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Four Practical Approaches to Improving SolidWorks Performance

SolidWorksWhat goes into improving SolidWorks performance? Way too much. Really, programs, CAD software should be more simple. Hardware should be more simple, but for the very reason that software and hardware are not developed together, we’re faced with attempting to optimize both and you… are faced with this article.

You can break all the aspects of performance and what goes into optimizing your system into four practical approaches. You can apply these to a large company, small company or an individual. You can use it as a checklist or give it to IT and tell them to get their act together.

Software Performance

SolidWorks is a strange beast. You’ll get optimal performance one time and then something changes to totally confuse you. How you create your model — keeping files together, reducing external references, optimizing relations — helps. These are all things that a bit of training and a solid slap can solve. Beyond that, you can improve performance by going into the SolidWorks options and turning off the SolidWorks news feed, reducing level of detail and setting the search to index only when idle. RealView adds more realistic visuals for material and environments. If you notice lag, try toggling it off under View / Display / RealView. All good things to know, but none of this will matter as much if you have optimized hardware.

Hardware Performance

For best performance with SolidWorks, it’s always best to start with hardware. You’ll find better performance with SolidWorks with a faster CPU. Max that sucker out. Multiple CPUs, even better. Recommended RAM for current SolidWorks versions is 6GB. It’s cheap, toss it in. A 1GB graphics card will provide smoother visuals. Turn off visual effects for Windows. Go to Performance Info and Tools in the Windows Control Panel and adjust for best performance. Keep your computer clean. Use programs like Speccy to monitor your system, Defraggler to keep your system defragged and CCleaner to keep that registry and program list optimized.

Software Life Cycle

Keeping software updated can be challenging, particularly when new versions of software that are used together come out at different times throughout the year. For best performance increases and time to allow testing of new functionality, I suggest a 14-18 month update cycle. This allows for at least one Service Pack (point release) of SolidWorks and provides time for a soft roll-out of the update.

Hardware Life Cycle

I list this last because it’s often the coldest piece of cod to swallow. Hardware is expensive. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the necessary upgrades that you will need over the years, especially in light of SolidWorks software updates and the need to keep employees or yourself super efficient. 2-year hardware cycles are often ideal for three reasons. It keeps you apprised of the technology, improves power efficiencies/capabilities and you get a better tax break for donating the old stuff to charity.

We view performance as software that doesn’t crash and hardware that doesn’t make us wait around. There’s always something you can do to make it all run a little better. The bottom line is this: Keep on a clear update cycle for software and hardware. Deal with hardware performance first, maxing out CPU speed, then deal with the intricacies of the software itself. You’ll have a smoother running system and you’ll be a much happier SolidWorks user.

Join Josh Mings for a TwitterChat on Thursday, July 28 at 4 p.m. ET. We’ll be talking about performance on SolidWorks. Follow the conversation at #dellcad and jump in!  Click for more information.

Josh Mings is a mechanical engineer in the aircraft interiors industry. He is a CSWP with certified training and support for SolidWorks. He is editor of SolidSmack.com covering CAD, design and technology and is co-host of Engineer vs. Designer at evd1.tv. Follow him on Twitter@joshmings and @solidsmack or find him at LinkedIn or Google+.

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