Computer Requirements for CAD

Updated February 21, 2017

CAD software is used by architects, engineers and machinists around the world to create blueprints and schematics of systems for their construction. Like other software packages, CAD applications have minimum requirements to properly run the software and their options. If these requirements aren't met, the software won't work properly.

Main Operating Software

Microsoft Windows versions Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP will run all versions of AutoCAD. Macintosh users must purchase the Mac-compatible version of AutoCAD, entitled "AutoCAD for Mac." Bear in mind that the Windows-based versions aren't compatible with Mac versions. This is important to note when e-mailing project documents. This issue has been addressed as a document can now be saved as a PDF file for universal viewing ability.

RAM Requirements and Disk Space

AutoCAD requires 2 GB of RAM. Your hard drive also needs 1.8 GB of unused file space for the installation of the application.


AutoCAD requires a 128-bit graphic display card to properly view the images on the monitor. Most computers that have at least 1 GB of hard drive space fulfil this requirement.

CD/DVD Player Slot

Your computer needs an optical drive to install the installation CD. The installation wizard will guide you through the installation procedure. You can select the standard or custom installation of the application. The standard version only highlights the main functions used and isn't recommended for professional use.

Internet Access

The minimum Internet browser that is compatible with AutoCAD is Internet Explorer 7. If you use a previous version of Internet Explorer or an alternative browser, such as Firefox or Safari, you'll need to download an updated version of Internet Explorer.

SolidWorks CAD Software

SolidWorks is a CAD-design application that allows more model rendering than traditional CAD programs such as AutoCAD. To run this software, your computer must be equipped with a 1 GB hard drive, have 1 GB of available RAM for minimal operation, and have a CD/DVD disc drive for downloading the program software.

SolidWorks recommends a 6 GB hard drive to operate this software at its optimal level and for faster rendering and modelling applications.

Alibre Design System

If you are more of a hobbyist than a professional architect, but still want the freedom to create 3-D renderings on a limited basis, then Alibre is a good, cost effective solution. The software requirements are applicable for Windows operating systems from Windows XP and above. You need 500 MB of available hard drive space for the operation of the application and Internet Explorer 6 or higher for browser configuration.

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About the Author

Adam Yeomans has been writing professionally since 2010, with his work appearing on websites such as eHow. He works in the construction industry as a builder and as an energy efficiency consultant.