Recommended PC workstation configuration for SOLIDWORKS

If you want to run SOLIDWORKS effectively, you’ll need a workstation that’s up to the job. We show you everything you need to know…

Your desktop computer or laptop must meet recommended specification levels to run SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software effectively. There are many variables to consider and choosing the right PC for the job can be a very confusing process.

This guide will show you what to look for whether you’re configuring a new Windows machine from scratch, or buying an off the shelf model from a retailer such as our preferred supplier, Dell. We’ll also recommend our favourite workstations for running SOLIDWORKS taking budget and performance into consideration, so, without further ado…

Memory/RAM

Complex models and drawings in SOLIDWORKS will require more RAM (Random Access Memory) in order to load effectively. This applies mainly to the size of datasets that need to be loaded when using the software. If a machine runs out of memory the load time for files can increase drastically, due to hard drive caching.

Ensuring the amount of RAM in a machine is sufficient for the typical size of datasets is important. Running regular, data-heavy Simulations, for example, increases the need for RAM, because large amounts of data typically needs to be loaded during calculations.

  • Minimum amount of RAM recommended by SOLIDWORKS: 16GB
  • If running Simulations or working with large datasets, we recommend at least You can go up to 64GB, but if you’re at a point where you need that much, you might want to consider simplifying the simulation study!

Graphics Card/GPU

SOLIDWORKS requires a professional, fully certified graphics card which runs the OpenGL engine in order to function correctly (e.g. Nvidia Quadro and the AMD RadeonPro). SOLIDWORKS has been known to run on “gaming” graphics cards which use DirectX (such as AMD Radeon and the Nvidia Geforce card ranges), however, users may experience frequent graphical glitches and features of the software like Realview Graphics won’t function correctly, if at all.

If working with visually complex models (such as models with large patterns, or lots of textures) SOLIDWORKS will require a graphics card with a large amount of on-board memory. A good graphics card is one of the most important elements for running SOLIDWORKS efficiently, however it’s important to make sure there is an effective balance between Graphics Card and CPU. A high-end graphics card will not be able to run effectively if paired with an entry-level CPU.

It’s also very important to make sure that the Graphics driver software is supported for use with SOLIDWORKS. This can be checked by opening SOLIDWORKS RX in the start menu, and going to the Diagnostics Tab, the Diagnostics results will show if the driver is out of date. A button will allow the download of a supported driver, if available. SOLIDWORKS do their own graphics card testing, not using a certified driver has been known to lead to graphical glitches within the software.

If you’re using SOLIDWORKS Visualize on a regular basis you may also want to consider an Nvidia “Pascal” Series graphics card or newer (look for card models beginning with P/T/GV/GP/RTX). You can then take advantage of the Visualize Denoiser, which can give up to 10X faster performance.

Check out these Nvidia Quadro benchmarks for SOLIDWORKS for a performance comparison using SOLIDWORKS Visualize and SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD.  Make sure you take a look at this Nvidia Quadro RTX for SOLIDWORKS Datasheet, too.

As for onboard graphics card memory, we’d recommend a minimum of 4GB for general use.

Processor/CPU

Today’s processors comprise of multiple cores within a single chip. SOLIDWORKS, however, is predominantly a single core application – the rebuilding of models is a linear process, because of the design tree within a model. This is why most users will find that it’s more effective to buy faster processors with fewer cores.  

Some processes in SOLIDWORKS do use multiple cores, such as opening and rebuilding drawings with multiple views. Rendering also utilises multiple cores and run effectively with eight or twelve. Simulations will also use more cores – most efficiently with either two or four cores, but any benefits above this level diminish. If you’re running these features frequently we’d recommend that you consider getting a processor with more cores.

We generally try to recommend the latest Intel i7 or Xeon processors to our customers so they can handle a large range of features within SOLIDWORKS. Hyper threading can be turned off in the bios in accordance with the use of the software – this will reduce the number of cores. Turbo boost can also be turned on to improve the performance of one of the cores.

Storage (HDD/SSD)

When it comes to choosing the size of your Hard Disk Drive (HDD) for SOLIDWORKS, we recommend starting with at least 256GB and working your way up to the biggest size you can afford.

For maximum performance we recommend that you opt for a primary Solid State Drive (SSD) or M.2* drive to run SOLIDWORKS (and Windows) and a secondary SSD that’s used for storing everything else. This ensures models, assemblies etc load and save as quickly as possible.

If you can only afford one SSD or M.2 drive, make sure you use it for software installations as this will give you the best bang-for-buck. You can always buy a second mechanical HDD, spinning at 7200RPM (or above) to store your files.

*If you’ve already been doing some research, you may have noticed that some machines are supplied with “M.2” Storage. This is the very latest standard in data storage and the ones labelled NVMe (rather than SATA) use a different way of interfacing with the computer. These Storage devices are a step up again from SSD’s and typically much faster, if budget isn’t an issue and you’re looking for the very best possible performance, you may want to consider one of these.

Our recommended minimum spec for SOLIDWORKS users on a budget

These machines will perform well for general drawing and SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD use. We wouldn’t recommend this spec if you’re looking to work on more than 500 components, however.

Dell Precision 5550

 

Laptop: Dell Precision 5550

Intel Core Processor i7-10750H (6 Core, 12MB Cache, 2.60 GHz to 5.00 GHz, 45W)

Windows 10 Pro 64bit

NVIDIA Quadro T1000

16GB, 2X8GB, DDR4 2933Mhz Non-ECC Memory

M.2 256GB PCIe NVMe Class 40 SSD

Dell Precision 3640 Tower

 

Desktop: Dell Precision 3640 Tower

Intel® Core™ i7-10700K (8 Core, 16M cache, base 3.8GHz, up to 5.1GHz) DDR4 2933

Windows 10 Pro 64bit

NVIDIA Quadro P1000, 4GB, 4 mDP to DP adapter

16GB, 2x8GB, DDR4 UDIMM non-ECC memory

5” 512GB SATA Class 20 SSD

Our recommended mid-spec PCs for SOLIDWORKS

These machines will perform well with medium-sized datasets with no more than 2000 components. Perfect for general SOLIDWORKS use and some light rendering.

Dell Precision 7550

Laptop: Dell Precision 7550 

Intel Core Processor i7-10850H (6 Core, 12MB Cache, 2.70 GHz to 5.10 GHz, 45W, vPro)

Windows 10 Pro 64bit

NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 w/6GB GDDR6

16GB, 2X8GB, DDR4 2933Mhz Non-ECC Memory

M.2 256GB PCIe NVMe Class 40 SSD

Dell Precision 5820 Tower

Desktop: Dell Precision 5820 Tower

Intel Core i9-10900X (3.7GHz, 4.7GHz Turbo, 10C, 19.25MB Cache, HT, (165W), DDR4-2933 Non-ECC)

Windows 10 Pro 64bit

Nvidia Quadro P2200, 5GB, 4 DP (3630)

32GB, 4x8GB, DDR4 UDIMM non-ECC memory

2.5” 512GB SATA Class 20 Solid State Drive

If money’s no object and/or you’re looking for maximum performance, these machines will do it all: Rendering, large SOLIDWORKS assemblies and complicated simulations will all be handled with ease.

Dell Precision 7750

 

Laptop: Dell Precision 7750

Intel Core Processor i7-10850H (6 Core, 12MB Cache, 2.70 GHz to 5.10 GHz, 45W, vPro)

Windows 10 Pro 64bit

Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 w/8GB GDDR6

64GB, 2X32GB,DDR4 2933Mhz Non-ECC Memory

M.2 512GB PCIe NVMe C40 Opal 2.0 SED

Dell Precision 5820 Tower High-end

 

Desktop: Dell Precision 5820 Tower

Intel® Core™ i9-10900X 3.7GHz, 4.7GHz Turbo, 10C, 19.25MB Cache, HT, (165W), DDR4-2666 Non-ECC

Windows 10 Pro, 64bit

Nvidia Quadro RTX4000, 8GB

64GB 2x32GB DDR4 2666MHz UDIMM Non-ECC Memory

2.5” 512GB SATA Class 20 Solid State Drive

What about SOLIDWORKS for Apple Mac computers?

SOLIDWORKS isn’t officially supported on Apple Mac, but we’ve developed a robust solution for this, which is now being used by many of our customers. Read more about it here: How to run SOLIDWORKS on Apple Mac

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