Memory SDRAM
  • Solid State Drive Capacity: 512 GB, Screen Size: 14″, Display Screen Type: LCD
  • 4k touchscreen display 3840 x 2160
  • 1 USB 3.0 port, 1, USB Type-C (Thunderbolt 3)
  • Height: 0.8″, Width: 14.4″, Depth: 8.9″
  • Approximate weight: 4.78 lb
  • Windows 10 Pro

Product review

A stunning design and powerful 2-in-1 mobile workstation build to last for years. Its screen is detachable and can be used as a tablet as well as docked or standard laptop. Packed with 16 gigabytes of memory and a 4k touchscreen, this laptop is perfect for any task.

Product price

$2,199.99

(shipping costs excluded)

HP Envy 34″ Curved All-in-One

HP Envy 34 Curved

Product details

  • Intel Core i7-7700T with TURBO BOOST up to 3.80GHz
  • 32 GB of RAM (ULTRA performance); AMD graphics 4GB GDDR5 dedicated & up to 10GB total video RAM
  • 2 TB SSD Drive; HDMI 2.0 ports in & out
  • 34″ CURVED Brilliant diagonal anti-glare screen (3440x1440 px)
  • Bang & Olufsen QUAD speakers, HD TrueVision web cam & mic, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0 M.2; 4x USB 3.0; 1x USB 3.1 Type-C; 3-in-1 memory card reader; Wireless keyboard/mouse

Product review

HP’s Curved all-in-one desktop computer is a highly recommended workstation pc for all your tasks. It boosts up to 3.8 GHz with 32 GB of RAM and your hard drive is 2 TB SSD (Solid State Drive). Its sound will be magnificent as it comes of Bang & Olufsen’s quad speakers.

Product price

$2,899.00

(shipping costs excluded)

2018 HP Spectre x360 15 inch

2018 HP Spectre x360 15 inch

Product details

  • Intel Core i7-8550U (1.8 GHz base frequency, up to 4 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 8 MB cache, 4 cores)
  • 15.6″ diagonal 4K IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit touch screen with Corning Gorilla Glass (3840 x 2160)
  • 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, 16 GB DDR4-2133 SDRAM, NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2 GB GDDR5 dedicated)
  • Includes HP Stylus Pen + HP Spectre Travel Dock for HP USB-C Charging Laptops

Product review

I truly love this laptop’s design and specs. It’s amazing, well done HP! In 2019 I’ll buy my first HP laptop and it’s gonna be a Spectre for sure. Packed with a 4K Corning Gorilla Glass screen, 4 GHz processor, and configurable up to 2 TB SSD, this laptop is great for CAD enthusiasts.

Product price

$1,259.00 (with Stylus Pen & USB-C dock)

$1,179.00 (with HP Stylus Pen)

$1,095.00 (without Stylus Pen)

(shipping costs excluded)

2018 Newest Flagship HP Pavilion

2018 HP Pavilion

Product details

  • Intel Core i5-7400 (3.0 GHz base frequency, up to 3.5 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 6 MB SmartCache, 4 cores), 16GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM (2x 8 GB), 512GB SSD (Boot) + 1 TB 7200 rpm SATA
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (3 GB dedicated graphics, Latest gaming technologies, VR ready, Maximum Digitial Resolution: 7680x4320@60Hz
  • DVD-Writer, 7-in-1 memory card reader, Integrated 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (1x1) and Bluetooth? 4.2 M.2 combo, 1 USB 3.0 Type-C?; 1 USB 3.0; 1 headphone/microphone combo 2 USB 3.0; 2 USB 2.0; 1 RJ-45

Product review

HP is well-known for its high-end professional workstations and this Flagship is a good entry to the requirements of CAD. Brand new i5 up to 3.5 GHz processor and a killer graphics card of 3 GB, this desktop tower should give you the right amount of power for you daily work.

Product price

$1,099.00

(shipping costs excluded)

by Lenovo

2018 Lenovo Yoga 720

2018 Lenovo Yoga 720

Product details

  • 15.6″ Touchscreen Widescreen LED-LCD (3840 x 2560) (UHD) display, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics
  • Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core processor, 2.8 GHz, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
  • 1 x USB Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x Headphone output/Microphone input combo, Thunderbolt Ports
  • 802.11ac/a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Webcam, Media Reader, Backlit Keyboard ; 360° flip-and-fold design
  • Windows 10 Home, 0.8″ Thin, 4.41 lbs Weight

Product review

I’ve always loved the design of Lenovo Yoga laptops and as I’ve read they’re quite good quality too. Yoga sounds already good and hip these years. And it’s a 2-1 as well. You can use it as a laptop, tablet, tent mode and more.

Touchscreen of 15.6″ and 4K to display all your toolbars on one screen. Powered by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 and 1 TB SSD.

Product price

$1,695.00

1 TB SSD | 16 GB RAM
(shipping costs excluded)

Lenovo ThinkPad P52

Lenovo ThinkPad P52

Product details

  • Processor: Intel 8th Gen i7-8750H 6-Core Processor (9MB Cache, up to 4.1 GHz with Max Turbo)
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4 2400MHz
  • Storage: 1TB 7200rpm Hard Disk Drive
  • Wireless: 802.11 AC Wireless + Bluetooth 4.1
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro P1000 (4GB memory) + Intel UHD Graphics 630 | Display: 15.6″ FHD Display (1920 x 1080)
  • 3-Year Warranty
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Product review

Most big companies have Lenovo ThinkPad’s nowadays for one reason; power. It truly is so powerful and packed with 32 GB of RAM. Nothing can go wrong. 6-core processor and 9MB of cache, you guys! Up to 4.1 GHz speed.

Lenovo is very proud of its powerful ThinkPad systems and this one is no exception. Only thing it lacks is an SSD.

Product price

$2,095.00

1 TB HDD | 32 GB RAM
(shipping costs excluded)

2018 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

2018 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Product details

  • Intel Core i7-8650U Processor (8M Cache, up to 4.2 GHz) – 1 TB NVMe-PCIe Solid State Drive – 16 GB RAM
  • 14″ Dolby Vision 500 Nits WQHD HDR (2560x1440) Touchscreen – Dockable, Active Stylus Pen – Intel 2 x 2 AC Dual Band Wireless + Bluetooth 4.1 with Intel vPro Technology – Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • Enhanced Security Features include: Touch Fingerprint Reader
  • sted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) Security Chip – FIDO Capable – Integrated 720p HD Webcam with 360-degree far field microphones – I/O: 2x USB 3.1, 2x USB 3.1 Type-C/Thunderbolt, Headphone/Mic Combo Jack, HDMI, microSD, Ethernet Extension Connection Port
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Product review

At work we use HP ZBook’s and I must say they’re really fast and reliable for just any task. Clocked at 4 GHz and fuelled by a AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100 with 3 GB of VRAM. Including 32 GBs of DDR4 SDRAM, this laptop workstation will be just perfect for you.

Product price

$2,449.00

2 TB SSD | 32 GB RAM
(shipping costs excluded)

by Asus

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15

ASUS ZenBook Pro 15

Product details

  • 8th Generation Intel Core i9-8950HK Processor (12M Cache, up to 4.8 GHz, 6 cores)
  • Fast storage and memory featuring 2TB PCIE NVME SSD Upgrade with 16GB DDR4 RAM with NVidia GTX 1050Ti 4GB
  • 16GB DDR4 system memory for intense multitasking and gaming. DDR4 Ram smoothly run your graphics-heavy PC games
  • Sleek 4 lbs aluminum body for comfortable portability. Built-in fingerprint reader with one-touch login via Windows Hello feature
  • Extensive connectivity with HDMI, 1x HDMI 2x USB3.1-Type C(Gen2) with Thunderbolt 2x USB 3.0 1x Micro SD Card Reader

Product review

You see that right! This laptop has an extra screenpad and yes, it sits right under its own trackpad. Specs are massive and this laptop is so powerful it handles every job.

Product price

$3,999.00

2 TB SSD | Intel core i9 | 16 GB RAM
(shipping costs excluded)

by Microsoft

Surface Book 2

Surface Book 2

Product details

  • Microsoft Surface Book 2 Features a 8th generation Intel Quad Core i7 Processor, 1TB SSD, 16 GB RAM, and up to 17 hours of video playback
  • Enhanced Graphics performance with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 discrete GPU w/6GB GDDR5 Graphics Memory
  • The fastest Surface Book yet, with 4x more power
  • Vibrant PixelSense Display: now available with a new 15″ touchscreen
  • Four versatile modes of use and new USB-C port

Product review

You see that cool hinge? It’s capable of folding the laptop 360 degrees so it becomes a tablet and laptop.

Includes the Surface Pen Platinum, Surface Dock, and Mini DisplayPort Adapter.

Product price

$4,999.11

1 TB SSD | Intel core i7 | 16 GB RAM
(shipping costs excluded)

Quality Monitors

$140 – $550 range

Product price

$189.11

(shipping costs excluded)

Product price

$139.99

(shipping costs excluded)

Product price

$549.99

(shipping costs excluded)

Product price

$189.11

(shipping costs excluded)

Product price

$139.99

(shipping costs excluded)

Product price

$549.99

(shipping costs excluded)

CAD ACCESSORIES

$165 – $290 range

Product price

$165.55

(shipping costs excluded)

Product price

$289.00

(shipping costs excluded)

CAD MOUSE

€85 – €130 range

CAD mouse

It is important to choose the right mouse for the work you perform. I love using Logitech wireless mouses but it’s also each and everyone’s personal taste. Here are 3 examples of mouses I recommend.

These products are available on Coolblue Belgium and they ship worldwide as well. Prices are shown in the local currency the euro.

Product price

€84.99

(shipping costs excluded)

Product price

€99.99

(shipping costs excluded)

Product price

€129.99

(shipping costs excluded)

Which desktop/laptop do you dream of and which software do you love to use in your branche? Share below…

» Written by Alan who goes under the name of twin-rhino | Published on November 5, 2018

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