EDIT: This article has been updated in Building a Solidworks PC – 2018 Edition
Dassault has shuffled out another release of Solidworks. I have become pessimistic with upgrades and none of the new 2017 features seem to be game changers. Maybe something clever will warm my crusty engineer heart.
This article is a refresh from my workstation build last year. Not a whole lot has changed regarding a workstation build but by now you should be on Windows 10 and be considering a ridiculous amount of RAM and a beefier CAD GPU. Overall there have been minimal performance relevant changes in 2017 and most of the hardware remains the same.
The core of a good Solidworks workstation is still a fast CPU, lots of RAM, and a Solidworks approved workstation graphics card. A thread on Reddit has a great breakdown on Solidworks performance and how component selection will improve performance.
Solidworks performance is limited by the CPU and unfortunately only runs single-core for everything except simulation and rendering. An Intel I7-6700 processor will provide good performance for the price even if you’re using only a single core on the chip.
16GB of RAM is a minimum and important for dealing with large assemblies. This stuff is cheap and can easily be expanded in the future.
A basic CAD workstation graphics card should be sufficient and won’t hinder performance. They key here is stability and performance with Solidworks which is why you want something like the Quadro K4000. Workstations graphics cards are essentially glorified gaming cards but they have extremely stable drivers.
Those are the important bits, the following list covers the complete build. All components are from Amazon because they have fairly competitive prices and good customer service. Shop around though, your experience may vary.
The system price at time of writing is is $1880. Part prices are not listed here because they seem to change week to week. Expect the system price to trend downward in the next few months.
Processor – Intel I7-6700K – great performance for the price, LGA 1151 processor
Motherboard – MSI Z97 LGA – feature-rich motherboard to provide flexibility in the future, has a fancy BIOS and will support up to 32gb of RAM
Graphics Card – Quadro K4000 – pricey but you’re paying for stability here
Memory – Kingston 16GB – fast and cost effective
Storage – Samsung SSD 850 EVO-Series 1TB – a nice solid state drive for speedy performance, I think it’s important to stick with a name brand here to ensure good performance over the life of the drive
DVD – LG Electronics Super Multi Drive – sigh, can’t quite escape physical discs yet, I can’t tell you the number of times I get files mailed to me on a DVD. With writing feature for all of your documentation purposes!
Case – Corsair Carbide Series 200R – a nice clean case that’s easy to work on
Power Supply – Rosewill 80 PLUS BRONZE 550W – Solid power supply with more than enough wattage, will support expansion in the future
OS – Windows 10 Pro OEM – The new supported standard, if you don’t upgrade now you may be forced into it soon
That’s everything you need for a complete build! The case comes with all necessary hardware and fans, the power supply has all the cables, and the CPU has it’s own cooler and heatsink.
Need monitors? I’m a big fan of the 24-inch Dell Ultrasharp because of the positioning flexibility. It’s easy to setup your dual monitor view in any configuration. Ergonomics are a big deal if you’re sitting in front of monitors for 8+ hours a day.