Mechanical Engineers, specifically, are the ones that have to handle all of these as the subject has numerous fields and applications.
Hence, the need for a decent computer system to work on is ever constant. There is heavy software that has to be run, and so average specs on an average desktop are not enough.
This is why we have collected 5 of the best desktops in one place, which we think are the best alternatives if you are engaged in this profession.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Mechanical Engineers
- The 5 Best Desktops for Mechanical Engineers:
- Buyer’s Guide for Best Desktops for Mechanical Engineers
- Questions & Answers:
- Finishing up
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Mechanical Engineers
There are several degrees of mechanical engineering, and hence different kinds of tasks and applications as well. While some users require more reliable and professional hardware, others are sated with the consumer ones.
Now the software that are typically needed in this field like SolidWorks, AutoDesk Inventor, etc, all suggest specs in the likes of a 3 GHz quad-core or better processor, 8-16 GB of RAM, SSD storage, and such.
But these aren’t of much use for someone who doesn’t know much about desktop hardware, are they?
To make things simple, here are the kind of specs you should be getting if you too are looking for a new desktop that can handle rendering, designing, and simulations, much relevant to this profession.
Minimum System Requirements: Core i7-10700 or better processor │ 16 GB or more RAM │ NVIDIA Quadro P1000 or better GPU │ 512 GB or bigger SSD and additional storage
Recommended System Requirements: Core i7-10700K or better processor │ 32 GB RAM or more │ NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti or similar or better professional GPU │ 1 TB or bigger SSD and additional storage
The 5 Best Desktops for Mechanical Engineers:
1. Asus ProArt PA90 Mini PC – Best Overall
Bottom Line: The ProArt looks and performs better than most of those boring towers out there, and yet it is a workstation suitable in the field of mechanical engineering, due to the features it packs.
- Processor: Intel Core i9-9900K
- Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
- RAM: 32 GB
- Storage: 512 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
- Smartly designed
- Decent specs
- Good performance
- Not always available
- No HDMI Port
- Can be noisy at times
For intensive work like the one at hand, one needs a robust PC, that is without a doubt. But not all workstations have to be large, and even a smaller frame can provide one with enough power.
To prove that a bigger size doesn’t always mean more power, we thus have this small-sized desktop on our list.
The current variant is not always available though, so look out when it comes back for sale.
The processor thus has a clock speed of 3.6 GHz base and that of 5.0 GHz with turbo-boosting.
The single-core performance that you get on the desktop is excellent, and so the heaviest of the software relying on this would run comfortably.
And there are also 8 cores on the processor, which means that multi-threaded applications can be run with no issues at all.
Next, there is 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, an NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 GPU that can handle any general project, even though it may need heavy graphics.
There are thus many video ports, but none of them are HDMI ones.
Specs like these ensure that the PC doesn’t lag in any major aspect, and the ISV certification is further useful for professionals, especially mechanical engineers.
2. Dell Precision 3650 Workstation – Runner up
Bottom Line: The Dell Precision is a very reliable workstation that one may choose as a mechanical engineer for the tasks to be done. While this is one of the affordable variants, there are other better ones as well.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-11700
- Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro P1000
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
- RAM: 32 GB
- Storage: 2 TB SSD
- Decent performance
- Good storage
- Compact Size
- Slightly expensive
- Upgrading the PSU can be an issue
- Some models don’t have an SD card reader or DVD drive
Mechanical engineering is not just about designing and rendering, and a large number of engineers also learn to code as it can provide them with more opportunities.
While a desktop used for rendering should be able to handle coding in most situations, the opposite does not stand true. Here is a desktop that is very suitable for either purpose.
The Dell Precision 3650 is the one we are talking about as it has got the necessary features that make it a powerful desktop that can be used for heavy coding and rendering too, once the GPU is upgraded.
It has got the latest 11th gen Intel Core i7 CPU which has 6 cores and a turbo speed of 4.8 GHz.
Also installed is 32 GB of DDR4 memory, a NvME SSD that offers 2 TB storage space. For graphics, there is a Quadro P1000 GPU in this which is a relatively cheaper workstation-grade video card.
So designing, entry-level simulations, and such things can be handled by the desktop smoothly.
Also, there can be a whole lot of other software that you can use for analysis purposes. This also includes coding languages like Python, MATLAB, and others of the kind.
With decent upgradability and impressive performance, the Precision 3650 is worthy of attention. Check out Dell Precision 3650 Workstation Desktop Review.
3. HP Z8 G5 Workstation – Value for Money
Bottom Line: The HP Z8 G5 can be an extremely industrious machine for anyone engaged in mechanical engineering, or such a related profession that requires robust specs and reliable hardware.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10700K
- Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD 630
- OS: Windows 10 Pro
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 512 GB SSD
- Impressive performance
- Largely reliable
- Tons of expansion options
- Not always available
- Pre-configured variants can be expensive
- Lower variants have a small power supply
The kind of work a mechanical engineer may have to do determines the specs needed on the desktop he is working with.
Now it is often the case that frequent upgrades and expansions are needed, which is why these features are very important.
The HP Z2 G5 takes care of stuff like these, and more, and why shouldn’t it, since it is one of the best workstation desktops as of now.
The variant here has got modest specs, a Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of SSD storage.
Based on your needs, you’ll have to add a dedicated GPU on this, and before that, integrated graphics is present for the basic functioning.
Also, there are multiple ways you may configure the desktop, be it low-end specs, or high-end ones with very powerful Quadro RTX GPUs, Xeon CPUs, and up to 128 GB of RAM.
It also supports ECC memory, so the choice is yours, whether to configure the desktop on your own, or choose the most suitable variant directly.
4. Adamant Custom Workstation – Pricy, but Capable and Customizable
Bottom Line: If the ProArt wasn’t much to your liking, you can consider this prebuilt from Adamant for the software, designing, and simulation-related tasks on the various mechanical engineering software.
- Processor: Intel Core i9-10900K
- Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000
- OS: Windows 10
- RAM: 64 GB
- Storage: 500 GB SSD + 8 TB HDD
- Robust performance
- Good specs
- The use of standard hardware makes upgrading easier
- Hardware issues at times
- WIFI 6 is not yet provided
The next workhorse on our list is a custom prebuilt from Adamant that is aimed to handle mechanical CAD-related applications, like Inventor, Solidworks, and so on.
The specs and performance are satisfying and the desktop truly has multiple applications.
The PC comes in a large enough case for proper airflow, and it looks minimalist too.
Inside the chassis is an Intel Core i9-10900K CPU, which is almost a workstation-grade processor due to its high frequencies.
The graphics coprocessor being used is an RTX 4000 which is one of the formidable GPUs of the segment.
This accompanies 64 GB of RAM of DDR4 type and a 512 SSD for primary storage, and a massive 8 TB hard drive accompanying it,
Software like AutoCAD, or those tasks related to designing or simulations that mechanical engineers have to perform on their desktop would run smoothly with specs like this.
Now while very few brands offer high-end custom prebuilt like this one, the desktops from Adamant are slightly expensive.
There isn’t a shortage of options or high-end hardware though, should you be interested in these.
5. Acer Predator Orion 3000 – Good Mainstream Desktop
No products found.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10700
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
- OS: Windows 10
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 1 TB SSD + 2 TB HDD
- Affordable price tag
- Decent mid-range performance
- The unique case used gives it an attractive look
- Does not have an ISV certification
- No WIFI 6
- CPU does not support overclocking
The final suggestion of the list is for the majority, with specs and a price tag that should be friendly to any mechanical engineer, or someone still studying to be one.
The Acer Predator Orion makes sure that you don’t feel low on performance, and there are also more variants other than this one available for you.
This variant of the Orion has one of Intel’s Octa-core i7 CPUs which might be a good mid-range option, but it isn’t overclockable.
With turbo-boosting, it can hit speeds of up to 4.7 GHz which should be decent for most single-core usage.
This comes with 16 GB of RAM and a total of 3 TB of storage in the two drives, and these should last sometime before you have to make an upgrade.
You would be able to use this PC as a light workstation, or something that can also be used for gaming on leisure.
There is a more powerful variant of the Acer Orion 5000 featuring a better configuration but is also quite expensive.
This is the reason why we saw it fit to save it for some other list where its prowess is more suitable. Check out Acer Predator Orion 3000 Review.
Buyer’s Guide for Best Desktops for Mechanical Engineers
Under mechanics, there are various other sub-fields, like you might specialize in automobiles, manufacturing, robotics, and so on.
The skill sets for both yourself and the desktop you use are different for each of these.
With money not being a factor, you can blindly spend and buy the most expensive PC that you can get your hands on. But realistically, that isn’t a sound strategy.
The software commonly used, like SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and such require heavy system resources for the best performance.
While building a PC for these is still the best option, not everyone is interested in such complexity and expenditure of time.
For those of you who need help choosing a pre built option, this guide is ideal.
Below are some of the most important things that you need to keep in mind when buying a desktop you would be using in your mechanical engineering profession.
The specs are to be selected very carefully, and there must be some provisions for upgrades if you are choosing a budget PC initially.
The budget that you must keep while searching for a desktop needs to be high in this case, and that is at least as much as an upper mid-range gaming PC costs.
The necessary high-end specs coming in a package at a price decided by any brand won’t be cheap.
The best PCs can cost about $4000, but will also provide very impressive performance.
These are to be chosen when you have extreme needs, and you’d find features like Core i9 or Xeon processors, Quadro or Radeon Pro GPUs, and 32 GB of RAM on average.
Just below it, in the mid-segment, a budget of about $2500 would get you a PC that can still handle 3D rendering and complex designs, though not as good as the high-end ones.
These are the best choices, suitable for most and still aiding low-budget buyers.
At the lower tier are the desktops ranging from $1500-2000 approximately. The needs for the software mentioned above, and games are slightly similar, with both needing better single-core performances.
But the graphics requirements for the former are more, so the cheapest option is an RTX GPU.
And these are not just known for ray-tracing, but the large amount of VRAM and more CUDA cores in them are going to be of most benefit in mechanical CAD software.
You may go for even a cheaper option, as long as your needs are low and the concerned specs are decent.
What sort of specs can be considered as ‘decent’, if you ask, are discussed in detail below.
Mac or PC?
We have mentioned this time and again in many of our articles that iMacs or the Mac OS are good for editing and professional purposes.
Mechanical engineering being one of those professions that need both of these, why haven’t we mentioned even a single Mac in our list then?
Now there isn’t a doubt that Macs are powerful machines, with often more capabilities and features than any other average Windows desktop.
But in this case, some software isn’t suitable for the Mac OS itself, making it of less utility.
The basic example of this is SolidWorks, but this isn’t an unfixable problem though.
This is because, with decent virtualizing software, any Mac desktop would allow you to run Windows on the same machine, thus increasing the software support.
But there are other problems too, like limited inbuilt storage, lesser hardware support, and a high price for better variants.
So as a whole, while Windows OS has an edge here, you can still opt for a Mac given that you know things such as this prior.
For intensive work, you would need to invest a lot of money, and it’s best when it’s done in the right place.
For a desktop that is going to handle designing and rendering for the mechanical structures, it must have powerful processing strength.
The choice of the CPU largely depends on your budget, as a given budget is going to provide you with certain options only.
The minimum requirement of AutoCAD 2019 is a processor that has got a speed of 3 GHz and supports SSE2, but this is just basic.
Any 3D modeling or designing software relies more on single-core performance.
Hence for intensive work, the higher frequency you can get, the better it is for you.
But this doesn’t mean that you should ignore the core count entirely.
Even though single core performances may help in designing or running certain software, almost every sort of simulation or rendering would depend on more cores.
More cores are also beneficial, but this doesn’t mean that you’d have to buy an 18 core Xeon CPU that compromises on clock speed. 6 or 8 cores is what you should be targeting if you at all want to go beyond a quad-core CPU.
As the importance of CPU clock rate is large, Intel processors are slightly better here than AMD.
Now in direct performance, there may be instances when AMD pulls ahead, but in general, the other brand offers faster clock rates.
AMD is also cheaper than Intel, but the performance won’t always be the best with the given requirements.
With the use of parallelization, things like these would be divided between all the available cores and threads, thus reducing the time required considerably.
Xeon or Core Options?
Now while it would be a very rare case, say at a given price tag you get a Core i7 option and an Intel Xeon with similar specs, which should you go for?
See Xeon CPUs are server-grade options, with advantages like ECC RAM support and better reliability.
The higher core count on some of the Xeon processors also gives a boost for all the multi-core and multi-threaded tasks that you have to do.
But they still lag behind the mainstream Core options, at least the affordable ones.
Also, Xeon CPUs are already very expensive, making sure that the overall cost of the desktop increases. For an average person thereby, they aren’t the best choices.
Very few Xeon CPUs come at a decent price tag and have good clock frequency, but at the same time, must be chosen when one also needs the added features.
Another argument for getting a Xeon CPU comes in when you also need to run a simulation or anything else in mechanical engineering that benefits from more cores.
It is proven that no matter how good the clock rate is, stuff like this always works faster with more cores, and that too by a large amount.
However, if you are ready to invest a huge amount and are looking for the ideal specs, then something like the Intel Xeon W series and those of the Xeon 5000 series must be considered.
A similar confusion might come to you when deciding upon the mainstream Ryzen or Threadripper options that AMD offers.
Here though, the Ryzens would be largely preferred as the single-core performance of the Threadrippers does not look very promising.
However, they do tend to be cheaper than comparable Intel Xeons.
Also, you might have considered the possibility of using more than a single processor, but that won’t be necessary unless working with extreme kinds of workloads.
Along with a good processor, your PC would also require a decent dedicated GPU.
There is no way it can manage the complexities coming its way if it isn’t provided with a solid video card. The minimum video memory should be 1 GB, but that is just for starters.
While the graphics requirements of each software are different, we can surely say that for average renderings, a 4 GB GPU is still passable.
This is the case when you are a student, or, a mechanical engineer with lighter workloads, or are working in an FHD display.
The software you would be using mostly may have individual requirements of their own, but most of them would work just fine with this.
However, as the size and complexities of your projects in any mechanics-oriented software increase, so will the graphics requirements. As the graphics quality of the designs is made better, more power would be needed to render them.
This is when you’d be needing anything above 4 GB of graphics memory, at least until the mainstream GPUs are concerned.
This would ensure that the CPU can keep on executing the instructions provided to it, while graphics performance is not hampered.
But the usual GTX or RTX cards are not the best choices here, as things are slightly different when talking about 3D modeling on a professional level.
It’s not that a GTX 1660 Ti or an RTX 3080 won’t work at all, but most of the software work better with features that professional GPUs provide.
You have to be looking for premium GPUs, like NVIDIA’s Quadro or AMD’s Radeon Pro series. Well, more video memory is better here too, but the video cards get pricey.
The best options, like the Quadro RTX 6000, Quadro RTX 8000, and such are very expensive, and the chances of finding one such GPU in a prebuilt desktop are quite limited.
You must have realized by now that system requirements in this instance are quite high, and that stands true for the Random Access Memory or RAM.
No matter how powerful of a CPU you use in your PC, unless it has access to enough memory, its performance is crippled.
The minimum requirement is 8 GB, there is no way you should go below it. The best performance in an affordable limit is 16 GB, but at certain times that would be insufficient.
Those who run analyses or simulations related to mechanical projects are going to need more memory, with options ranging from 32 to 64 GB.
Most modern systems support memory way above that too, so this isn’t much of a concern.
Even with a mid-range system, there must be ample RAM in it. Without enough free RAM, things are going to get very difficult for both you and your desktop.
The software which you would be using most as a mechanical engineer are relatively large in comparison to those used by others, with each needing large amounts of free space.
This is just for the base file along with installation, and adding more tools and features would require more space. The size of the projects has to be considered separately as well.
Keeping that in mind, we need to make sure that you choose the right amount of storage too.
A PC on which you are spending so much must at least have provisions for adding more storage, and that being the case we would suggest you have a minimum of 1 TB of free storage space at any time.
An SSD would be preferred, both by official and non-official standards. With such top-notch features, it would be wrong to have slow storage present on the desktop.
A hard drive is good for keeping the costs low, but it poses obvious sluggishness as compared to an SSD, no matter the seriousness of usage.
Along with the major hardware and software decisions, any mechanical engineer also has to make the right decisions regarding connectivity in his desktop.
A multi-monitor setup can be an excellent accessory for the most productivity as we have discussed in the following section.
And most importantly, there have to be provisions for Internet connectivity, and for most mechanical software, the PC they are being run on must have such.
One has to research, download newer software, updates, plug-ins on the ones already present, and so on.
For this, Ethernet is mandatory, with WIFI and Bluetooth being equally important.
The latest version of these would make sure that you get the best experience for high bandwidth downloads or basic web browsing.
The most important accessory that you’d be needing is a good monitor, and working with more than a single monitor would be preferred.
The minimum resolution must be 1920*1080p, as it is a given requirement.
You might as well invest in better displays, like a 2K or 4K monitor, as the experience would be much better in them.
Better displays would mean that working with designs and graphics is highly comfortable.
You would be able to work with more clarity, and the intricate mechanical design can be done effortlessly.
But in any case, the underlying hardware in the PC must be on par with the display quality.
Do not expect your PC to render smoothly at 4K with an entry-level configuration.
Next is the screen size, but the choice of that is based on your convenience and preferences.
In the case of a single monitor, a larger size would be better, but using more of them, a decent size of 26-30 inches would lead to the most productivity in the given space.
Next, peripherals like the keyboard and mouse are needed, as you already know.
Some other things that you might need are a printer, a scanner, and such which one needs for printing and uploading data.
Questions & Answers:
What computer is best for mechanical engineering?
It depends from one user to another, and the kind of tasks that they do. Usually, desktops with ISV certification and professional hardware is better for mechanical engineering, but that isn’t always strictly so.
Following are some of the options that you may consider:
Asus ProArt Mini PC PA90
Dell Precision 3650 Workstation
HP Z8 G5 Workstation Desktop
Adamant Custom Workstation
Acer Predator Orion 3000
Is 512GB SSD enough for mechanical engineering?
A 512 GB SSD could be good if you’re a beginner or student in the field, since the software in mechanical engineering benefits from an SSD in the system. You’d have to upgrade at some point, most probably sooner than later.
Which graphics card is best for mechanical engineering?
For mechanical engineering and the software that have to be run for designing or simulation purposes, a professional GPU like NVIDIA’s Quadro or one of AMD’s Pro line-up would be preferred. However, mainstream options can also be considered if such reliability is not needed.
The scope of mechanical engineering is such that it is present in everything that we have today. Like pumps for collecting water, engines to run vehicles, factories to make food items, and the machinery used in each of these, and more, all of it is connected to the subject one way or the other.
For the best results in your field, you must select the right desktop to maximize your productivity.