20 Replies Latest reply: Sep 16, 2014 7:49 AM by Carl Gauger

    Purchasing a cad laptop

    Guy St

      Hello to all

       

      I need help to decide what spec to buy.

      Requirements: run solidworks efficiently. up to about 500 parts assemblies. no rendering, no shading, just machine design.

      I "narrowed" it down to 4 very different options(its expensive here i know):

       

      1. A simple Dell Latitude 3440. i5-4200U, 4GB RAM, integrated graphics 4400:   770$

      2. Lenovo Y510P. i7-4700MQ, 8GB RAM, GT750M graphics:   1280$

      3. Dell Precision 2800. i5-4200M, 8GB RAM, Firepro W4170M graphics:   1800$

      4. Dell Precision 2800. i7-4810MQ, 8GB RAM, Firepro W4170M graphics:   2140$

       

      The reason for the wide variety is, im not sure the extra cost is justified given that up until now i was perfectly satisfied with my desktop's GT630 graphics, Q6600 processor and 4GB RAM (but i have worked on assemblies with up to about 200 parts).

      I know the formal response is "get a quadro/firepro", but up until now i never needed one, and the cost delta is considerable.

      Right now im leaning towards the Y510P.

       

      Every input will be much appreciated,

      Guy

        • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
          Daniel Andersson

          I'm using a Lenovo W540, runs like a charm... Loads files and stuff prety quickly with the SSD drive and works good with SolidWorks (at least for me with my current drivers.)

          Using Windows 7.

          Capture.JPG
          W540 is a bit expensiver, but I think it worth to put a few dollars extra to it since corpate computers tends to kept for a while.

            • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
              Carl Gauger

              Daniel:

               

              I'm thinking seriously about purchasing a W540.  Would you mind telling me about your particular set-up, i.e., what options (beyond processor and RAM), etc., you have on your laptop?

               

              How old is it, and what would you say about it's general quality and usability?  What version of SW are you currently running on it?

               

              Thanks!

               

              Carl Gauger

                • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                  Daniel Andersson

                  I got it just before summer. The graphic card is a Nvidia Quadro K1100M and the drive I have is a SSD. Not realy sure about the details but my device manager says "INTEL SSDSC2BF180A4L SCSI Disk Device". I do have a CD-ROM/DVD but never used it. From the tech. guy I talked to, the CD-ROM could be replaced with a bigger drive. If terabytes is needed.

                   

                  From what I know there is two different chargers. Both is quite big and heavy as for all that comes with a bit more powerful laptops. I got both. The bigger one is attached to the docking station. I do fine with the smaller one with an output of 20V 6,75A. For some reason they recommend to have the smaller adapter connected to the dock and have the bigger one when traveling...

                   

                  I do like the laptop and so far, no issues with it. The numpad is quite good and handy to have. The worst part on the laptop is the touchpad for the mouse control. It is tricky to get used to it and the feeling is not that "solid". I strongly recommend using a separate mouse.

                   

                  I currently run SolidWorks 2012 SP5.

                    • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                      Carl Gauger

                      Thanks, Daniel, for your reply.  That's helpful.  I cannot stand touchpads anyway and always use a mouse.

                       

                      I assume you are completely satisfied with the K1100M.  It's a $250 add on for the K2100M.  Are you doing much that requires intensive graphic processing?

                       

                      Which power supply does the laptop come with--small or large?  I assume the docking station and one of the power supplies are separate accessories.

                       

                      Regards,

                       

                      Carl Gauger

                        • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                          Daniel Andersson

                          The products that I work with in SolidWorks is about 500-700 parts/sub-assemblies (including fastners). The parts varies from simple turned parts (revolves) to cast parts with drafts and a lot different radius. So I guess that is not too intensive graphic processing compared to larger assemblies. I have not tested to do renderings with the laptop.


                          When I got the laptop I got both the smaller (135W) and bigger power supply (170W) and the docking station at the same time. So I do not know what power supply that is as standard with the laptop. I looked briefly on Lenovos website and it looks like a 170W power supply comes for customer in Europe. Which would be the larger one. Perhaps it is possible to find more about it in the documentation on the support page (not sure but I got to the support page from a Swedish site, could be different content if you access it from your country).

                           

                          I also have the extended battery with 9 cells. Not sure what W540 version your are looking at. But from what I can see there is different batteries depending on what build of the W540 that is chosen.

                           

                          And, yes. Your assumption is correct. The docking station and additional power supply is accessories.

                           

                          // Daniel

                  • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                    Jerry Steiger

                    Guy,

                     

                    On your existing machine, monitor the Processes under the Windows Task Manager (Ctrl-Shift-Esc). See how much time in your day is spent waiting for SolidWorks by looking at the CPU time spent on SLDWORKS.exe. If it is a couple of hours a day and you can cut that down by 10%, for example, then you can save 0.2 hours per day or an hour per week. That is 50 hours in a year and 150 hours if you keep the new computer for 3 years. How much is 150 hours worth to you?

                     

                    Jerry S.

                      • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                        Guy St

                        Thank you Jerry, but i'm more interested in the graphics card issue. I noticed that in my current machine, when manipulating a 130MB 500 part assy(shaded with edges display), the cpu is the buttleneck and the gpu is only at about 20% load(by gpu-z. cpu is 50% which is max, and the fps rate is very low). This leads me to believe that the workstation card is not a must for me.

                          • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                            Jeff Holliday

                            There certainly are many factors to consider when buying a new system. I tend to agree with Jerry.

                             

                            If you state a main concern is the graphics card issue, I would suspect that using a workstation-style card designed for 3D Modeling would provide more satisfaction.

                            • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                              Jerry Steiger

                              Guy,

                               

                              If you are running SW 2014, you may get some benefit from running a better GPU. On older versions of SW the CPU did all of the heavy lifting when running shaded with edges. SW claimed that 2014 was going to utilize more of the GPU's capabilities, but I don't know if that is now handled by the GPU. Perhaps one of the experts, like Charles or Anna, knows.

                               

                              For me, the thought of wasting just a few hours fighting with graphics problems is enough to make me buy a system with a certified graphics card. On the other hand, in the testing we did several years ago, the benefits of a high end graphics card (slightly faster spinning of our largest models) were nowhere near enough to make me buy more than a mid-level card (a Quadro 600). Different strokes for different folks.

                               

                              Jerry S.

                          • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                            David Sandoz

                            I had the same question several months back and now have a dell M6800 with Nvidia approved card. Only 8gb of ram right now. Not performing as well as I would have expected and thinking of maxing out ram. another issue....I don't know who to optimize my system setting to get the most out of what I have...just too many options. Running SW 2012.

                            • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                              Guy St

                              All the information i gather seems to indicate SW will not have a performance issue with a good gaming GPU if the CPU and RAM are adequate. I guess ill go with the Y510P..?

                                • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                                  Jeff Holliday

                                  Ok - good luck to you. Personally, if I was planning to work on 500-part assemblies, I would go with a recommended system but it may work fine for you.

                                   

                                  Just curious - could you share some of the info you have gathered with us? It seems as though most info in this discussion thread has been leaning toward an approved workstation card.

                                • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                                  Mark Kaiser

                                  HP p6370t Intel Core i5 650 @3.20GHz 12.00 GB RAM W7 64bit ATI Radeon HD 4350

                                   

                                  Is my current desktop.  Sounds like we run similar sized assemblies, and I don't do any rendering.  Some small parts FEA.  Works fine for me.

                                   

                                  I think the Radeon was approved when we bought the machines a few years back, but may not be anymore.  Do have a couple minor graphics issues sometimes daily.

                                    • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                                      Scott Baugh

                                      The Raedeon was never an approved video card for SW... in fact it was one of the worst cards to run for a number of years with Solidworks.

                                       

                                      I would only go with a Workstation class Dell Laptop... worst case look at the Refurbished models. They are nothing more than models built and cancelled. There is nothing wrong them, but they cannot sell them as new equipment anymore.

                                       

                                      Regards,

                                    • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                                      Myles Bryning

                                      I would suggest a dell precision, I've been using them for about 5 years and they are quite stable. Both listed have supported graphics cards, so you will be able to make use of real view in the software. The drivers that these cards use are also important and these would be tested against the service pack you are currently running. You can work out which driver you should use using the diagnostics tab in the SolidWorks RX tool from the start menu.

                                       

                                      Not a big fan of Lenovo laptops, they have a inbuilt graphics card that it switches to when the machine is being "lightly used", these cant be turned off which can become a problem as it sometimes uses the wrong card for SolidWorks. Plus the graphics card is not support, so its likely that it will crash more often than normal.

                                       

                                      I know a few people that use the Dell Latitude but again its worth getting a machine with decent graphics card.

                                      • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                                        Guy St

                                        Thanks for your tips everyone.

                                        Jeff, my conclusion is based mainly on my own measurements on my current rig, see my second message.

                                        Jerry helped a lot also...(and others on the web).

                                        In my current experience, most times people who advocate the workstation card approach do it because of the 'going on the safe side' part of it, rather than actual data. If i was a paranoid i would think nvidia is wiping the web of coherent data regarding just that:)

                                          • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                                            Jeff Holliday

                                            There's a lot of truth in your suspicion of many of us "going on the safe side". The important thing is that you find a system which will give you the level of service/satisfaction you need. Please keep us in the loop - maybe I can broaden my horizon.

                                            • Re: Purchasing a cad laptop
                                              Scott Baugh

                                              Its not just about going safe, but if you do have an issue and your not using a certified video card then SW can blame the VC as the reason and you will be SOL, even if you feel its not a VC issue, especially if they are unable to reproduce it. I would personally rather rule that out as a possibility or give someone a reason to blame it on the VC.