12 Replies Latest reply on Feb 24, 2012 6:02 PM by Rick McDonald

    SolidWorks Workstation - what to use

    Rick McDonald

      We used to use Inventor and have now switched to Solid Works, but will have to still run Inventor for a while for legacy drawings.

      In the switch we are also able to update from our old minimal computers to Workstations.

      We are on a budget so we can't get really high power systems but want get the best we can without going beyond what makes sense.

      We are only going to be using Solid Works "Standard" but will hopefully be able to upgrade this to Professional in a year or two.

      We don't do renderings or simulations.

      Mostly we make assemblies of less than 200 parts and typically only animate subassemblies at any one time.


      We are currently looking at the Dell systems T1600 and T3500.


      The current Dell pricing between these two is only $30 apart when we configure both to the configuration listed below.

      We intend to add 4 additional Gig of memory and a second (Data) hard disk to each - purchased seporately.


      Both systems:

      Windows 7 Pro with XP Mode - 64 bit OS. (XP Mode because we have programs that will not run on Windows 7 (Inventor 11 and others)).

      dual processor (quad capable)

      500 gig boot disk

      2 gig memory

      NVIDA Quadro 600 or ATI Fire Pro 4800


      T1600 PS increased to 320W (default is 265W) - T3500 default is 525W

      No CD drive on T1600 - use the mimimum CD drive on T3500 (no option for no CD).


      Any comments on the plusses or minuses on either of these?

      Any better suggestions?

      The price for these (without the 2nd HD or extra memory) is in the $850 range.


      Also, Does anyone have experience on Windows 7 with XP MODE?

      Does software truely think it is running on XP or is it just like the compatability mode?

      We tried to load Inventor 11 on a system with Windows 7 pro x64 and it wouldn't even start to load because it said it was not compatable.

          • Re: SolidWorks Workstation - what to use
            Rick McDonald

            Thanks John,

            Thats good information.

            Unfortunately, it's way past the budget allowed.

            We were / are running Inventor on regular desktops under Windows Pro x32 so anything we do toward a workstation or better graphics is a signifiant improvement.




              • Re: SolidWorks Workstation - what to use
                John Stoltzfus

                Good afternoon Rick,


                Machine power really depends on what your doing, you don't need to render to use up a lot of computer time and resources.


                I understand your money constraints, however as a SolidWorks user, better machine performance actually saves money.  in the past, I used to have a slow system and a huge assembly and I would turn the assembly and literally have to wait for 30 or more seconds before anything moved.  I know now,  would of I had the machine that I am using, wow, I probably would have cut the final design time in half.


                Economics is a weird animal, it's all about pay me now or pay me later,


                What ever works for you,





            • Re: SolidWorks Workstation - what to use
              Scott McFadden


              Welcome to the forum.

              If you look to the right of your posting there is a section entitled "More Like This".

              If you did through some of those threads they might help you.

              Here is another one.


              But a good bencjmark is what Solidworks posts on the portal.


              Good luck.  Hope these are helpful to you.

                • Re: SolidWorks Workstation - what to use
                  Rick McDonald

                  Thaks Scott,

                  After making my post I did see the "More like this" and have begun to look at it.

                  It does help.


                  We also did a benchmark on a different system the management wanted us to test (Dell Optiplex 790 with no added graphics card). 

                  As you can imagine we were ranking very low in the benchmark (lower 8% in the graphics area).

                  The good thing about that is that we were able to present that to management and show how the performance would relate to dramatically ineffective  and inefficient design time and they broke down and said we can get the workstations we had specified (Dell T1600).

                  But then we found out the T1600 had a small Power Supply and after comparing to the T3500, it looks like we can get more CPU power, and larger PS from the T3500.


                  We don't know what processor is better for SW but I am imagining it would be the one in the T3500.

                  Since we don't do rendering, it looks like (form other blogs I have seen) that the dual core processor should be fine as well as the video cards we are considering.


                  Thanks Rick.

                    • Re: SolidWorks Workstation - what to use
                      Scott McFadden

                      No problem.

                      Understand whether you are running Inventor or Solidworks they are both 3D modeling programs

                      that require memory.  I would suggest nothing less then 12GB.

                      I am currently working on very large assembies and I am running on a Dell T7500 with 12 GB.

                      This machine handles my models quite nicely.

                      But I do understand the importance of trying to convince management.  If they don't have knowledge or experience

                      in this field then all they see is dollars and cents and the bottom line.  Convincing them is a challenge at times.

                      • Re: SolidWorks Workstation - what to use
                        Glenn Schroeder



                        Here are the specs for the T3500 I got a few months ago.  I read your post describing the type of stuff you do and it's very similar to mine.  This is probably more than you really need, but it has worked well for me.  I'm sure there are several places where the cost could be cut without hurting performance too much, but I'm not a hardware expert so I'm not the one to ask where.



                        • Re: SolidWorks Workstation - what to use
                          Anna Wood

                          Get the fastest, most modern CPU architecture you can afford.  SolidWorks is cpu bound and needs a good CPU to performa well.


                          Spend you money on CPU, then RAM and then video card.  Get a Nvidia Quadro 600 or 2000 or and AMD FirePro V4800 or V4900 card.


                          The T1600 or T3500 are nice systems.  We use both in our engieering areas.  The T1600 with Quad core cpu's.  The T3500 are our bigger systems with 6 core cpu's.  You need the bigger power supply in the T3500 for the higher core cpu's and the higher end video cards.


                          I would buy the T1600 for your place.  What is your budget?


                          Post the spec's of the two systems you are looking at.  We can give you better recommendations on your hardware choices.  Will save you from a bad hardware choice.





                            • Re: SolidWorks Workstation - what to use
                              Rick McDonald

                              Thanks Anna,


                              I will post the full spec's later today.


                              Our budget it tight but the configuration I cam up with on the T1600 and T3500 only differ in price by $30, so I lean to the T3500.


                              Same video card AMD FirePro 4800 or Nvidia Quadro 600, both as dual (upgradeable to quad or the T3500 to 6 core), same hard disk sizes, T1600 with 320w and T3500 with 525w Power supplies (largest Dell offers for each), both with 6 gig memory (T1600 upgradable to 8, T3500 upgradeable to 12).


                              Biggest difference (other than Power Supply) in the configuration we would get (because of budget) is T1600 has Xeon E3-1200 dual core CPU, T3500 has Xeon W3505 Dual core CPU).


                              I don't know the differences in the CPU's but am imagining the T3500 ones are better.