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Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« on: June 08, 2015, 05:34:15 PM »
Hello Everyone,

I'm an IT consultant with a client who has just purchased Mach 3 and has asked me to supply a suitable PC. I'm looking for a recommended configuration rather than a minimum,so what works best; 32-bit vs 64-bit Win7 (can't do XP as the PC will be exposed to the LAN), parallel port vs external motion controller, minimum RAM and onboard video memory, etc.

It will be a dedicated PC used for a variety of 2D and 3D applications. I took a spin through the FAQ and most of the hardware recommendations seem to be a few years old, so I'm hoping 64-bit is more viable now than it used to be but I'm definitely open to real community wisdom! I know I'll have a lot of other questions, but I'll wait until I get the base PC figured and run through a few manuals and tutorials so I can understand what you guys are talking about!

Offline Tweakie.CNC

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Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2015, 03:11:31 AM »
If you are going to use the parallel port with Windows 7 then you are limited to a 32 bit OS.
An external motion controller will be necessary if you are planning on using a 64 bit OS and this (external motion controller) may be the best route to take as it will then allow use with Win 8 etc. and also future update to Mach4 if you are looking that far ahead.


Offline RICH

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Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2015, 07:41:44 AM »

How much communication is required of the PC that is actually running the machine to the LAN?
Can't you set up a XP PC that is secure via another router ?
Or how about a dual boot system IE; XP and  W7. Now  you be limited to 4 gb of memory.
Or how about running Mach3 using XP but reboot via an installed system on a USB drive, second drive for communications.

I personally would recommend a dedicated PC for the machine as it's business is to run the machine.
Maybe a little dated PC for some time period and then an upgrade later.

We are in what I call a transition period and I still see things as fuzzy and have no knowledge of when the transition will be complete.
When will Mach 4 be completed and choice of  external motion devices functional. Don't think anybody knows but it is not TODAY!

Let the comments begin..........,

Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2015, 07:52:49 AM »
Windows Xp is fine on an exposed lan if you have half decent firewall, your not doing online activities so exposure wouldn't be a risk. We still use Xp in Blue chip companies.Windows 7 32 Bit with 4GB ram UAC turned off is always good. Most commercial systems would have sufficient Video, however depending on what 3d rendering you are going to do on the machine(e.g. AutoCad, Inventor etc) your Video Ram may need upwards of 2-6GB with NVidia Watercooled systems and i7 Minimum with the possibility of Xeon Processors if you are really serious(HP Z Series Workstations is a good place to Start).
My Advice would be to NOT run anything other than the CNC solution on the CNC driving Machine otherwise you WILL run into problems with conflicting driver software etc.
I supply HP, Acer, IBM and Fujitsu business solutions for business and I have been down this road before. Its cheaper in the Long run to use two machines. Your ROI is better as well.

Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2015, 10:02:04 AM »
Thanks All for the replies; much appreciated!

All things considered, I'd prefer a solution which can survive an upgrade or two, so I'm leaning towards Win7/64  with an external controller if possible. Win7/32  wouldn't be awful, as I can always reformat and reinstall when the time comes, but I'd still want to use an external controller to consolidate the startup pain.

As far as XP goes, my firewall is fine but end users are end users, so I'd really have to lock it down to avoid the malware they might ask for when nobody's looking. I want connectivity for program and OS updates, remote monitoring and admin. Isolating/locking down XP would also be pretty expensive for my client as they're paying me by the hour, so I'd need a pretty compelling reason to go that route.

Wes, I'm a big fan of the HP Z-series workstations and also more interested in time lost than money spent. I've got a few i-7's out there with 8GB RAM performing beautifully. I haven't had the need to add a discrete GPU to these PCs; can you recommend one, or should I wait and see how the integrated graphics hold up? The end products will be home d├ęcor accents (nic nacs. office desk stuff, coasters, etc) so no need for extreme tolerances; I'm sure AutoCAD would be huge overkill for their purposes if that helps.

I've also been impressed with HP's IPS monitors; would 1920x1080 be sufficient for creating these types of products?

Thanks again for all you help!


Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2015, 08:45:19 PM »
Bruce, I have quite a few HP IPS systems in use ATM and they are excellent. The Graphics side of things is once again purely dependant on what other Cad/Cam system they are going to use. If it in any way uses 3D rendering you will have major issues with onboard Video. And 1024x768 is all that is required for Mach3 use. The CPU choice is purely for the CAD/CAM system you will use as Mach3 will work quite happily on an i3 with 2GB of shared memory.

Hope this helps

Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2015, 08:51:49 PM »
Just a small note on ROI
If they have 1 person operating the CAD/CAM system and another operating the Mach3 system there gross production will more than Quadruple! You can run a Demo version of Mach3 on the CAD/CAM system to verify toolpaths(upto max Lines) and tooling etc, all the while your production doesn't stop except for tool changes and initial tooling setup of a new job. Your Labour hire cost is high on the CAD/CAM side and can even be part time or outsourced, however the production operator is usually lowered skilled and lower cost.

Just a thought


Offline Chaoticone

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Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2015, 11:03:44 PM »
You can run a Demo version of Mach3 on the CAD/CAM system to verify toolpaths(upto max Lines) and tooling etc,

If the PC is not actually connected to a machine you should be running in simulation mode (no motion device selected), not demo mode, which does not have the 500 line Gcode limit.

The required Graphics processing power (as far as Mach is concerned) is dictated by the size and type Gcode files you will be running in Mach. You do not need a high end gamer card but one with a gig of RAM would not be money wasted if there is any possibility the machine will ever run large Gcode files.


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Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2015, 11:18:31 AM »
Looks like my last reply didn't get posted (user error I'm guessing!), sorry to leave everyone in the lurch.

Thanks again for all of your advice; things are starting to take shape.

We've purchased a 48"x48" Zenbot router and Gecko g540 control box which we're going to connect to an HP Z230 PC, i7 8GB RAM and NVIDIA Quadro k620 2GB GPU. I'm leaning towards the Ethernet Smoothstepper over the UC100 USB motion controller so the PC doesn't need to be close to the table.

Any thoughts or caveats I should consider?

Re: Minimum PC requirements vs real life (Newbie)
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2015, 03:06:35 AM »
Hi Bruce,
I run Mach3 on a dual core Atom no probs. I am using PP's currently so 32 bit OS.
Mach3 is a pretty basic program and does not require or even benefit from a powerful cpu, neither does it benefit from a ' you beaut' gpu provided the
supplied gpu is adequate to not steal time from the cpu.
If you use an external motion controller then the demand on the cpu is even less.
I don't have a firewall as my platform is never connected and runs ONLY my machine. It is becoming somewhat tiresome to transfer code by memory stick
it must be said but then I've never had a fault with the controller either.
My advice is sell your customer a cheap and cheerfull platform and leave him budget for more tooling.

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