Newbie needs help.

I’m a student taking a class on AutoCad 3D civil drafting. I haven’t worked with autoCad since 1993. I spent most of my career working with ComputerVision Cadds5 parametric software running on Solaris OS with a Sun Microsystems risc chip computer.
I’m looking to get a computer and I was thinking of building or buying a gaming computer but when I looked up the requirments for autoCad it metioned that the graphics card needs to have at least 128 MB and support openGL.
So my question is what kind of graphics card should I get. I was thinking of getting a motherboard w/ EVGA nforce 780i SLI Motherboard - A1 Version, NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI, Socket 775, ATX, Audio, PCI Express 2.0, Dual Gigabit LAN, S/PDIF, USB 2.0, Firewire, Serial ATA, RAID
But I’m still unsure of the terminoloy og graphics cards. I would like to some day run multimple Gcards but I’m on a student budget right now.
Any suggestions?

I think it comes down to what your budget might be. A good sub-$100 card can be had in the NV GeForce 8800 series. $100-$200, the GeForce 9800 series. $200-$500 GT2x0 series. $500+ Quadro series (drivers are optimized for CAD tools).

Any of those would probably meet your needs for CAD as a student. Also depends on how future-proof you aim to be.

First, may I apologize, I’m a student, I’m learning Civil CAD and wanted to build my own Cad system to learn on and maybe impress a future employer. But what happened is I started doing research after I posted, but the more I learned the more I realized “I don’t know jack”. I’m alittle ashamed, but I’m a student.
I am so sorry if I offended anyone, I realise that their are some Computer Engineers that might have gotten layed off, I myself used to work as a CAD drafter in Mechanical Engineering.
But I have learned some things that might be helpful.
1.Workstations are much more involved than games, Rendering software is really involved and expensive, and I am still learning things like what is the diff between a ATX Mboard and a BTX Mboard. On gaming forums they mention things like compatabitiy, On SLI sys you need enough room for the video cards on the PCI slots, maybe more for liquid cooling.
But what is really involved is maya software. I can’t remember where I read this but AutoCad Maya (rendering software)is made by Alias, but some CAD people say that SGI is involved and the have a business aggrement with nVIDA. It seems that the drivers for the cards are specilized for rendering and SGI knows their stuff.They say that the only cards that work well are PNY nVida Quardro FX So…I went to maya and looked up the QUALIFIED SPECS:
and the cheapest Vcard is the PNY nVida Quardro FX1700 at 500.00, out of my budget. So I found a webpage with a free download of an older version of maya…maya 8.5
and I looked up the specs for maya 8.5 at:
and they have a card PNY nVida Quardro FX1400 at 95.00 which is in my budget:
But I’m still learning stuff like Hardware Overlay Planes. So can I simplifiy my question while I’m still learning?
Is there a Motherboard that is similar to :EVGA 132-CK-NF78-A1 NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI Chipset Socket 775 Motherboard ATX at…oard-p-468.html
If get into BTX, not only do I need to learn what it is but I need to make sure my case can mount it. I also need to know if Maya has a driver that is compatible with said video and motherboard. I now know why computer engineers have labs. Please help Maya engineers, if I could afford an engineered computer I would buy one, people who design computers deserve to get payed, but I’m a drafting student on a budget.

I found an benchmark website that compares nVida to ATI:
so I’m definately decided use the PNY nVida Quadro FX 1400
price range $99.00-$400.00
Now I need to figure out a mother board
I’m going to use a pentium CPU that is affordable
Core 2 quad?
LGA 775
ddr2 ram 2-4GB
is there anything else I need to know about motherboards?
do I need to look up driver avalibility?
any help would be greatly appreciated

Given the age of that benchmark it should only be used as an indicated of the difference between consumer-level and professional grade hardware. The Quadro FX 1400 is based on >4 year old technology. A consumer level GT260 can be gotten for near the same price and would be significanly faster. Sure, it wouldn’t have dedicated AutoCad drivers but you’d be within the current generation of hardware. In the future, when become post-student and have some real income you could upgrade to a professional level card. Would there be a real advantage for student to have the most up-to-date system?

Find one that suits the CPU you intend to get. And sure, if you want to do SLI too. My guess, given your student status and thereby limited budget, is that SLI is not going to happen in the near future. But it never hurts to at least have that upgrade path available. You keep mentioning that EVGA motherboard… It would seem to me to meet your needs. Is there anything you don’t like about it or are confused by? Maybe the price is too high? You could just surf around a motherboard manufacturer and do comparisons amongst the different models.

Core 2 Duo vs Quad:
Duo is cheaper, obviously. Good price:performance ratio. I don’t know enough about AutoCad to know if it can take particular advantage of the additional cores a Quad would offer. The choice here is, once again, budget.

All modern motherboards come with v2.0 and all modern graphics cards support that. Note that the Quadro FX 1400 only supports v1.0, as another point against it performance-wise.

LGA 775:
You are just mentioning the socket type of a motherboard that determines what CPUs it supports. If you want a modern intel processor (not the newest i7) you’re looking for socket 775 motherboards. Wikipedia link to LGA 775

Get as much as you can afford. Note that more than 3GB and you’ll need a 64bit OS to make use of it. Simplest way to buy ram is to go to a ram dealer like Crucial or Kingston and plug in your motherboard model. It will then give you a list of ram options that are compatible.

Quote from wikipedia on BTX form factor: “There are few advantages seen to BTX and many issues which hamper adoption.” But, like I said, check out a motherboard manufacturer’s website and see if they can convince you a BTX is what you need. I doubt it.

Other motherboard info:
Number of SATA ports and RAID support can be useful if you want to maximize hard drive access speeds, data availability, or both.
Some people care about the “chipset”. For example the EVGA motherboard you mention is an nvidia 780i chipset. They can possibly affect performance in certain circumstances but in general it’s not obvious. Check hardware reviewers for comparison benchmarks. (Example chipset description)

I typically approach building a computer by:

  1. Determining which CPU I want (or can afford).
  2. Once I know #1 I can then start looking at motherboards that support that CPU, asking myself:
    2.1) Do I care about SLI?
    2.2) Do I want an integrated graphics card?
    2.3) Do I care about which sound card is integrated? (They all come with integrated sound cards now)
  3. What graphics card do I want? In your case you need to ask yourself:
    3.1) Do I need a professional level card? If so, budget may limit you to significantly older hardware.
    3.2) Do I want bleeding edge technology? Sure, it’s faster, but it will cost a LOT more.
  4. How much ram can I afford after choosing #1-3? If I were to build a computer today I’d want at least 4GB, and so would make sure my motherboard choice supported that. I would also prefer a motherboard that could support more ram (6-8GB) if I wanted to upgrade later.
  5. How big do I need my hard drives and how fast do I need them? One big drive? Two smaller ones but raided together for faster speed? Etc.
  6. What kind of monitor can I afford after choosing #1-5?

Useful links:
Asus socket 775 motherboards
Gigabyte socket 775 motherboards
Crucial RAM
Kingston RAM
Sample socket 775 motherboard roundup review