Getting the most out of your computer

What is this page about?

We get a lot of questions about what constitutes a good computer, or if a certain computer will be able to run CET Designer smoothly.

Our hope is that after reading this, you will be able to judge a computer by taking a quick glance at specifications listed in any good store.

I’m not a technical person

You don’t have to be.

This is not intended as a guide to teach you all the details about computer hardware. We do not expect everyone to learn technical jargon – so we will not explain what GHz is, or go into boring details about the impact of Hard Disk Drive IOPS.

The idea is to go through the most important parts as far as CET Designer is concerned, tell you what values to look for, and why they are important.

 

The Operating System (OS)

Which version of Windows to pick is mostly a matter of personal preference, or company policy.
CET Designer supports running on most recent versions of Microsoft Windows:

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 7
NOTE 1: “RT” versions of Windows are not supported.
NOTE 2: Starting from the 5.0 release of CET Designer we no longer support running the program on Windows XP as this Operating System has reached end-of-life and no longer receives updates from Microsoft.
NOTE 3: Starting from the 6.0 release of CET Designer we no longer support running the program on Windows Vista.

The most important part to keep in mind when selecting your Operating System, is making sure you get a 64-bit version of Windows.

Why 64-bit?

A 64-bit Operating System is capable of handling a lot more memory, between 200 to 500 GB of memory for the Professional versions of Windows 7 and 8. Whereas a 32-bit Operating system is limited to a maximum of 4 GB total memory.

Keep in mind that total memory on your computer is not only the amount of RAM, but also includes the memory on your Graphics Card (and a few other bits and pieces).

 

Memory Size (RAM)

This is the computer’s active working memory, and is shared between Windows and all other currently running programs.

Today, most modern computers come with 4 GB (or more) worth of RAM installed. This should be considered a minimum amount for any newly acquired computer.

As a general rule of thumb; the more memory the better all programs will run.

 

Processor (CPU)

For CET Designer, two of your processor values are important:

  1. Speed (Recommended minimum: 2.4 GHz)
  2. Number of Cores (Recommended minimum: 2 cores)

Like Memory, your Processor is also shared by all currently running programs.

We recommend a minimum Processor speed of 2.4 GHz for good performance.
Going below this recommendation could potentially make the program feel slow or “sluggish”, and will result in rendering images taking much longer to finish. Anything above 2.4 GHz means better response and faster image rendering.

We also recommend a minimum of 2 Processor Cores; more Cores leads to significantly less time required to finish a rendered image, and also means that CET Designer does not have to worry about other programs competing for speed.

The processor brand or manufacturer does not matter, both AMD and Intel processors work equally well. CET Designer also does not differentiate between different processor models (like the Intel i3, i5, and i7 series)

What about “Intel Turbo boost”?

Intel Turbo Boost will temporarily run your Processor faster than what it is normally intended to, and is done automatically when your laptop detects a need for more processing power.

The maximum boost speed is, however, limited by a couple of factors:

  • Turbo Boost mode generates more heat, and if the processor gets too warm, then the turbo boost is automatically limited in how much faster it can go to prevent damage.This means that the longer you run in boosted mode, the hotter your system gets, and the less boost you are likely to get.
  • The more Cores that simultaneously request boost speed, the less effective the boost becomes.
    This might become noticeable when rendering in CET Designer, as it will try to use as many Cores as are available.
  • Running in boosted mode draws more power, so a laptop constantly running in boosted mode will see its battery drain faster.

Keep in mind:
Many computer vendors incorrectly list the maximum turbo boost speed as if it was the standard processor speed.
Intel Turbo Boost is not the normal operating speed for a laptop unless it is under constant heavy load, or its power settings have been set to “Maximum Performance” in Windows.

 

Graphics Card (GPU)

When looking at the graphics card, keep in mind that CET Designer gets the best performance from “gaming technology” type cards.

This means that CET Designer is best served by either the GeForce line of cards from Nvidia, or the Radeon HD line from AMD.

NOTE: Due to several hardware limitations, and general performance issues, we do not recommend using so called “Integrated Graphics” or “Graphics Accelerators”, such as those from the Intel HD line.

What about Quadro?

The Quadro line of cards from Nvidia is often touted as “professional level” graphics, and really come into their own when working with CAD objects requiring maximum levels of precision.

However, the Quadro cards are significantly more expensive than the GeForce line, and generally offers lower performance than their GeForce cousins as far as CET Designer is concerned.

How to tell if a card is powerful enough

The indicator for how well a card should perform for CET Designer usually lies in the numbers accompanying the card name. Since the purpose of this guide is to keep things simple, we are just going to look at a performance metric called Passmark G3D.
Follow this link, use the search field on the Videocard Benchmarks page, and click on “Find Videocard” to find the graphics card you want to look up.
Look at the column for Passmark G3D:
•    A score of 1290 is the minimum recommended level for CET Designer.
Anything below this will likely perform increasingly poor the further down you go.
•    A score of 4954, or higher, is the recommended level for good performance.
•    A score of 8664, or higher, is the recommended level if you intend to be running Virtual Reality.

NOTE: Graphics cards from AMD do not fully support some functionality CET Designer needs in order for the Focus/Blur post-processing in the Photo Lab to work. So this feature will not be available to machines with AMD branded graphics.

 

Screen Size & Resolution

For your computer screen two values are equally important:

1)      Resolution, measured in pixels (commonly written as Width x Height), tells you how many dots (pixels) the screen can fit in at once.

2)      Screen size, measured in inches (diagonally), tells you the physical size of the screen.

hardware-page-monitor

Our minimum recommended resolution is 1920×1080 (often called Full HD), as that guarantees that all dialogs and windows will fit on the screen. This also means a larger work area for your 2D or 3D views.

For screen size, we recommend using a screen that is no smaller than 14”, preferably 15-17” for a laptop. And 20-27” (or larger) for a stationary desktop screen.

Why such a large screen?

On smaller screens, buttons, images and text risk becoming too small to look at, which could potentially cause eye strain when working longer periods of time.

 

Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

CET Designer frequently accesses the computer’s Hard Drive to read and write data. This means that we consider a Hard Drive capable of rapidly reading and writing data to be important for a good working experience, as this results in minimal time waiting for the computer to load data from disk.

We highly recommend Solid State Disks (SSD), as they offer superior performance by being many times faster than traditional disks both for reading and writing data.

In addition, they are also less sensitive to getting jostled about when you move your computer around, and draw far less power. SSD storage also weighs less than normal HDD, making it ideal for laptops.

If an SSD is not available as an option for the computer you are looking at, then make sure that the Hard Drive has an RPM of at least 7200, preferably higher.

 

Going Forward

While we at Configura recommend doing the main part of your work on a Desktop computer, as they are decidedly more powerful than laptops (and can more easily be upgraded), we also recognize the need for mobility and that changing demands in the modern workspace may call for different solutions.

That said, please keep in mind when buying a laptop; make sure to check that it is possible to freely replace the graphics driver.
Many manufacturers only allow branded drivers, these are often poorly maintained, and can cause problems for professional graphics intensive applications like CET Designer.

Comments are closed