What computer should I get for my design business?Mar 26, 2023
I always see interior designers hunting for a perfect computer! Which computer do you recommend? What is the BEST in the field? It can be tricky shopping for "the perfect computer" especially when there are SO MANY different options! I’ve used a bunch of different computers in my career and the truth is - all computers still crash; you will lose work here and there, get frustrated at times! I don’t think you can fully avoid it. If you're planning to run several different programs to support your design workload such as 2d drafting, 3d modeling and plug-in for realistic renderings that would include walk-throughs and panorama views - I would stick with a gaming computer!
Gaming computers are designed for computer games! The CPU & GPU on a gaming PC are often at least triple the power! This allows for PCs to have higher fidelity graphics, higher resolutions, higher frames per seconds which are all extremely beneficial for 3d modeling & renderings! As I like to say -" Please explain it to me like to a 5 year old"! Let's first review what does the CPU & GPU stand for in simple words that we can all understand and not be confused. The CPU is basically the brain of the computer! It processes instructions that come from programs & operating systems. Because of powerful CPUs on computers, we're able to watch videos, play lifelike video games and of course in our case - produce realistic 3d renderings and animation walk-throughs! Another word for CPU is referred to as "processor" and on technical specification of computer you would see a description such as - Processor: Intel Core 7i. I'm pretty sure you have seen this label or sticker that I've attached below on lap tops. Now you know what it stands for!
Computers come with different type of CPUs - single-core, dual-core, Quad-core, Hexa core, Octa-core, and Deca core etc. Now it's all way too techy and complicated but basically if you ever review a technical specification on label of computer it could say something like this - Processor: Intel Core 7i -10750H Six Core Processor. This means it comes with 6 core processor which means it's a pretty powerful computer! If you went with 4 core processor which is more on a budget, for example, it would be a slower computer! According to this article, 6 core processor, is a beast! I'm sharing this chart below so you can understand that there are many other processors, so when you shop for a computer - perhaps you can refer to this chart to understand how powerful is that specific computer!
Now let's discuss the meaning of GPU which is so important for what we do. In simple words, GPU is a graphics processing unit that handles graphics-related work such as graphics, effects, and videos. The CPU & GPU work together, they're basically like cousins, one - delivers performance being the brain of computer, one - delivers computer graphics workloads! GPUs provide us with higher resolution like 4k which is excellent for 3d renderings and faster frame rates which is excellent for video animations with a smooth flow! How to understand what GPU should computer carry for best results? You're looking for technical specification such as - Graphics Processor: Nvidia GeForce. For example: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GDDR6, Full HD IPS-Level 120Hz 45%NTSC Thin Bezel Display (1920 x 1080). Key words to lookout for here is - 6GB which should be the very minimum for graphics processor, 1920 x 1080 stands for screen resolution which could go as high as 2560×1440 or higher. I'm sure you have seen this sticker on lap tops before:
Moving on to the next important item on the list to consider when shopping for a new computer and that is RAM! What is RAM? It's basically the memory of your computer. It's where the data is stored that your computer processor needs to run your programs and open your files. So why is RAM on top of the list when shopping for a computer? Simply because if your system has too little RAM, it can run very slow! My current computer has 32 GB RAM and it's great but I did work on 16 GB RAM computer before and it was really giving me hard time, it would take forever to open programs and to run them! PC running Windows shouldn’t really have any less than 8GB anyway, and that is enough to run Sketchup or Enscape or AutoCAD but I suggest going with 32GB as a minimum!
Now you will also see VRAM on technical specifications which will lead you to the question - "What a minute! What is VRAM now?" VRAM and RAM are both types of access memory but have completely different uses in your computer. While RAM is the workhorse for general tasks and speedy operations, VRAM is a special type of RAM that is only optimized the performance of your graphics card for an outstanding visual display. Another words VRAM stands for Video RAM b& it focus on the graphics display. VRAM basically enhances the performance of applications that have complex graphics like 3d renderings, high-resolution or textured images, video games etc. I hope it all makes sense why this is so important to your computer shopping and what we do and what programs we're using.
Let's quickly take a look at each program's requirements. Let's start with Enscape. We need to make sure our "new ideal computer" has NVIDIA Graphics Processor, & minimum of 4GB VRAM.
Now let's take a look at SketchUp requirements below. We also need NVIDIA Graphics Processor, & minimum of 4GB RAM but recommended to have 8GB. I personally think it's too low, you should definitely go with 32GB as minimum.
Moving on to AutoCAD. 8GB minimum RAM, but 16 GB recommended!
Now that we're somewhat educated on the "body parts" of computers and understand what is crucial to us when shopping for "ideal computer", let's also not forget to consider the Hard Disk Size. What is HDD? It simply means - computer's storage! The amount of storage on a hard disk is measured in gigabytes and terabytes, so we'd be looking for sizes such as 250 GB, or 500GB or 1TB. Now, hard disks are not the computer’s memory, it is not RAM so do not confuse the two! Disks store programs and data until deleted by the user, so all your client's projects, files, presentations etc. that is saved under hard disk until you being deleting them and opening up that storage space again. I currently have 1000GB and I have to constantly keep moving work onto portable hard drive because I'm running out of space to accommodate all of my client's projects! Therefore, hard disk storage is very important! This is an interesting chart that illustrates how many items you can store on HDD, source:
Let's go ahead and summarize all that we need for our next big shopping day! You will be looking at the following items when reviewing technical specifications and you will know exactly if this PC is for you!
1. CPU/Processor. Recommended - Intel Core i7-10750H; or Intel Core i9-10980HK; or AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS.
2. GPU/Graphics Processor. Recommended - NVIDIA GeForce GTX. 6GB minimum.
3. RAM Memory Size. Recommended - 32GB as minimum! 64 GB is even better!
4. Hard Disk Size. Recommended - 500GB as very minimum! My is 1000GB and already full!
5. Warranty. Make sure computer comes with warranty you just never know! Mine initially came with 3 years warranty!
6. Screen Size. 15"-17" is pretty good!
Happy Shopping Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We're not quite done yet! In addition, I'm adding a few laptops that I heard great things about. I always had a close relationship with IT guys when I worked in corporate and basically asked million questions. These were some of the recommendations I received when I was shopping for my personal computer.
1. MSI GF65 Stealth, Sword or Raider. It's hands down from me! MSI is on top of my list! There are different versions for your budget needs.
2. Dell Precision Workstation. There are different versions for your budget needs.
3. Alienware X17 or other Xs. There are different versions for your budget needs.
4. Razer Blade. There are different versions for your budget needs.
My personal lap top linked here.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me any time - [email protected]