3 Replies Latest reply on Aug 29, 2016 10:32 AM by Timothy Taby

    SW 2016 - Gaming laptop or MS SB/SP4?

    Mike Maciazka

      Alright, I found a thread from earlier this year that was talking about using Surface Pro 4 for SW.  I'm intrigued by it, but I have a few questions.


      I'll start with my background.  I'm a machinist and graduated this past spring from PMT (Precision Manufacturing Technology).  We had a 3D CAD class that utilized SW 2015...we were given student versions for at home.  I built a PC to run that at home.  And I will use that the next two years as well, but I want something portable.]]


      I should mention the reason I want portable is that my PC is in my office...away from everything and everyone.  I would like to be able to use SW while on the couch or sitting somewhere else where my girlfriend and/or son are...to be able to work on things while still spending time with them.


      My home PC has the following:
      MicroATX form factorIntel Pentium G3258 Dual-Core CPU (OC'd to 4.2GHz)

      16GB RAM (DDR3-1600)

      Quadro K620 GPU

      128GB SSD for OS

      250GB SSD for storage

      500W PS

      Win 7 Pro


      I plan to upgrade the PS to 700W+ and the RAM to 32GB.  I might also go to either an i5-4690k or i7-4790k.


      This computer works pretty well for the basic stuff I've done in SW so far...the only problem with it is that I can't multitask...when I try to do browsing or stream music while working on models, it slows down a bit.  I built it with the G3258 knowing that SW relies on only a single core, but I think upgrading to a quad-core CPU might help in other areas outside of SW.


      I work full-time and go to school full-time.  My budget is limited to about $2000.  I'd rather keep it below that if possible, but I'll give you a rundown of what I was looking at.


      Originally I was looking at gaming PC's with the following specs:

      15-17" display FHD

      i7-6700HQ CPU (or higher)

      16+ GB RAM

      GeForce GTX 960m (or higher)

      SSD or SSD/HDD combo


      My main use would be SW, productivity, browsing, and photoshop.  Not much of a PC gamer, but it's an added perk if I do want to try it out.


      Then I read a thread here about the SP4 for SW...and I was curious about the following:


      SP4 - i5, 8GB, 256GB for $1150.

      SP4 - i5, 16GB, 256GB for $1350.

      SP4 - i7, 8GB, 256GB for $1439.10.

      SP4 - i7, 16GB, 256GB for $1619.10.

      NOTE: These prices are directly from Microsoft online store...I believe with my student discount since the first two are $150 off and the other two are 10% off.


      I assume going for the 16GB RAM would be the better option, but I wasn't sure if the i7 was really needed.  From what I have read, the only reports of the SP4 running hot and throttling down was due to people using the i7...it appears some have used i5 with SW...but I don't know how well either works...any help here?


      The reason I would like the Surface Pro or Surface Book is because it would have more benefit than the laptop would at school.  I wouldn't really be able to game on it, but I don't game as it is now....at school though, I could hand jot notes, draw, and do many other things I don't see myself doing on the gaming laptop.


      Lastly, the SB...I don't know if I like the idea of the SB because in tablet form, I read it doesn't get very good battery life....but when attached to it's base it is fine.  The biggest perk to this for me is probably the dedicated GPU (although what I have read states that their best guess is it's equivalent to roughly a GeForce 940m...not a great GPU by any means, but definitely better than IGP).


      If I got an SB, I would look at this configuration:


      SB - i5, 8GB, 256GB, dGPU for $1709.10.


      The i7 would be in my price range, but I really do not want to spend that much.  I would also like to factor a few accessories in to my $2000 budget as well.


      On that note, do any of you have recommendations for what you would do if you were a student learning SW?  Laptop or Surface?  Specs?  And if you went the Surface route, what accessories would you add?


      I'm looking at the keyboard and mouse for sure with the SP4 or mouse with the SB....possibly a skin/case for it as well.




      Thank you so much for reading and responding.


      P.S. I'm hoping to buy before we get too far into September since I already missed out on some of the back to school deals that Microsoft offered for the Surface.




        • Re: SW 2016 - Gaming laptop or MS SB/SP4?
          Mike Maciazka

          Well after reading more and more between here and Reddit, I've decided I will go with the SP4 - i5 16GB variant...only going with 256GB since it doesn't seem to be worth the $300 for the extra storage...I can easily get a microSD that is 128GB and a USB drive that is 128GB and pay much less than that.


          Was really hoping for some input here...but apparently nobody has anything to say...only 359 views...


          Thank you though.

            • Re: SW 2016 - Gaming laptop or MS SB/SP4?
              Patrick Couture

              Hi Mike

              Your choice is about compromise! You really have to weight down the important criteria before deciding.

              From what I've read, here's what I would do: You already have a desktop solution for handling complicated parts and be productive with SolidWorks, and it's in your office. To me that means when you will want to concentrate on something and get down to business you will be in the office at your desktop. That's a good thing. The other side is you are a student, that factor gives importance to portability.


              About the surface, I own a Microsoft surface pro 3 (i5, 8gig ram, 256 ssd) At work I have a workstation laptop for SW and I have the surface for internet stuff. Your MSP4 will be powerful enough to drive SW. Of course it won't be the most productive solution but for making quick changes to a model, consulting assemblies, etc you will like it. I would not what to work full time on it without an external monitor but other than that this little "tablet" is surprisingly capable.


              The X factor to me would be the Pen. With my MSP3, I discovered and fell in love with OneNote! Those two are really made to work together. I use it a lot when I go on the shop floor to mesure stuffs. I take a quick pictures and write dimensions over it.


              You won't regret going with the MSP4. If you didn't have your desktop then I would have suggested something else because to me the surface is not enough for all day CAD.



            • Re: SW 2016 - Gaming laptop or MS SB/SP4?
              Timothy Taby

              It kind of depends on what your doing to be doing in Solidworks.  If your doing simple models and light assemblies then any newer computer will work ok with it, but when you get into complex models with surfaces and lots of details, or large assemblies then you will wish you had spend the extra cash and gone with the fastest processor available with the most RAM available.


              While Solidworks will run on the surface pros the same thing I said above applies, large assemblies and complex parts will slow it to a crawl, but it is portable, so it's the trade off you make for that.