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Old 22-03-2018, 07:42   #1
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What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

Hi,

got a question for those cruisers who live mostly on the hook and do CAD, graphics and engineering stuff on board.

This is NOT about nav computers!

I am working in 3D visualisation with CAD & Graphics on large files (Rhinoceros 3D, Vray and Affinity Photo mostly).
For now I am running shorebased a HP Z800 workstation with dual xeon X5650 hex core chips and 72 GB of RAM.
QUATTRO 5000 Graphic card.
Dual LCD screen.
I figure that this machine draws way too much power (about 750watt) to move on board with me.
Usually I live on the hook when living on board.
So, no 220V mains apart from when running from an inverter or generator.

So I am wondering if there is anyone else here doing similar stuff who lives and works on board and what setup they use.
I am after PC and not so much Mac based setups primarely.

What powerful but low current draw computers or notebooks are you using (I know its a bit contradictory )?

Are you running a genset all the time when the computer runs?
I'd prefer if its not necessary.

Money is an issue, 3000€ is the max for the computer to be considered.

Any other experience?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, experiences and ideas.

Fran
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Old 22-03-2018, 08:30   #2
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

Fran-
I do not have a specific answer for you, just some recommendations s to how to dig up the right numbers. My "laptop" technically is a workstation. I'm totally confused by how they distinguish these things these days. I was looking into replacements last year, and one of the options for Xeon versus Core7 CPU. From what I was being told, the Xeon chips no longer are as different as they used to be. You can find some white papers on the Intel web site actually comparing CPU performance across different CPU types. Apparently the trend now is to integrate multiple cores in the same CPU, rather than the way Xeon started out, with cores being on separate chips that were optimized to work together. And the i7 CPUs now apparently go up to only 4 cores in one chip, but are often rated as "8" cores because they are each running two streams. (Reminds me of carnival barkers, trying to get straight answers on some of this.)
There are always going to be other system bottlenecks though. If you need that much RAM there won't be many "lightweight" machines to support it, that may be what you have to look for, and then accept whatever limits it forces.
SSD hard drives are being obsoleted by PCI-bus drives that triple their speed. All sorts of subsystems are slowly improving.
Your best bet might be to speak to the software vendors, and ask them what they currently recommend as the most effective hardware for those products. Often there are particular tweaks that make them run most effectively on specific systems. A long while ago someone mentioned the prohibitively expensive system they were using for 3D photographic rendering...except, when you figured out how much they were billing out by the hour, and how much faster the system got renderings done...the hardware was the cheapest part of things.
Work with the vendors, see just how badly what hardware would impact you. Sometimes it mays to have multiple machines, so you can work on one while the other one quietly sits there and renders. Sometimes that is more cost-effective.
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Old 22-03-2018, 09:20   #3
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

I only did 2D cad on the hook so my needs were far less then 3D. I don't think a laptop would do it for 3D as you just don't have enough memory to do it well.

I was running an I5 chip, with only 8gig ram and a SSD, but then I was only running 2D autocad. The I5 which really is a two processor, each with two steams. Bottlenecks happen more with pre-fetch blocks into on chip buffer. As HS said the I7 is a 4 processor chip and not a true 8 processor chip.

In comparing a Xeon E3-1500M to a I7, both have about the same computation power at least with several benchmarks I saw. Close enough in any case. So a good 3.6-4ghz I7 might be ok.

Really with only 3000 euro's your quite limited in machines. There are several laptops with 24+ gb of ram with an I7 and nice graphics card. A high end gaming laptop, might get you there on your budget.

One thing to be aware of is power to run the laptop, when on the hook. I had to add a solar panel just to offset the HP probook laptop I was using. It was by far the highest energy hog on the boat. You might need two panels.
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Old 22-03-2018, 10:06   #4
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

Hey thanks to both of you. Appreciate it!

Yes 3D is memory hungry and good graphic cards are power hungry.

As I still have some time left I'll aim for an i7 with 24GB or more. Prices should come down.
I'm not buying new but 1-2 generations older usually.

Saw an MSI GT75VR-013 for 2339€ when equipped with 16Gb RAM. So with 64GB (max RAM) it should currently scrape the 3000€.
Draws 230Watt via 19.5Volt adapter. Still need to add 50Watt for the second monitor. With losses we'll have to account for approximately 300Watts then.
In 1-2 years when I take the business offshore it should be close to 2000€ which would allow for adding more solar panels within budget.
Lucky my software is happy with gaming configurations and does not benefit much from workstation setups (except all that RAM which can go in there).

Anyone else around, who wants to tell what they use?
Or have less power hungry suggestions?

Fran
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Old 22-03-2018, 10:35   #5
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
Hi,

got a question for those cruisers who live mostly on the hook and do CAD, graphics and engineering stuff on board.
[...]
QUATTRO 5000 Graphic card.
[...]
This one?
https://www.videocardbenchmark.net/g...pu=Quadro+5000

If yes, then it is 7+ years old technology. A lot of heat for not much bang.
I would look first into replacing it with something modern and energy efficient. Compare with this one...:

https://www.videocardbenchmark.net/g...X+1070&id=3521
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Old 22-03-2018, 10:38   #6
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

Hi, MRM, yes its an older system which will not be taken on board. Too power hungry, especially for the bang it offers.

At the moment it still works for me, but when I replace it I will upgrade with something less power hungry.
Like the 1070card you found which is actually part of the MSI machine I wrote of in the last post.
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Old 22-03-2018, 10:42   #7
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

I suggest you look at the Intel NUCs. Extremely tiny PCs with all solid state data storage. Very low power consumption. When I finish outfitting my boat I'll be running one of these. I do 3D CAD, SolidWorks. I see significant advantages running a non-laptop set up. The computer is fixed mounted in a protected area, and you can choose the size monitor you wish to use (for CAD and for navigation something a lot larger than a laptop is very preferable).
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Old 22-03-2018, 11:13   #8
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

Hey,

those are really interesting, just looked them up.

Two things though currently "only " 32GB RAM support and I did not see external graphics card support.
The RAM is a drawback, as I sometimes use my 72GB flat out.
Still in two years the specs might have improved. So its an option. Yes, a second monitor is definitely nice.
Still I could also add that to a laptop.
Usually I work mainly on a large screen and use a second smaller one for support (which could be a laptop screen).
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Old 22-03-2018, 11:58   #9
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

While there are some Lenovo Thinkpads that max out at 64GB of RAM, it will be a rare laptop that goes beyond that. For instance, a P71, 17" screen:

Up to 7th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-7820HQ Processor (8MB Cache, up to 3.90GHz)
•Up to Intel® Xeon® E3-1535 v6 Processor (8MB Cache, up to 4.20GHz)

Display
•17.3" 4K (3840 x 2160) Anti-Glare IPS
•17.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare IPS

Graphics
Up to NVIDIA® Quadro® P5000 16GB

Memory
Up to 64GB DDR4 2400 MHz

More than that, from a reputable brand, might just mean a desktop. But these days, so many of them are "shoebox" size anyway that it shouldn't be a stopper.
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Old 22-03-2018, 12:02   #10
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

I think I'd be able to adjust my workflow to 64GB.
Software evolves and sometimes uses less resources. So these Thinkpads are interesting.
Did you see any prices?
Desktops tend to be more power hungry, no?
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Old 22-03-2018, 12:25   #11
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
Desktops tend to be more power hungry, no?
Jajn
I mean, there is a lot of hardware convergence between laptops and 'mini' PCs, driven mostly by increased need for power efficiency in offices.

May I suggest another way of looking at your question? If you feel your workflow is smooth enough with your current hardware, maybe it is sufficient to replace your power hungry graphics card with modern equivalent performance wise? For example:
https://www.videocardbenchmark.net/g...750+Ti&id=2815 offers ~30% more processing power at 60W TDP.

Edit: ... and if your software is written to make efficient use of multithreading, then i7-8700 https://ark.intel.com/products/126686 seems to be a good compromise between power consumption and processing power.
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Old 22-03-2018, 13:09   #12
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

"Did you see any prices?
Desktops tend to be more power hungry, no?"

Didn't look at the prices, you'd have to go to lenovo.com, pick your country, and build the machine up to that level. No 'stock' machines will be configured to the max.

Power hungry? Maybe not actually, since the desktop isn't powering any screen at all, and the rest of the systems are mainly the same. It may be providing for rotating drives, but I'd be surprised if it consumed a lot more power unless it was actually using more hardware.
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Old 22-03-2018, 13:26   #13
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

I'll check there.
Good idea with the Thinkpads.

Regarding power optimization.
Well, the deskop does not need, by some degree, to be driven by a battery and one needs to add the screen to the power consumption summary too.
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Old 22-03-2018, 13:26   #14
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

Hi Fran,

Tough one, if your work really needs the juice, then you have to find a way to squeeze a full-size desktop on your 35'-er and figure how to feed the necessary 3-400W consumption.

If you can get away with 4 cores and a high end mobile quadro, then mobile workstations (17' notebooks) might be the way. I have very good experience with the HP mobile workstations, in your position I'd go with the new Zbook 17 with recent quadro P4000 graphics.

If the price is prohibitive or you really need the huge amount of CPU cores, you might want to look at those 16 core AMD cpu-s (to my knowledge their new line is more power efficient than intel) and treat them with 1-2 big quadro cards - and a generator.
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Old 22-03-2018, 15:08   #15
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Re: What computer are you using for serious CAD/Graphic work at anchor.

I don't think you need a desktop. There are really good gamer laptops that will do the job in a smaller package. (Thank god for kids who kill the monsters all day!)

I use Z800, Z820, Z840, at work for pro graphics-intensive applications that we write ourselves, and we recommend Supermicro workstations these days with dual Xeon CPUs, or even the newer/better/cheaper AMD Threadripper. Amazing chip!

I tote around a big MSI gamer laptop for working on the boat (but not usually on the hook). I highly recommend the MSI GT series. They are thick and clunky and people laugh when I pull the beast out of my backpack, but it can hold it's own against most desktops. You can certainly get one with 64GB RAM, even with dual Nvidia 1080's, though mine just has one. The top of the line is about $3500 here in the US, and I think they are still using i7s.

The down side of the MSI GT series biggest monster (like the GT83VR) is that it comes with TWO power bricks because 330W just wasn't enough, lol. The main problem is the the power hungry GPU's. (1080's) It does NOT use 660W, but more like 450-500 when rendering. You might be happy with a single GPU and only a single 330W power supply like the GT73VR, though it might only go up to 32GB.

-Cy
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