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 recommended a couple of well-spec’d workstations that will run SOLIDWORKS perfectly for most users, so, without further ado…
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 32GB. 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!
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’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 “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
SOLIDWORKS is predominantly a single core application, and is generally a very linear process. We usually recommend four cores and the highest clock speed that you can afford. However, if you’re performing complex simulations, working with large complicated drawings, or creating detailed renderings, you’ll want to increase this to six, eight or twelve cores to handle the extra workload.
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.
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) 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 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 PC hardware for SOLIDWORKS
Recommended Desktop: Dell Precision T5820
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
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
Considering a new SOLIDWORKS Workstation?
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We hope you found our SOLIDWORKS system requirements article useful!
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