How to Buy Computer Hardware for Your New CABINET VISION Workstation
A guide for you and your IT Consultant
Written by Jim Mitchell, Planit Canada Service Technician.
I often hear the question: what are the system requirements for CABINET VISION, and what should I buy? In an ever-changing marketplace for hardware, I can’t point you to a specific laptop, but I can give you some tips and keywords to help guide the conversation you should have with your IT consultant.
When purchasing hardware for your business, I recommend considering four things: your budget, your portability needs, the number of workstations and other applications you’ll be running.
A workstation is the critical tool for your office’s designing and detailing workload. When it comes to price, it’s a good idea to avoid the lowest price bracket. While there are many variables, expect to pay $1500 –$3500* on an upgrade. It can be tempting to opt for last year’s model computer; however, we don’t recommend it. The price difference between the older generation and the latest generation of hardware is often only $200-$300 – but that investment will keep you current longer.
Over the last decade, laptops have become significantly more powerful and very capable workstations when compared to your typical desktop workstation – making them a prime candidate for a primary workstation. With the current demand and shortage of graphics cards, laptops have become the go-to for meeting performance requirements in the workplace.
3. Number of workstations
If you’re an employer with a larger office, consider sticking with a similar model line of workstations to ease support. Troubleshooting issues or compatibility can be challenging and very time-consuming when, for example, one user is on a Mac, the other has an Asus with Windows 10, while another uses a Dell with Windows 7. Standardizing your equipment and software implementations helps in the long run, easing updates and managing potential driver issues.
4. Other Applications
We’ve outlined the minimum and recommended specifications for CABINET VISION – but do you run any other business-dependent applications in your day-to-day? You should be considering these as well when selecting hardware.
The Nuts and Bolts
Hardware is ever advancing, and availability is spotty – much like all industry supply during the global pandemic. When shopping for a suitable workstation, it is best to consult with an IT Specialist on which options are best for you. Here are some keywords to inform your discussion:
Random Access Memory is the component in your workstation in which applications are stored while they’re running. When you launch an application, it is loaded into the RAM from your hard drive to work with your CPU (Central Processing Unit). When you shut down your computer, the application is removed from RAM until the application is relaunched.
Not having enough RAM can be troublesome, leading to slow performance from an otherwise sound system. At the time of writing, the current generation is DDR4, and a suitable amount is 16GB or more.
Hard drives are where applications are stored even when the workstation is off. Hard drives typically have two main consumer types: HDD and SDD.
Hard Disk Drives are mechanical devices with circular platters that spin at a whopping 5400-7200RPM while a head, much like the one on your old record player, comes along to read and write data.
Solid State Drives have become increasingly standard because they are non-mechanical, utilizing technology much like portable flash drives. These are the best option as they offer faster read and write speeds than HDD and have almost become comparable in cost.
Graphics cards, Video cards, and GPUs are terms referring to the same component. Sourcing a graphics card for your workstation can be challenging these days. Manufacturing has been limited, and there is competing demand from other industries, such as automotive manufacturing. As a result, there has been an 80% increase in the MSRP of GPUs, which is why many IT Professionals have opted to use portable solutions (laptops) when making recommendations.
Another consideration – Hexagon also suggests against Radeon’s line of video cards, as there have been known driver issues with CABINET VISION. For this reason, Intel’s GTX and RTX series – RTX being the most recent generation, have been the recommendation to CABINET VISION users.
Life of Your Investment
How long can you expect out of your investment?
Given the nature of technology with its ever-growing demands and advancements, it is inevitable that upgrades will be necessary over time. However, if purchasing a current generation of hardware – you can typically expect 3-5 years.