I will discuss the online sources that I recommend for buying a home computer for CAD and GIS  used in my classes.

You can also shop locally at the bricks and motar The Orchard, Office Depot and Best Buy.

It is important to keep in mind that AutoCAD Mac and AutoCAD Windows are free to students for three years and maybe renewable after that for free depending on your access to an educational email address and ID. You must setup an AutoDesk account using your SLCC student email  account to download and install the software.

Note, however, that ESRI home license software cost $100/year for Arc Map for non-commercial purposes. ESRI only runs within windows; so to runArc Map on a Mac, you have to buy Parallels or use the native Apple Application (Boot camp) to emulate windows.

Note too emulation software requires that you buy and install Windows 10 operating system.  Parallels will provide you an un-registered copy of Windows, but it is not secure when you use the browser and email online because you have to run one user as an administrator. That means that you have to be very careful not to get hacked while in administrative mode because if that happens you lose control of your computer. I no longer use Windows because of hacking, which is almost entirely unknown on a Mac. I only use the windows emulator when using Arc Map.

You can also use the native Apple application called boot camp on a Mac to run Windows. I have not had much luck using that program. It is very buggy. The trouble is that is splits the hard drive and at times, you cannot unspilt the hard drive with reinstalling every application on the computer unless you have very good backups. I just gave up rather than do that; but perhaps you can invest some time and energy to save yourself the cost of the emulation software, Parallels.


The emulation software I use is Parallels. Here is Parallels landing page. The software cost $80.


You can buy Macs retail here in Lafayette at the Orchard next to Target and at Best Buy  next to the Acadiana mail.

You can also buy refurbished Macs that have been traded directly from Apple.com. These have a good warranty and have supported operating systems for at least 6 to 8 years. After that that, the Mac’s browser no longer is updated and you are in danger of getting hacked using an out of date browser. Other than, the Mac will run with the software that is current in its last supported year. I have Mac that were manufactured in 1998, 2004, 2008, and 2012. The run and run well.

Apple computers have evolved a lot since in the last 30 or os years. Here is a time line of the kinds of computers and how they evolved. Here is that poster in  high resolution. Yo9u may not be aware of all of the kinds of Apple computers to choose from if you are a dedicated Windows computer user. That chart will help you visualize all of the computers I will discuss below.

You can buy Macs in two varieties for CAD and GIS: Laptops and Desktops. 

Laptops tend to be under powered for use with AutoCAD and Arc Map when running big files. For the educational purposes for this course, a laptop will be okay. You can buy MacBook Air, and MacBook.

It is a very expensive proposition to buy a high end laptop with as much power as an iMac or a desktop Mac.

Desktops come in three varieties: Mac mini’s,  Mac Pro’s and iMac. The old Mini’s have less power than the Pro and run about like a laptop. Today, some Mac mini’s are very powerful, but are very expensive. Mini’s used to be cheap, but those days are gone.

iMac’s com in two varieties: iMac  for everyday use; and iMac Pro for professional use

If you buy anything other than an iMac, you will need to buy an apple compatible monitor. They come in three main kinds: older  Apple Studio Display (15-inch flat panel) and Apple Cinema Display (20″ to 30″) and the current apple compatible monitors sold on the Apple.com website. You can also use otherness expensive  apple compatible minors listed here.

The monitor has to match the video card. The older monitors come up for less than $100 on ebay and work well. The newer monitors, especially the large monitors, are very expensive. You can run up to four monitor (may eight) on some computers. More than one monitor may require separate video cards. Some of these cards can upgrade the performance of the Mac significantly costing from $250 to $500. These are the same cards used to process bitcoin so their price varies with the cost of bitcoin.

The older Mac Pro “cheese grader” as discussed below are popular because they can be upgraded so easily with newer video cards and up to four slide in hard drives. You can add SSD cards that will significantly improve the performance of these older Mac.

Newer Mac Pros have been purposively designed to deny you the ability to upgrade them. You have to buy a newer Mac Pro that is up to twice as fast as older ones so the newer ones are popular with people who do high end work on a Mac. Unless you need a super fast Mac Pro to do video editing for Hollywood movies or audio editing for a music studio, you do not need a newer Mac Pro for the class that I teach.

You can research Macs on everymac.com that literally tracks every Mac manufactured by series and form shape. This is useful when researching Macs on ebay.

=3= EBAY

Ebay is a very, very tricky place to buy or sell. If you want to go this route, I can give you a tutorial on what to watch out for.

This is an example of the computer that I have as sold on eBay: Apple Mac Pro 5,1 3.46GHz 12 Core 64GB RAM 2TB SATA Nvidia GT120 Sierra It is a beast with 64 gigs of ram; most computers today run about 4 to 8 gigs. Its speed is 3.06 Mghz, which is as fast or faster than currently manufactured mid levels Macs. The computer has 12 cores!! Most Mac has four cores. That means I have 3 times of there computing capacity to run concurrent processing than a regular Mac for sale today. These macs are available used from ebay. They are no longer manufactured since 2012.


If you buy a regular windows computer, I recommend that you buy a Dell refurbished. I have bought computers from this site. They are not stylish, but they are reliable machines. They are usually and typically advertised individually!!! When one computer comes for sale, then it is unique. They are snapped up very fast so you have buy right away.

The best computer for the lowest price are these refurbished Dell. Buy one of these if you cannot afford a Mac or you just don’t like Macs.

Again, this is a tricky place to go and get a computer so I recommend that I give you a quick start overview of what to watch for before you buy.

The two links below may be dead because I copied them on the night of January 14, 2019. I have copied the specs below for future reference.

Here is a good example of what and where to buy for an education CAD and GIS computer.  The cost was $350. This is a very good price for a computer that will run Autocad and Arc Map with middle size files. If it bogs down with huge files on AutoCAD and ESRI, you can turn off some layers and it will run okay.

Here are the specs of the computer:

Intel Core 8th Generation i3-8100 Processor (Quad Core, 3.6GHz, 6MB Cache, 65W)
Windows 10 Home 64bit English
1TB SATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
8GB (1x8GB) 2666MHz DDR4 UDIMM Non-ECC
Tray load DVD Drive (Reads and Writes to DVD/CD)
Integrated Video Card
Dell Outlet Inspiron 3670 Desktop


Here is a live link for a 20” monitor  on the Dell refurbish website for less than $100, again a very good deal.

There are various  kinds of Apple keyboards. The contemporary keyboards are not clocker keyboards like typically found on Dell and other windows keyboards. The contemporary Apple keyboard s have keys that travel inward much like the keyboards often found on laptops. The move just a bit; not like the keyboard that click like a typewriter.

The layout of the Apple keyboards come in two varieties: those with the standard letter keys and navigating keys; and others that have an additional numeric key pad. Because CAD and GIS require data input, I recommend that you get a numeric keyboard.

Apple mice are different from