Engineering is not the same as it was a century ago. The emergence of computers and other new technologies has been a game-changer.
Engineers no longer have to develop equipment and machinery through trial and error. Software programs like CAD and CAM have made real-time innovation a reality.
To keep up with the latest technologies, the methods of learning have also changed. Engineering students now need computers to learn and practice using these programs.
However, the digitization of engineering comes at a cost. The laptop or desktop you buy should feature powerful and highly advanced specifications to support the various resource-hungry engineering programs. One must-have component is a dedicated graphics card.
This post explores if engineering students actually need a dedicated graphics card on their computers. Continue reading to find out more.
Do engineering students need a dedicated graphics card?
Yes, engineering students need a laptop or desktop with a dedicated graphics card. This is mainly because engineering software applications such as CAD and CAM are resource-intensive, and they require a powerful graphics card for optimum performance.
As such, a graphics card is no longer a luxury, as it was the case a few years ago; it is now a standard component for the smooth running of your computer.
Even performing routine computational tasks such as drawing, drafting, and annotation requires a decent graphics card.
Without a dedicated graphics card, your computer will lag or delay while using it for all your computational activities that render text and images.
In any case, the function of a graphics card is to ensure crisp and immersive displays for true-life images and optimum color clarity. It also increases the video memory of a computer for high-definition displays.
Most engineering courses entail generating 2D and 3D models using available computer programs. If you want photorealistic images, a dedicated graphics card will come in handy.
Aside from AutoCAD and CAM, a graphics card is essential in parallel programming, game development, editing software such as Adobe Photoshop, and large assemblies in SolidWorks.
Is integrated graphics good for engineering students?
Integrated graphics may or may not be ideal for engineering students. The most accurate answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the memory size of the graphics chip and the type of processor and computer you are using.
As the name suggests, integrated graphics is a graphical processing unit (GPU) built into your computer’s processor.
Given its integration with your processor, the GPU shares memory with your CPU, resulting in low heat and prolonged battery life. The extended battery life may come in handy to engineering students who want to use their machines for long hours.
Even though integrated graphics may have a few benefits, it is not suitable for graphics-intensive applications like Adobe Photoshop, SolidWorks, CAD, and CAM.
And since it shares memory with your CPU, you will have less RAM available for other computing tasks. For these reasons, integrated graphics is not suitable for engineering students.
Which graphics card is best for engineering students?
Choosing the best graphics card for engineering students depends on the type of degree program you are pursuing. In any case, not all types of engineering studies use graphics-intensive applications.
Besides, the GPU market is somewhat complicated, so picking an ideal choice can sometimes be overwhelming.
Here are a few points you need to consider before purchasing a graphics card for your engineering studies:
- Make or Model: You have the option to choose between AMD and NVIDIA as they are the two leading companies that make GPUs, although Intel is about to release the Xe card.
- Memory: The amount of memory is critical when purchasing a graphics card as it determines your computer’s image quality and graphical performance. You have the option to choose between 2 GB and 12 GB.
- Bandwidth: This is simply the memory speed or the amount of memory the graphics card can access at any given time. The higher the bandwidth, the better the performance.
- Clock speed: The clock speed in a graphics card indicates how fast the cores can render graphics. The faster the clock speed, the quicker the rendering of graphics.
- Thermal Design Power (TDP): The TDP measures how fast the graphics card can dissipate heat. Graphics-intensive apps can make your computer overwork and produce a lot of heat, subsequently affecting battery life.
- Space/Form factor: Check the card’s form factor to establish whether it can fit into your computer. Consider the height, length, and thickness of the card since buying the wrong one can be a costly mistake.
Now that you know what to look for when buying a graphics card, here are the top 5 options for engineering students:
- AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
- Asus Geforce Turbo GTX 1080
- NVIDIA Quadro K1200
- AMD Radeon Pro WX 5100
- PNY NVIDIA Quadro P2000
All the above graphics cards are excellent for various engineering applications such as CAD, CAM, and SolidWorks.
They boast fast clock speeds, bandwidth and have excellent memory output. Besides, they are available for both laptops and desktops.
Is a graphics card necessary for computer engineering students?
A graphics card is mandatory for computer engineering students. After all, computer engineering courses entail parallel resource-intensive applications.
Courses such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, 3D simulation, Multimedia, Game Development, Programming, Geometry, Animation, and Android Development require a computer with a dedicated graphics card. There’s no other way around it.
All programs mentioned above heavily rely on graphics processing, and they require a decent graphics card with a good amount of memory to complete essential computational tasks.
Computer engineering students who opt to specialize in hardware development may have an interest in designing graphics cards. So, to be successful in this field, they need to learn how GPUs work before they can even think about creating their own graphics cards.
Do electrical engineering students need a dedicated graphics card?
Electrical engineering students do not need a dedicated graphics card, unlike their civil, computer, and structural engineering counterparts. Their studies do not involve using intensive programs like CAD, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Photoshop. For this reason, a computer with an integrated graphics chip will do just fine.
Even though some electrical engineering courses involve creating and compiling 3D models, graphical displays, color quality, and true-life images are not of great importance during the program.
Is a graphics card necessary for programming?
A graphics card is not necessary for programming since most coding languages and applications are lightweight. In essence, they do not require graphical processing, and they are not graphics-intensive.
If you are doing light programming, an integrated graphics chip may do the trick. However, a graphics card may be necessary for game development, particularly during testing. Today’s games are immersive and real-like, and they come in 3D.
They are not only resource-heavy but also graphic-intensive. Game developers need graphics cards during most stages of programming to prevent and fix bugs.
Is a 2 GB graphics card enough for engineering students?
A 2 GB graphics card may not be enough for engineering students. It is only ideal for basic engineering tasks and computing activities. No doubt, programs like AutoCAD and SketchUp can run efficiently on 2 GB, but your computer may not multitask under such circumstances.
Then again, the current applications keep on evolving, and they are becoming more resource-intensive over time. For you to keep up with the demands of these programs, it is advisable to go for at least a 6 GB graphics card. It’s better to be safe than sorry by investing in a high-capacity graphics card.
Is 8 GB RAM enough for electrical engineering students?
8 GB RAM may be more than enough for electrical engineering students. In any case, electrical engineers do not use a computer often compared to other engineers. Besides, the programs used in electrical engineering are not resource-intensive, so an 8 GB RAM might be too big for nothing.
Nevertheless, installing 8 GB RAM on your computer does not harm you. The world is evolving, with new technologies coming out every day, and having a laptop or desktop that is ready for these changes can save you from expensive upgrades.
Do civil engineering students need laptops?
Yes, civil engineering students need laptops for the majority of their courses. Computers have become a vital part of civil engineering studies, from simple computational tasks like writing notes to drafting models for their next projects.
Just like any other engineering program, civil engineering involves using multiple high processing applications such as CAD and CAM. These programs require a laptop or a desktop for learning purposes and hands-on practice.
If your institution is already providing computers during class, you may not need a laptop at the moment. However, as you progress with your engineering studies, a computer will become a vital tool for learning and practice.
Read more Do Engineering Students Need Laptops?
As you can see, installing a dedicated graphics card on a computer is essential for engineering students. After all, most engineering courses involve graphics-intensive programs like CAM, CAD, and SolidWorks.
To prevent lags and unnecessary delays, do not hesitate to upgrade your laptop or desktop with a dedicated high-end graphics card.