19 Replies Latest reply on Mar 9, 2014 6:33 PM by Jerry Steiger

    Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop

    Will Killian

      I'm surprised everyday that my current laptop can even run SolidWorks. It's a Dell Latitude D630 running a centrino duo @ 2.1 Ghz. 2 Gb of RAM. Intel 965 integrated graphics. I'm new to SW. Been teaching myself over the last six months or so. At first I thought my machine was up to the task but as I learn how to use the program more and get into more complex and larger assemblies my computer crashes, SW takes forever to highlight features. Just all the stuff that happens with a substandard machine trying to handle something it was never intended for lol. So I want to either purchase a specifically tailiored laptop that will allow me to continue to learn this program or I was looking at gaming tailored rigs like AlienWare by Dell. I understand that a laptop like this will cost a "little" more than this centrino I bought back in 2008. I expect between 1,500-2,000. I'm looking for suggestions from users who actually use this program on a daily basis about CPU,ram,gpu. OS will be win7 bc I hate win8. Thanks everyone.

        • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
          Robert Stemen

          Hi Will

           

          I'm running a Dell Precision M4500 and it runs quite well. It has an i7 CPU with 2.67 MhZ. I upgraded the RAM to 8GB and an SSD HD. I highly recommend the SSD drive, that made a huge improvement. Right now it's been heating up on me. It collects dust easily so I've had to do some maintenance on it.

           

          Its been doing the job for me for 2 years now but in retrospect, I really wish I bought a desk top workstation instead. Laptops limit what you can upgrade. My assemblies aren't that big, maybe 50 parts. It slows with heavy surfaced parts. Graphics could be smoother. I'm really limited on graphics cards with a laptop.

           

          My next machine will be the DIY desktop build recommended on this board. Search "2013 recommended specs" and you'll see the desk top build I'm talking about. That build will run faster than my M4500 at half the price. I think you should consider a desktop if you can.

           

          I hope this helps.

           

          Robert

          • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
            J. Mather

            Will Killian wrote:

             

            I was looking at gaming tailored rigs like AlienWare ....

            I am running fine on an AlienWare M18, but be aware that the gaming card does not support Real View graphics (not a concern for me).

            • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
              Jeff Mirisola

              Like Robert, I'm running a Dell but mine is the M4600. I've had Dell laptops for years with minimal issues. As J. Mather states, running a system will disable RealView, and you may end up with other graphics issues too. Not to say you will as results vary. Some people have zero problems with unapproved graphics, others have tons.

              I had the opportunity to test drive an HP Zbook, and it was awesome. Granted, it was a top of the line system and loaded with all the bells and whistles, but I would suspect even a step or two down would be a work horse.

              People's opinions on this will vary, but most will agree that you need to have the most powerful CPU you can get, followed by as much RAM (min 4GB), and at least a middle tier graphics card. A SSD drive certainly wouldn't hurt.

              Personally, I shy away from building my own, mostly because any issues are my fault. If I buy from a company, I can get them to fix it.

               

              Just my $0.02.

              • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                Will Killian

                Yes I've been looking at the Dell 4000 series. Thank you for the advice. As for the debate between laptop or desk top I agree the desk top rig in all aspects would out perform. I do plan on building a desktop rig. I plan on building a a multiple CPU server, but I still want the mobility and freedom of a laptop. I haven't seen this HP Zbook but I will be checking it out. As for not being able to use real view graphics on an AlienWare? I've never been able to use it yet bc of my systems less than wonderful specs lol. Is Real View nice to be able to use? Once again thanks everyone. You've given me alot to research and think about.

                  • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                    J. Mather

                    Will Killian wrote:

                     

                    ....Is Real View nice to be able to use? ...

                     

                    LOL  I turn it off on my desktop that has a high end CAD card.  I just have no use for it and to me it makes it harder to work.

                     

                    I'm sure others will post with opposite views on the topic.

                    • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                      Jerry Steiger

                      Will,

                       

                      RealView is really important if you are an Industrial Designer who is worried about the look and feel of a product. It is pretty much useless if you are hard core Mechanical Engineer designing things that just have to work.

                       

                      Jerry S.

                        • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                          Jizozor Zozor

                          Excuse me to up the topic but I face the same issue, as I aspire to be a mechanical engineer not a designer,does the nvidia 750 2Gb DDR5 or GT 640 from xps 15 is enough for simple task of assembly?I haven't done that yet so I am waiting someone to give me some good advice.

                            • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                              Jeff Mirisola

                              You'll probably have problems as those cards aren't supported cards. Also, for the money you'd spend on an XPS, you can get a Dell Precision that will have a supported card. I'm using a Dell Precision M4600 that only cost about US$1350.00.

                              • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                                Jeff Holliday

                                The SolidWorks website shows hardware recommendations which should give the best chance of a relatively trouble-free system. It is always possible to try to use a less-costly system which may work ok for most situations. A computer system usually becomes outdated in about 3 years max. If you are not going to do complicated tasks with SW within that time frame, you may be fine with a lower-cost system. Notice that I keep saying "If" frequently. If you get a less-than-recommended system and find that it cannot work for something you need, you will have spent money for the lower-cost and then need to upgrade the system. This usually results in costing more than getting a recommended system from the start.

                                 

                                Dell has a very good small business outlet website with good prices on reconditioned systems that are qualified for SW use.

                                  • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                                    Jizozor Zozor

                                    Thanks, I have bookmarked this page for more specification,then because it is my first year in mechanical engineering environment with basics cad drawings, I will buy a lower cost computer with nvidia(it is cheaper than quadro card machine ^^ )  then upgrade to a workstation if necessary.

                                    I am open to better suggestion.

                                    • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                                      Jizozor Zozor

                                      Hello,
                                      I am sorry to get this topic up,but I have some last question before buying a workstation. I have earn enough to have a choice between them, so I hesitate now between the new dell m3800 because of is flexibility and the m6700 because of the screen. I will have to use it at least for 4 or 5years. Since both of them are supposed to be upgradable, I don't know which one should I felt on it.
                                      I think the m6700 is really heavy compared to the m3800 ( drop it everyday from school to my dormitory will be more than a sports,distance issue ) , otherwise the graphics card of the m3800 is not yet supported but solidworks, and for what I have seen on the net it is not a good card, so I am a bit confused. Any more advice?

                                        • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                                          Jerry Steiger

                                          Jizozor,

                                           

                                          Adam Kilgore posted a note recently in the Administration forum (the best one to go to for questions about the best SolidWorks hardware) saying that the thought the 3800 was a piece of junk. He was unimpressed by its speed and thought it was much too flimsy to survive in the real world. (My words, not his.) Think of the M6700 as an involuntary physical fitness program; your body will be more fit from all of the exercise and it will keep you from going crazy because it just works.

                                           

                                          Jerry S.

                                • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                                  Will Killian

                                  Thanks for your input Jerry. I guess I aspire to fall into that " hardcore mechanical engineer " category. Well hopefully in about 4 years from now. In the mean time before I graduate I'm trying to become really proficient in all the major cad programs because none of the engineering firms around me seem to use the same program. I have friends who work at three different places locally and use three different programs( Pro/E, Solidworks, and Catia) . I want to be ready and be a step above the next applicant but my old dell is blocking me from learning more and stepping up to the next level with my modeling. One advanced surfaced part and it slows down to a snails pace. Really if I just make a helix with like ten turns in it I think the computers goin to have a heart attack. At first I just thought that was how it was supposed to be but lately I've been watching tutorial videos on YouTube and these guys computers don't act anything like mine does. I know it's definitely time to upgrade if I want to learn anymore besides being able to just model a plain cube. Thanks everyone for your input. God bless.

                                  • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                                    Sean Devanney

                                    Bought a lenovo pro 2, 8gig with ssd. The native screen resolution is 3200x1800 so you can scale it up or down to whatever external monitor you connect to it. The D4400 chipset drives my new Sony Bravia-65X850A XBR4k at 4196X2160 or 2160P. SW runs spectacular and 3D motion -simulation is to die for.

                                    • Re: Looking to buy/build a rock solid SW laptop
                                      Nicholas Reak

                                      Hey Will,

                                       

                                      I was looking into the same thing and came across this really helpful article. It is not a laptop but like Robert Stemen mentioned. laptops are pretty limited to upgrades.

                                       

                                      https://forum.solidworks.com/docs/DOC-2557