Hardware spec for SolidWorks beginner

Discussion in 'SolidWorks' started by Doug Dent, Nov 6, 2003.

  1. Doug Dent

    Doug Dent Guest

    I've got a design team who are currently using computers (home made) with
    Pentium III 700MHz processors and 256Mb.

    I'm not a CAD professional, I've just been brought in to sort out the IT
    area, and the CAD equipment has come under my remit. The engineers, however,
    tell me that the kit they're using is too slow - to rotate models, for
    example, they need to reduce the complexity first, as otherwise it isn't
    possible in a reasonable amount of time.

    To help solve their problem, I need to be able to compare their current
    equipment with new kit that I'm proposing to buy, as follows;

    Dell Precision Workstation 650 (or another Dell, or the Compaq equivalent,
    if there is any - no other manufacturers are authorised by the IT

    2 x Intel Xeon 3.06GHz
    2Gb memory

    40Gb IDE disk 1, 80Gb IDE disk 2

    nVidia QuadroFX500 graphics card

    20" Ultrasharp LCD

    Gigabit network cards (Design network runs at 100/1000)

    Does this specification sound well balanced for SolidWorks? The application
    is vehicle manufacturing.

    Thanks in advance for any help.
    Doug Dent, Nov 6, 2003
  2. Doug Dent

    per Guest

    You should compare the fully equipped Dell work station with HP (former
    Compaq) workstations when fully equipped, since Dell seem prone to have a
    low starting price, but when you fill it up to your needs the price may well
    have passed an HP machine, equally equipped.
    Others may have something to say about balancing one of two expensive
    processors to serial ATA or SCSI hard drives and/or faster graphics. The old
    Quadro 750 or higher XGL's seems faster in tests than the new (budget model)
    Quadro FX500. But an FX 1000 should be faster still.
    per, Nov 7, 2003
  3. Doug Dent

    MM Guest


    The overall specs look pretty good. You may want to kick up the graphics a
    notch to an FX10000 though.

    HP doesn't market a CAD worthy machine under the Compaq name anymore. All
    the good stuff is HP.

    Dell offers quit a few options as well.

    One thing you do need to know is that a well spec'd "white box" machine will
    out perform the best from HP and Dell for allot less $. It will be just as
    reliable too.

    The big boys compete on price, so they tend to go the cheapest route. Mother
    board makers like Supermicro, Asus, and Gigabyte, compete on performance
    (IO). All three of these companies use first quality components. We have
    several Supermicro servers that have been running day and night for years
    with zero downtime. Our workstations are Supermicro and ASUS, again zero
    problems, and very fast.


    MM, Nov 7, 2003
  4. Doug Dent

    Doug Dent Guest


    Many thanks for your comprehensive answer. The comments yourself and Per
    have made have given me some areas to look at in more depth. In particular,
    I think I'll look at using a SCSI subsystem instead of IDE, and finance that
    by dropping the second processor. I did think about allocating SolidWorks
    solely to the second processor, and leaving the first to do the dogsbody
    tasks such as handling email.

    I do want to run a certified graphics system, and I'd rather spend money on
    graphics cards that really do the job rather than try to push a cheaper card
    just to save a few quid.

    Luckily, the engineers don't do a lot of web surfing. Well, none at all,
    really - there isn't an internet connection in their office! (thats another
    item on the long list of things to do!)


    Doug Dent, Nov 7, 2003
  5. I was going to say that SCSI will only pay off if people load a LOT of files
    every day. I was thinking that it would make sense for someone who is doing
    a lot of drawings, but for engineers who are working on a few parts each day
    it would be hard to justify. Then I did a quick estimate of time saved. I
    think I only spend a few minutes a day, maybe 10 or 15, loading and saving
    files. If I could save 5 minutes a day by going to a SCSI drive, 235 days a
    year (3 weeks vacation and 11 holidays), that adds up to 19.6 hours. At $100
    an hour fully loaded, that's $1960 a year. That'll easily pay the difference
    between SCSI and IDE drives. Looking at the Dell prices, Going with a 36GB
    (15k rpm) and a 73GB SCSI would add $1079 with cable and card. If you figure
    on 2 years before you replace the drives, you will break even with a labor
    rate of about $27.50 per hour. I guess I need to ask for SCSI drives next
    time we replace our boxes!
    SolidWorks is pretty good about letting go every once in a while so that you
    can read email without undue waiting. I've never felt any need to add a
    second processor. Other programs, like FEA for example, seem to hang on to
    the processor like death, making it pretty much impossible to do anything
    else while the analysis is running.

    Jerry Steiger
    Tripod Data Systems
    Jerry Steiger, Nov 10, 2003
  6. Doug Dent

    alex Guest

    Hey Doug. ..
    Heres what I reccomend. . . (I do IT for automation co. - we use
    PRo-E, Mech Desk, Sld Works)


    2 setups
    First, Dual 10-20g Scsi Raid 0 or westernDigital Raptor-raid is a

    Second drive: Small ScSI (dont slave it. . . Run it solo ON pci card)
    This second drive would be ONLY for Virtual Mem - make vm static-hide
    drive so engineers will not be tempted to use (older 3-5gb scsi will

    Notice all drive are small-Reason? Smaller drive faster read/write.

    Memory: 1g ddr400 will work just fine (again tweak your virtual

    Video Card;

    this is the difficult part but definately NO ATI!!!

    I would reccomend WILDCAT III (3dlabs) or nividia QuadroFX 2000

    Bottom line - Spend at least 1k on your video card. . . ( video cards
    have been our single biggest issue in the last 10 years)

    also, are you running file server? if not, do so . . . and let the
    engineers store everything on server. Keep CAD stations clean and

    Have FUN!


    alex, Nov 22, 2003
Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.