Budget computer for SketchUp Pro on Windows?

I’m slightly chagrined to be asking this, as I religiously browse all forum postings, including the hardware ones, but before now, I’ve only skimmed the hardware posts as I’ve never had problems. Now, when I need hardware advise, my head is spinning over the wide range of both topics and replies.

Here’s my situation:

I’m a SketchUp Pro user - personally. I have it not for commercial purposes, but because I want Layout as well as SketchUp.

Now I’m trying to make the business case to my employer to buy me a computer so that I can use SketchUp (probably a Pro Subscription). It isn’t possible now as my employer uses a terminal server serving Windows desktops via thin clients - an environment SketchUp doesn’t support due to both graphics limitations and licensing barriers.

My commercial use of SketchUp on behalf on my job will be mostly creating components of frequently used bits of electrical equipment (group metering assemblies, switchboards) and using them to create “available space” models to see how a proposed equipment mix will fit into the available space and “play” with the arrangement as necessary.

I won’t need to do renderings. My models will be low poly, usually only the rectilinear outlines of the proposed components.

Once I have the computer, I’ll still be using an rdp session to access the bulk of my non-graphic work - so the workload there will still be on the server, not on my new computer, so I don’t need huge - or even fast - disk space. I won’t need a lot of CPU cores either.

What I’m having a hard time finding is a specific recommendation for a desktop computer (any form factor is OK) that will suffice for my relatively low end needs! I’m confused about whether the GTX 1060 graphics frequently recommended at the low end is an NVDIA or an Asus product!

Most of the name brand manufacturers I’ve explored online either offer computers with Intel Integrated Graphics (which I want to avoid) or with far higher specification (and expense) graphic cards than I need.

Oh! And Windows 10 Professional is a Must! I don’t want to deal with the ****ware that comes with Windows 10 Home.


10 Pro has the same amount of ……ware as home

Try this DELL BOX

GTX 1060 refers to a Nvidia product family. Nvidia, Asus, MSI, EVGA and many others market the product under their own labels with different variations and flavors. (Only to add to the confusion)


I would recommend a use analysis, such potential to work mobile, home office, etc.

I also recommend a desktop and a large monitor (24") which can increase productivity by 10 - 30%.

The Dell gaming system meets some key requirements such as a fast CPU - 3.5GHz+, dedicated GPU and an SSD.

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What would be the budget for this “budget computer”?

The Dell recommended by RLGL would probably be enough even for high-end modelling but the cost nears $1400. And it is a “Gaming” computer with the WIN 10 Pro coming in as an extra. I would guess that you need the Win Pro for it to work in your work environment (I seem to remember that the Home version of Windows doesn’t support the networking used in firms).

Has your employer a chosen computer supplier?

Basically your choice is easier as you are looking for a desktop computer; as if it doesn’t come with a dedicated graphics card there is often room in the chassis to put one in. As I skimmed through some options I found that the problem with the lower-end models by the big manufacturers (Dell, Lenovo, HP) is that the power supply is too small to fit a decent graphics card (typically only 200W). So you would probably have to look in the lower end of the Workstation category
This Dell Precision one has the Nvidia GTX1060 card as an option. I think that you could make do with an i5 processor:

I think also that the HP Z2 workstation might be possible with similar specs, but he lower-end graphics cards they offer are AMD ones.

The GPU is a processor chip (integrated circuit). Nvidia sells their GPU chips to other OEMs who use them as the GPU on graphics expansion cards (for desktops) or build them into a dedicated graphics sub-circuit on notebook motherboards (in addition to the internal “integrated” graphics GPU that are built into most mobile series of main CPUs, both Intel and AMD.)

However, it is not a factor into what model machine you buy, because the upcharge for it preinstalled is the same as the price direct from Microsoft for the Win10 Pro upgrade.

So just buy the best computer that fits your needs and budget and do the upgrade yourself (possibly after having uninstalled all the bloatware that the OEM installed “for your convenience”.)

Thank you all for your suggestions!

After a bit of browsing based on your suggestions, I’m tending toward a lower end machine in the same Dell series that @RLGL linked.

And based on comments from @DanRathbun, and some further thought, I don’t think Windows 10 Pro will be necessary. Yes. At work we have a Microsoft Domain. And at first I thought my computer would have to “join” it - and that would require W10 Pro. But I actually won’t have to join the domain! I’ll essentially be using the computer for 3 tasks: Modeling (Using SketchUp and Layout), screen captures using SnagIt (another program I can’t have added to the server), and the Microsoft MSTSC program, which the the rdp client used to access the rest of the stuff I have to do using the server - which will actually be the bulk of my work. ANY computer can use mstsc to get a server desktop without “Joining” the domain.

I won’t need any monitors! I already have two used with my thin client which will transfer over to the computer.

Nor do I need a huge amount of graphic card memory. I won’t be doing any rendering, and my models will be fairly small.

Oh! One other thing my computer will be used for: Online training - both by me and by my coworkers. One thing we never invested in is SOUND from the server! So nearly all the online training programs offered by the manufacturers we rep can’t be used at work!

Thank you all again! You’ve helped to to see the forest instead of being lost in the trees!

With all this, I think I’m going to come in with a request for a computer costing well under $1,000, with a contingency of $100 for the W10 Home–>Upgrade should I be wrong and it turns out I DO need it.

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for a budget system the i5-9400 combined with a GTX 1050Ti should result in a pretty capable system.

Don’t waive a SSD if you can, they are cheap these days (Samsung 860/970 Evo SATA/M.2).

If Dell doesn’t fit there is also HP, Asus and Lenovo.


Another way around the problem is Virtual Box . . Install it and use your windows in there also and Install the Guest Additions right off plus the Extended pack . .The Guest Additions will install a Video Driver and a Mouse for using . . It is how I run it. . Not the fastest in the world but I can make or do any thing the big boys do . . i let Windows have 2 parts of my CPU and just under1/2 of my Video . . All done in tjhe setup of Virtual Box

don’t try this at home… #iirc# VB doesn’t support OpenGL v3.0 required by recent SU versions… additionally slow and error-prone too.


Just so Y’all Know, here’s the specs of the system I just ordered:

Many might consider the CPU too slow. or too low a “Core” level, or 2GB on the graphic card too small, or 256GB drive too small as well.

But I’m convinced that for my very limited use case, it will be more than sufficient — and CHEAP.

Not to mention, my Alaska Airlines mileage plan has a 4 Miles/$ promotion today only with Lenovo!

No monitors - I’ve got two at home I’m not using that will do fine that my employer has agreed to purchase. They just need mini DisplayPort to HDMI cables, which I just ordered from Amazon for $8.99/each! And no mouse or keyboard - I prefer the ones I’m currently using to the ones offered by Lenovo. And my company has many spare keyboards/mice for someone else to use with the thin client I’ll be giving up.

While the computer you’ve spec’d is certainly “cheap” when it comes to cost, it’s also barely sufficient. While a slow i3 is adequate, and a 2GB GPU is adequate, and a low resolution screen might work for your needs, all of those spec’s are horribly outdated even by general standards. You might be saving a few hundred bucks with this purchase, but you’re setting yourself up to have an absolutely obsolete machine, destined for the trash, sooner than later.

You really should consider double your budget to $1,000 or more and set yourself up to have a machine that will not only last a lot longer, but also will provide a more satisfying experience right out of the gate. I can tell you that with this machine you are considering, you’re basically guaranteed to have it bogged down by even a moderately sized SketchUp model. Just my 2c.

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the i5-9400 is roughly 60 bucks more but nearly twice as fast as the i3-8100T;
the GTX 1050 Ti is available for the same price but twice as fast as the Quadro P620.

it’ll surely work but surely not the best bang for the acutally not that low buck.

You cannot put that inside a small factor desktop by major manufacturers-they only have 200 W power supplies. I have been thinking to get one for my old desktop, and I have a 360 W PSU that should suffice.

not in this casing of course, the GTX 1050 Ti does have a TDP of 75 W delivered by the PCIe slot and should work with more or less every common mini tower with a PSU delivering a wattage of approx. 250+ W.

Be sure to max out the RAM in this Computer as 64 bit will allow more stuff to run at faster speeds . . ( like a big chalk board has more room to write on ) That is what Ram acts like . . The bigger the better . . I Use a I3 4 core Laptop and it works well and have a 500 Gig HD only using about 150 gig of it . . Oh yeah get the Program MyDefrag and use it about 1 time per month to keep it running good . . Windows likes to put stuff ALL OVER THE PLACE !

64-Bit does allow the operating system to access much more working memory (aka RAM) but doesn’t speed up anything (besides if not having enough RAM), actually the enhanced memory management required by the operating system does slow down things a little bit (not noticeable for the user).

Defragmenting is heavily overrated by novice users, stresses the drive and doesn’t improve much and if for a short time only. Defragmenting a SSD does not make sense anyhow but in fact does wear the drive.


Many of you have brought up valid points - if I’m going for a highly capable SketchUp platform. But that’s not my use case!!

I just finished detailing why I’m intentionally going for a minimally capable computer on the other thread:

which all of this wouldn’t hinder you to buy a roughly double as fast system for nearly the same price… mo’ power harharhar

nothing virtualized “runs circles” aroung the underlying host system.

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A fast and capable machine will make you much more productive, and compared to your salary, it’s cheap. A slow machine gets very expensive in this way!
I know I’m crying in the wilderness, but a 3 year old iMac will run rings around any moderately-priced Windows machine. I often have 4 or 5 files open at a time, grabbing stuff from one file and pasting it in another. And I never have to think about graphics cards, drivers, ad nauseam.
And yes, get a SSD for sure, no matter which way you go.

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