In todays post I am kicking off my 2016 gear guides for CAD designers and drafters. I get a ton of questions from my youtube channel and email list but never seem to have enough time to answer them all. Many of them are a form of “What’s the best (insert gadget/peripheral) for AutoCAD” ranging from best mouse, monitor or PC, all the way to chairs and desks etc..
I definitely understand it too, when I was getting into computers in general I felt lost and had tons of questions and even now I still do a ton of research before I buy the newest monitor or smart phone.
So in this series of CAD Gear Guide posts (and videos) I’m going to go over what to look for when buying each product as well as which product I’m currently using and/or have heard good things about.
Since there seem to be hundreds of new products every month these post aren’t necessarily going to be individual product reviews but more of a guide to help you pick the one that best suites your needs. To do that I will point out features/options to look for and what will be beneficial in a design or CAD environment.
I think that’s a long enough intro so lets get started with some key features to look for in Mice:
Comfortable: Mice are probably the most “personal” product you will buy as a computer user, every person likes a different style, feel and fit when it comes to their mouse and it varies greatly from one user to another. Since we spend most of our time using a mouse (I definitely believe a mouse is necessary, it’s pretty inefficient to draft using a laptop touch pad) you will want to choose one that is ergonomic and fits your hand for extended periods of use.
A Scrollwheel: As a drafter/designer you will certainly want to choose a mouse that has a scrollwheel and ideally a clickable one at that. We spend a lot of our time moving around a drawing, zooming in and out as well as panning and to do this quickly and accurately we need a scrollwheel!
Precision/DPI: While dpi (Dots Per Inch – affects mouse sensitivity/precision) is not as much of a concern nowadays since most mice are more accurate than you can tell by eye now. If it is a concern for you, sticking to a “gaming” or CAD mouse will ensure you get the best precision possible from your mouse.
Wireless or Corded: This feature is mostly personal preference and varies depending on your environment. I personally don’t like corded mice due to the feeling of constraint if the cord gets caught on something, plus the fact that I don’t want to accidentally knock over my coffee. The only real downside to a wireless mouse is battery life, though this has become a lot less of a problem with battery life lasting into multiple years now. The mouse I use and love right now is the Logitech M705 which touts up to 3 years between battery changes (with my heavy use I’m at over 1 year and haven’t changed them yet).
Buttons: Extra programmable buttons are a huge benefit to us as CAD users. We have soo many commands we use on a daily or even hourly basis that having a quick button to perform these tasks could save us many hours over the life of a mouse. Something as simple as programming a mouse button as Osnap on/off, Esc. key, or to open a frequented folder on your server can be a life saver. Whether you go with a mouse like the one I use with three buttons or a gaming mouse (like a Corsair or Razer) with higher end dpi and many extra buttons I highly recommend having at least a couple.
CAD Specific Mice: For most drafters the added features are not necessary, but if you have the extra money or just enjoy cool tech like me, there are a few CAD/Modelling mice out there, specifically ones made by 3D Connexion. While I don’t have experience using their CADMouse yet, I have heard positive things once you get it set up for your system, I do however have experience with their SpacePilot modelling mouse. The SpacePilot, like 3D Connexions other 3d mice is really awesome and perfect for those who work in 3d modelling software like AutoDesk inventor, 3dsmax, etc. but is not as helpful if you are using the more vanilla 2d software or a non supported program. I would recommend checking the 3D Connexion website to see if one of their mice would be a good fit for you.
What Mice do I use and recommend?
My daily mouse for about the last year has been the Logitech M705 and I am very happy with it. It still works great with minimal wear, it feels comfortable in my hand and has a very nice weight to it.
Here is a pic of mine on the desk:
The Next mouse I plan to try out since it seems very similar to my logitech is the 3D Connexion CADMouse:
If you’re leaning towards a mouse with a lot of extra buttons the Razer Naga has a ton of positive reviews on amazon and seems to be a good choice for a reasonable price:
Let me know on twitter (@cadintentions) or in the comments which mouse you use for autoCAD and what features are important to you?
Cheers and happy drafting!
Oh and just in case you missed my last post you can see it right here:
AutoCAD 2017 – What’s new and a Free Trial
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