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What is the Perfect PC for CAD .. How about Mac?
Can a Macintosh match what ZDNet is calling the Perfect PC for CAD? Can it match it on price? First, PC magazine says that if you are ...
Then you need the following PC with these specs:
And their grand total cost for this "dream machine" is, according to PC Magazine, $9,000.00US.
Hey! What About Mac?
How can Apple fare against this "perfect PC" for CAD? What can you get directly from Apple? Let's build a machine to order from the Apple Store and go from there.
Here are the following custom Macintosh specs, ordered to compare with the ZDNet spec above: (all of this directly from the Apple Store)
The grand total for the above Mac system is: $8,028.00US. This is an Apple BTO system. We have approximately $1,000 left to make it better.
A Few Notes About the Mac System
Where the Macintosh system falls down a bit compared to the PC system above is with the lack of dual processor abilities and graphics acceleration. You can add an additional ATI 128 graphics card to your BTO system, bringing the total graphics RAM up to 32 MB. That will cost you an additional $150. We are still way under $9 K.
For the ultimate performing CAD "dream machine", a Mac system with only one processor can't truly compete with a multiprocessor PC system running applications that take advantage of dual processing. And no amount of RAM or graphics acceleration will matter. The only thing Mac users can do at this point is wait for the G4 multiprocessor machines coming this fall or winter.
To make the graphics acceleration scream as much as possible you could add ATI's RAGE 128-powered Nexus 128 graphics card with 32 MB of memory, or two of those cards to bring the total memory up to 64 MB's. A problem you begin to run into though is the G3 towers limited PCI expansion ports, which in the system above would be filled with a SCSI card and DVD video card, leaving only two ports left, one being used by the built-in ATI RAGE 128 graphics card with 16 MB of memory. Adding Gigabit Ethernet becomes problematic because there simply isn't enough card slots available in the machine -- a criticism Apple has been hearing ever since the new Blue G3's were announced.
Nevertheless, it is possible to a get a truly kick-butt [Macintosh] "dream machine" for CAD or science for around the same $9000.00US price as the PC system, which has only one real true advantage -- dual processors. In the near future, G4 systems with multiple processors, more PCI expansion capability (hopefully), and improvements with OpenGL and other 3D software and hardware -- not to mention AltiVec-improved CAD and rendering applications -- will mean that for little under $9 K the Mac can be the ultimate "CAD dream machine"!
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