SOLIDWORKS 2018 Hardware Recommendations

Article by Scott Durksen, CSWE, last updated on November 29, 2017

Here is an overview of our current recommended SOLIDWORKS 2018 hardware. Please browse through this FAQ for more specific information.

  • Processor: Intel Core i7 or Xeon with high processor speed
  • Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Memory: 24GB or more
  • Hard Drive: Solid State Drive (SSD), maintaining at least 20GB free space
  • Graphics Card:
    • NVIDIA Quadro P600 (entry level), P1000/2000 (mid-range) or P4000 (high-end)
    • AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100 (entry level), WX 4100 (mid-range) or WX 5100 (high-end)
    • NOTE: See graphics card section below for more detail
  • Internet Connection: High speed broadband connection for downloading service packs
  • File Storage: SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard or SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional

What are the minimum hardware requirements for SOLIDWORKS 2018?

The minimum requirements can be found on the SOLIDWORKS System Requirements website.

What Processor (CPU) is recommended for SOLIDWORKS 2018?

SOLIDWORKS 2018 runs on Intel or AMD based systems.  The CPU must support SSE2 (Streaming SIMD Extensions 2).  Only 64-bit operating systems and processors are supported.

The rebuild process in SOLIDWORKS is inherently linear (parent/child relationship of features) and therefore can only use a single core.  Therefore rebuild performance can be increased by having a faster clock speed of the CPU.

Some functionality can leverage multi-thread technology and share the workload over multiple processor cores.  Products like Simulation and PhotoView 360 can take advantage of multi-threading, as can other areas like the user interface activities.  Therefore having more processor cores can improve performance in these scenarios.

Keep in mind that the fastest machine is no substitute for good design practices.  Minimizing in-context references, utilizing large assembly modes and other performance tools will reduce the load on the processor.

What Operating System is recommended for SOLIDWORKS 2018?

SOLIDWORKS 2018 is officially supported on the following operating systems:

  • Windows 7 SP1 ,64-bit
  • Windows 8.1, 64-bit
  • Windows 10, 64-bit

Note – Windows Home editions are not supported

Note – Windows 8.1 support ends with SOLIDWORKS 2018 SP5

**IMPORTANT:   SOLIDWORKS 2018 is not supported on 32-bit operating systems

eDrawings and eDrawings Professional 2018 are supported on all operating systems listed above as well as Mac OS X 10.10 or higher.

Does SOLIDWORKS 2018 work in virtual environments?

Only specific virtual environments are supported.  Please see the SOLIDWORKS Virtual Environment support page.

SOLIDWORKS, eDrawings and Draftsight require a certified GPU for good performance in a virtualized environment.  A complete listing of certified graphics cards can be found on the SOLIDWORKS graphics card drivers webpage.  Select “Virtual Desktop” as the Computer Vendor.

Does SOLIDWORKS support Windows Home Editions?

No, SOLIDWORKS does not support Windows Home Editions.  You may not encounter any issues using a Windows Home Edition version, however SOLIDWORKS does not guarantee proper functionality using this unsupported operating system.

How much Memory (RAM) is recommended for SOLIDWORKS 2018?

The minimum requirement of RAM indicated on the SOLIDWORKS System Requirements page is at least 8GB.  However RAM is not a very expensive component and more is better for future needs.  We recommend having 24GB for future needs.  It’s best to split this between fewer cards to have a shared load and to leave room for possible expansion in the future.

What type of Hard Drive is recommended for SOLIDWORKS 2018?

For best performance, a Solid State Drive (SSD) can provide up to 10x faster performance for open/close/save tasks compared to a standard Hard Disk Drive (HDD).  SSDs have come down in price over the years and are worth the investment.

Also note that opening files from a local SSD drive compared to opening from a standard disk drive on a network server can be up to 100x faster. Why do assembly take longer to load?

Be sure to maintain enough hard drive space after installing for Windows to run effectively.  Keep at least 20GB or 10% of your hard drive capacity as free space.

For even greater performance, you can consider using a PCIe connected hard drive instead of SATA.  These are physically connected to the motherboard, instead of using cables, but does come at a cost.  Also you may wish to research into using RAID storage (redundant array of inexpensive disks) to improve performance and security.

What type of Graphics Card is recommended for SOLIDWORKS 2018?

The NVIDIA Quadro, AMD FirePro or AMD Radeon Pro WX series are certified graphics cards for SOLIDWORKS.  A graphics card with hardware OpenGL acceleration will provide superior performance and stability, especially in 3D model viewing (refresh, rotate, zoom, pan).

While a high-end graphics card sounds like it will give much better performance, the amount of money involved won’t see a dramatic boost.  It would be better suited to use a low to mid-range graphics card and spend more on the CPU and SSD drives.  The low-end graphics cards of the Quadro P series and Radeon Pro WX series may provide sufficient performance for most models, though increasing model complexity and larger assemblies could require more processing power.

A list of certified graphics cards and the associated certified driver can be found on the SOLIDWORKS Graphics Card Drivers webpage.

Video cards designed for “gaming” or multi-media applications, such as NVIDIA GeForce or AMD Radeon cards, do NOT offer maximum performance or stability for SOLIDWORKS. Game/multi-media cards are optimized for a low number of polygons displayed on the screen, but at a high frame rate. CAD applications have the opposite requirement, where polygon count is high (the detail in your design model) but the image does not change rapidly so high frame rates are not as critical.  Using a certified graphics card and driver combo will yield the most stable platform for running SOLIDWORKS.

Something to be aware of is a product called SOLIDWORKS Visualize that was introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2016.  This was formerly a product called Bunkspeed and has been developed over the past several years to solely use NVIDIA Technology.  As such, Visualize will not use any non-NVIDIA GPUs and will revert to using only the CPU if no NVIDIA graphics card is installed.  This should be taken into consideration before purchasing a graphics card. Check the Bunkspeed website for more details.

Also, new products on the 3DExperience platform may have different supported hardware.  Products like Mechanical Conceptual and Industrial Designer have specific certified hardware, and NVIDIA hardware outweighs AMD hardware 4:1.  This should be taken into account if you are considering these products.

The use of two physical graphics cards is not recommended.  SOLIDWORKS does not take advantage of the second card and graphical issues may occur from conflicts in processing.

What versions of Microsoft Office are compatible with SOLIDWORKS 2018?

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 2018 is compatible with Microsoft Office 2010, 2013 and 2016. Check the system requirements on the SOLIDWORKS website.

Should I store my files locally on my computer or on a network drive?

For maximum performance and stability, files should be worked on locally. Files opened and retrieved over a network will always be slower than accessing from a local drive and increase the chance of file corruption.  Data management products such as SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard or Professional automatically manage the movement of files from network servers to local disk drives to ensure maximum performance and safety. This is one of the key benefits of data management systems. Learn more about SOLIDWORKS PDM.

What is the difference between SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard and Professional?

PDM Professional was formerly known as Enterprise PDM.  PDM Standard was introduced in the 2016 version to provide more users access to the powerful PDM functionality, with some limitations.  Please read our blog post comparing PDM Standard and Professional functionalities.

What are the SOLIDWORKS 2018 Hardware recommendations for a SOLIDWORKS PDM Vault?

Javelin recommends using a dedicated server for running the SOLIDWORKS 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. View the hardware requirements for a SOLIDWORKS PDM system.

Javelin provides SOLIDWORKS PDM Implementation & Upgrade Services to have your PDM setup quickly and efficiently.

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Scott Durksen, CSWE

Scott is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and is based in our Dartmouth, Nova Scotia office.

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