I would not get a laptop, I would go with a Dell Precision Workstation. T3500, with the best processor you can afford. If you do a lot of rendering then a T5500 with a high end dual socket cpu will get a good ROI.
Your IT guys have spec'ed the wrong laptop for you. If you need a laptop get a Dell Precision M6600 with the best cpu, a bunch of memory and an SSD drive.
Dell XPS 17 are gaming systems, you need a workstation class laptop.
SolidWorks is cpu bound and benefits from a fast cpu. Rendering is cpu driven and benefits from a fast cpu, with as many cores as you can throw at it.
Simulation benefits from a fast cpu and also an SSD drive, as there are a lot of reads/writes to disk when solving.
I would push for a much better unit.
I would prefer to not have a laptop either, but I have to be mobile as I travel and work overseas a fair amount. I appreciate your insight!
I just bought a HP EliteBook 8760w B2A82UT 17.3 LED Notebook - Smart Buy Core i7 i7-2640M 2.8GHz 8GB DDR3 500GB HDD DVD-Writer NVIDIA Quadro 3000M Bluetooth Finger Print Reader Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Gunmetal with a docking station (all purchase from Tiger Direct).
So far it's been a awesome computer for SW. I use an external monitor and use the lap top monitor as a secondary if needed. Also have a external keyboard, mouse, and ext solid statet drive to keep my data on.
The docking station is nice so when you go mobile, you don't have to unhook a bunch of wires/plugs. Just press the docking station disconnect and you are ready to go.
I got more band for the dollar with HP vs somethiing equal with Dell.