quiet CAD workstation

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Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:48 pm
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quiet CAD workstation

Post by odo53 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 11:04 am

Attempting to spec out a quiet PC that has the capability to run Solidworks CAD software. I plan to stick to Solidworks certified video cards which limits the choices to mainly NVidia Quadro or ATI FirePro based cards. Other considerations: I like small form factor computers. I am very cheap, I will trade-off performance for $.

Due to the video card restrictions I am leaning toward a PNY NVIDIA Quadro K600 VCQK600-PB 1GB GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Low Profile. Also under consideration is the ATI FirePro V4900 1GB. It is a faster card for about the same price, but runs at 75 watts compared to 41 watts. Both cards require PCIe 2 x16.

CPU: I said I was cheap, so I am looking in the ~$100 range. Leading candidate is Intel i3-3220 2 core, 3.3 GHz, 55 Watt TDP. Plenty of mobo choices, many very inexpensive, many available in mini-ITX format. Runners-up are the AMD A8-6500 (faster and cheaper than the i3, slightly more heat at 65 Watt TDP) and AMD FX 6300 (faster CPU, much hotter than other 2 candidates, nearly equal price but no mobo available in mini-ITX format for AM3+ socket)

mobo: will depend on CPU, maybe GIGABYTE GA-H61N-USB3 mini-ITX or ZOTAC H67ITX-C-E LGA (more $, but has onboard wifi and I am quite happy with my current Zotac based PC)

HDD: WD Green 1 TB, 3.5" (already in hand)

PSU: Seasonic fanless, 400W

memory: 2 x 8GB DDR3, whatever reputable brand is on sale

OS: Win 7 x64 home

case: custom built mini-ITX (already in hand)

Thanks much for any feedback, particularly on CPU and mobo combos. I would also be very interested to hear suggestions for passive cooling or undervolting the stock fans on the video cards. I am moving from a completely fanless system with a suspended HDD that has zero noise except when the HDD spins up so any fan noise is going to be obvious to me, I'd like to keep it to a minimum.

Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:05 pm

Re: quiet CAD workstation

Post by hudson » Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:01 pm

The V4900 is the better card as far as my research showed me. Certainly the best bang for buck. Everything better is ludicrously expensive.

See my 'review' of my Cad / Solidworks station viewtopic.php?f=27&t=66341

I have one V4900 in the office with the stock cooler because I ran out of time to put a nice one on and have been busy since. I doubt it's what someone would call very quiet.. I could load that pc up and give you an idea of the sound. I do own a sound meter, but the office is rarely quiet enough to use for stuff like that and I'm not looking to stay after hours to do that sort of thing. My main concern with those little fans on graphics cards is they have a habit of going bad sooner or later.

The MK1 cooler from Prolimatek is probably all the cooler the V4900 needs, I have one but haven't mounted it to a V4900 yet. You'd have better luck getting that in a smaller than mATX box.

Personally, I'd go with something more like the build outlined in my review, it's basically silent. The fans almost never turn on and I'm sure if I spent some time tweaking it I could get it so that it would just need a few fans running at the lowest RPM they reliably start at. I prefer not running fans full time to keep the dust out.

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