Optimizing hardware for SolidWorks is essential for getting the most out of this heavy-hitting CAD application, as we’ve discussed on CADspeed previously. So we were thrilled when the SolidWorks forum addressed this very issue recently on their forums.
The key to getting the most out of SolidWorks, or any CAD application for that matter, is ensuring your hardware can handle the workload. Remember that your situation is unique. In simple terms, two users using the same software on the same system may have very different perspectives on their workload efficiency if one is using 3D rendering and the other is not. Consider your needs first and foremost.
On the flip side, if you know you need new hardware, simply buying the most expensive machine may not pay off in the long run either. Think in terms of your productivity while shopping for a new workstation to get the most for your budget, hopefully with a little room to grow for those inevitable upgrades.
That said, here’s a summary of the recommendations straight from SolidWorks themselves.
RAM (Random-Access Memory)
The amount of RAM you need depends less on SolidWorks and more on the number of applications you run at the same time, plus the size and complexity of your SolidWorks parts, assemblies and drawings. SolidWorks recommends you have enough RAM to work with your common applications (i.e., Microsoft Office, email, etc.) and load your SolidWorks documents at the same time.
Processor speed is another key factor when selecting the right hardware for you. It’s hard to sort through all the different options though, so we recommend testing a system with your actual models. SolidWorks also offers a helpful Performance Test, which offers a standardized test for determining performance of your major system components (i.e., CPU, I/O, video) when working with SolidWorks datasets. Even better, when you complete the SolidWorks Performance Test, you have an option to share your score with others. This gives you, and other community members, a sense of where a system stands relative to others. Nice!
Note that SolidWorks and some of its add-ons (PhotoView 360) have some multithreaded capabilities, so the application can use the second processor or multiple cores. But SolidWorks says that rebuilds are single threaded and therefore rebuilds generally will not be faster with multiple CPUs or cores.
The size of your hard drive or solid-state drive should be based on the disk space you need. Take a look at all your system’s components: operating system, applications and documents. If you work primarily on a network, your needs may be different than those who primarily use their local drive. Don’t forget to develop a back-up plan for your data, if you don’t already have one. (You do have one, right?)
The very nature of CAD software requires a good workstation-level graphics card and driver. You are probably going to need at least a mid-range card, if not a high-end card, depending on the type of CAD work you do. For graphics cards, we recommend starting with the SolidWorks Certified Graphics Cards and System, because SolidWorks has done the testing for you.
Can’t get enough about hardware configurations for SolidWorks? Check out this great post from SolidWorks on their forums. Or learn more about the minimum requirements for SolidWorks.
The latest version of SolidWorks® 3D design software offers fully integrated tools for users to easily leverage the power of 3D graphics. Using RealView, users can create realistic looking models due to real-time rendering capability of photorealistic lighting, reflection, shadowing and surface texture in the design workflow. PhotoView 360 allows users to create photo realistic images and animation.
In order for users to get the best performance out of RealView and PhotoView 360, it is very important for them to have the right graphics card in place. Users sometimes make the mistake of choosing a consumer level or a gaming graphics card, or just selecting the most expensive graphics card out there. However, when it comes to taking advantage of the features in SolidWorks, a bigger and an expensive graphics card may not always be better.
Interface for Selecting Graphics Card
To help users make the right choice, SolidWorks provides an interface to select the graphics card that will ensure system performance and stability. This interface provides the options to select the computer vendor, computer model, graphics card vendor, graphics card model, and operating system, as well as SolidWorks version. It also provides the flexibility to select after market graphics card.
SolidWorks Test Results
This interface provides the results of various tests SolidWorks performed on the graphics cards. If a card has limitations or notes they will be indicated within the results. All these cards are tested in house at SolidWorks. This interface is used to help you find the right graphics card driver for your system to ensure system performance and stability. SolidWorks tests and certifies graphics card drivers for each version of SolidWorks and supported Operating Systems.
Thus the resource allows users to not only select the certified graphics cards for running SolidWorks, but also download the latest graphics cards drivers.
Author: Shantanu Kedar, Partner Technical Marketing Manager, DS SolidWorks Corp