April 29

[Updated 2020] Best Laptop for SOLIDWORKS: Price, Review, Recommended Specs

[Updated 2020] Best Laptop for SOLIDWORKS: Price, Review, Recommended Specs

Andoni Centino

Top 5 Best SOLIDWORKS Laptops [Updated 2020]

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Buying Guide: Summary

    What is a good SolidWorks laptop?

    SolidWorks is a 2D and 3D parametric modeling program designed for designers and engineers. As most CAD/CAE programs do, SolidWorks has specific needs when it comes to which machines it can work on.  The exact specifications depend on factors such as the amount of CAD/CAE work you’ll be doing, the size of your assemblies, the quality of your desired renders, etc. Here are some of the more common SolidWorks laptop specifications that you need to look out for:

    What is the best laptop processor for SolidWorks 2020?

    For SolidWorks laptop specifications, consider two things when taking a look at CPUs. First, consider how many cores they have; this determines how many metaphorical hands are on deck when calculations are being done by the CPU. Secondly, consider the CPU’s clock frequency. This determines how fast a CPU can run calculations.

    Try to mix and match these two CPU attributes to get the right processor for you. Figure out if you need faster but fewer cores or many cores but slower individual processing times.

    Frequency, measured in GHz for computer specification purposes, indicates how fast your machine can crunch the numbers and finish calculations. Since SolidWorks is a parametric modeling program, it relies on this particular trait of the computer. The clock frequency of your SolidWorks Laptop’s processor will have a large impact on the quality of your experience using the program on it.

    As for cores, the number of cores a CPU has affects only a small number of functions in SolidWorks, two of the most prominent being simulation and rendering. For simulation, multiple cores will let the software run and finish studies on each of the individual cores. Simply put, the more cores, the more simulation instances can be run simultaneously. The same can be said for Photoview 360 and Multi-sheet drawing in SolidWorks. Do take note that 10 is usually the maximum number of cores that SolidWorks can realistically make the most use out of; any more would be a bit of a waste. It’s all for the best anyway since most laptops run with CPU’s that have 4 cores at the most.

    Multiple cores are also useful for those of us that use more than one program at a time. If you’re planning to use you SolidWorks laptop for something other than SolidWorks while you’re using Solidworks, it’s never a bad idea to invest in a multi-core processor. That way, the programs won’t have to fight over the computing power of just a few cores.

    Bottom line, if you’re using SolidWorks to design, draft, and model, go for a CPU that has a fast clock speed. Students and hobbyists will want to go for Intel Core i5 and i7 with a U or HQ label and professionals will want to shoot for the HK line of CPUs or any 8th gen Intel Core i7’s. If you want to use SolidWorks to do simulations and renderings, go for a CPU with a higher number of cores. Students and hobbyists should go for Core i7 with a U or HQ label, professionals should shoot for Core i7 with an H or HQ label.

    How much laptop RAM for SolidWorks 2020?

    RAM acts the temporary storage that you laptop uses to store any file or project you’re currently working on and usually comes in 8, 16, 32, and sometimes 64 GB options. RAM size will dictate the limits of how big you assembly can be in SolidWorks, how many instances you can run of a multi-sheet drawing, and how many individual running windows your SolidWorks laptop can take at a time.

    If you’re not handling anything too complex with your model’s parts, drawings, and assemblies, you can start with a SolidWorks laptop with 8 GB RAM. Start with 8GB if you’re only creating simple parts, assemblies and drawings. Typical, RAM sizes between 4 and 8 GB are suitable for SolidWorks tasks such as simulations, renders, and viewing models.

    For more complicated drawings and models, SolidWorks will need more RAM to function properly and efficiently. Simulations that have large amounts of date, for example, will need more RAM to resolve themselves. This applies to any action in SolidWorks that involves opening large sizes of data sets. If a laptop runs out of RAM, load times and functionalities will become much slower. For instance, like this, shoot for RAM sizes between 16 and 32 GB or maybe even more if possible.

    Simply put, 8 GB is for entry level users that deal with models with simple assemblies and parts and one- or two-page drawings. 16 GB is good for midrange users with more complex parts and assembles and multi-sheet drawings. 24-32 GB is considered high end and can be used on projects with highly complex and large part and assemblies and on simulations. If you want to go further, 64 GB can do all the previously mentioned tasks while also being able to handle highly complex simulations on SolidWorks.

    As for assembly size, 8-16 GB should be able to handle assemblies less than 500 MB, 32 GB can take care of anything less than 1.25 GB, and 64 GB should be good enough for anything less than 3 GB.

    What is the best laptop GPU for SolidWorks?

    Graphic Cards for laptops, more often than not, can’t be replaced so be sure to get a decent one when you choose a SolidWorks laptop. When it comes to what kind of GPU to get, it depends on the kinds of projects you’ll be working on with SolidWorks. For students and hobbyists, you can go for mid-range cards. Although a bit trickier to work with, as long as you know the specifications of the product you’re buying, things should be fine. For professionals, it’s not a bad idea to invest in graphics cards on the higher-end of the quality spectrum. This can ensure there’s little to no slowdown in fps when it comes to larger assemblies and more complex models.

    As for specific cards, just make sure that they’re supported and certified by SolidWorks. SolidWorks has a page in their website that specifically details what cards can run their software.

    When it comes to NVIDIA vs AMD graphics cards, consider how much you’ll be doing photo rendering with SolidWorks Visualize. This software renders with both the CPU and the GPU. However, only CUDA capable graphics cards from NVIDIA can support this type of rendering, so go for appropriate NVIDIA cards if you want to try this out.

    Storage Requirements for SolidWorks in 2020

    When it comes to file storage capacity in your SolidWorks laptop, anything more than 256 GB should be usable as long as you exercise responsible and clean file storage. Always consider buying a Solid State Drive as opposed to a Hard Disk Drive when choosing a laptop model. Although HDDs go for a lot cheaper than SSDs, any laptop-owner who also uses CAD programs will tell you how slow things get when using HDDs. Although this was once thought of as a luxury, SSDs are quickly becoming standard fare for any decent SolidWorks laptop or CAD computer. Not only are they more stable and hardy than HDDs, SSDs also launch up your programs so much faster than HDDs.

    Check out this video for more information on choosing laptops for SolidWorks. And for specific laptop models that can work well as SolidWorks laptops, see the following:

    Top 5 Laptops for SolidWorks

    Lenovo ThinkPad P50

    Image source: Amazon

    Recommended for professionals, this particular laptop can work with large and complex assemblies on SolidWorks. Dubbed a mobile workstation, this model is a little bulky and heavy, with a large brick power supply. All of these are a necessary sacrifice though, to accommodate the amount of power needed to run the high-performance CPU and GPU of the model.

    • Price Range: $1,900.00
    • Processor: Intel Xeon E3-1505M, 3.6 GHz
    • Graphics Card: Nvidia Quadro M2000M; 4GB GDDR5
    • Display: 15.6”, 1920 x 1080 max resolution
    • Disk Space: 256 GB SSD M.2 Opal2
    • RAM: 16 GB DDR4
    • Portability: 14.9 x 9.9 x 1.1 in; 5.9 lbs

    MSI WE72 

    Image source: Amazon

    The MSI WE72 is another one that’s meant for professional users of SolidWorks and not really for hobbyists or students. The price point is a little higher that most other laptops for SolidWorks, but the specs and the sheer size of assemblies that can be handled by this model is worth the extra money if you can afford it.

    • Price Range: $3,500
    • Processor: Intel Core i7, 2.8 GHz
    • Graphics Card: NVIDIA M2200 i7-7700HQ, 4GB
    • Display: 17.3”,1920 x 1080 max resolution
    • Disk Space: 512 GB, Flash Memory Solid State
    • RAM: 32 GB DDR4
    • Portability: 20.8 x 1.1 x 11 in; 5.95 lbs

    Surface Book 2

    Image source: Amazon

    Portability and usability is the Surface Book 2’s claim to fame. And despite its apparent sleekness and size, the Surface Book 2 can function as a capable enough SolidWorks laptop. In fact, the Surface Book 2 is the only laptop that is officially certified for SolidWorks that isn’t a workstation laptop:

    • Price Range: $2480-2840 (depending on display size)
    • Processor: Intel Core i7, 4.2 GHz
    • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060
    • Display: 15.6”, 3260 x 2160 max resolution
    • Disk Space: 512 GB, flash memory solid state
    • RAM: 16 GB LPDDR3
    • Portability: 13.5 x 9.9 x 0.9 in; 4.2 lbs

    Top in Portability: Dell i5577 Inspiron 15

    Image source: Amazon

    The Dell i5577 Inspiron has the most bang for the buck of the bunch. Despite it being in the more affordable end of the price spectrum, it still handles itself very well when it comes to small to medium scale models and projects. The specs aren’t on the same level as the higher end models on this list, but this would work as a good SolidWorks laptop for those just getting into modeling and are learning the ropes.

    • Price Range: $780
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-7300 HQ, 3.5GHz
    • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GTX 1050
    • Display: 15.6”, 1920 x 1080 max resolution
    • Disk Space: 256GB SDD
    • RAM: 8GB DDR4
    • Portability: 10.43 x 15.7 x 0.99 in; 5.66 lbs

     Acer Aspire E15 E5-576G

    Image source: Amazon

    The cheapest laptop in this list, the Acer Aspire E15 is perfect for students that really have close to no experience with SolidWorks. The integrated graphics card would seem a little iffy for those who understand how graphics cards have such a big impact on the usability of a SolidWorks laptop, but this being a fairly recent model makes it so that the integrated graphics card in this model is a bit more capable than usual.

    • Price Range: $780
    • Processor:  Core i5-8250U 3.4GHz
    • Graphics Card: NVIDIA MX 150
    • Display: 15.6”, 1920 x 1080 max resolution
    • Disk Space: 256 GB SDD
    • RAM: 8 GB DDR4
    • Portability: 15 x 10.2 x 1.2 in; 5.27 lbs

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    About the Author

    Registered and licensed Architect from the Philippines. I have worked in an established Architectural Design firm, Interior Design firm and Design-Build Architecture company. Aside from independent architectural projects, I work part-time as an associate of Arch. Micaela Benedicto. I am adept at Autodesk Autocad, Autodesk Revit, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Sketchup. I am also adept at doing 3D renderings with V-ray.

    Andoni Centino

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