20 Replies Latest reply on May 23, 2012 4:23 AM by Casper De Boer

    Which Computer will give me best performance

    Alan Meeks

      I have been getting really frustrated by SolidWorks performance and that's with 2011. Waiting several minutes between each rebuild with some of the more complex models. I have been holding out until I was able to buy a new computer before I moved to 2012. So now I'm in a position to spend some money on hardware it's a question of what do I get.


      I normally buy Dell from EuroPC because I think they offer good value for money and Dell have always worked well for me, but I'm open to suggestions. For example, at the moment EuroPC have Dell T7500, Intel Xeon X5687 3.6GHz Windows 7 Pro 64, it has 24Gb RAM and a Quadro 4000 with 2Gb memory and two 1.5Tb drives with 3 years waranty for £1,999. Is that a good buy or are there other features that would make SolidWork run better? Is the Quadro better than an ATi video board?.


      I can't find anywhere on the internet that offers definative advice on the best set up for SolidWorks or how to get the best performance. Do I spend money on RAM, Graphics memory, hard drive capacity or speed? Or all of these... or something else. I realise that SolidWorks won't recommend manufactures or specific models but has anybody out there been through this already?


      I've seen some advice that says things like, if you work on large assemblies you may need more memory etc but the way I work I will push SolidWorks to the limit. Some of my models and assemblies are so complex that I have reached the point where I cannot work on them any more and have to work in smaller sub-groups. Often I've had to save sub-assemblies into Parasolids parts and ultimately turn them into dumb solid lumps so I can use them in top level assemblies without having to wait 20 minutes just to see if a modified part still fits. Time is Money!


      My current Dell set up, a Dell PWS 380 (Pentium 4, 3.79GHz) must be 5 or 6 years old (can't remember when I bought it) but it has 8Gb of RAM and is running XP64 with a Quadra FX 4500 with 512Mb of memory so I believe it's not a bad set up - just not good enough.


      All suggestions very welcome, before I part with my cash.



        • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
          Charles Culp

          Alan, I think you will benefit greatly with a new computer. You will notice a great improvement over the P4 with a new system. I upgraded from a P4 to a new Dell T1600 in May(ish). It is outstanding, and is what I would suggest.


          I think some of that T7500 is overkill, so here is what I suggest:



          - Xeon E3-1270 processor (E3-1280, or E3-1290 if the 1270 is not available. They are slightly faster, but significantly more expensive)

          - ATI FirePro v4800 video card (that Quadro 4000 is too much for SolidWorks)

          - 16 GB RAM

          - Windows 7 64 bit

          - Solid State Drive for your primary drive (mine is a monster at 240GB)

          - If you need more storage space (you don't keep files on a network) get a 10,000 RPM Western Digital Hard Disk.


          Do you need more than 16 GB RAM? Only if you work with assemblies with many thousands of components. Dell charges an arm and a leg for RAM. I would consider buying after market RAM and just getting 8 GB from Dell.


          See my suggested Dell system and comparisons here:



          See my video card comparisons here:






          It looks like EuroPC does not have any T1600's listed on their website. Thus, I suggest shopping elsewhere for your business. Either order online from Dell or look elsewhere for a computer with a Xeon E3-1280 or Xeon E3-1270 processor.

            • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
              Charles Culp

              From the Dell UK website. It looks like you cannot get the ATI FirePro V4800, so I chose the significantly more expensive, and slightly more powerful Quadro 2000. I also selected 16GB of RAM. It is about 4 times the price of if you buy it aftermarket, but I wanted to keep everything clean and up to specs to match the system you found.


              This has a primary SSD, plus a secondary HDD (2.5" form factor). This has 16 GB non-ECC RAM. This has the Xeon E3-1270 CPU (that's the important part). It has the energy efficient power supply. This comes with Windows 7.


              It does not include a monitor/etc. It does come with a standard keyboard and mouse.


              At £1,767 it should be cheaper than the T7500. It will also be faster.



              Dell Precision Fixed Workstation T1600 Advanced





              Estimated Delivery Times


              Ex. VAT & Shipping

              36 months lease from only £67per month

              Discount Details


              My SelectionsAll Options



              • Dell Precision Fixed Workstation T1600 Advanced
              20/10/2011 15:20:05 Central Standard Time
              Catalog Number
              202 Retail ukbsdt1
              Catalog Number / Description
              Product Code
              One Intel® Xeon® E3-1270 (Quad Core, 3.4GHz, 8MB, 0GT)
              508810 1 [213-13061] 146
              Microsoft Operating System:
              English Genuine Windows® 7 Professional (64Bit OS)
              575506 1 [619-32198] 11
              Protect your new PC:
              Trend Micro Worry Free Business Security 3.5 (15 Month) Software MUI
              594169 1 [650-13925] 1014
              Microsoft Application Software:
              Microsoft® Office Starter 2010 (No full-featured Microsoft® Office software included)
              421050 1 [630-13201] 1002
              E-Star Standard Mini-Tower (Vertical orientation)
              509043 1 [210-35075] 1
              16GB (4x4GB) 1333MHz DDR3 Non-ECC
              570477 1 [370-20858] 3
              HDD Configuration:
              C1 2.5 inch SATA or SSD Hard Drives, NON-RAID for 2 Hard Drive
              550579 1 [405-11877] 24
              Hard Drive:
              256GB 2.5inch Solid State Drive
              508803 1 [400-22285] 8
              2nd Hard Drive:
              500GB 2.5inch Serial ATA II (7.200 Rpm) Hard Drive
              508824 1 [401-12755] 23
              Optical Devices:
              16x DVD+/-RW Drive
              487167 1 [429-13395] 16
              Roxio DVD Optical Software:
              Roxio Starter Software
              487076 1 [429-12470] 467
              Power DVD Optical Software:
              PowerDVD Software for Vista Home Premium and Ultimate, WIN7 Home Premium, Pro or Ultimate
              480637 1 [429-15633] 469
              Video Card:
              1 GB NVIDIA Quadro 2000 - 2 DP, 1 DVI (1 DP-DVI, 1 DVI-VGA adapter)
              459337 1 [490-12466] 6
              Display Not Included
              6051 1 [480-11055] 5
              UK/Irish (QWERTY) Dell KB212-B QuietKey USB Keyboard Black
              491055 1 [580-16255] 4
              Dell Optical (Not Wireless), Scroll USB (3 buttons scroll) Black Mouse
              435777 1 [570-11125] 12
              No Speaker Option
              6656 1 [520-10218] 18
              Operating System Recovery Options:
              MUI Windows® 7 Professional (64Bit OS) Resource DVD
              575522 1 [620-13448] 200013
              Image Restore:
              Operating System Recovery Dell Backup and Recovery Manager for Windows 7
              576446 1 [637-10365] 453
              Dell System Media Kit:
              No Resource DVD
              302092 1 [340-19862] 319
              Sound Cards:
              Integrated Sound Card
              551328 1 [510-10411] 17
              Standard Warranty:
              1Yr Basic Warranty - Next Business Day - Minimum Warranty
              306398 1 [709-10479][709-10480] 29
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              306434 1 [710-17636] 30
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              508817 1 [631-10714] 49
              Anti Theft Device & Asset Tagging:
              No Asset Label Required
              488877 1 [293-10040] 67
              Windows Live:
              Windows Live
              473298 1 [641-10052] 298
              Order Information:
              Precision Order - United Kingdom
              31458 1 [800-10446] 111
              Shipping Documents:
              UK/Irish Shipping Docs with UK/Irish Power Cord
              625885 1 [340-26963] 21
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              608086 1 [200-90275] 22


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                • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                  Alan Meeks



                  Wow! Thank you for that. Lots to think about now. As you were going through the Dell site, I was there too but I was getting different figures to you so it was useful to see your breakdown and what you selected. I was getting a "compatibility" error with those two drives and the same HDD configuration, but anyway I think I probably will go for that.


                  Working on the basis that I was prepared to spend a bit more on the EuroPC T7500, if I was to spend a bit more on this one, what part of that set up would make most difference to the performance if it was upgraded? I don't mind spending a bit more if it improves my productivity and the computer serves me a bit longer.


                  Thanks again for all your help and getting back to me so quickly. Much appreciated.


                  Best Regards



                  • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                    Alan Meeks



                    I've just been reading some of your other posts on different threads. Amazing stuff! I think I may have found the answer to my last question which was what could I spend more money on to get better performance, in you Suggested Build April 2011. Which might be the 1280 processor instead of 1270 and to use ECC memory instead of Non-ECC.


                    Just another question, if I may, regarding Solid State Drives. I was looking on the EuroPC website and noticed they have SSDs varying in price from less than £100 to about £1500. The differences in read/write speeds are considerable and some of them quote Random read/write speeds that are increadible on the more expensive devices. Would this make any difference? is it worth paying extra for faster SSDs?


                    I have to say I am really impressed by your contributions here. Great work!

                      • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                        Charles Culp



                        First, my April build is now out of date, I suggest looking at my August recommendations ( https://forum.solidworks.com/message/238910#238910 ). I will probably be doing an October build list on Monday, when Intel releases their new Core i7-2700.


                        If you want to go beyound what I recommended, then spending more on the E3-1280 or E3-1290 would give you faster performance. As long as you chose a SSD as a primary drive, and have plenty of RAM, then SolidWorks performance is all about the processor.


                        If you want to purchase your own SSD, and not use the Dell, then I suggest reading this article on Tom's Hardware about the best SSD for your money. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-nand-reliability,3021.html There are two things to consider with SSDs, speed and reliability. They are so new that reliability numbers are tough to decipher. Read the end of the August thread for a continuing discussion on those: https://forum.solidworks.com/message/254369#254369. Here is a Tom's article on it as well, if you really have too much free time: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-reliability-failure-rate,2923.html. A quick summary, though, is that Intel 311 series SSDs are supposed to be the highest reliability. The old winner for speed was OCZ Vertex 3, which is what I recommended in August. There are some new ones out now, so you should read the Tom's Hardware article.


                        Also, ECC memory is technically a hair slower than non-ECC memory. That is because the Error Correcting Code memory does its error checking. This is,mostly, to check for flipped bits due to your memory being hit by neutrons from cosmic ray secondaries. Since memory chips are getting smaller and smaller, the chances of these memory bits being hit by these neutrons keeps getting smaller and smaller. What are the chances? What does it matter? That's highly debated. In theory it could cause system instability when a memory bit flips. So the upgrade to ECC memory is to protect yourself from cosmic rays, or other background radiation.

                          • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                            Chris Challinor

                            "is to protect yourself from cosmic rays, or other background radiation."


                            Tin foil on your head would solve that issue....................LOL

                              • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                                Charles Culp

                                No. really. ECC memory is to protect yourself from cosmic rays.




                                Electrical or magnetic interference inside a computer system can cause a single bit of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) to spontaneously flip to the opposite state. It was initially thought that this was mainly due to alpha particles emitted by contaminants in chip packaging material, but research[1] has shown that the majority of one-off ("soft") errors in DRAM chips occur as a result of background radiation, chiefly neutrons from cosmic ray secondaries, which may change the contents of one or more memory cells or interfere with the circuitry used to read/write them.



                                Or if you really want to get technical:




                                Memory errors can be caused by electrical or magnetic interference (e.g. due to cosmic rays),

                                can be due to problems with the hardware (e.g. a bit being

                                permanently damaged), or can be the result of corruption

                                along the data path between the memories and the processing elements. Memory errors can be classified into soft errors, which randomly corrupt bits but do not leave physical

                                damage; and hard errors, which corrupt bits in a repeatable

                                manner because of a physical defect.




                                Conclusion 1: We found the incidence of memory errors

                                and the range of error rates across different DIMMs to be

                                much higher than previously reported.

                                About a third of machines and over 8% of DIMMs in

                                our fleet saw at least one correctable error per year



                                So, Thank you Big Bang for creating the universe, but now we have to deal with cosmic rays ruining our system memory. And the second link seems to say that it is not nessisarily cosmic rays, but they don't know what. Either way...

                                  • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                                    Alan Meeks



                                    Thanks for all your help. I'm basically following your advice, I rang Dell today and wierdly ended up speaking to a guy in the "Uprades Department"? I went through what I wanted based on your recommendations and he's going to get back to me with what he can supply. It freightening how quickly the price goes up when you go for a faster processor and more memory... but he says he can beat the prices on the website (which confused me a bit) so we'll see what he comes back with.


                                    I'll let you know how it performs when I get it on my desk.


                                    Thanks again,



                        • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                          Marty MacDonald

                          Why not biuld your own system from scratch I did and it is a screamer running solidworks 2011 & mastercam x5

                          • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                            Stephen Ruark

                            Hi Alan,


                            I understand the frustration with performance issues in the latest versions of SW. 


                            I'm a CAD admin and have about 70 computers that need upgrading to support further use of 3D tools such as SolidWorks.  I hunted around at places such as Dell, Lenovo, and HP.  Then, I came across a company called Boxx.


                            I got a trial Boxx machine sent to me...their 3970 system.  Below is a picture of the configuration.  It outperformed my current Dell T7500, XP 32-bit, Dual Xeon E5345@2.33GHz machines by 400%.  I tested this guy with large aircraft models and had very few hiccups.  I would suggest getting in touch with the salesman listed on the picture below and let him know I sent him your way.  The main thing that stands out about these machines is their 4.5 GHz overclocked i7 processor.  I hope this helps!  Boxx 3970.bmp

                            • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                              Rich Petit

                              Hi Alan,


                              I'm actually the rep at BOXX that's been referred to above. Thank you to Harold and Stephen for the kind words (and hello and thanks to Anna and Charles too).


                              I dont think it's appropriate for me to push BOXX in a sales conversation on this board, so I'll try to keep it generic. In short, I'm happy to offer my assistance if you want to spec out a SolidWorks workstation. I am a sales guy, but hopefully that wont leave too bad an impression...


                              I've been here at BOXX for over 4 years, and I'm 43 with a long career in high tech. If you'd like to talk performance and workflow to fine tune a spec, just give me a call directly at (512) 852 three three one zero, or email me at rpetit at boxxtech.com




                              • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                                Giedrius Matulionis

                                Hello all,


                                Charles, thank you for very informative post. Since I am planning to buy a workstation for personal use for SW, this subject is the main which interests me. But after reading all the specs, and notes about what is more important for efficient work with SW and what is not I came to a point to understand that I don’t know what one defines as "enough", "sufficient", etc. I'll try to explain myself. I work in product design company where models vary from one part to assemblies up to 1000 parts. Last year we worked with DELL T7400 workstations (XEON 3,0 GHz (4 CPUs), RAM: 8 GB,  NVIDIA Quadro FX 4600 2GB). It was really difficult to work sometimes. in detail – spinning bigger assemblies resulted in view of “1 frame per second”, ghost visualization in SpeedPak function made the work with assembly terribly slow, 3D connexion space navigator was not able to turn even simplest assemblies because of clearly higher refresh rate than the drag function of the mouse. Moreover rebuilt times (probably because of direct work on the network drive) were long, as well as saving times. Now we moved to new hardware, company’s decision - MAC Tower (please don’t laugh, it’s sad) and situation is not better, sometimes it seems even worse (Xeon E6520 16 CPUs, 16 Gb of RAM, ATI Radeon 5800 1Gb) and the shocking thing after seeing Charles’ proposed hardware configuration, is that MAC Tower cost 3000 euro a piece!


                                MY QUESTION – what do you define, experience or expect when you buy a computer with recommended specs? How should the assembly with 500 solid bodies act on spinning, dragging, editing the part in assembly, crashing, etc? It feels for me that I expect some miracle from hardware and end up wasting my time waiting, recovering from crashes and being afraid to open 10th assembly on SW because it might not work anymore. Please define your working experiences with your PCs in order confirm or negate that there is a hope to work efficiently and without stress. Thank you.

                                  • Re: Which Computer will give me best performance
                                    Casper De Boer

                                    The Dell T7400 is deliverd with 800MHz memory, i suspect that your biggest bottleneck is here.

                                    Everything that the processor need to calculate is stored in the memory.


                                    All components have to work together to make a machine work, parts are getting faster and faster (SSD, graphic cards, processors, memory) Look at the new high-end (ivy-bridge ) motherboards and look at the cooler on the south and sometimes on the north chipset. They are there for a reason, there is so much data that needs to be handeled that the chips are overheating. I encoutered this problem also with the sandy-bridge processors and mounted extra coolers.


                                    Your motherboard connects all components and let them communicate using the south and north chipset, these are traphic intersections. If you have to much traphic, you get accidents (crashes) and traphic jams (computer slows down).


                                    Even the fastest videocard can't help if the rest can't coop the amount of data needed.


                                    This system <link> has no problem working on 20 assemblys at once. i even opened a complete drilling rig on it.