AnsweredAssumed Answered

$1000 Budget to build a Solidworks Workstation, Suggestions please?

Question asked by Patrick Connerney on Apr 7, 2016
Latest reply on Apr 24, 2016 by Anthony Remis

I'm terrible at starting to write, so yes, this is my Intro.



My workplace has asked me to budget out and build a computer, with the main programs being Solidworks 2016 and MatLab. I've only built one computer myself, and as such do not fully trust myself in getting the best "bang for the buck", so I've come to the Internet for help


I've been allocated a budget of ~$1000 USD but have quite a few questions in regards to "does it really make a difference" type of questions.


After doing some research, I have found some good looking/sounding builds [Build one](, but as tech changes (as well as prices) so quickly, I assumed they could be improved.


No, we can not wait until the newer 14nm hardware: we need this computer as soon as possible.



Also, the end goal of this post is to end up with some nice parts lists/build guides, if any of you have the time.

I've tried my best to get some form of an idea already, but am overloaded with info, and would rather not make a mistake in the purchase.



#In regards to needs/uses/workload:


##Noise: If they cared about noise, they probably wouldn't have been using their current "solution" for so long, a closed laptop hooked up to two external monitors. So noise level is generally not something of concern. (It will also be in an office next to a machine shop, so again, noise is not a concern.)




-The Case will be under the corner of a right angle desk, so we will be looking at cases like the HAF XB EVO <-- Click to see it.

-We already have our OS, Windows 10 Pro, purchased. you do not need to allocate budget funds for this.

-Monitors and other peripherals are already taken care of and do not need to be factored into the budget. There will be 2 monitors, so the build needs to support them both, as well as a keyboard and mouse (the basics). I might spring for an SD card reader as well, for offloading pictures from our drones (yeah, we have drones :P).



###WORKLOAD (In caps because it's probably the most important):

We will be running Solidworks and MATLAB primarily on this PC- that entails lots of single-thread/single-core work, so likely an Intel CPU. The Solidworks models will likely have under 100 parts, but possibly more.


We will not be focusing on simulations, most of the work we do doesn't even have moving parts.




##The GPU:

The main issue I'm having is deciding on the series for the GPU. I know AMD supposedly does better for Solidworks, and even has certifications on some of their hardware.


Both AMD and nVidia make a workstation GPU, the FirePro and Quadro, respectively. But my current computer had an MSI TwinFrozr GeForce GTX 760 2GB OC and seemed to run the 2014/15 version fine (albeit I'm not that advanced).

Summary of Options:

-Using my old GTX 760 2GB OC for $100

-Purchasing an R9 290 Overclocked from a friend for $150

-Buying an AMD FirePro, Please advise on which model, and/or include it in your system parts list.


##The CPU:

(Let's be honest, you probably knew I would ask about this too.)

The CPU brings another set of trouble, with so many options these days. I only barely understand Intel's categories, but again am open to AMD if they provide better quality at my price point. i3 Intel processors are likely out of the question, but that still leaves i5, i7, and even Xeon chips, never mind the subcategories of each one.


So I'm generally at a loss here. Xeon chips (supposedly, and frankly let's just assume for the rest of this post that most of what I know is hearsay, not 100% factual) are good for workloads, but as far as I know require special socketed MBs and/or RAM. They also offer less power consumption, but prices vary and I'm not aware of their of processing power in regards to Solidworks rendering.


i5's are said to be a prime choice for gaming and everyday use, with i7's being the best for heavy workloads. So that's great info and all... but what's considered a heavy enough workload that I'd need an i7?


Is it worth getting a Skylake CPU? As far as I know that entails newer RAM, and a newer MB, both of which are more expensive than the older gear.


##RAM: I assume 8 GB will be enough for this build, likely low profile if an air cooler is used, or normal-sized for a liquid cooler build.




-Simple stuff really. At least 3 USB 3.0's, "the more the merrier" and all that Jazz.

-On-Board Ethernet, although I'm not even sure you can get one without that these days.

-Audio isn't anywhere near the top of the priority list, the only use would be for alerts, so basic audio is fine.

-Wifi, although we can always purchase an adapter for this, or buy a PCI-E card.


-I suppose something with an automatic Overclocking button/setting might be nice, considering I have no idea what to do in that regard, will need to start using the system without delay. This is a completely optional part I suppose, so only if it fits in the budget.



This should be rather basic in terms of requirements, at least 80+ Bronze though. It doesn't need to look pretty, so non-modular is fine too.



In terms of storage, I was considering a small(ish) M.2 Drive like this one [M.2 Drive]( for the OS and a couple programs (including Solidworks, duh), but I don't understand most of the "lingo" such as IOPS or why you'd be randomly reading data. Along with the M.2 SSD, I was thinking I'd use a HDD with a few TBs, probably one 4TB HDD (if it fits the budget), as I have no clue how to do RAID for multiple (or if it would even be needed/helpful).



###Cooling: Obviously this will be pulling a bit of power, so cooling is a key piece. Liquid vs Air doesn't matter to me, as long as it works, and we don't plan on overclocking (mostly because I have no idea how to do it manually, and don't have the time to learn). I will note I'm partial to the Corsair H100i series, as it has proven performance


###The Case: A couple fans, no big window needed(unless it's a really cool set up XD). It will also need to be able to house whatever cooling we use.



Some other optional stuff to consider putting in the case, but not a dealbreaker: An optical disk drive for loading/installing software, and an SD card reader, both of which we can also just get on the side, but should likely be included in the cost. If the case has support for a 5.25" ODD, I do have one to use so that cost can be ignored.






To those of you that read this, and especially those taking the time to respond, thank you. I lack the knowledge to do this myself and have already lost 2 nights of sleep (Monday and Wednesday, I did not sleep all night D:) So any and all help is greatly appreciated.


Best Regards and Many Thanks,


P. H. C.