62 Replies Latest reply on Jan 18, 2018 1:56 AM by Piotr Adamowski

    Buying New CAD Workstations

    C. Schmidt

      Hello everyone!

       

      I am about to buy new CAD workstations, as our current solutions are getting rather dated.

       

      We currently use Dell T7500 series workstations.

       

      I wanted to know what others have purchased along the lines of new hardware.

       

      Lately, I had my eyes on the Precision 5000 line of workstations, however the graphics card offerings are lack-luster.  This blog mentions the Quadro P2000 as a good graphics card for general use.

       

      I have read up on this, and I know that the graphics card doesn't really have much weight on overall performance; that the CPU clock speed and Cache really make the difference.

       

      Cards that are available for the Dell that I want:

       

      Quadro NVS 510

      Quadro NVS 310

      Quadro NVS 315

      Quadro P1000

      Quadro P600

      Quadro P400

       

      The specifications on the above mentioned cards are not that impressive at all, mainly for the lack of CUDA cores.  Is this even a big deal?  I have read that Solidworks doesn't really utilize the full power of the installed graphics card anyhow, so why even bother getting a decent Quadro card, other than for the built in ECC video memory?

       

      What I know for sure:

       

      * You want the fastest CPU clock rate you can afford

      * You want as much CPU cache that you can afford

      * You want at least 4 cores, more than 4 wont really make much of a difference

      * SSD (already using them on the T7500's)

       

       

      Any anecdotal information is greatly appreciated.

        • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
          Paul Wyndham

          You are correct on pretty much everything in my experience. I would say just go with the Quadro P600 card and call it good. As far as I can tell SolidWorks does everything in the CPU and mostly single thread. The Intel Professional Graphics cards are probably ok, but I have a hard time trusting an onboard card over a dedicated one.

           

          Make sure you get the fastest CPU and 16 or more GB of memory. SSD's make a big difference for opening and saving, but not much for working on the files.

           

          I am not sure why we haven't gotten past the need for a difference between memory and drive space yet. In my view since drives are now memory modules we should just be working with the raw data and not wasting time moving stuff from drive to memory and back. It should work kind of like Google docs where you open a file and work on it. When your done you close it. The only difference should be that everything on the computer should already be what we now consider open. The only difference between something we are working on and something "closed" is wither or not it is displayed on the screen. But that is a completely different topic.

           

          You can look through the system requirements page to see what SolidWorks has tested: https://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/hardware.html

            • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
              Marcus Dimarco

              Off topic I know but the reason why we still have RAM is that it is much more expensive than what is used in SSD's.  SSD memory can usually only be written over 10,000 times before it fails.  RAM is much higher quality.  Also RAM has a much better connector and bus therefore much faster access than an SSD.  As you know RAM is more expensive than equivalent SSD's and this is why.  RAM isn't going anywhere soon, and neither are harddrives, as RAM gets bigger so do the size of the files we need to save.  Perhaps over time some people will be able to live on just RAM once typical systems get over 100 GB.

              • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                C. Schmidt

                So, in your opinion - just how important is ECC memory?  The odds of a flipped bit seem pretty low per 8GB of RAM, but we also make heavy industrial machines... so customer safety is of the utmost importance.  From what I have read it is better to just go with ECC, but that can drive up the cost significantly.

                 

                I also noticed our laptop users (Precision M6600) do not have ECC RAM, but our T7500 towers do; and as far as I can tell, we have been just fine.  However, I feel like we should use one or the other, not have machines with different memory specs.

                 

                Am I correct in assuming that in the worst case scenario, a flipped bit could drastically change a measurement/tolerance for a particular file?

                 

                Like, if I have a sprocket that calls for 50 teeth, 10" in diameter, could a flipped bit change that value to say 45 teeth, or change the specified diameter?

              • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                Glenn Schroeder

                I just ordered new computers for me and my new co-worker.  Before ordering them i sent the specs to our VAR for feedback,  and they said it should be fine.  I'm at home now and don't have access to the specs now, but I'll be glad to post them tomorrow.

                • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                  Douglas Labun

                  You may want to look at the Lenovo P series workstations.... I am running SW on a P910 with a M2000 graphics card but I believe the P920 will be shipping with P series graphics cards.

                  • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                    Fred Fisher

                    Dell Precision workstations are the only way to go in my opinion.

                     

                    Key points, make sure it is ISV certified for the combination you are putting together, max out the memory.

                     

                    I still run an old M6800 Laptop for a backup machine loaded to the max with memory and Solidworks still works fine.

                     

                    Almost forgot, get SS drives they make a big difference.

                    • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                      Richard Gergely

                      The Xeon W-2125 Processor looks the best of the new intel xeon options for running general solidworks from what I can tell.

                      • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                        Glenn Schroeder

                        ...as promised.

                         

                        Edit:  I should have mentioned that I don't do any rendering or simulation, so that might affect your needs relative to my specs.

                          • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                            C. Schmidt

                            Thank you for taking time to get this to me.

                              • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                Glenn Schroeder

                                C. Schmidt wrote:

                                 

                                Thank you for taking time to get this to me.

                                 

                                You're welcome.  You might think about getting your VAR to look at what you finally come up with.  They should be glad to evaluate it, since they don't want to hear from you with problems if it's not adequate.

                                  • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                    Matt Peneguy

                                    Very good point Glenn.  If he is on subscription, he's paying for this type of support.

                                    • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                      Paul Risley

                                      Glenn Schroeder wrote:

                                       

                                      C. Schmidt wrote:

                                       

                                      Thank you for taking time to get this to me.

                                       

                                      You're welcome. You might think about getting your VAR to look at what you finally come up with. They should be glad to evaluate it, since they don't want to hear from you with problems if it's not adequate.

                                      This is too funny I have spent the last week on the phone with my VAR setting up specs in regards to a new workstation. My build is similar to Glenn's, but I am opting for the 7810 platform instead of the 3620. I tried going the Boxx route but was shut down because of Dell loyalty.

                                       

                                      The biggest annoyance I found in configuring the computer was the fact that every option you try to use changes something else that makes the computer un buildable until you figure out what else you have to change. I am only building 1 workstation currently , but the end goal is to have all workstations updated.

                                       

                                      We are starting with 2 X 4 gb cards for ram just to see the performance since it comes with 4 slots we can upgrade the Ram at any time.

                                       

                                      As far as processors and graphics cards working with our VAR in the past on surface models imported from customers the graphics card does play a big role in performance as far as rebuild/ pan zoom and rotate. We opted for the M4000, while overkill for under 100 pc assemblies it is a must for an assembly line system for a mold operation which we work on, not to mention if you work on bigger surfaced parts, like boat hulls the graphics drag your computer to a standstill.

                                       

                                      It would be nice though if you could just call someone and tell them what you do and they could give you an all out spec sheet for a computer build. I know Boxx will do this, but since I was shut down on that avenue immediately I went the route that best suited our needs.

                                       

                                      Bottom line what you are using it for will have the greatest impact on what you need to put in it.

                                        • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                          Dan Pihlaja

                                          Paul Risley wrote:

                                           

                                           

                                           

                                          It would be nice though if you could just call someone and tell them what you do and they could give you an all out spec sheet for a computer build.

                                           

                                           

                                          Check these guys out:

                                          https://www.mysolidbox.com/

                                            • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                              Paul Risley

                                              Dan Pihlaja wrote:

                                               

                                              Paul Risley wrote:

                                               

                                               

                                               

                                              It would be nice though if you could just call someone and tell them what you do and they could give you an all out spec sheet for a computer build.

                                               

                                               

                                              Check these guys out:

                                              https://www.mysolidbox.com/

                                              I tried, but if the owner of our company can't go directly to Dell's website he doesn't trust it.

                                               

                                              It has been a long grueling process to get even what  I have been able to get.

                                              Even at this I will wait and see if I get what I spec out. The comment has already been made that Dell has "workstations" for $979 why do I need to spend $3000. *Sigh*

                                               

                                              If it was up to me I would just go the Boxx route at the very least with an Apex build.

                                                • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                  Dan Pihlaja

                                                  Ok....well, there is also this site:

                                                  Dell Refurbished Computers & Electronics | Official Dell Store

                                                  They are cheaper than new, and generally have the same warrantee/life

                                                    • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                      Matt Peneguy

                                                      Dan Pihlaja,

                                                      That's definitely a great suggestion!  My VAR pointed that out to me.  If you check back weekly, you can find some great deals there.

                                                      Paul Risley

                                                      Take one of those deals along with the math in my other post and show the owner you are really trying to help them out by saving them some money!

                                                        • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                          Paul Risley

                                                          I definitely appreciate the advice from everyone here. Prior to my current job I was a project manager and before I was a cad jockey I was machine/fabrication shop foreman.

                                                           

                                                          Cost analysis projections and all of that are where I spent a good deal of my time. If I thought it would improve my chances I would utilize it now, but I know with my everyday dealings here it would fall on deaf ears. And would definitely be an exercise in futility on my part. The only reason I am getting a new computer at this point is my hard drive is whining like a mofo when I am running bigger assemblies so it is only a matter of time before it goes kaput.

                                                           

                                                          For the original poster look at Glenns and Dans suggestions for building a workstation. You really weren't far off the mark on your direction. I love the idea of working with Solid box to create a station built on my needs.

                                                      • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                        Matt Peneguy

                                                        Paul,

                                                        I'm sorry you are in that position...  I think some people don't realize the value of good hardware.  This may just be a misunderstanding.

                                                        If you are going to have that PC for 3 years, that's 1k/year.  I'd say I save at least 30 minutes a day because I have good hardware (I7, 16GB, SSD, Quadro 4000k).  3 years * 50 weeks/year *5days/week * 1/2 hour = ~375 hours... If you made only $8/hr, you'd break even.

                                                        Go ahead and adjust that math and take it to the owner based on your salary + benefits (remember, your gross is only part of what the owner pays you).  I think you will get a much better response if they understand it's a good return on investment.

                                                        It'll help if you can load an assembly or something that takes you some time to manipulate or load.  Especially if you don't have an SSD, show them how long it takes to load the assembly.  If you have a laptop at home with an SSD, bring it in and show them the difference.

                                                    • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                      Craig Schultz

                                                      "My build is similar to Glenn's, but I am opting for the 7810 platform instead of the 3620. I tried going the Boxx route but was shut down because of Dell loyalty."  I hated that at my last place.  There's no real reason for the blind devotion.

                                                       

                                                      I'm looking to get 2 of the S Class Boxx's.  Unfortunately we were shut down from any spending at the end of the year.  Hopefully we'll get some within the next month.  Always have had good luck with BOXX.  Plus they don't load up with all the bloatware like the "big boys" do.

                                                    • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                      C. Schmidt

                                                      Yea, our VAR is pretty great.  They have been an invaluable resource for me and my company.  I am the the sole IT guy here; and when I came aboard I didn't know anything about CAD Admin.  Because of them, I feel like I could move on to other smaller shops and be a good resource for them.  However, I am by no means a master of PDM/SW admin

                                                  • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                    C. Schmidt

                                                    Wow, you went all-out on the RAM and Graphics card, nice build.

                                                  • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                    John Stoltzfus

                                                    In the past I used a Boxx system and loved it.  These guys match the system to the SolidWorks specs.

                                                    • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                      Shad Thomas

                                                      If you use Solidworks Visualize, you will want as many CUDA cores as possible. If you don't use that rendering package, then the CUDA cores are not that important. I use 2 Quadro M4000 cards in my HP Z640 system.

                                                      • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                        David Matula

                                                        this question comes up all the time.  Kind of drives one nuts that you can not call up dell and say hay I am a SolidWorks guru and want a machine that can keep up with me and the program.  So I see the Boxx mentioned and it is a good machine.  Think about checking with SOLIDBOX also.  they will fix you up also. 

                                                        • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                          Andy Sanders

                                                          1- High processor clock speed

                                                          2- At least 16 GB ram

                                                          3- Don't buy a "gamer" card!

                                                          4- BIG monitor

                                                          • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                            Christian Chu

                                                            Just wondering if there is any budget limitation?

                                                            • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                              C. Schmidt

                                                              Thank you everyone for your input, it is appreciated!

                                                              • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                                Tom Gagnon

                                                                C. Schmidt : Since you are "one of the chief IT personnel," I suspect that you are learning full well about new revelations that no one here has yet mentioned, Spectre and Meltdown. I am considering similar purchasing tasks, and learning what needs done to secure my environment and streamline purchase and deployment processes. Although mainstream tech media loves the Panic Now stories for clickbait and ad revenue, realistic business advice is Don't Panic. Have a plan, and understand what will be necessary for a secure environment, or draw your own line in the sand to do what you're able to easily while allowing for known insecure devices.

                                                                 

                                                                I assume that you desire adequate security for business use.

                                                                Simplified impacts on your task (no citations unless requested):

                                                                 

                                                                * Any CPU you buy will be affected. New unaffected CPUs are not released yet. I would not delay fulfillment of needs, but know that firmware update from CPU manufacturer will be necessary once it is available. I do not believe that firmware can be included in system image deployment. Consistency across PCs makes this easier.

                                                                 

                                                                * Older CPUs (2015 and prior, which is not that old to me - grr!) will experience greater slowdown from security updates than newer CPUs. Windows 7 and Windows 8 will also experience greater slowdown from security updates than Windows 10. Broadly speaking, all fixes will slow the performance of the PC. Consider up-scaling the CPU and/or OS version to compensate.

                                                                 

                                                                * Your 3rd Party AV vendor may or may not be responsive to conform with Windows requirements. If it does not, then you will never receive any Windows Updates. If your AV vendor is not complying responsively, maybe it's time to reassess the vendor choice and find a better vendor.

                                                                 

                                                                * Deployment via standardized system image will require updates and alterations post-implementation, same as a fresh new PC. If performing a multi-deployment, I advise rewriting a new updated system image.

                                                                 

                                                                * All 3rd Party software, potentially including Solidworks, may be negatively affected by changes. Testing is highly recommended.

                                                                 

                                                                * Ask BOXX or SOLIDBOX what they are doing to their systems to secure them for users, or if they are passing along yesterday's vulnerabilities for users to test out, potentially voiding their OS optimizations for Solidworks. If anyone knows the real effects of performance degradation from security updates, I'd expect these hardware vendors may know more than Solidworks itself at this point.

                                                                 

                                                                Outside of your new PC / Workstation task, every infrastructure or support device from a Copier to a Managed Network Switch may need similar considerations. This will take a long time and brad attention to updates, to eliminate known vulnerabilities from your organization.

                                                                 

                                                                The sky is not falling. It fell long ago. Some refuse to believe it. Good luck with your purchase and deployment.

                                                                  • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                                    C. Schmidt

                                                                    Well thank you very much for that info.  I am aware that the patches actually reduce IOPs up to 30% on some systems!

                                                                     

                                                                    I had read something yesterday about windows updates no longer coming in due to this vulnerability...?  Where can I read up on this?  our WSUS server is still running server 2008 R2, and we have a mixed environment on windows 7 and 10 clients.

                                                                     

                                                                    We are using Symantec Endpoint Protection, I think I will reach out and see what they are doing about this.

                                                                      • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                                        Tom Gagnon

                                                                        I don't read aggregators or multiple sites for IT news. I just read ZDNet and explore further if pertinent.

                                                                        To avoid links which require moderation delay, try these locations within www . zdnet . com :

                                                                        /article/microsoft-no-more-windows-patches-at-all-if-your-av-clashes-with-our-meltdown-fix/

                                                                        /article/microsoft-says-older-windows-versions-face-greatest-meltdown-spectre-performance-issues/

                                                                        Related articles (at least a dozen) are linked within these articles.

                                                                        These are also headline linked on their homepage.

                                                                         

                                                                        Symantec Endpoint Protection is included in the spreadsheet of compatible AV's linked within the article. You should be good with that one.

                                                                        • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                                          Matt Peneguy

                                                                          Edit to Add:  This is an evolving issue and the impacts may not be as dire as I have posted below (Thanks for pointing this out Tom Gagnon)

                                                                           

                                                                          I was speaking with a coworker about the processor issue.  Apparently the AMD processors are not affected by Meltdown.  Meltdown is the one that will impact performance by 30%.  There appears there will be no fix for this performance hit.  While the AMD processors are susceptible to one of the two Spectre vectors, the patch shouldn't affect performance.

                                                                          So, if I were in a purchasing position right now, I'd be heavily considering AMD.  YMMV.

                                                                            • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                                              Tom Gagnon

                                                                              The situation with both vulnerabilities and effects of mitigation is currently changing rapidly. As such, there is much to consider, and little to make definitive choices on.

                                                                               

                                                                              To contrast, I've read that AMD has its own concerns, so that it isn't a good knee-jerk reaction to jump to.

                                                                              Also, I read today that Google has one moonshot solution which does not slow performance.

                                                                              It's currently a moving target which I wouldn't jump to purchase conclusions about.

                                                                          • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                                            Fred Fisher

                                                                            Tom Gagnon wrote:

                                                                             

                                                                             

                                                                            I assume that you desire adequate security for business use.

                                                                             

                                                                            The sky is not falling. It fell long ago. Some refuse to believe it. Good luck with your purchase and deployment.

                                                                            The only way to be fairly secure is how we did it.

                                                                             

                                                                            All of our core/critical/engineering/CAD/CAM/Machine program activities are on a secure network that has NO INTERNET connection AND no connection to any other network that has internet. No wifi, hardwire only.

                                                                             

                                                                            FYI, if you try this be sure to activate all your Microsoft products like excel and the OS from a secure location that has a different MAC and IP than your facility. You can activate Solidworks via email and some hand typing. Never go back on the internet after the network is commissioned, its the only way to stay healthy.

                                                                             

                                                                            Software that must run on a "cloud" / "subscription" model are on their own isolated gateway to the internet

                                                                             

                                                                            Our email is totally isolated and comes in via its own gateway and totally different service provider. We use cheap laptops for email only and have specific protocol for "legit" inbound attachments.

                                                                             

                                                                            Sorry, not trying to Hi Jack the thread just sharing what we had to do several years ago.

                                                                          • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                                            Charles Culp

                                                                            I will respond with a more thoughtful response soon, but it seems $1317 should get you close to where you need to go.

                                                                             

                                                                            DellSystem.PNG

                                                                             

                                                                            * Note, I now see with the 3620 you can upgrade to the i7-7700K processor, for 4.5 GHz for a $77 upgrade. Do that!

                                                                            http://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/workstations-isv-certified-dell/precision-tower-3000-series-3420/spd/precision-t3x20…

                                                                            • Re: Buying New CAD Workstations
                                                                              Piotr Adamowski

                                                                              Personally I would recommend a M2 SSD if possible. I am also a fan of ECC RAM and Xeon CPU, but I let it up to you.

                                                                              In my opinion the quality of installation and configuration is crucial. And if I had the choise, I would always choose 10% more stability instead of 10% more performance, so that your system behaves predictable.

                                                                              As we all have learned you can speed up your assemblies in SWX by doing the right things, even with older hardware. Currently I am working on a 6 year old hardware and I still love it! But I love new things too . Btw, graphics => P4000, and you can lean back.

                                                                              And don't forget, that you need Win10 for the support of the newest Intel CPUs - not everyone will like these cicrumstances...