Simplifying hardware requirements for the SOLIDWORKS suite of products

SolidWorks 3D CAD software

Processors - Processor speed is very important to performance. It is typically best to purchase one or two levels down from the fastest available processor. This is because there is typically a large premium to be paid for the fastest available processor(s). There is better value in choosing a high clock speed i7 processor than a lower clock speed Xeon processor. Multiple cores are used within SolidWorks CAD software only when reading and writing files and when working with multiple drawing views.

Hard Drives – Using an SSD drive as the primary drive will help significantly in reading and writing files, especially with large assemblies and parts. A secondary SATA drive is typically recommended for saving data that has been completed. The O/S, SolidWorks software, and work-in-progress files should all be on the primary SSD drive. A 256GB drive will suffice, but as 500GB SSD drives come down in price they can also be considered.

Graphics Cards – The graphics cards speed up zooming, panning and rotating. A good starting point is the NVIDIA Quadro M2000 or the earlier NVIDIA Quadro K2200 (this is all that is available in the workstation configuration available for purchase). For mid-size to large assemblies, the NVIDIA Quadro M4000 or the earlier NVIDIA Quadro K4200 is recommended. For large to very large assemblies, the NVIDIA Quadro M5000 or the earlier NVIDIA Quadro K5200 is recommended.

System Memory – While 8GB will suffice for smaller assemblies, 16GB is recommended for most applications. For large and/or complex assemblies, 32 GB is recommended. Faster memory is better.  

SolidWorks Simulation (CFD not included) – FEA

Processors - Processor speed is very important to performance. It is typically best to purchase one level down from the fastest available processor. If there will be a fair amount of simulation being done on the workstation, there is better value in choosing a Xeon processor over an i7 processor. SolidWorks Simulation will take advantage of multiple cores. Better performance will be achieved by using one 8 core processor rather than using two 4 core processors.

Hard Drives – SSD drives will speed up the processing of the simulation as there are large temporary and other files being written during the process.

Graphics Cards – The graphics cards have no effect on speeding up simulation.

System Memory – 16GB minimum is required. 32 GB is recommended. Fastest memory is better. ECC memory provides better stability, especially with more complex and time-consuming analyses.  

Rendering and Animation – SolidWorks Visualize

Processors - Processor speed is very important to performance. It is typically best to purchase one level down from the fastest available processor. If there will be a fair amount of rendering being done on the workstation, there is better value in choosing a Xeon processor over an i7 processor. SolidWorks Visualize will take advantage of multiple cores. Better performance will be achieved by using one 8 core processor than using two 4 core processors.

Hard Drives – SSD drives will speed up the processing of the rendering as the file(s) is/are being written. Therefore if creating animations, an SSD drive is recommended.

Graphics Cards – Unlike PhotoView 360, the GPU on the graphics cards will speed up the rendering process.

System Memory – 16GB minimum is required. 32 GB is recommended. Fastest memory is better. ECC memory provides better stability, especially with more complex and time-consuming animations.  

Rendering and Animation – PhotoView 360

Processors - Processor speed is very important to performance. It is typically best to purchase one level down from the fastest available processor. If there will be a fair amount of rendering being done on the workstation, there is better value in choosing a Xeon processor over an i7 processor. SolidWorks PhotoView 360 will take advantage of multiple cores. Better performance will be achieved by using one 8 core processor than using two 4 core processors.

Hard Drives – SSD drives will speed up the processing of the rendering as the file(s) is/are being written. Therefore if creating animations, an SSD drive is recommended.

Graphics Cards – Graphics cards have no effect on speeding up rendering in PhotoView 360 as the GPU is not used in the process.

System Memory – 16GB minimum is required. 32 GB is recommended. Fastest memory is better. ECC memory provides better stability, especially with more complex and time-consuming animations.  

Richard Blair, P.Eng.
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