SOLIDWORKS Hardware Recommendations

SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD

Of all the questions we get asked regarding SOLIDWORKS, hardware is always up there as one of the most hotly discussed topics.

Here, we will take a look at the key things to take into consideration when configuring Workstations to run SOLIDWORKS correctly and to make sure that you are working optimally.

In our experience, the majority of issues we come across with SOLIDWORKS are hardware related, be it the spec or the use of outdated drivers. We can help!

Dell – our preferred Hardware Partner

We recommend Dell Workstations. We’ve found that their Precision range offers the best combination of build quality and value for money for both Laptops and Desktops (this article is being typed on a Precision as we speak!)

All workstations come with the Dell 3 Year Next Business Day warranty – if they can’t fix your machine via remote session, they will have an engineer on site next day to replace any faulty components and have you back up and running in no time.

If you have any questions or need any assistance with choosing the right hardware for SOLIDWORKS, please feel free to contact us at SOLIDX. We are happy to help you with any advice regarding hardware and configuration.

If you’d like to buy a machine from SOLIDX directly, we can take delivery, configure the Workstation on your behalf before having it delivered to you, ready to go.

Operating System

SOLIDWORKS supports only 64-bit versions of Windows operating systems. The latest version of SOLIDWORKS, SOLIDWORKS 2023/24, requires either Windows 10 or Windows 11.

Processor

The processor sits at the heart of your Workstation and determines how fast it can perform calculations and execute commands. SOLIDWORKS uses the processor mainly for opening and saving files, rebuilding models, and performing simulations. Therefore, we recommend a processor that has a high clock speed (measured in GHz) and has multiple cores and threads. SOLIDWORKS recommends either 64-bit Intel or AMD processors.

SOLIDWORKS was originally a single core application. Over the last few years though, the developers have found new ways to make the most of additional cores to improve performance. They’re now utilised when creating multiple views on detailled drawings and are also used to great effect with both Simulation solves and Visualize renderings. They also take load from the main processor to run other operations including Outlook, Office apps and browser windows.

With all this in mind, for optimal performance, you should aim for a processor that has a clock speed closer to 4 GHz or higher. Number of cores is also something to consider for overall speed. The most important thing for SOLIDWORKS is clock speed on the single cores at their turbo boosted speeds – this is what gives you the best performance.

XEON’s were a consideration in the past as they had the ability to error correct on the fly but, with ECC (Error Code Correction) RAM now the norm, 12th and 13th GEN I5’s, I7’s and I9’s are just as effective – they’re still a good choice for servers as they are designed to work continuously.

Graphics Card

After the processor, the graphics card is the second most important component in your SOLIDWORKS workstation. The graphics card is the component that renders the images and graphics on your screen. SOLIDWORKS uses the graphics card to display your models in different modes and views, as well as to support advanced features such as RealView and Enhanced Graphics Performance. Therefore, you need a graphics card that has enough memory and processing power to handle the graphics workload.

SOLIDWORKS recommends a dedicated graphics card that has been officially certified by the software vendor. You can find a list of certified graphics cards and drivers here. Using a non-certified graphics card may result in poor performance, graphical glitches, or even crashes.

The Graphics Card is a crucial component and we do not recommend running software as powerful as SOLIDWORKS on underpowered hardware.

RAM

RAM (Random Access Memory) is the temporary storage space that your computer uses to hold data and programs that are currently in use. SOLIDWORKS uses RAM to store the geometry and features of your models, as well as the results of your simulations and analyses. Therefore, you need enough RAM to avoid running out of memory and slowing down your system.

If you work with large or complex models, or run multiple applications at the same time, you’ll need more RAM. The more RAM, the better.  It’s a cost effective way to improve any Workstation.

Storage

The storage device is where your computer saves your files and programs permanently. SOLIDWORKS uses the storage device to access and write your files, as well as to store temporary data when your RAM is full (Virtual Memory). Therefore, you need a storage device that has enough space and speed to handle data transfer.  512GB is a good size. We’d always recommend SSD’s.

SSD’s

SOLIDWORKS and SolidX recommend an SSD (Solid State Drive) for optimal performance. An SSD is faster than a traditional HDD (Hard Disk Drive) because it has no moving parts and can access data more quickly. An SSD can also reduce the boot time of your system and the load time of your applications. You should have at least 20 GB of free space on your SSD for SOLIDWORKS installation and operation.

So, in summary – what we’re after is something like this:

SOLIDWORKS Workstation Recommendations

Windows 10 or 11 (64-bit)

Processor

Intel 12th or 13th Generation Processors. Multi-core with  4GHZ Turbo or above recommended

RAM

We recommend at least 16 GB of RAM for most users

The sweet spot for most SOLIDWORKS users is 32 GB of RAM

For heavy simulation users, we’d recommend 64 GB RAM

Graphics Card

NVidia RTX range – 6GB on board memory or above. The more powerful the better.

Storage

SSD’s recommended – size wise, 512GB or more.

We’ve put together a couple of examples below:

Example Laptop spec and price

Example Desktop Workstation spec and price

Monitors approximately £110 + VAT each

 

SOLIDWORKS PDM

For SOLIDWORKS PDM, the system requirements depend on whether you are using the Standard or Professional version, and whether you are installing the server or client components.

PDM Standard

For the server components, you need Windows Server 2016* or higher, Microsoft SQL Express 2019, and at least 8 GB RAM.

For the client components, you need Windows 10 or Windows 11 (64-bit only), and at least 8 GB of RAM. You should also have an SSD drive for both the server and client components for faster data transfer. For more information on SOLIDWORKS PDM system requirements, you can refer to this page.

*end of life is this release – go higher if you can and go for Server 2019.

PDM Professional

For the server components, you need Windows Server 2016* or higher, Microsoft SQL Server 2017 or higher, and at least 8 GB or more of RAM.

For the client components, you need Windows 10 or Windows 11 (64-bit only), and at least 8 GB of RAM. You should also have an SSD drive for both the server and client components for faster data transfer. For more information on SOLIDWORKS PDM system requirements, you can refer to this page.

*end of life is this release – go higher if you can and go for Server 2019.

SOLIDWORKS Visualize

For SOLIDWORKS Visualize, the system requirements are similar to SOLIDWORKS, but with some additional considerations.

Once again, you’ll need Windows 10 or 11(64-bit only), a 64-bit Intel or AMD processor with a clock speed of at least 3 GHz. You’ll need a minimum of 16 GB of RAM, an SSD drive recommended, and a dedicated graphics card with at least 2 GB of GPU RAM. Again, more is more here so the fastsest processor, more RAM, an SSD and a good graphics card are recommened (NVidia RTX with 6GB or more is best).

For optimal performance and quality, go for a graphics card that supports NVIDIA Iray or AMD ProRender technologies. These technologies enable GPU-accelerated rendering and ray tracing features that can significantly improve the realism and speed of your visualisations. You should also check the SOLIDWORKS Hardware Certification website to find the certified graphics cards and drivers for SOLIDWORKS Visualize here

SOLIDWORKS Simulation

For SOLIDWORKS Simulation, the system requirements are, again, similar to SOLIDWORKS, but with a higher emphasis on the processor and RAM.

You’ll need Windows 10 or Windows 11 (64-bit only), a 64-bit Intel or AMD processor with a clock speed of at least 3 GHz, 16 GB or more of RAM, an SSD drive with plenty of free space, and a dedicated graphics card that has been officially certified by SOLIDWORKS.

For optimal performance and accuracy, you should have a processor with a clock speed closer to 4 GHz or higher, and preferably one that has multiple cores and threads. This is because SOLIDWORKS Simulation can take advantage of parallel processing to speed up the calculations and simulations. You should also have as much RAM as possible, anywhere between 32GB and 64GB is recommended, especially when working with large or complex models, and/or running multiple applications at the same time. You should also check the SOLIDWORKS Hardware Certification website to find the certified graphics cards and drivers for SOLIDWORKS Simulation here

Virtual Machines – Hypervisors

Using hypervisors, you need to be aware that not all virtual environments are supported by SOLIDWORKS. You should check the list of supported hypervisors on this page before installing SOLIDWORKS on a virtual machine. You should also make sure that your virtual machine has enough resources allocated to meet the system requirements for SOLIDWORKS.

In addition, you should have a graphics card that supports GPU acceleration in a virtualised environment. This will improve the graphics rendering and performance of SOLIDWORKS in your virtual machine. You can find a list of certified graphics cards for virtual environments on this page

For finding the latest graphics card drivers for SOLIDWORKS, you can use the SOLIDWORKS Rx tool that is installed with SOLIDWORKS. This tool can help you diagnose and troubleshoot any issues with your graphics card and drivers, and also provide you with a link to download the latest certified driver for your system.

You can also manually search for the certified driver on the SOLIDWORKS Hardware Certification website by selecting your system vendor, system model, operating system, graphics card, and SOLIDWORKS version here

Get in touch

Anything you need, get us anytime on 01223 857300 or fill out the form below and we’ll be straight back to you.