Computer Aided Design or CAD is one of the toughest and most demanding work that one can perform on a computer.
Therefore, when we talk about the best desktops for AutoCAD, sky is usually the limit here both in terms of hardware configuration as well as price tag.
However, not everybody has the budget to dish out the money to buy a super computer.
Hence, in this article, we will look at some of the options that are suited for beginners as well as advanced users.
Of course you MUST note that the desktop that you buy will depend upon your needs, size and complexity of the project that you are working on.
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AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
1 TB HDD
AMD Radeon RX 580
AMD Ryzen 7 2700
1 TB HDD
AMD Radeon RX 580
Intel Core i7-8700
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti
Intel Core i7-8700
1TB HDD + 256 GB SSD
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Intel Core i7-8700
1TB HDD + 16 GB Optane
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Should you be concerned about WORKSTATION computers?
Workstation computers are highly advanced machines that cost many folds more than an average high performance desktop.
These specialized computers are highly sought after by construction industry experts and firms.
These usually boasts high end features such as Core i9 or Intel Xeon processors, NIVIDA Quadro Or Tesla series graphics card etc.
Learn more about workstation computers: What is a Workstation Computer?
Unfortunately though, for an individual or for a small firm, a workstation computer for AutoCAD would be an overkill.
Again, of course, it all depends upon your needs and size of the project.
What Are The Requirements for AutoCAD?
On the surface the requirements for AutoCAD are fairly minimal (in the grander scale of desktops).
AutoDesk AutoCad Requirements
Read more about AutoDesk AutoCad System Requirements
If you follow the minimum requirements, then even a decade old computer may seem up to the mark.
However, from experience as an Electrical Engineer who works with 2D single line diagrams, just firing up AutoCAD can eat up your hardware juice.
My computer with a Core i7-7700HQ, 16GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti sometimes lags on mere single line diagrams.
You can only imagine the hardware that you need when designing 3D models on a complex level.
What Features to Look for?
Again this depends on the complexity of the projects that you will be working on.
Are you creating a simple house design for yourself or are you planning on using AutoCAD while being part of a mega project worth millions or billions of dollars?
You see, as mentioned earlier, one of the toughest job computer can perform is CAD. Therefore, the more advanced your level or the project that you are working on, the more powerful computer you will need.
List of Best Desktops for AutoCAD
We have selected the following as the best in this category.
5 Best Desktops For AutoCAD Reviewed
1. HP Pavilion 690 – Minimum Spec Best Desktop for AutoCAD
- Processor: AMD Ryzen(TM) 5 2400G Processor,...
- Video graphics: AMD Radeon(TM) RX 580 (4 GB...
- Memory: 8 GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (upgradable to...
- Hard drive: 1 TB 7200RPM SATA
If you came here looking for an affordable system that is capable of running AutoCAD at a beginners levels, then this, in our opinion, is the best desktop for AutoCAD.
Of course, we have labeled this desktop as a beginner level machine in the larger perspective.
However, if you are a mere student or if you are an individual who designs homes and small commercial spaces, this is actually a pretty high grade machine.
The desktop offers an AMD Ryzen 5 2400G processor. This is comparable to the Core i5 of the Intel 7th and 8th generation processor.
With regards to the current 9th generation of Intel Processors, this lies somewhere in between Core i3 and Core i5.
Basically, for low key work, you don’t really need a very powerful processor and as such, this should more than suffice.
Besides a decent enough processors, this machine offers 8 GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics card.
While this desktop may not have the most powerful processor, when it comes to graphics card, it truly gives you an unprecedented value.
The AMD Radeon RX 580 is a phenomenal graphics card that is affordable yet has the performance equal to the Nvidia GTX 1060.
You can check out the comparison between RX 580 and GTX 1060 here.
For CAD users who deal with complex 3D designs, the better the graphics card, the more seamless and efficient will be your work experience.
All in all, for entry level CAD designed we highly recommend this desktop.
Also Read: Best Desktops for Architecture
2. Dell Inspiron i5676-A696Blu – Recommended for Great Value for Money
This yet another entry level desktop that offers a phenomenal value for money.
Again, we have labeled this as an entry level desktop on a larger scale of what AutoCAD designing desktop pertains.
In normal circumstance, this is actually a beast. After all, this desktop features the AMD Ryzen 7 2700 processor which is comparable to some of the Core i7s from Intel.
CAD is a job that eats as much as you feed it. Therefore, the better the overall configuration of the computer, the better it will perform. There is literally no ceiling to the hardware that you can install for CAD.
Along with a fairly powerful desktop, it also offers an ample 16 GB of RAM and also the AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics card.
While the graphics card is the same as we saw in the HP 690 above, the better processor and the higher amount of RAM in this machine will most certainly help with more complex projects.
While Dell touts this as a gaming PC, it is equally great for CAD designers.
As far as the value of money goes, especially for the budget range, then this is the best desktop for AutoCAD.
Also Read: Best Desktops of Office Use
3. Dell XPS 8930-740BLK – High Performance Desktop
As mentioned earlier, the better the processor, the better would be you overall experience with CAD.
This desktop utilizes a powerful Intel Core i7-8700 processor from the 8th generation. This is a hexa core processor with speeds of upto 4.60 GHz and for desktops, other than for workstations, it is one of the best processors out there.
You must note that AutoCAD is mostly a single thread application meaning that it doesn’t benefit much from a multi-core processor.
While we cannot rule out the possibility that multiple cores do help, AutoCAD primarily relies on a single core.
This is where Intel has an edge over AMD processor. While AMD processor distribute the power across many cores, Intel Processor have fewer cores in comparison but each Core has a much higher clock speed and thus is much more suitable for AutoCAD.
Besides a powerful processor, this desktop also offers a decent 16 GB of RAM and the NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti graphics card.
While GTX 1050Ti is a very respectable graphics card, it is not the top of the line piece. In fact, you don’t really need the top of the line graphics card for CAD.
This is because CAD is not an animation software. Yes, you can draw 3D designs which actually requires a graphics card, the demand isn’t as high as for gaming or animation.
Another important feature this desktop offers is a large 2 TB of HDD. A larger HDD is essential for large files.
In the end, for if require a high performance option with a fairly powerful processor, then this is the best desktop for AutoCAD.
4. Acer Predator Orion 3000 – High Performance Gaming Grade Desktop
- 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8700 Processor...
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Graphics with 6GB...
- 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM (expandable to 64GB),...
- Creative Sound BlasterX 720°, Intel...
Like the Dell Inspiron i5676-A696Blu above, this is also a gaming PC, however, it has the hardware and the value to warrant your attention.
One thing you must realize as a CAD designer is that an average gaming PC is far more advanced than an average office or home desktop. As such, they are readily used in professional environments including engineering.
This desktop is a beast, as you can tell from its looks.
While it offers the same Intel Core i7-8700 processor as the Dell XPS 8930-740BLK above, it offers a much better graphics card i.e the NVIDIA GTX 1060.
If you are mechanical, civil engineer, or an architect, the better the graphics card, the larger and more intricate 3D models you would be able to create without any hassle.
Besides that, one striking feature about this option is that it offers a 256 GB SSD drive along with 1 TB of HDD. We always recommend to procure an SSD for anything relating to professional work.
SSD drives can certainly boost the overall performance of your desktop.
As far as RAM is concerned, it offers a decent 16 GB of RAM.
Moreover, when taking the the overall hardware configuration into consideration, then this is the best desktop for AutoCAD users who also indulge in gaming, video editing, or 3D simulation.
5. Dell XPS 8930 7814BLK – For Large Sized Projects
- 8th Generation Intel i7-8700 6-Core 3.20 GHz...
- 32GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory, 1TB SATA Hard Drive...
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 Graphics...
- Dell Wireless 802.11a/c + Bluetooth v4.1,...
Finally we have a tower computer that is rather expensive but offers beast inside its rather compact chassis.
While it offers the flagship Intel Core i7-8700 processor we have seen featured above and also the NVIDIA GTX 1060, it offers a whopping 32 GB of DDR 4 RAM.
While 16 GB RAM is more than enough for most users, you may need more RAM in certain circumstances.
If you work on many screens, or if you work or large resolution monitors like 4K displays or if you perform 3D rendering, then the more RAM, the merrier.
Besides that, this desktop offers 1 TB of HDD. Unfortunately, it misses out on an SSD drive. We highly recommend that you upgrade this desktop with one once you procure it.
On the flip side, while it does not feature an SSD, it offers 16 GB of Intel’s Optane memory that can significantly boost the performance of the hard disk.
In the end, this is an expensive machine. However, if you are certain that your designing requires a workhorse, then this is the best desktop for AutoCAD we can recommend at this price.
However, if you think that desktops mentioned here were expensive, then you haven’t truly stepped into the professional environment.
After all, the specialized workstation computers also include CAD as one of their job description and those computers are far more expensive in comparison.
Of course, a student, or an individual with limited needs would have absolutely no use for workstation grade machines.
As such, the desktops mentioned above would most certainly satisfy most AutoCAD users.
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.