Skip to content or navigation

Xpresso No. 36 — How-To: Selecting the Optimal CPU for your Workstation

How do you currently select your next workstation’s main chip—the CPU? Chances are you are not calculating this process. But you can!


This coming Wednesday, 16 March 2022, Architosh’s monthly newsletter INSIDER Xpresso No. 36 will devote a small section to performance and economic analysis of selecting the optimal CPU or SoC for your computer workstation.

Optimal Chip Selection

Architosh takes a look at how to select the best performant workstation processor for your next workstation computer. What’s an example of a “workstation processor” these days? Any Intel Xeon oriented at the workstation market or the AMD Threadripper Pro, for example.

workstation chip selection chart

The key to selecting the most economically performant chip (CPU) for a given CAD/BIM/3D industry professional is to understand the nature of your software’s use of multi-core processing across all your CAD/BIM/3D workflow applications. (click on image to enlarge). Read below on MC-SC Balance in a Chip.

As for a “workstation alternate” processor? That’s any highly performant chip that can rival a workstation processor (CPU) but is one designed not specifically for the workstation market. A great example is the AMD Ryzen 5950X.

Correct MC-SC Balance in a Chip

Today’s professional CAD and 3D software consist of various applications that either make or don’t make effective use of multithreading (sending parallel threads of code to multiple processing cores at the same time) vis-a-vis utilization of multiple cores in today’s CPUs and SoCs.  Software like SketchUp, Rhino, and Revit doesn’t make extensive use of multicore chips because the nature of software code that drives a tool like a 3D modeler or BIM software requires sequential (not parallel) mathematics. Therefore, with many CAD, BIM, and 3D modeling tools, these apps are essentially “frequency-bound” and draw most of their power from just one CPU or SoC core.

This is in direct opposition to software in rendering tools, for example, that can run code in parallel and exploit multiple cores in a chip.

But if you do Revit 90 percent of your day, measuring frequency speeds is not a proper way to select a CPU either. What is required is to understand the single-core (SC) processing power of a given chip. And what if your workflow is a mixture of multiple apps and some apps are not frequency-bound but instead are multi-core exploitive?

How does one select the correct chip for their next workstation when they have some kind of mixture of multi-core (MC) and single-core (SC) workflow? What if they spend on average 75 percent of their time in a frequency-bound (SC) app and 25 percent of their time in a multi-core rendering app?

Generating a Chart-Based Analysis

In Xpresso No 36 we will cover a method for numerically evaluating and selecting the optimal CPU or SoC for your next CAD/BIM/3D workstation based on the precision of your estimated average MC-SC weekly workflow. We will show you how to set up a table in a spreadsheet, generate charts from it, and use a simple proportional method to evaluate the MC-SC spectrum to arrive at the most appropriate CPU or SoC for your next workstation.

In this article, we are going to discuss a numerical chart method to select the best CPU or SoC (System on a chip) processor for your next workstation. In a future article, we will review a similar method to select the best GPU and CPU-GPU combination based on a fixed budget.

Sign-up for Architosh’s free monthly newsletter to gain access to this How-To article. And learn how to make sure you optimize your next CPU or SoC chip for your particular workflow needs.

Reader Comments

Comments for this story are closed


INSIDER Xpresso 
Monthly newsletter with a focus on emTech (AI, machine learning, AAD, AR, robotics, 3d printing, and smart cities) its impact on CAD professionals.)

Subscribe now — it’s free!.

INSIDER Xpresso keeps CAD industry professionals up-to-date on next-gen emerging technologies (emTech) that will revolutionize the worlds of AEC and manufacturing and design. As an Xpresso reader, you will hear from some of the most important voices inventing and using the very latest tech in areas such as AI, machine learning, algorithm-aided design (AAD), AR, VR, MR, 3D printing, 3D computer vision, robotics, and SmartCities technologies.

Each issue arrives in your inbox on the first Sunday of the month. Issue #1 arrived on March 3, 2019. Full archives and easy navigation for your pleasure. Enjoy! 

Sign-up for our monthly newsletter
architosh INSIDER Xpresso.

  • Architosh will never pass any of your information onto third parties.
  • For more information read our privacy policy.
  • It is easy to unsubscribe at any time. Follow the links in the newletter footer.

(Recommended. These infrequent sponsored emails help us to provide our Xpresso newsletter for free.)

INSIDER Membership

Read 3 free Feature or Analysis articles per month.

Or, subscribe now for unlimited full access to Architosh.