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. In this post we will show you what to look for whether you’re configuring a new machine from scratch, or buying an off the shelf model from a retailer such as our preferred supplier, Dell. We’ll also recommended a couple of well-spec’d workstations that will run SOLIDWORKS perfectly for most users, 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: 8GB
  • Level recommended by Innova Systems for effective use of the software: 16GB
  • If running Simulations or working with very large datasets consider at least: 24GB

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 FirePro). 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 is 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 is 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 “Kepler” Series graphics card or newer (look for card models beginning with K/M/P). You can then take advantage of the new Visualize Denoiser, which can give up to 10X faster performance.

For a full list of certified graphics cards and drivers, click here.

  • Level of onboard Memory recommended by Innova Systems for effective use of the software – 4GB

Processor/CPU

Modern processors comprise of multiple cores within a single chip. However SOLIDWORKS is predominantly a single core application – the rebuilding of models is a linear process, because of the design tree within a model. Due to this users will find it is more effective to buy faster processors with fewer cores.

However some processes in SOLIDWORKS do use multiple cores, like the opening and rebuilding drawings with multiple views. Rendering will also use multiple cores and will run effectively with eight or twelve, you will see these appear as squares over the preview when rendering. Running simulations will also use more cores – most efficiently with two or four cores. Benefits above this level diminish. If running these features frequently consider getting a processor with more cores.

We 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 a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) for SOLIDWORKS, you should pick a hard drive with as much storage as you can afford. Start at 256GB and work your way up.

For maximum performance we recommend a fast mechanical HDD (spinning at 7200RPM or above), or a Solid State Drive (SSD). Most of the Innova Systems Applications Engineers are running SOLIDWORKS on an SSD to ensure that their files load and save as quickly as possible. SSD’s are typically more expensive though, so your choice will depend on your overall budget.

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 PC hardware for SOLIDWORKS

Recommended Desktop: Dell Precision T5820

Dell-Precision-T5820-PC-Workstation-SolidWorks

Processor – Intel Xeon W-2123 3.6GHz, 3.9GHz Turbo

OS – Windows 10 Pro x64

NVIDIA® Quadro® P2000, 5GB, 4 DP

Memory – 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 RAM

HDD – 1TB 3.5inch Serial ATA (7,200 Rpm)

Monitor – Dell UltraSharp U2412M 61cm (24″) LED

Recommended Laptop Dell Precision M7730

Processor – Intel Core i7-8850H, Six Core 2.60GHz, 4.30GHz Turbo, 9MB 45W

OS – Windows 10 Pro x64

Graphics – Nvidia Quadro P3200 w/6GB GDDR5

Memory – 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 SDRAM

HDD –    256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Class 40

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We hope you found that useful!

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