Today we are choosing among the best motherboards for CAD and engineering. The first thing in this process is to gauge your level of work.
Are you a student or someone working in a small engineering firm, or perhaps you are working on a complex project and you have a large budget to spend on an ultimate CAD rig?
Without gauging your needs and where you stand in the CAD and engineering field, it will be hard to find the right hardware for yourself, including a good motherboard.
For instance, a motherboard suggestion for someone who’s a student learning the principles of technology design and simulation could be entirely different for someone who’s designing another Burj Khalifa or working on mimicking all of the forces acting upon on a jet motor.
Thus, CAD and engineering is a massive umbrella term for the sort of hardware it entails. Generally, however, technology hardware is cutting edge and on par, or even more sophisticated, than gaming-grade PC hardware.
In the following article, we will look at the top motherboards for both CAD and technology. In doing this, we will briefly review motherboards from several price categories that would appeal to designers and engineers at several levels of expertise and budget range.
Comparison of The Best Motherboards for CAD and Engineering
List of Best Motherboards for CAD and Engineering
Your choice of motherboard will mostly be decided by the choice of your CPU. In any case, the following motherboards have been selected from various price ranges.
1. ASUS AM4 TUF B550-Plus – Recommended AMD Motherboard for CAD
A full ATX motherboard for mid-sized AMD technology and CAD builds. Characteristics middle of the road B550 chipset.
In case you have a mean budget and you just want to go for a few of the most functional motherboards out there for an AMD construct, then we highly suggest this for your next CAD construct.
The feature set it provides will maintain good parity with these two processor series even if you intend to overclock.
This motherboard features the B550 chipset. As such it offers support for the newer PCIe v4 protocol across the CPU PCIe lanes.
Therefore, the graphics card which you choose to install on the principal X16 PCIe slot will conform to the newer protocol.
The motherboard also includes a higher quantity of USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB ports as compared to the inferior A520 chipset plus also offers multi-GPU support.
It offers a single PCIe x16 slot as well as an X4 slot. The x4 slot uses the general purpose lanes and so it conforms to the older PCIe v3. Nonetheless, the motherboard does provide AMD crossfire support with dual AMD graphic cards.
Compared to the elderly B450 chipset, the B550 offers higher PCIe lanes, usually offers a higher number of SATA ports, and offers WiFi 6 service (should the motherboard come with built-in WiFi). This particular motherboard, nevertheless, lacks built-in WiFi.
One very important aspect to notice and among the principal reasons we’ve chosen this as the ideal motherboard for CAD and Engineering from the mid-sized AMD category is the fact that it features an excellent phase power design of 8+2 VRMs. A good phase power layout is important for overall system stability as well as for overclocking.
Other important features include 6 x SATA interfaces, 2 x M.2 slots, and 3 x PCIe x1 slots.
So in a nutshell, for a mid-range AMD build for technology purposes, we recommend this.
2. ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus (Wi-Fi) – For High-Performance AM4 Engineering Builds
This comes in the same ASUS TUF collection of the motherboard since the one previously and hence its principal audience is gamers.
But if you seek a high-performance motherboard for the Ryzen 7 or some Ryzen 9 CAD build, then this motherboard using a top X570 chipset is exactly what we all highly recommend.
Among the key things to note is that unlike the B550, both the CPU in addition to the general-purpose PCIe lanes on this conform to the newer PCIe v4 protocol.
So essentially, you can install newer components like the Gen 4 SSDs which may reach speeds of around 7000 MB/s (or more) here.
It also features an even better stage power layout of 12+2 and WiFi 6 built-in.
A strong processor like a high-end Ryzen 7 or a Ryzen 9 chip requires motherboard sub-components that can handle their equilibrium especially if overclocked, that is where the premium X570 chipset comes into play.
If you’re constructing a high-end technology construct for an engineering company and if you do a good deal of CAD simulation then chances are that you’d opt for a high-performance chip. In that circumstance, it simply makes sense that you pair it with an equally capable motherboard.
3. Gigabyte A520M AORUS Elite – For Budget AMD Engineering Builds
If you’re short on budget and are still looking for a competent motherboard for your next AMD engineering build, then this is what we recommend.
This is fundamentally a bare minimum motherboard from the newer 500 series lineup of AMD chipsets. It features the entry-level A520 chipset.
But, when compared with the elderly A320 it provides important improvements. For starters, it includes built-in support for newer gen Ryzen chips. In the old chipsets, you may have to flash the BIOS to the most recent version in order to make the motherboard usable.
On top of that unlike the A320, in A520 the CPU and the general-purpose PCIe lanes follow the version 3 protocol.
Even though this is not as good as the B or even the X collection, which already make use of this PCIe v4, for funding, assembles, an A520 chipset is very capable.
The motherboard features a single PCIe x16 slot since it doesn’t have support for dual graphics cards. It does contain smaller x1 slots for installing smaller expansion cards like WiFi.
Additionally, while this motherboard doesn’t support overclocking and doesn’t feature a strong phase power layout. Consequently, this is great for entry-mid range engineering builds.
So in short, if you have a restricted budget and if you’re a student just learning the ropes, this is the best motherboard for CAD and technology in our opinion for AMD builds.
4. ASUS Prime B460M-A – Budget Intel LGA 1200 Motherboard
LGA1200 is your socket required to set up the newer 10th and 11th gen Intel CPU. However, unlike the old motherboards featuring the LGA1151 sockets, a motherboard containing LGA1200 can find a bit pricey.
On top of that, since they are generally in high demand, their stocks are hard to discover especially from the budget range. ASUS Prime B460M-A is fundamentally a budget motherboard using a newer socket.
While there is a cheaper chipset available i.e the H410, we do not recommend that. An H410 motherboard isn’t built for engineering applications.
The B460 offers support for three screens, has 16 PCIe lanes vs just 6 in H410, has more SATA ports, USB ports as well as higher memory support.
Hence, for technology or CAD builds, a B460 chipset is a bare minimum advocated and because of its price tag, we find it to be one of the best motherboards for CAD and Engineering funding Intel builds.
5. ASUS Prime Z490-A – LGA1200 Motherboard for 10th and 11th Gen Intel CPU
ASUS Prime Z490-A is a stark contrast to this ASUS Prime B460M-A over in terms of purpose and performance. Even though ASUS Prime B460M-A is more catered toward funding consumers, ASUS Prime Z490-A is a choice for power users.
This too features the newer LGA1200 socket, but this provides a lot of additional functionality when compared with this B460 motherboard.
The Z series is generally considered to be the top motherboard chipset series for Intel chips. It offers overclocking, has much more PCIe lanes (24 vs 16 on B460), provides PCIe slots for dual graphics cards, and has a superb phase power design combined making it necessary for the high-performance Core i7 and Core i9 processors.
This motherboard features a superb 12+2 phase power design with sufficient heatsinks for VRMs as well as for your chipset.
But besides the good performance and expandability, this motherboard also features other premium specs like the Realtek S1220A.
While this is a slightly higher-priced motherboard and you can certainly find cheaper Z490 motherboards in the market, the thermal solution it offers compared to cheaper Z490 options make this a worthwhile option for us.
All in all, if you would like to go the Intel route and want a high-performance build together with support for overclocking, then this is one of the top motherboards for CAD in our opinion.
6. ASRock X299 Taichi – Intel Workstation Motherboard for Engineering
Workstation motherboards are an entirely different class and class as compared to normal motherboards. They are expensive, have extensive features and expandability to provide and support technical high-performance processors.
ASRock X299 Taichi is a workstation motherboard using all the Intel X299 chipset and LGA2066 sockets. As such, this motherboard only supports the workstation-grade Intel X Series processors.
Not only can these chips have a whopping 18 cores (36 threads) however they also have sufficient PCIe lanes to run 3 or more graphics cards at one time.
ASRock X299 Taichi supports three-way SLI or Crossfire (depending upon how many PCIe lanes your CPU can supply ).
Therefore, this is a motherboard for cutting-edge CAD and engineering work in which you have multiple graphics cards installed for simulating very complicated projects.
But besides that, everything concerning this particular motherboard is overkill anyway. From the amount of SATA interfaces, it’s into the M.two slot its offers, this really is a motherboard for very technical engineering jobs that require a top-of-the-line system.
We’ve chosen this as the best motherboard for CAD because it’s among the least expensive workstation-grade alternatives for an Intel build.
7. MSI TRX40 PRO 10G – For AMD Workstation Builds – STRX4
Like the ASRock X299 Taichi above, this too is a workstation-grade motherboard but for AMD Threadripper build instead of Intel. This motherboard features the TRX40 chipset as well as the sTRX4 socket. Like the motherboard above, this too is overkill for a typical technology user or a firm. This also features 3 way SLI or Crossfire support and thus has the main use of handling GPU intensive work.
In terms of value, we think this provides a better one because for starters it includes PCIe v4.0 protocol and also offers M.2 slot Expansion Card and a 10G Super LAN Card for improved network speeds.
There is no doubt that a motherboard of the capability has its primary functions for engineering, scientific, and designing fields. But at the same time, this isn’t meant for everyone.
If you are working on simple CAD building layout designs, chances are that you don’t even require a graphics card for that, let alone a workstation-grade PC.
But in any case, in case your engineering work, perhaps from the data machine or science learning field, requires the use of Threadripper chips, this is a motherboard that you can look into.
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How to Choose the Right Motherboard for CAD and Engineering
Technically there is no one size fit all answer to this question. The choice of the motherboard would depend largely on the choice of your processor.
A better question to ask would be what kind of overall system should you build for CAD?
Here are some of the possible scenarios:
Entry Level Setup
If you do simple CAD designing such as 2D architectural drawings, MEP layout drawings, and moderate use of software like DiaLux for calculating the lighting lux rate etc, then you don’t quite need a high-end system.
In fact, you don’t even need to invest in a separate graphics card here. Since most of the layout drawings are 2D-based, all you need is a powerful processor.
2D CAD designing on software like AutoCAD is primarily based on a CPU’s single-core performance. Meaning, you won’t quite necessarily benefit from a higher core count as much as you would benefit from a high-performance single core.
However, a higher number of cores can allow you to multitask easily and allow you to handle multiple software at the same time.
Generally, for an entry-level setup, we believe that you should aim the most for getting a good processor. This could be a Core i7 or a Ryzen 7 processor. Along with that, we recommend investing in about 16 GB of RAM.
If you do light simulation, 3D engineering designing then you can experiment with your budget a bit a get yourself a graphics card as well, but it is an absolute must for light and small engineering and architectural firms.
The motherboard that we would recommend here are those featuring the A520 or B550 chipset for AMD builds (depending on your budget) or the B460 for Intel builds.
A mid-range engineering and CAD PC is essentially a high-performance PC by the standard for an average consumer.
These PCs can easily feature high-end Intel Core i7/ Core i9 or Ryzen 7 / Ryzen 9 processors.
A mid-range CAD and engineering PC has the capacity to work on very complex 2D and 3D design as well as the ability to sufficiently render engineering simulations.
A good engineering firm can have a couple of these PCs for handling more advanced tasks.
For this sort of built, we recommend looking into the motherboard with the X570 chipset for AMD or the Z490 chipset for Intel builds.
The holy grail for any engineer is a workstation PC. These are literally compact supercomputers capable of handling cutting-edge projects.
In general, most engineering firms do not require a workstation-grade PC. Only the most advanced firms that do engineering, as well as creative designing, would find the use of workstations.
A workstation PC has can have 64 cores and multiple GPUs. Calling this overkill for designing simple architectural building layout design would be an understatement.
However, the premier engineering and architectural firms can also have a creative designing element to them. The thing with CAD applications particularly where 3D video simulation of an engineering project is required, and where live engineering video analysis is required, then the sky is the limit for the number of PC resources you need.
A good example is where you would need to simulate all the forces acting on a jet engine or on a skyscraper.
Also while a Single GPU is more than sufficient for most engineering applications, workstations can feature 2 or 3 specialized NVIDIA Quadro GPUs that serve the purpose of analyzing data and visualization.
So unless you are performing scientific work and processing a lot of data, you don’t quite need a workstation-grade PC for your small to a medium engineering firm.
But in any case, you have the X299 motherboards for Intel and the TRX40 motherboards for AMD that you can look into if you are interested in a workstation build.
If you are building an Engineering PC for yourself, then a motherboard is essentially the building block.
However, as mentioned earlier, the choice of motherboard largely depends upon the processor you choose to go for as well as your budget.
In this article, we looked at the best motherboards for CAD and engineering from various price ranges and for different engineering purposes.