Are you thinking of upgrading your laptop and optimizing your SolidWorks experience?
Here are my personal suggestions for what you should be looking for.
For the processor I would recommend an Intel i5 or an i7, depending on your budget. For general SolidWorks users, I would recommend an i5 processor with a speed of 2.5 GHZ or faster. If you are doing a lot of simulation I recommend an i7, because simulation does a lot of calculations and a better processor will produce faster results.
In terms of graphic cards, I prefer the NVIDIA Quadro FX Mobile series (or their NEW Quadro 2000 through 6000 when available in a mobile form factor) series graphic cards. They are a great choice for the SolidWorks user. SolidWorks places a high demand on your graphic card, so this is an important area to spend money, especially if you are building large assemblies, creating complex parts, or using simulation. As mentioned above, simulation uses the processor for calculations, but it uses the graphic card for post processing i.e. the animations and colouring of the parts.
It is important to note that if you do not use a certified graphics card, you could experience unexpected crashes, performance could be reduced, and some features, i.e. RealView, will not be available. If you are interested in a different graphic card, check to see if there is a SolidWorks certified driver for it: http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/videocardtesting.html
When it comes to RAM, I would suggest a laptop with 8 GB. 4 GB will likely do for now, but 8 GB will make sure your computer will be able to handle future releases of SolidWorks and also larger, more complex designs and drawings as your products evolve.
If you are running a Windows XP, at the time of publishing this article, SolidWorks 2012 will be the last planned release that will support this operating system. I have been using Windows 7 64-bit for a year now, and I can honestly say it is a good operating system. Windows 7 is a faster, more stable operating system, and SolidWorks has been designed to run on it. SolidWorks will run better on a 64-bit computer, as opposed to a 32-bit computer. You will notice the benefit primarily while working on large files.
When it comes to hard drives, I recommend at least a 7200 RPM hard drive. They are generally good value for their cost, and with a lesser hard drive you will notice it takes a long time to open files. If you have budget available, then SSD will yield even better performance.
If you’re also interested in a desktop for the office, for an additional performance boost, and not just in SolidWorks, you should consider a RAID array, either 0 or 5 will provide a performance gain. Couple this with a pair of SSD or 10,000 RPM drives and your workstation will be blistering fast! The biggest bottleneck in todays’ desktops is the hard drive access speed.
With all these recommendations in mind, I like the Dell Precision laptops for running SolidWorks.
Here’s a link to the Dell Precision line of laptops: http://www.dell.com/ca/business/p/precision-laptops?~ck=bt
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