In this video we’re looking at hardware configurations for running SolidWorks 3D CAD software. Whether you’re purchasing a new machine to run SolidWorks or considering how to update an existing machine, we will look at everything from processors to RAM and graphics cards to hard drives. At the end of the video you will have a better idea of where you should and where you should not invest your money. The first thing to understand, is that there isn’t a ‘one size fits’ all machine for SolidWorks. Before we start looking at machine specs, We need to ask ourselves what is it we want SolidWorks to do? Are we just interested in simple part modelling? Maybe we want to use its photo realistic rendering tools Or perhaps we need to perform some stress testing and flow analysis? All of these factors are going to determine the best way for us to invest our money. Now historically Desktops were the go-to machine for CAD but now desktops and mobile workstations can achieve almost identical performance. So the first question we need to ask is : Do I need to use SolidWorks wherever I go? If the answer is yes, then we recommend the Dell Precision range of mobile workstations. If the answer is No, well based purely on price and ability to upgrade, a desktop machine should be a serious consideration. To help understand how your use of SolidWorks affects the choice of machine we’re going to look at hardware specifications for three different SolidWorks scenarios. To start with we’ll look at SolidWorks used mainly as a design tool. Then, SolidWorks as a visualization tool and finally will look at SolidWorks used as a simulation tool. If you’re using SolidWorks purely as a design tool by modeling parts, putting together assemblies and creating 2D drawings these are the things to look out for. Lets start with your processor. Core SolidWorks is predominantly single threaded which means it only solves one task at a time. Because of this you should be looking for turbo boost technology instead of investing in a machine with lots of cores. Find yourself an Intel chip with a high turbo boost speed that can churn through your tasks faster and dont worry too much of how many processor cores your machine has. Next, RAM. Now this is often the first thing people go to upgrade when their machine isnt performing very well but it isn’t always the correct fix. More RAM will only benefit you if you’re actually running out in the first place. The best advice we can offer here is to buy a machine with spare memory slots. These can be used at a later stage or if your budget allows, Invest in more RAM than you currently need to give yourself that extra memory ready for the future. For most users the sweet spot is between 16 and 32 gig. Now our graphics card. When designing in SolidWorks we spend all day zooming, panning, rotating and interrogating our models. All of this is driven by the graphics card. It sounds obvious, but a graphics card with the most power is going to enable SolidWorks to perform these operations smoother and faster. But we can’t stress this enough, Gaming cards are not supported for SolidWorks and they will cause you issues. You must get yourself a professional CAD grade card. We always recommend something from Nvidia Quadro range. These are proven cards that have the best performance and they have the best support. So what about using SolidWorks for photo realistic renders and animations? For this kind of work we use SolidWorks Visualize which is unlike other renderers as it harnesses Nvidia’s Iray technology directly from your graphics card. The result of this is much faster rendering times. Spending that little bit extra on a graphics card will pay you back by rendering your work faster and making you more productive But for the majority of users the very highest Spec graphics cards really aren’t justified. What we recommend is a mid to mid high range card with at least 4 gigabytes of memory. The more modest graphics cards purchased today can be replaced more frequently in the future allowing you to make best use of the latest technology. So let’s look at RAM. Well naturally, rendering operations use a large amount of memory therefore it isn’t uncommon to need large amounts of RAM. If you’re serious about rendering. We would suggest looking to invest in at least 32 gigabytes. Finally, let’s look at hardware considerations if we plan to use SolidWorks as a simulation tool. There are some quite significant differences between a machine for SolidWorks when used primarily as a design tool and SolidWorks when it’s being used as a simulation tool. The main difference is in how it harnesses processing power. Unlike in the two previous scenarios SolidWorks simulation is multithreaded. Therefore investing in a CPU with multiple cores will increase performance. However you are still going to be using SolidWorks as a design tool. So not only do you want the multiple cores but you want them to have good turbo boost speed. There is one other thing to consider though and this bridges your choice between both processor and memory. The Xeon range of processors from Intel supports something called ECC memory for the purposes of this video it’s enough to highlight that ECC is particularly useful when running lengthy simulations. Both of these components will cost you more money, so if you’re not running lengthy complex simulations very often, then you probably won’t see the benefit of either. So consider carefully before adding these items to your shopping list. Regardless of how you plan to use SolidWorks, there are of course some general considerations to make when choosing hardware. Once you’ve chosen your Processor, RAM and Graphics card. Make sure that the machine you’ve chosen, comes with a Solid State hard drive. Although this isn’t necessary to run SolidWorks itself, an SSD will improve your overall performance by allowing applications to load faster and files to open quicker the larger SSD drives can be expensive. So for some extra storage capacity consider adding a cheaper traditional hard drive too. When selecting an operating system, you should understand that SolidWorks is a 64 bit Windows application. At present, there is support for Windows 7 and 10. Our recommendation would be to go for Windows 10 professional. It’s the most recent and we always prefer to invest in the latest technology. If you’re running a Mac there is no native install but you can run SolidWorks through either Parallels or Boot camp. So all in all, these are the things you should be thinking about before purchasing any new machine for SolidWorks. We hope you find it useful. If so don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and make sure you check out the link in the description below for up to date pre-built machine specs.