Charles Culp

Aug. 2010 Suggested Computer Specs for a General Use/Rendering

Discussion created by Charles Culp on Aug 18, 2010
Latest reply on Jan 11, 2011 by Charles Culp

Jeff Mirisola mentioned that he needs to buy a new computer for rendering. We had a quick discussion about what to buy, and he was surprised that you can get a rendering machine for my estimate of $1,800. So I decided to actually spec out a computer for SolidWorks modeling, plus plenty of power for PhotoView. Now, this computer is not a suped up power-house for rendering, but it is a good bet for most SolidWorks users. It is my suggestion for someone who spends most of their time doing SolidWorks modeling, but also does regular renderings.


It did actually come out to $1,843 for the base hardware, so my estimate was pretty close! Now, this only includes the case. No keyboard, no monitor, and no Windows. This also doesn't include taxes and shipping, so make sure to budget for more than $1,800 even just for that. Windows 7 Professional OEM is $140: So if you are a small company you can save a bit buy buying it from that link instead of buying the shiny box at Best Buy for $200 (the shiny box also gets you tech support, but when's the last time you called Microsoft for tech support?).


Anyway, here is the system I spec'd out at Newegg. For some reason the words got parsed out when I copied and pasted, so here is a summary:


6-Core processor. Slightly cheaper than the 980X, the 970 is the top of the line Core i7 right now. This will put you at the top of Anna's Benchmark.

6 GB Memory. Good enough for most people. Huge assemblies require more, but you can always add on memory later (3 empty slots on the Motherboard).

ATI FirePro v4800. Their new video cards are powerful, and cheap.

The new 450 GB, 6GB/s Western Digital 10k rpm Hard drive. Expensive! But as good as you can get without solid state.

The rest of the equipment is solid, name brands.

This should be good for anyone who spends most of their day in SolidWorks, and deals with assemblies up to a thousand components. If you deal with very large assemblies, consider 12GB of RAM instead of the 6 shown. If you do hard-core FEA or especially Fluid Analysis, consider getting an additional Solid State Drive. We have a whole thread dedicated to those, and I can't seem to find the link, so if someone can help me out that would be great and I will link to it here. Also, if you are like Rob Rodriguez and spend all day rendering, you might want a dual socket motherboard, with two of the Xeon equivalent chips in it. That's also useful for FEA machines.


What do you think? See any opportunities to get the same quality equipment for less money? I only picked name brands (Gigabit Motherboard, Kingston memory, Sparkle power supply). This equipment should be solid, and these are names that I trust more than Dell or HP.