SOLIDWORKS 2020 Hardware Recommendations

Article by Scott Durksen, CSWE updated October 10, 2019


Here is an overview of our current recommended SOLIDWORKS 2020 hardware / computer specs. Looking for SOLIDWORKS 2021 recommendations, we have that too »

The following gives details on specific hardware components.  However the entire system should be designed and assembled for optimal performance.  Custom machines can be a cheaper option, however selecting components individually and connecting them together may not be compatible or efficient.  Cooling and thermal management is also an important aspect.  Purchasing a fully built system from a computer manufacturer ensures all components will work together correctly.

  • Processor: 3 GHz or higher clock speed (preferably closer to 4 GHz)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Memory: 32GB (16GB minimum)
  • Hard Drive: Solid State Drive (SSD), maintaining at least 20GB free space
  • Graphics Card:
    • Standard assemblies: NVIDIA Quadro P1000 or AMD Radeon Pro WX 4100
    • Large assemblies with simple parts: NVIDIA Quadro P2000 or AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
    • Large assemblies with complex parts: NVIDIA Quadro P4000/5000 or AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200/9100
    • SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2020: NVIDIA Quadro P4000/5000 or AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200/9100
  • Internet Connection: High speed broadband connection for downloading service packs
  • File Storage: SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard or SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional

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What are the minimum hardware requirements for SOLIDWORKS 2020?

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

What Processor (CPU) is recommended for SOLIDWORKS 2020?

SOLIDWORKS supports both Intel and AMD processors.

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

Be aware that the Intel and AMD Boost speeds represent the max speed that can be hit for a period of time.  However it may not reach these speeds in all scenarios or for an extended period of time.  It must remain in specification limits for workload, temperature and power.

Some functionality can leverage multi-thread technology and share the workload over multiple processor cores.  Products such as SOLIDWORKS Simulation and PhotoView 360 can take advantage of multi-threading, as can other areas like the user interface activities.  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.  Javelin’s Large Assembly Service can dramatically improve your productivity by improving performance of assemblies through different techniques.

You can test and compare performance of your hardware using the SOLIDWORKS Performance Test and PassMark benchmark tool.

What Operating System is recommended for SOLIDWORKS 2020?

SOLIDWORKS 2020 is officially supported on the following operating systems:

  • Windows 7 SP1, 64-bit
  • Windows 10, 64-bit
Note: Windows Home editions are not supported
Note: Windows 8.1 support ended with SOLIDWORKS 2018 SP5
*IMPORTANT: Windows 7 will end support with SOLIDWORKS 2020 SP5

eDrawings and eDrawings Professional 2020 are supported on all operating systems listed above as well as macOS 10.13 or higher.

Does SOLIDWORKS 2020 work in virtual environments?

Only specific virtual environments are supported.  Visit the SOLIDWORKS Virtual Environment Support page for more details.

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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 2020?

The minimum requirement of RAM indicated on the SOLIDWORKS System Requirements page is at least 16GB.  However larger models and simulation studies may require more memory.  To avoid running out of memory for growing models, consider installing 32GB.  It’s best to split this between fewer memory chips to leave room for possible expansion in the future, for example install two 16 GB memory chips.

What type of Hard Drive is recommended for SOLIDWORKS 2020?

For best performance, a Solid-State Drive (SSD) can provide up to 10x faster performance for open/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 assemblies take longer to open over a network?

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 NVMe/PCIe SSDs rather than standard SATA SSDs.  These are connected with a much faster interface, but are more expensive.

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 2020?

The NVIDIA Quadro, AMD FirePro or AMD Radeon Pro 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).

The NVIDIA Quadro P, GP, GV and RTX series are the latest to be releases.

The AMD Radeon Pro WX series is the latest release.

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.  Investing in a faster CPU and SSD drive will provide much greater gain in performance.

For SOLIDWORKS Visualize users, renderings leverage the GPU directly so investing in a powerful graphics card is beneficial.  All past versions of SOLIDWORKS Visualize supported NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards.  However ONLY SOLIDWORKS Visualize 2020 supports AMD Radeon Pro graphics cards.

A full list of certified graphics cards and its associated certified driver for each SOLIDWORKS version can be found on the SOLIDWORKS Graphics Card Drivers page.  Certified drivers will only be provided for the latest three major releases of SOLIDWORKS.

Graphics cards designed for “gaming” or multi-media applications, such as NVIDIA GeForce or AMD Radeon cards (not Radeon Pro), do NOT offer maximum performance or stability for SOLIDWORKS. These 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.

The use of two physical graphics cards is not recommended for SOLIDWORKS.  SOLIDWORKS does not take advantage of the second card.

What versions of Microsoft Office are compatible with SOLIDWORKS 2020?

SOLIDWORKS has the capability of using Microsoft Excel to create BOMs, Design Tables, and more.  After a new Microsoft Office major version is released, SOLIDWORKS must perform tests and therefore will not be certified on the given service pack at the time.

SOLIDWORKS 2020 is compatible with Microsoft Office 2013, 2016 and 2019.  Check the Microsoft Products table on the SOLIDWORKS System Requirements page.

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 saved directly over a network connection will always be slower than a local drive and increases the chance of file corruption.  Data management products such as SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard or SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional automatically manage the movement of files from network servers to local disk drives to ensure maximum performance and stability. This is one of the many key benefits of a data management system. Learn more about SOLIDWORKS PDM.

What is the difference between SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard and Professional?

SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard is included with licenses of SOLIDWORKS Professional and SOLIDWORKS Premium.  This provides easy access to standard data management and revision control functionality.

SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional adds more functionality such as multi-site replication and automation.

Read our SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard and Professional Comparison article for further detail.

What are the hardware recommendations for SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020?

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.  Check the server requirements on the SOLIDWORKS System Requirements page.

Javelin provides PDM Implementation and Upgrade Services to have you 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.