SolidWorks 2012 Hardware FAQs

Frequently Asked Technical Support Questions about Hardware

What hardware does SolidWorks operate on?

SolidWorks 2012 runs on Intel and AMD based systems – the CPU must support SSE2 (Streaming SIMD Extensions 2). Please note that SolidWorks is not supported on Apple Mac based machines or Linux.

On what operating systems is SolidWorks supported?

SolidWorks 2012 supports the following operating systems:

  • RECOMMENDED: Windows 7 x64 (x86 also supported)
  • Windows Vista (Windows Home editions are not supported)  (x86, x64 SP1 or higher)
  • Windows XP Professional (x86 SP3, x64 SP2)

Notes:

  • Windows Home editions are not supported
  • Virtual environments are officially not supported.

** NOTE: SolidWorks 2012 will be the last release to support Windows XP.

eDrawings 2012 and eDrawings Professional 2012 is supported on all operating systems listed above and Mac OS X 10.5.x or higher.  eDrawings 2010 was the last version to support Mac OS X 10.4.x.

Although a 64-bit operating system does not greatly enhance performance, it does enable applications to access far more memory than on 32-bit Windows. This will be a benefit when working with complex parts, large assemblies or drawings, performing simulation studies and rendering.  Windows 32-bit can only access up to 4GB of memory (actually about 3.75 GB) and maxes out at 2GB for applications unless the /3GB switch is enabled, but then you are stealing 1 GB away from the OS which can sometimes create other issues, while 64-bit applications can access up to 16 TB.

More information about SolidWorks System Requirements can be found at:
http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/SystemRequirements.html

Does SolidWorks support Windows 7/Vista/XP Home Edition?

SolidWorks does not officially support the Home Edition of these versions of windows. However, due to the similarities between the two operating systems there should be no problems encountered if SolidWorks is used with Windows Home Edition versions. When choosing to run on Windows Home Edition platforms, you should realize that without official support, problems identified that are unique to Windows Home Edition will not be handled with any priority.

How much RAM is needed to run SolidWorks?                            

While the minimum is claimed to be 2 GB, we recommend starting with at least 6 GB of RAM.  Depending on the size and complexity of your assemblies, increased RAM may be the best investment for performance improvement.  For assemblies with more than 1000 components and parts with more than 300 features, 8 - 16 GB of RAM is recommended.

What type of video card do you recommend?

NVidia Quadro series or ATI FireGL/FirePro series.  Although SolidWorks might work with any generic graphics card, a graphics card with hardware OpenGL acceleration will provide superior performance, especially in 3D model viewing (redraws, spins, zooms and pans). Detailed info on video card support and testing is available at:

http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/videocardtesting.html

Video cards designed for “gaming” or multi-media applications do NOT offer maximum performance for SolidWorks and other 3D CAD applications. Game/multi-media cards are optimized for a low number of polygons displayed on the screen, and a high frame rate. CAD applications have essentially the opposite requirement, polygon count is high (all the details in your design model) and the image does not change rapidly, so high frame rates are not as critical. Also, these days, graphic processing units (GPUs) are very powerful; therefore they are used for operations beyond the scope of video processing. Using a certified videocard + driver combo will yield the most stable platform for running SolidWorks.

Does SolidWorks make use of multiple and/or dual core processors?

SolidWorks actually uses multi-thread technology for certain functions.  This is different from when we talk about multi-cores.  Multi-core describes the CPU.  It is the operating system that ultimately decides what Core each Thread runs on.  Windows 7 is said to utilize multiple processors more efficiently compared to Vista with XP being even less so.

Only certain functions of SolidWorks can actually utilize multi-thread technology.  Running simulation analysis, rendering images, file opening and user interface activities (redraw, dialog boxes) can take advantage of multiple cores as there are multiple calculations that can be determined simultaneously.  When opening documents in SW 2012, a view-only state is provided where you can zoom, rotate, etc while the actual file and its components are opened in the background.  Once the file is fully opened, the environment is changed to the normal editing state.  In contrast, the solving process used for parametric modeling is by nature linear and can only be run on a single thread.  Consequently this cannot be spread across multiple processors and one core will take the brunt of the calculations.

In general, rebuild times depend on the speed of the CPU, simulation analysis and image rendering depends on having more cores and RAM, and file opening mainly depends on the hard drive speed.

Keep in mind that the fastest machine is no substitute for good design practices.  Minimizing in-context references and utilizing lightweight modes will reduce the load on the processor.

What versions of Microsoft Office are compatible with SolidWorks 2012?

SolidWorks has the capability of using Microsoft Excel to create BOMs, Design Tables, and more.  Since the release dates of Office and SolidWorks are not aligned, a new version of Microsoft Office is typically not supported until the next major release of SolidWorks.  The compatibility depends on the version of Office, the version of SolidWorks and the Operating System.

SolidWorks 2012 is compatible with MS Excel 2007 and 2010.
http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/SystemRequirements.html

Should I store my files locally on my computer or on a network drive? Are there any performance issues that I should be aware of?

Javelin recommends that for maximum performance files should be worked on locally. Files opened and retrieved over a network will always be slower than accessing a local drive. Data management products such as SolidWorks Enterprise PDM automatically manage the movement of files from network servers to local disk drives for the CAD user to ensure maximum performance. This is one of the key benefits of data management systems. More information on SolidWorks Enterprise PDM can be found here:

http://www.javelin-tech.com/main/products/solidworks_enterprise_pdm.htm

I would like to implement a PDM product. Can you recommend a good strategy for the implementation of a server for a vault?

Javelin recommends that where possible a dedicated server be used for either a SolidWorks Workgroup PDM or SolidWorks Enterprise PDM vault. Besides allowing for maximum performance for the CAD users, using a dedicated server provides version/revision control, workflow process management and custom property management. For hardware specifications for a PDM system, please visit:

http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/PDMSystemRequirements.html

What is your current hardware recommendation for SolidWorks 2012?

We recommend the following hardware configuration for SolidWorks:

  • Windows 7 Professional x64
  • Intel Core i7
  • 8 GB RAM (or more)
  • Min. 200 GB hard drive, 7200 RPM (dual HDDs in RAID 0 array for ultimate performance)
  • nVidia Quadro 2000 graphics card (these are considered mid-range)
  • nVidia Quadro 4000, 5000 or 6000 Graphics Card (for ultimate graphics performance)
  • High speed internet connection for downloading updates and Customer Portal access

If you are regularly performing FEA analysis with the SolidWorks Simulation family of products, we suggest upgrading your RAM to at least 12 GB and considering multi-CPUs processors (at least Quad core). Shop online at the Javelin Web Store for SolidWorks Certified Graphics Cards: http://store.javelin-tech.com/Store-Catalog/SolidWorks-Hardware