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3D Modeling & CAD for Motorsport: Required Hardware

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Required Hardware


00:00 - It's hopefully pretty obvious that to use CAD software, you're going to need a computer.
00:04 And probably not the 20 year old machine you scored off your mate for a case of beers.
00:09 There's a good chance that if you're committed to learning how to work with CAD, you've probably already got a suitable computer but if you run into performance issues using the software, or you're looking at purchasing a new machine, then there are a few things worth considering.
00:24 First, to be clear, it doesn't really matter whether we use a laptop or a desktop.
00:29 There are some obvious tradeoffs with portability and performance of course, because you're generally going to get more power from a desktop for the same amount of money.
00:38 But the reality is that these days there are plenty of affordable options in both categories that will be more than up to the task.
00:46 The supplier of whatever CAD software we're using will list the minimum system requirements usually on their website.
00:53 The first thing to consider is our computer's operating system.
00:57 If we're only planning to use Fusion 360 then it's less important because it's available for Mac and Windows, as is AutoCAD.
01:06 Solidworks, Catia and Inventor though are Windows only.
01:10 Moving onto hardware, as you might expect, the more complex and powerful the software is, the greater the demands on your equipment are going to be.
01:18 So, while more power is always going to be better and make life easier, let's quickly discuss the bare minimum requirements in order to get something like Fusion 360 running decently on your computer.
01:31 CPU wise, you're going to need a 64 bit processor with at least 4 cores running at 3 GHz or greater.
01:37 Older 32 bit processors aren't supported.
01:41 In terms of memory, Fusion 360 has a minimum requirement of 4 GB of ram but I wouldn't recommend anything less than 8 GB.
01:50 Ideally you'd want 16 GB or more to keep things moving along smoothly.
01:54 For graphical power, it does tend to vary from program to program.
01:58 For example, Fusion 360 recommends a dedicated graphics processing unit with 1 GB or more of VRAM, whereas Solidworks recommends a dedicated GPU starting at 4 GB of VRAM.
02:11 If your computer doesn't or can't run a dedicated GPU, you can partially compensate by increasing your computer's RAM.
02:18 But a dedicated GPU will give you a smoother navigation and modelling experience.
02:24 An item that you're probably not going to find on a software's minimum requirement list but one that I highly recommend, is a solid state drive.
02:32 If you don't already have one, pulling out your old hard disk drive and replacing it with an SSD is going to make a massive difference.
02:39 Upgrade your RAM to 16 GB or more at the same time and the performance jump will be like night and day.
02:46 While we're on the subject, you're also going to need a fair amount of storage space to install and run the software.
02:52 This varies significantly between programs.
02:55 I've seen anywhere from a few GB to over 40 GB.
02:58 Storage space is also required for saving CAD files like parts, assemblies and drawings.
03:04 Simple models and drawings don't take up much space but complex parts and assemblies can start to get really big really fast.
03:12 Cloud based software like Fusion 360 is beneficial here because we generally save all our files online.
03:19 Though with the free version, you can only have 10 documents active and editable at any one time.
03:26 Naturally, when working online like this, we'll also need an internet connection.
03:30 Fusion 360 recommends 2.5 MB per second or faster download speeds and 500 KB per second or faster upload speeds which really isn't asking that much.
03:43 If you're using a laptop, keep in mind that the trackpad won't be very useful for CAD.
03:48 A mouse is essential for moving your model in the model space and navigating the program.
03:53 Particularly with a clickable scroll wheel as opposed to something like an Apple Magic Mouse.
03:59 Dedicated CAD mouses like 3D Connection's Space Mouse are also available to help with your workflow.
04:06 But they do take a bit of getting used to, cost a lot more and really aren't required.
04:11 I personally use a simple Bluetooth mouse and I find that's all I need.
04:16 These days it's pretty hard to find a monitor that's bad enough that it wouldn't do the job for CAD work so we're probably safe here.
04:23 But an extra second monitor can definitely be useful and speed up your workflow.
04:28 If you have a spare one lying around or the means to pick one up.
04:32 So to summarise this module, a laptop or a desktop is a personal choice, it's whatever works best for you.
04:38 Make sure you have a current operating system and keep in mind that while Fusion 360 runs on both Mac and Windows, many other options will only run on Windows.
04:48 Although hardware requirements aren't too outlandish and most modern decently specced computers are going to be more than up to the task of running software like Fusion 360, if you dove into the bottom of the bargain bin at the stop, ordered your PC off Wish or you're pulling out your Dad's old laptop that hasn't been fired up in 5 years, you might be setting yourself up for failure.
05:10 Or at the very least, a very unpleasant CAD experience.
05:13 Whatever software you end up choosing to use, make sure you have a look at the system requirements and compare these to your computer specs before committing.

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