AutoCAD is a commercial computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software application. Developed and marketed by Autodesk. AutoCAD is used across a wide range of industries, by architects, project managers, engineers, graphic designers, and many other professionals.
Selecting the number of processing cores and frequency in your AutoCAD workstation is critical. 2D design and 3D modeling within the AutoCAD software are single-threaded (frequency bound) tasks, meaning they rely primarily on a single processor core. Thus, a CPU with less cores, but high operating frequency (clock speed) will offer the best overall performance.
Since Windows operating system also utilizes a couple cores, we recommend a 4 core processor. If you will be multi-tasking with a variety of applications, go with a 6- or 8-core processor.
Processors have base and turbo clock speeds. An example is a CPU model with 6 processing cores with a 3.8GHz base frequency and a 4.6GHz turbo frequency. If the system tasks are utilizing all 6 cores, the CPU will function at 3.8GHz. If the system is utilizing 1 core, the CPU will function at the 4.6GHz turbo. The CPU will function between 3.8GHz and 4.6GHz depending on the number of processing cores utilized. We recommend a 4GHz+ turbo frequency.
Intel offers the Core i5/i7/i9 processors as the consumer series and the Xeon processors as the professional series. In the past, Xeon CPUs were more powerful than their Core-series counterparts. Today, however, there is little functional difference between the two Intel product families for workstations. Core-series processors, especially with the 'K' designation (e.g. the Core i7-10700K) have the highest clock speeds, while the Xeon models maximize the number of cores. Since the clock speed impacts AutoCAD performance, a Core series CPU is perfectly fine. You can opt for a Xeon if you prefer to stick with enterprise-class components developed for 24/7 operation and intensive workloads.
NVIDIA offers the GeForce series graphics cards for consumers and the Quadro series graphics cards for professionals. Many software application vendors (e.g. Autodesk and Avid) test the functionality and performance of their applications with specific hardware (usually designated for professionals), then certify those specific series' or models. The application vendors will only offer support if you have hardware that has been certified by them. We recommend going with the NVIDIA Quadro series to ensure that you will be able to get full support from Autodesk if you ever have a software issue. However, NVIDIA GeForce cards show comparable performance in CAD benchmarks, so we recommend the NVIDIA GeForce series if you want the fastest experience possible at a lower cost and don't care about official Autodesk support.
For AutoCAD, the video card is what handles displaying the 2D and 3D models on the screen. If you will only be working with 2D models, we recommend the Quadro T600 or T1000 4GB. If 3D modeling plays a large part in your workflow, we recommend a Quadro A2000 6GB or better.
Autodesk certified NVIDIA Quadro series
NVIDIA Quadro RTX A4000 16GB (very large projects)
NVIDIA Quadro RTX A2000 12GB (large projects; 2nd most popular)
NVIDIA Quadro RTX A2000 6GB (moderate to large projects; most popular)
NVIDIA Quadro RTX T1000 4GB (small projects)
NVIDIA Quadro RTX T600 4GB (2D modeling)
Not certified NVIDIA GeForce series (better performance at a lower cost)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060Ti 8GB (very large projects)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 12GB (large projects)
We recommend a solid-state drive (SSD) for the operating system, applications and project files. 1TB is the most common capacity for AutoCAD workstations. A smaller 500GB is fine if your projects are moderately sized and the workstation is utilized for basic function work purposes. A larger 2TB is recommended if your projects are very large and you will you will use the workstation for a variety of professional applications.
If your projects are very complex, are running multiple applications as the same time, and you want to maximize performance, we recommend two SSDs:
- Primary Drive: NVMe SSD for the operating system and applications
- Secondary Drive: NVMe SSD for active projects; a dedicated drive will offer the aboluste maximum performance
For long term storage, backup, or infrequently accessed files, we recommend a 1TB to 4TB SATA SSD. If you require larger storage, you can also go with a 2TB to 18TB hard drive.
NVMe SSD performs at ~2500MB/s
SATA SSD performs at ~500MB/s
SATA Hard Drive performs at ~250MB/s
The amount of RAM needed depends on how complex your projects and assemblies are and how many projects you have opened at the same time.
If you select a 4-core processor and are working mostly with 2D models, we recommend at least 16GB RAM, but ideally 32GB RAM.
If you select a 6- or 8-core processor and 3D modeling plays a large part in your workflow, 32GB RAM is most common.
If your projects are very complex and/or are running multiple applications as the same time, 64GB is recommended.
Recommended Hardware References
Running additional applications on this system?
The recommended components and configurations provided on this page are specific to this software. If you plan on running other applications, please view our recommendations for them as well and choose a configuration that best suits the needs of the application requirements collectively. Feel free to contact us for further assistance.