- Architosh Staff ([email protected])
- 20 Oct 00
Opinion: A CAD Cube for All Seasons
We were delighted to get the following email suggestion from a very astute reader was responsible for making some excellent suggestions in the past about what Apple should offer us CAD users:
I would suggest the Cube at 500mhz as a standard office station for cad. But the Cube need 128meg of ram for that. A airport base station and airport cards for each machine would make it a fully networked office nearly instantly. The Display options would be 17 inch for low budget, 15" flat for high budget, and 22" Cinema for the ridiculously over capitalized.
A CAD Cube for All Seasons: Some Assumptions
We agree with Louis in general and, in particular, his thoughts about the 22 inch Cinema display. Well many architects are doing quite well right now in this glorious economy, not many would be willing to shell out $4K for such a glorious luxury. Still, if you really wanted to impress potential and existing clients, a 22 inch Cinema in the main conference room would be the right ticket.
But what CPU would you attach it to?
Naturally the G4 Cube would be nice, but there are a few problems that need to be remedied:
1.) The idea of the Cube as the killer presentation machine in an environment like an architect's office makes sense so long as the graphics processing power is up to snuff. Fly thoroughs in QuickTime, re-rendering in shaded views with shadows and so forthall right in front of the client (something we have experience doing), which is most impressive, and they will tell you thatrequires something better than today's standard ATI 128 bit chip. The Radeon, the 3Dfx Voodoo 5000 and the upcoming Nvidia chip should all be options with one of them standard in a machine for this type of purpose.
2.) We agree with Louis above about RAM. 128 MB minimum for all cubes, period. This product is a BMW in silicon and deserves to be properly powered. Again to push pixels around for 3D in a conference situation you really should have 256 MB of RAM.
3.) Airport Standard! Again, Louis is dead on. In the conference room especially the Cube should be uncluttered.
However, what about the G4 Cube as a standard CAD machine? Most PC CAD users would balk at the idea. After all, they would pride their machines for their flexibility with upgrades and additions. The Cube can't compete in this regard. And it wasn't meant to.
Still, in the right situation where CAD users were normalized across the studio and RAM and other extra goo gass were not randomly needed, the Cube could do the CAD trick real nice like. In fact, it saves lots of space on the desk where you might want to sketch by hand, lay out material samples or set a physical model.
But does the G4 Cube really offer the professional CAD user the types of flexibilities needed? And what about multiprocessor support? What if Strata 3D was your rendering app? No single G4 will do justice to such an app compared to a multiprocessor Mac. We think the answer to these questions is no.
The Cube is a great niche product! No doubts there. It can make a wonderful conference room machine! Add the 22 inch Cinema and you have the most awesome conference room machine (hopefully your decor lives up to the G4 Cube? Make sure the table surface is not too shiny for that new racy, optical mouse). But in terms of CAD, you may be better suited with the Pro line of G4 towers, especially if you use a MP aware CAD or rendering application.