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Recommend a compact PC for light CAD work

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I'm currently converting my office / small bedroom into my daughter's room and I need to seriously downsize my PC rig as it's most likely going to end up in the living room. Rig is running in a mid-tower ATX Corsair case with 4 drives: 3hdds and 1 ssd with a single wide screen monitor. Plan was to keep all drives and just switch to a smaller case, but I'm not so sure this is doable as small cases usually mean enough size for only 2 drives. I'm also not keen on doing a fresh install of Win10 but I don't think there's an easy way to just move drives and have no boot issues. I've used Intel's NUC PCs which are superbly small, but I'm not so sure about using them for CAD related stuff (Solidworks, AutoCAD, but nothing super intense or demanding). Laptop seems like a good idea at this stage but a) they are more expensive b) I always preferred stationary PCs with proper keyboards.

 

Anyone out there using NUCs or smth similar as their general use PC?

 

T.


Espresso: Londinium L1, ZR-71 grinder

Photography: Flickr

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I use a Dell 7710 for CAD (Catia V5) at Work and it works fine. It's heavy but I like it. Not had an issue in the 3 years of owning it.

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Posted (edited)

I have been using an HP xeon workstation for a number of years and have a similar problem. I had raid and spare disks in it and also ran the system software on an ssd. So decided to go totally ssd this time and small so bought one of these

https://store.hp.com/UKStore/Merch/Product.aspx?id=4KW17EA&opt=ABU&sel=DTP

The 1TB HP pcie ssd adds to the cost but they are tiny machines. They also offer another model that is a similar size but  reviews suggest it's nosier. I 've also put a several gb ssd in it. I run Linux so that goes on that leaving 1TB for me. Windows is also in that. There is a bit of a problem with how windows installs for this sort of arrangement. It sticks a recovery partition in a stupid place.

The fan hardly comes on and isn't very noticeable when it does. Speed wise no heavy cad so far but I've not noticed any drop in performance when processing photo's and some of that is not instantaneous on any machine.

Then a 4TB usb drive for backup and a certain Ikea pc desk that is pretty compact - :( it's white which is a bit unfortunate. Had to add a couple of small pieces of mdf to get it on castors. It is pretty substantial which is the main reason for buying it. It's this one, 79cm wide.

https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/p/goliat-computer-table-white-40111322/

PC stands on end on the shelf near the top under the pull out keyboard "table" so doesn't use up much space at all. I've crammed the extra spaces with storage items. Bisley 3 draw unit and also  2 bins where they show the tower pc sitting. Also managed to find a 2.1 sound system that fits. My UPS sits on edge next to the Bisley unit, both on the bottom shelf where some one might put a printer.

My only beef with the PC is sound only comes out at the front and cleaning dust out of the heat sink will be fun at some point. I think filters can be fitted and intend to phone HP about that. My previous sound only worked well with an optical drive so that had to go. Bit of a bargain as the model buzzes unless it's connected via an optical cable.

John

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Edited by ajohn
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In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Profitec T64. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A, Ceado 37J. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

:pToo many filter baskets - maybe. For sale when I get round to it. Robur Elect, Ceado 37J, Ascaso i_1,Piccino

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Don't suppose many run linux and dual boot with windows. ;) I usually ditch windows but have something old about for updating camera firmware etc which isn't always possible via Linux even though some win applications can be persuaded to run via  wine. PlayOnLinux is usually the best way to do that.

Anyway I move the pesky windows recovery partition to the end of the space I left for windows. Had a bit of a problem logging in to it so thought I had broken in. Turns out that it was the password it allowed me to set initially,  So once my microsoft account was sorted which took a couple of days to appear I changed the password and all seems to be ok now and it's not making any use of the recovery partition. It may have modified itself, no idea as I did log in once and then couldn't. Perhaps some update demanded a different style of password.

If some one does buy this particular machine as usual HP have added their own bits to it. One is called something like Surestart. It tells people if something has changed at boot - eg Linux has appeared. Just had to click ok. Windows has an HP assistant added. Provides support and also firmware updates so after 1/2hr I had several updates some needing reboots. No problems, didn't mind Linux being about. This can be done on Linux as well but manually assuming they offer the same support as they do on their workstations which is probable.

From memory the machine also uses main ram for video memory. I upped the default via it's bios. Also fitted 32gb or ram. It may have been cheaper to search for the same micron part as HP use. I just bought Crucial stuff. :( HP never fill both memory slots. This seemed to be the best source

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B019FRCV9G/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

On Linux there is probably no point in having that much. Even 16gb is enough to ditch the swap partition.

I usually use Mr Memory but they have got expensive and even sent me the wrong style of memory and charged me a couple of quid for return postage. They have a facility that takes the PC make and type etc and should come up with the correct parts. Picture was correct memory wasn't.

John

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In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Profitec T64. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A, Ceado 37J. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

:pToo many filter baskets - maybe. For sale when I get round to it. Robur Elect, Ceado 37J, Ascaso i_1,Piccino

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One easy option to run a whole OS intact is to virtualise it, the only issue is then running this either on another OS or bare metal, both of which have it's requirements. Running inside another OS means you need more RAM and more powerful CPU to handle both OS and the VM, bare metal means all resources go to the VM but then you need an extra PC to act as the thin client.

I think for now I'll go with a VM inside the OS and a NUC i7, I just need to borrow one from work to check how well it can run Solidworks.

T.


Espresso: Londinium L1, ZR-71 grinder

Photography: Flickr

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Using glmark2 it score 300 on a 2560 x 1600 monitor. Frame rates look visually acceptable

glmark2 --fullscreen
=======================================================
    glmark2 2017.07
=======================================================
    OpenGL Information
    GL_VENDOR:     Intel Open Source Technology Center
    GL_RENDERER:   Mesa DRI Intel(R) UHD Graphics 630 (Coffeelake 3x8 GT2)
    GL_VERSION:    3.0 Mesa 18.3.2
=======================================================
[build] use-vbo=false: FPS: 352 FrameTime: 2.841 ms
[build] use-vbo=true: FPS: 353 FrameTime: 2.833 ms
[texture] texture-filter=nearest: FPS: 351 FrameTime: 2.849 ms
[texture] texture-filter=linear: FPS: 377 FrameTime: 2.653 ms
[texture] texture-filter=mipmap: FPS: 374 FrameTime: 2.674 ms
[shading] shading=gouraud: FPS: 362 FrameTime: 2.762 ms
[shading] shading=blinn-phong-inf: FPS: 364 FrameTime: 2.747 ms
[shading] shading=phong: FPS: 363 FrameTime: 2.755 ms
[shading] shading=cel: FPS: 360 FrameTime: 2.778 ms
[bump] bump-render=high-poly: FPS: 364 FrameTime: 2.747 ms
[bump] bump-render=normals: FPS: 385 FrameTime: 2.597 ms
[bump] bump-render=height: FPS: 383 FrameTime: 2.611 ms
[effect2d] kernel=0,1,0;1,-4,1;0,1,0;: FPS: 247 FrameTime: 4.049 ms
[effect2d] kernel=1,1,1,1,1;1,1,1,1,1;1,1,1,1,1;: FPS: 138 FrameTime: 7.246 ms
[pulsar] light=false:quads=5:texture=false: FPS: 332 FrameTime: 3.012 ms
[desktop] blur-radius=5:effect=blur:passes=1:separable=true:windows=4: FPS: 148 FrameTime: 6.757 ms
[desktop] effect=shadow:windows=4: FPS: 223 FrameTime: 4.484 ms
[buffer] columns=200:interleave=false:update-dispersion=0.9:update-fraction=0.5:update-method=map: FPS: 282 FrameTime: 3.546 ms
[buffer] columns=200:interleave=false:update-dispersion=0.9:update-fraction=0.5:update-method=subdata: FPS: 267 FrameTime: 3.745 ms
[buffer] columns=200:interleave=true:update-dispersion=0.9:update-fraction=0.5:update-method=map: FPS: 288 FrameTime: 3.472 ms
[ideas] speed=duration: FPS: 318 FrameTime: 3.145 ms
[jellyfish] <default>: FPS: 264 FrameTime: 3.788 ms
[terrain] <default>: FPS: 51 FrameTime: 19.608 ms
[shadow] <default>: FPS: 260 FrameTime: 3.846 ms
[refract] <default>: FPS: 132 FrameTime: 7.576 ms
[conditionals] fragment-steps=0:vertex-steps=0: FPS: 323 FrameTime: 3.096 ms
[conditionals] fragment-steps=5:vertex-steps=0: FPS: 325 FrameTime: 3.077 ms
[conditionals] fragment-steps=0:vertex-steps=5: FPS: 323 FrameTime: 3.096 ms
[function] fragment-complexity=low:fragment-steps=5: FPS: 323 FrameTime: 3.096 ms
[function] fragment-complexity=medium:fragment-steps=5: FPS: 324 FrameTime: 3.086 ms
[loop] fragment-loop=false:fragment-steps=5:vertex-steps=5: FPS: 324 FrameTime: 3.086 ms
[loop] fragment-steps=5:fragment-uniform=false:vertex-steps=5: FPS: 324 FrameTime: 3.086 ms
[loop] fragment-steps=5:fragment-uniform=true:vertex-steps=5: FPS: 324 FrameTime: 3.086 ms
=======================================================
                                  glmark2 Score: 300
=======================================================

I usually use fanless nvidia board and those have been ok for 3d cad but never run the above on them. I have run the gears version and this one looks very similar to my workstation.

This one runs at about 1 frame a second, guess as it doesn't give numbers. Run full screen, Quality settings doesn't make much difference. ;) It's not a high end gaming machine.

https://benchmark.unigine.com/heaven?lang=en

It can be run on windows and mac. Not sure about glmark2.

The graphics is reckoned to be mid range

https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/intel/uhd_graphics/630

John

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In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Profitec T64. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A, Ceado 37J. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

:pToo many filter baskets - maybe. For sale when I get round to it. Robur Elect, Ceado 37J, Ascaso i_1,Piccino

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Posted (edited)

Doh - forum improvement. It restored my last post so thought I hadn't posted it but I had. ;)

So edited it out.

john

-

Edited by ajohn

In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Profitec T64. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A, Ceado 37J. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

:pToo many filter baskets - maybe. For sale when I get round to it. Robur Elect, Ceado 37J, Ascaso i_1,Piccino

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Only a thought but if you run out of physical space with your build, would a NAS deliver for you?

I still don't have anything with ddr4 so not much use offering advice

Smallest I ever ran as a daily rig was an Asrock q1900 itx. (passive cooled) I reckon you could mount most of one of those on a board on the wall or behind TV if using as screen

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I suspect the OP has the same problem as me. Happy with what I had but needed smaller and as in the living room for some time very quiet. Turns out it;s effectively silent.

Back up for me is a 4TB USB3 disc with a separate power supply and no fan. The 1.5TB in the machine will last me for years on it's own. Films are on a Dune but we mostly use Amazon Fire and have KODI installed in it. Only problem with KODI is it's best to wait a while when a new film comes out.

On CAD I loaded up SketchUp on wine. It will spin move and rotate an 89 part model of a 4 cyclinder honda engine showing valves spring and gearbox etc way faster than I ever will need to. Be interesting to know how the Unigine Benchmark work out on the machine he usually uses. It;'s intended to be a stress test for high end gaming machines. It runs smoothing in low quality and 1/2 native screen resolution shown full screen. The limitation is likely to be down to the main processor having to do all of the work.

Tried a 4k video full screen. Odd pauses that may be net download buffering  but more likely down to not have the sums done by the on board graphics. Drop to 1/2 4K and it's fine. My last card, nvidia silent showed them smoothly. It has engines specifically for showing things like that. I just wont run graphics cards with fans. Too noisy so never buy really high end ones.

John

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In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Profitec T64. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A, Ceado 37J. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

:pToo many filter baskets - maybe. For sale when I get round to it. Robur Elect, Ceado 37J, Ascaso i_1,Piccino

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On 17/07/2019 at 12:33, dsc said:

Anyone out there using NUCs or smth similar as their general use PC?

 

I use one of these as a central file server with about 20Tb of storage on 7 or so drives. It does that job quite well and would be OK for surfing the web and e-mail. I have not tried open office on it, but it would probably run that OK as well. Not sure about MS Office (probably slow to load but OK). I think it's important to get a windows 10 one with 64gb, just so the OS has plenty of space for updates. Not a concern for me because I want a stable low power file server. I was surprised how usable these things are though at non aggressive monitor resolutions e.g. 1680 x whatever. Then again the monitors are cheap. I used an old monitor I had hanging about. Booting up isn't as bad as you would fear either. so get a model above the one below and it will probably work Ok.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fanless-x5-Z8350-Graphics-Desktop-Computer/dp/B07GVG3Q4Z/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Mini+PC&qid=1566607641&s=gateway&sr=8-3

 


ACS Vesuvius DBPP, Izzo Duetto DB, Minima DB, Lelit Bianca Prototype DB (paddle flow control) BTC Machines: Roasters: Amazon Dalian 1kg Drum Roaster, other failed roasters: Grinders: Ceado E92, Niche US and UK: 145kg assorted greens: My reviews at https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/

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The Atoms etc will make a decent file server. This is effectively what a lot of NAS units are ;) usually running linux. A better option is a micro server - more space for disks and proper cooling etc. They can sometime be found at pretty low cost especially previous models when a new one comes out. It's also possible to convert a tower etc. The advantage is they can be stuffed anywhere and all comms via wifi but wire is better.  That can then actually be used with a diskless workstation on the end although finding out how to set that up these days may be tricky. Wake on lan still seems to be about so it should be possible to use that with any arrangement.

Going the microserver way the OS is often run on a usb stick so more slots are available for disks. There was an Ubuntu version specifically for this sort of use about some time ago and probably still is. Linux comes with drivers that can serve a windows pc but if it's just the one I am aware of security concerns may have clobbered it and that would need to be undone. Some releases may allow it. From what I can gather set up is just plug and play style but distro forums are used to guiding the uninitiated. There are all sorts of server styles around.

Running Linux on a USB stick is fine. It doesn't take things out of memory unless it needs to and the needs for a server are pretty low. In fact my entire system part takes up 10.8 decimal  GB and includes a complex desktop and all sorts that a server doesn't need.

The usb drive I am using for backups etc  just sleeps until it's plugged into a usb port so can just be left with it's power supply connected.

John

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In Use Sage DB+IMS Shower Screen, Niche. Profitec T64. Others Sage BE, Mazer Mini A, Ceado 37J. Projects Little Gem, Gaggia M7D

:pToo many filter baskets - maybe. For sale when I get round to it. Robur Elect, Ceado 37J, Ascaso i_1,Piccino

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