AEC Tech News (#266)

17 Mar, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

Choose the Best Monitor for CAD

CAD 101: Arm yourself with these solid fundamentals as you set out to find the consumer- or professional-grade LCD display that's right for you.

By Ron LaFon

Your onscreen display is your window to your work every day, so selecting the right monitor is an important decision for CAD-related work. Although the common wisdom about large monitors and CAD going together holds a lot of truth, there's more to making the right selection than size alone. This article serves as a guide to help you find your path through the labyrinth of features, sizes, and options. I use these basic procedures each time I purchase a new display.

Size and Resolution

Large monitors make sense for CAD use. They require less panning and zooming — and display detail work more effectively — because more of a design shows on the screen at one time, allowing the portion being drawn to be shown in the context of the overall design.

Screen size. In general, 19" monitors are considered entry-level equipment for CAD and design work, and 21" or larger panels are deemed suitable for general work. The larger your monitor, the larger the content will display — an important consideration if your eyesight is not perfect. Bigger screens also provide larger views of segments of drawings, which is extremely useful when working with highly detailed designs. Read more »

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Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor and computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.

Arrival of the Desktop Supercomputer

Nehalem workstations offer a strategic advantage we haven't seen in years, and now — yes, now — is the time to ramp up.

By Randall S. Newton

Here we are in the middle of a big fat recession, and the most empowering advance in CPU technology in 20 years has arrived. I'm not talking about a new model that's a little bit better, faster, or cheaper; I'm talking about the advent of the desktop supercomputer. The boss says "do more with less," but your favorite vendor has just introduced new workstations that are radically redefining the value proposition. What do you do?

Be sneaky. Be bold. Be whatever it takes. Start equipping your key technical professionals immediately. The Nehalem generation of CPUs from Intel, combined with new graphics processing unit (GPU) technology from NVIDIA or AMD and the most stable version of Windows ever, will revolutionize the workflow of the people who run the most compute-intensive applications, including:

  • the gal who creates those stunning renderings the executives keep requesting,
  • the graybeard who runs those complicated multiphysics simulations,
  • the surveyors and civil engineers who shoot gigabytes of 3D laser data, and
  • the young architects who do their initial design work in 3D.

These people — and others like them — offer their firms experience, skill, and creativity based on years of training and practice. Often they are more than the final arbiter; they also are important sources of innovation in a firm. Read more »

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Randall S. Newton is editor-in-chief of CADCAMNet and Engineering Automation Report, and a consultant on business and technology trends.


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Seattle AUGI CAD Camp 2010
March 29, 2010
Renton, Washington
This event consists of one day of intensive Autodesk product training, where attendees can hone their product skills and improve their productivity. Read more »

Webinar: Designing for Multiple Storm Events in StormCAD
March 30, 2010
2 p.m. ET
This complimentary, live webinar from Bentley Systems addresses stormwater design to limit flooding, with a focus on StormCAD. Attendees can learn how to prevent stormwater flooding by analyzing system capacity for multiple storm events. Read more »

SEI Architecture Technology User Network 2010 Conference
May 17–21, 2010
Minneapolis, Minnesota
At the SATURN Conference, architecture practitioners and researchers meet to share ideas, network, and learn about new and current architecture technologies and practices. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


GIS Docks at the Port of San Diego
To provide varied departments with a common operating picture, the Port Authority implements GIS solutions that make facilities data accessible to all — including CAD users. Read more »

Web-Based Help Offers Answers for SolidWorks Users
Solid Thinking tutorial: The new help system introduced in SolidWorks 2010 includes improved search tools, simplified navigation, and up-to-date documentation. Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: CAD ROI Worksheet
Revamping processes to save money is great, but evaluating and tracking your proposed changes with this tool is even better. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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