AEC Tech News (#326)

21 Mar, 2013 By: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Labs Report: Monitors for CAD

Before you make your next monitor purchase, learn how to choose options that will meet your needs and take a look at six current models that we put through their paces in Cadalyst Labs.

By Curt Moreno

We don't think twice about spending a great deal of time researching and selecting the television that becomes the centerpiece of our living room, but when it comes to choosing the monitor that will be the centerpiece of our CAD workstation, the task often gets short shrift. Perhaps this is because picking the perfect monitor can seem daunting, especially when it comes to discussing aspect ratios and backlighting technologies.

Monitors for CAD

But let's be honest: The monitor you select for CAD work — a component you likely rely on during the majority of your workday — deserves just as much consideration as any other component of your CAD setup. Wisely investing in a monitor can return dividends of a long service life, considerable energy savings, and a better user experience.

Determining the right option for your needs takes a bit of time and a good deal of understanding, but it needn't be difficult. In this Cadalyst Labs Report, I aim to deliver the information you need to make your next monitor upgrade a smart one, explaining the basics of today's technology and introducing you to six of the latest models on the professional market. I hope you come away feeling confident and ready to set out on your own monitor search.

Understanding the Features

Let's start with an overview of basic monitor features and what you need to look for in each category.

Size. Monitors are measured according to the portion of the display screen that is available for viewing. This measurement is traditionally taken diagonally, measured from one visible corner to the opposite visible corner.

These days, dual 19" monitors are considered the minimum for a CAD workstation, but even that setup can be limiting. Modern CAD applications have so many toolbars, palettes, and pop-ups that screen real estate is at a premium. That's why I recommend nothing less than dual 22" monitors for CAD professionals.

All monitors of the same size don't necessarily have the same available viewing area! This is due to aspect ratio. Read more »

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Curt Moreno is a Houston, Texas–based CAD manager, writer, and wannabe speaker who has been using AutoCAD since 1990.

Eurocom Panther 4.0

First Look Review: This mobile workstation delivers a brilliant display, good memory and storage capacity, and terrific speed — but shouldn't stray far from an outlet.

By Art Liddle

We last reviewed a Eurocom mobile workstation two years ago. Here, we review the Panther 4.0, which proved to be a substantial upgrade to the Panther 2.0 in every respect.

System Features

Eurocom's Panther 4.0 is one of several models Eurocom offers in its line of professional mobile workstations. Each is fully customizable with a large selection of options designed to meet a variety of needs. The Panther 4.0 used for this review was built around the Intel X79 Express chipset and configured with an Intel Xeon E5-2687W eight-core (16 threads) CPU, which runs at 3.1 GHz and includes a massive 20-MB cache. Turbo mode, available when running a single core, bumps the clock speed of this power-hungry chip (150 W) to a maximum of 3.8 GHz.

The 17.3" matte-finish, LED-backlit panel produces a beautiful and bright image at its native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 with 32-bit color. It boasts a 120-Hz refresh rate (double that of standard panels) and includes Spyder 3 display calibration technology for color matching. Eurocom chose the very latest mobile graphics card option from NVIDIA to drive the display: The Kepler-based (28-nm core) Quadro K5000M includes 4 GB of GDDR5 dedicated memory and supports a maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 with an external digital monitor or projector plugged into the DisplayPort. Read more »

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Art Liddle is a former editor-in-chief of Cadalyst.

Dell Precision M6700

First Look Review: System packs high-end desktop workstation power into a portable form factor.

By Art Liddle

Highly Recommended

This is our fourth review of a top-of-the-line Dell Precision mobile workstation, beginning with the Precision M6300 reviewed in October 2008. Dell's current offering, the Precision M6700, carries on the tradition of combining excellent performance with an absolutely-nothing-left-out configuration. The Precision M6700 is a true mobile workstation.

System Features

The Dell Precision M6700 mobile workstation review unit featured an Intel Extreme i7-3920XM, a quad-core mobile CPU (8-MB cache) running at 2.9 GHz. Turbo mode, available when running a single core, bumps the clock speed to a maximum of 3.8 GHz. (New units are shipping with the i7-3940XM, the company states.)

Our review system arrived preloaded with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate. It weighed in at slightly more than 8 lbs, typical for a system of its size (16.4" x 10.7" x 1.5"). The Covet Edition we received adds edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass 2 and an aluminum skin over a magnesium alloy chassis. The aluminum is anodized in phoenix red, providing extra durability as well as flair. Read more »

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Art Liddle is a former editor-in-chief of Cadalyst.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Introducing OpenRoads Technology
March 27, 2013
1 p.m. ET
This Bentley webinar will demonstrate how the company's OpenRoads software expands civil engineering design boundaries by providing transportation professionals with 3D immersive modeling with parametric design. Read more »

BIM Camp Boston
April 18, 2013
Chicago, Illinois
This Nemetschek Vectorworks event teaches attendees building information modeling skills including understanding how IFC-based standards benefit design teams, creating sustainable and high-performing designs, and collaborating through Open BIM. Read more »

Bentley LEARNingConference
May 13–16, 2013
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This annual user conference known as The Be Together Conference has been renamed The Bentley LEARNing Conference. Exclusively for Bentley LEARN subscribers, this conference promises hundreds of workshops and lecture sessions. 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

Arboretum Gains New Insight by Digitizing 50 Years' Worth of Maps
Contex wide-format scanner helps the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University georeference its collection of 1,800 landscape maps. Read more »

The Alpha of Beta Testers
Masanobu Higashino devotes his free time to hunting down bugs and honing his SolidWorks expertise. Read more »

G2 Crowd Puts CAD Software Reviews in Hands of Users
Comparing itself to Yelp, the new site aims to become the go-to resource for companies evaluating new products. Read more »

Turn Your AutoCAD Objects Invisible
For years, we've used layers to control the visibility of objects in AutoCAD — but that approach can be very tedious. Why not use object isolation to simply select those objects you wish to make invisible? Watch the video »

Free CAD Workstation Resource Guide Available for Download
Searching for information about the technology behind professional workstations for CAD and how to configure a model to best meet your needs? Download the free CAD Workstation Resource Guide!

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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