DoubleCAD XT vs. Bricscad

If you are looking for an alternative to AutoCAD LT you have a lot of different software programs to choose from. Two of the best are Bricscad and DoubleCAD XT. Version 2 of DoubleCAD XT has recently been released and I downloaded a copy to check it out.

I’ll skip ahead to my opinion.

If you need to work in 3D you probably don’t want to use AutoCAD LT or either of these programs.

If you already know AutoCAD, Bricscad is the most like it in appearance and functions, so it won’t take you long to learn how to use it. I think it would be a good replacement, or additional seat. It cost $695.00 for one seat, but you get a break on price if you need 10 or more. Bricscad was created with only one thing in mind and that was to be as much like AutoCAD LT as possible. Bricscad also runs AutoLisp programs. You may know, AutoLisp is a programing language that you can use to customize the full version of AutoCAD. There are several AutoLisp programs that I have written and some from some others that I find really useful. AutoCAD LT does not support AutoLisp, but Briscad does.

DoubleCAD XT is free. That can’t be stressed too much. You can get an AutoCAD LT work-alike with most of the functionality of AutoCAD LT for free. If you already know AutoCAD LT, it will take longer to learn than Briscad, because it works a little differently than AutoCAD LT. They have attempted to make it work quite a bit like AutoCAD but the differences will be a bit of a stumbling block. However, it is entirely possible that you will prefer the way it works. This is a program that was written to be the best cad program that it could be while making sure that it had all of the AutoCAD LT functionality. It has several features and functions that are missing from AutoCAD LT. If you do not already know how to use AutoCAD LT, this will be an excellent program to start with. Like AutoCAD LT, it doesn’t support AutoLisp.

If you are wanting an inexpensive alternative to AutoCAD LT and you want to use it for architectural drawings, you may want to step up to DoubleCAD XT Pro. For $695.00 you get a lot of Architectural Desktop (ADT) compatible tools and some additional features that you don’t get with the free version. This version also supports custom commands written with their software development pack (sold separately), but it also doesn’t support AutoLisp.

The prices above were listed on the companies websites on February 24, 2010.

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Minimum Recommended Hardware Configuration

I got a call yesterday from an AutoCAD professional who was in the market to purchase a new computer. She wanted my recommendation as to what she should get for running AutoCAD. This got me thinking. If I was going to buy a new computer today to run the latest versions of the programs I use the most what would I get?

First the software: AutoCAD, Revit Architectue, 3dx Max and Photoshop. Assuming that I wanted to be able to run the latest versions should I decide to upgrade them all,  that would be: AutoCAD 2010, Autodesk Revit Architecture 2010, Autodesk 3dx Max 2010, and Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended.

Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional (Latest Service Pack)

All of these programs will run on XP or Visa and they can all run 32bit or 64bit. For now I would stick with 32 bit. I worry that all of my older programs won’t work on 64bit, and besides, I’m nor really ready to up date all of my software at the same time. I am also not comfortable with switching to Vista for some of the same reasons. I wouldn’t even consider a MAC because none of the architects that know are using it and I have to work with them. 3ds Max doesn’t list XP Home Edition as an option, so I will stick with the Professional Edition.

Processor: Intel® Core™2 Duo 2.4 GHz or equivalent AMD processor

Autodesk recommends this for Revit. It isn’t the minimum required, but it doesn’t cost much more and should be really fast. Adobe doesn’t recommend anything slower than 1.8GHz.

RAM: 4GB

I think that the more RAM the better. This is the most that a 32 bit operating system can access. If you go for 64bit, then I recommend 8GB ram.

Graphics Card: Depends on Monitor Configuration

It will need at least 120 MB and support for all of 3ds Max features (DirectX, OpenGL, Shader model 3.0, etc.) This is not a gaming machine, so there is no need for a lot of on-card 3D processing. I have been using 2 monitors for a few years now and would highly recommend it. So, you will need a card to support the monitors you want to use. The primary monitor should be a large as you can get, probably a 1,680 by 1,050 resolution. The other monitor should be the same or smaller (a minimum of 1,024 by 768 for your secondary monitor). And these both should be set for 32 bit color. Make you’re your graphics card supports all of this. A good place to start would be this list of Photoshop supported graphics cards.

Hard Drive: Plenty

No new computer you get will have too small a hard drive. These are getting larger and cheaper all of the time. You will need a lot of disk space so I recommend you get three. One for all of your program files, one for all of your data, and one for backup. Get them as big and fast as you can afford. Sacrifice a little size for speed if you need to. The one for program files can be smaller than the other two as long as it is about twice as big as you think all of your program files will require.

Other Stuff: Dealers Choice

Most everything else just depends on what you like. Some programs require a DVD-ROM drive, but your system will probably come with one of these. You will need a 2 button wheel mouse. I personally prefer a large one (I have big hands) that has a lot of programmable buttons. You may want a Wacom pen tablet to use with Photoshop, but that is optional. I also couldn’t work without a high-speed internet connection, but again that may not be required by everyone.

Here is the information I got off the various software publisher’s web sites:

Operating System Processor RAM Graphics Card
AutoCAD 2010 32-bit XP or Vista P4 or AMD 2 GB 1,024 x 768
AutoCAD 2010 64-bit XP-64 or Vista-64 AMD-64 or Xeon or P4-64 2 GB 1,024 x 768
any AutoCAD for Rendering same 3 GHz single or 2 GHz dual 2 GB 1,280 x 1,024 (32 bit)
Autodesk Revit Architecture 32-bit XP or Vista P4 or AMD 3 GB 1,280 x 1,024 (24 bit)
same – recommended XP or Vista Core2Duo 4 GB 1,280 x 1,024 (24 bit)
Autodesk Revit Architecture 64-bit XP-64 or Vista-64 P4 or AMD 3 GB 1,280 x 1,024 (24 bit)
same – recommended same Core2Duo 8 GB DirectX 9
Autodesk 3dx Max 32-bit XP(pro) or Vista(pro) P4 or AMD-64 2 GB 120 MB, D3D or OGL
Autodesk 3dx Max 64-bit XP-64(pro) or Vista-64(pro) P4-64 or AMD-64 4 GB same
Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended XP or Vista 1.8GHz or faster 1 GB 1,280 x 800 (16 bit)
XP = Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional or Home edition (SP2 or later)
XP(pro)=Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional (Service Pack 2 or higher)
XP-64=Windows XP Professional x64 edition (SP2 or later)
XP-64(pro)= Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional x64
Vista=Microsoft® Windows Vista® (SP1 or later) including Enterprise, Business, Ultimate, or Home Premium edition
Vista(pro) = Microsoft® Windows® Vista (Business, Premium, or Ultimate)
Vista-64=Windows Vista 64-bit  (SP1), including Ultimate, Business, or Home Premium edition
Vista-64(pro)= Microsoft® Windows® Vista 64 bit (Business, Premium, or Ultimate)
P4 =I ntel® Pentium® 4  1.4 GHz
P4-64= Intel Pentium 4 with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
Core2Duo=Intel® Core™2 Duo 2.4 GHz or equivalent AMD processor
AMD=AMD Athlon® dual-core processor, 1.6 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
AMD-64=AMD Athlon 64 with SSE2 technology, or AMD Opteron® processor with SSE2 technology
Xeon=Intel® Xeon® processor with Intel EM64T support and SSE2 technology
1,024 x 768=VGA display with true color
1,280 x 1,024 (24bit)= 1280 x 1024 monitor and display adapter capable of 24-bit color
1,280 x 1,024 (32bit)=32-bit color video display adapter (true color) 128 MB or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D® capable workstation class graphics card
DirectX 9=Dedicated video card with hardware support for DirectX 9 (or later)
D3D=Direct3D 10 or Direct3D 9
OGL=OpenGL

3ds Max notes:

DirectX® 9.0c* (required), OpenGL® (optional)

Some features of 3ds Max 2010 are only enabled when used with graphics hardware that supports Shader Model 3.0 (Pixel Shader and Vertex Shader 3.0). Check with your manufacturer to determine if your hardware supports Shader Model 3.0.

Photoshop Notes:

Some GPU-accelerated features require graphics support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0

QuickTime 7.2 software required for multimedia features

Broadband Internet connection required for online services

Certified for 32-bit Windows XP and 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Vista

Graphic software programs

I thought that I would start by listing some of the software that I use. Later I will be commenting on each of these, offering my opinions and tips I have discovered along the way. Here are most of the graphic programs I use:

  • AutoCAD
  • Revit Architecture
  • Autodesk 3D Studio Max
  • Sketchup
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Photoshop CE
  • Arris
  • Corel Painter
  • Irfanview
  • Piransei
  • Bricscad

There are others, but these are the main ones.