What are the hardware requirements for your various software packages?
(what computer specs are needed to use Mastercam or Verisurf)
The most important feature of a computer for using these CAD/CAM/CMM software is the video card. Typically, you need a professional grade card that supports OpenGL (a programming language that controls the video card). Mainstream video cards are typically designed for gaming applications and do not work well for CAD/CAM applications. From past experience, video cards with a Nvidia Quadro FX® video processor always work very well (not the NVS line).
- Operating system: 64 bit operating system, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 8
- CPU: Intel I7-950 or better, 2.4+Ghz, or better, 1066 Mhz bus. It is better to get a higher speed CPU with less cores (4 core, 3.47 Ghz) than a slower multi-core (8 core, 2.4 Ghz) as these software do not benefit much from multi-core architecture. 4 core is plenty. Better to buy speed than more cores.
- RAM: typically 8Gb 1066Mhz, or 12Gb + if doing 3D CAM. 64 bit requires double the RAM of a 32 bit OS. Try to get 1333 Mhz RAM with a CPU that also supports 1333 Mhz RAM.
- Harddrive: 150 Gb or greater, 7200 rpm, SATA. Solid State Drive (SSD) even better. Better to get a 250 Gb SSD than a 500 Gb 7200 rpm, SATA.
- 3 button mouse
- 17″ LCD screen real minimum, 1280×1024 resolution, 19″ preferred
- Video card with Nvidia Quadro FX 2000 or higher chipset
Mastercam Mill Entry, Mill Level 1, Lathe, Wire and Verisurf , work well with the Nvidia Quadro FX 1800. Mastercam Mill Level 3, 5 axis surface machining, Verisurf and situations where there are a lot of surfaces of solid facets (complex solids) work better with a FX 2800 or higher. However, the high-end of the Nvidia GeForce line (nnnn GTX, nnnn GX) is acceptable only for Entry applications. Not having a recommended card will result in corrupt screen display, possibly crashes and poor graphic performance (Verify problems, display refresh speed, dynamic rotation, zoom)
3D work: 12 Gb of RAM or more, 1333 Mhz. 3.47 Ghz CPU
Mill Level 1, Lathe: 8 Gb RM
Verisurf with no laser scanning or small (< 1 million pts) point cloud work: 8-10 Gb RAM
Verisurf with laser scanning or large point cloud work: 12-24 Gb RAM, 3.47 GHz CPU
Definitely not recommended:
- Anything with shared video memory
- Low end gaming cards
- Integrated video cards (built in the motherboard) as they are typically low end gaming
Simple rules: Buy one processor down from the top; clock speed is king with CAD/CAM! Use the savings from buying the second-fastest processor available to invest in RAM. Most CAD/CAM users really don’t need a high-end graphics card, but they probably need more than an entry-level card, so invest in a $300 midrange option. Take your savings from buying the right graphics card and invest in an SSD.