Laptop or Desktop For Solidworks 2024 (Which Device Is Best?)

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Laptop or Desktop For Solidworks

When choosing between a desktop or laptop for Solidworks, your choice comes down to your needs. The good news is that laptops are now packed with more powerful components, and some offer close to the same power as a desktop PC, which has not always been the case.

Laptops are also portable, so you can take your Solidworks projects to work with you on the go. But the main drawback between a Solidworks laptop and a desktop PC is that laptops are more expensive, and they also have a shorter lifespan than PC computers.

In this post, I dive into why you should be open-minded to either option. So read on to see why considering either device for Solidworks is now even more challenging than ever before.

Laptop or Desktop for Solidworks?

When choosing between a laptop or desktop for Solidworks, consider your project requirements and the device’s suitability. Desktops offer customizability, expandability, and consistent performance, ideal for complex tasks. They have powerful processors, graphics cards, and better cooling, ensuring longevity and optimal performance.

Laptop computers provide portability and flexibility, allowing work from anywhere. Laptops are also space savers and they consume less power but may have performance limitations due to heat and power constraints and are often costlier than desktop PCs.

The Razer Blade Gaming Laptop
My Razer Blade 15 Would Make The Perfect Laptop For Solidworks

Having said that, keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of each computer system. This way you can make a better informed buying decision on which device is best.

Advantages of Choosing A Desktop PC For SolidWorks

When selecting the perfect device for running Solidworks, it’s essential to understand the advantages of laptops vs desktop PCs. In this section, we’ll explore the numerous benefits of choosing a desktop PC for Solidworks, and we also dive into some of the disadvantages too.

Customizability and Expandability

  • A desktop PC gives you the ability to select individual components to build a personalized system
  • Easy upgrades for CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage as technology advances
  • Possibility to add multiple GPUs or other specialized components to enhance performance

Powerful Hardware Options

  • Access to the latest and most powerful CPUs and GPUs, optimizing Solidworks performance
  • Higher core counts and clock speeds for faster processing of complex tasks
  • Dedicated GPUs with more VRAM, essential for handling large assemblies and detailed renderings

Greater Performance Consistency

  • Sustained performance under heavy workloads due to better power delivery and cooling solutions
  • Lower risk of performance throttling, which can occur in laptops due to heat constraints
  • Enhanced multitasking capabilities, allowing you to run multiple applications alongside Solidworks without significant slowdowns

Cooling and Heat Management

  • Larger and more efficient cooling solutions, such as air or liquid cooling systems, to maintain optimal component temperatures
  • Consistent performance during prolonged work sessions, preventing unexpected slowdowns or crashes
  • Reduced risk of overheating, prolonging the lifespan of hardware component

Cost-effective Choice for High-end Configurations

  • More performance per dollar, especially when comparing high-performance laptops to desktops with similar specifications
  • Ability to choose and upgrade individual components, allowing you to optimize your budget for the most critical hardware for Solidworks
  • Potential savings on peripherals, as desktops can be connected to existing monitors, keyboards.

Disadvantages of Choosing A Desktop For SolidWorks

While desktop PCs possess numerous advantages for Solidworks users, it’s crucial to consider their potential drawbacks as well. In this section, we’ll delve into the disadvantages of desktops, by understanding these challenges, you’ll be better equipped when making a decision.

Limited Mobility and Portability

  • Desktop PCs require a fixed setup, making it challenging to move your workstation to different locations
  • Transporting a desktop PC and its peripherals can be cumbersome and inconvenient for on-the-go work
  • Lack of built-in components like display, keyboard, and battery, so is dependent on external accessories

Space Requirements and Setup

  • Desktops typically occupy more physical space due to their separate components, such as the tower, monitor, keyboard, and mouse
  • Requires a dedicated work area or desk, potentially limiting your options for workspace organization
  • Wiring and cable management can be time-consuming and may contribute to a cluttered workspace

Power Consumption and Electricity Costs

  • Desktop PCs generally consume more power than laptops, resulting in higher electricity costs
  • High-performance parts, like powerful CPUs and GPUs, can further increase energy consumption
  • Standby power draw can contribute to energy waste when the desktop is not in active use

Advantages of Choosing A Laptop For SolidWorks

When considering the ideal Solidworks computer, understanding the advantages of laptops is also crucial. In this section, we’ll examine the benefits of laptops. By comprehending all these aspects, you will then have the full picture of both desktops and laptops.

Portability and Flexibility

  • Lightweight and compact design, allowing you to work on Solidworks projects from various locations
  • Greater adaptability to different work environments, including offices, cafes, and remote locations
  • Laptops offer easy transportation for on-the-go work, important meetings, or presentations

Space-saving Design

  • Laptops occupy less physical space compared to desktop setups, offering a clutter-free work area
  • Ideal for users with limited workspace or those who need to frequently change their working location
  • Simplified cable management, as most laptops only require a power cable for charging

Lower Power Consumption

  • Laptops generally consume less energy than desktop PCs, resulting in reduced electricity costs
  • Efficient power management features, such as sleep and hibernate modes, contribute to energy savings
  • Battery-powered operation enables work without a constant power source, providing further flexibility

A Good Reason to Choose a Laptop!

Comments for a Reason to choose a Laptop For Solidworks
Source: Spiceworks.com (Why choose a laptop)

Disadvantages of Choosing A Laptop For SolidWorks

Laptop computers offer many advantages for Solidworks professionals. Especially since, all the advancements in their technologies, laptops are far more powerful than they used to be. However, like desktop computers, there are also a few disadvantages to choosing a laptop.

Limited Hardware Customization

  • Laptops are designed with a fixed configuration that limits the ability to customize hardware components, such as the processors and the graphics cards.
  • Upgrading laptop hardware can be challenging and some components are impossible to upgrade.
  • Limited compatibility with aftermarket components or accessories due to the proprietary design of laptop components.

Performance Limitations Due to Heat and Power Constraints

  • Laptops can experience thermal throttling, where performance is reduced to prevent overheating, especially when working on complex or demanding Solidworks projects.
  • Laptops have lower performance capabilities compared to desktop PCs due to the need to balance power and heat management with portability.
  • Limited upgradability for cooling systems, resulting in a more significant impact on performance when thermal throttling occurs.

Known to Have a Shorter Lifespan

  • Laptops typically have a shorter lifespan compared to desktops due to the design limitations on hardware upgrades and customization.
  • Frequent exposure to temperature fluctuations and physical wear and tear can cause damage to laptop components, leading to potential malfunctions or even hardware failures.
  • High-performance laptops may experience reduced battery life and degraded performance over time due to the strain on the device’s power and cooling system.

Higher Cost for Comparable Performance

  • Laptops with comparable performance to desktops often come with a higher price tag, reflecting the additional costs associated with portability and specialized hardware.
  • Cost of repairs and upgrades for laptops may be higher due to proprietary designs and a more intricate setup, leading to increased expenses over time compared to desktops.

I understand the debate between laptops vs desktops for Solidworks can be overwhelming. Choosing the best device for running this resource-hungry software is not easy.

While desktops offer increased customizability and performance consistency, they require more space and consume more power than laptop computers. Laptops do provide portability with their space-saving design. But without proper care, laptops can easily face thermal throttling and offer limited hardware customization compared to desktop computers.

Overall, it is crucial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each device. Consider your specific Solidworks requirements, budget, and work environment before deciding which computer is most suitable for your needs.

Solidworks Images

Computer Hardware Requirements for SolidWorks

When choosing a computer for Solidworks it is important to understand your specific Solidworks requirements. Evaluate the type of projects, the complexity of the models, and the size of the assemblies you will be working on. This will ensure you select a device that can run Solidworks without any performance or other issues.

Choosing The Processor

A laptop or desktop processor (or CPU) handles most of the heavy lifting when it comes to computation. For example, if you’re running a simulation in Solidworks or working on large assemblies, the CPU (processor) will be doing most of the work.

So, when shopping for a new computer, ensure the device has a processor with at least a 3.3GHz base clock speed, like a 10th Generation Intel Core i7 10750H or above. For the best performance, consider an Intel Core i9 or an Intel Xeon processor.

Although, Solidworks is mostly single-core dependant, the more core the CPU has the better for multi-tasking capabilities. Therefore, at least a quad-core CPU would be viable.

Choosing the Graphics Card

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are specialized chips designed for graphics rendering. For running Solidworks smoothly, a dedicated GPU is necessary. If you plan on doing any serious 3D rendering, it’s worth investing in the best GPU that fits your budget.

Moreover, SOLIDWORKS runs best with a fully certified video card. Although consumer graphics cards (gaming GPUs) such as the NVidia GeForce RTX 30 or 40 series, or AMD Radeon GPUs can work, you may encounter frequent graphical glitches or other issues.

See the SolidWorks graphics card requirements here.

How Much Storage Space Is Needed?

When it comes to storage, you have two main choices: hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). HDDs are cheaper and offer more storage space for your money. SSDs are more expensive but offer faster data access and shorter loading times.

For Solidworks users, an SSD is the best option. SSDs can help reduce the time it takes to open large files or handle assemblies. If you do decide a laptop is for you, ensure you choose a laptop with the latest standard, which would be either an M.2 PCIe SSD or NVMe SSD.

How Much RAM? 

For Solidworks to run smoothly on either a laptop or desktop computer, the device needs at least 16GB of RAM. However, if you’re running simulations or working with large sets of data, it is best to have more memory, like 32GB RAM or even 64GB of RAM at your disposal.

Complex Solidworks models and drawings will complete much quicker with a computer with more than 16GB of RAM.


Minimum Specification for Solidworks

For General Drawing and Solidworks 3D CAD, 500 PartsMOBILE WORKSTATIONDESKTOP WORKSTATION
PROCESSORIntel Core i7 11800H 2.3GHz (4.60 GHz)Intel Core i7-10700K 3.8GHz ( 5.1GHz)
GRAPHICSNVIDIA Quadro T1200 4GBNVIDIA Quadro P2000, 5GB
RAM16GB, 2X8GB, DDR4 2933Mhz Non-ECC 16GB, 2x8GB, DDR4 UDIMM non-ECC
STORAGEM.2 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
O/SWindows 10 Pro 64bitWindows 10 Pro 64bit

Mid-Range Specification for Solidworks

For Medium-sized Datasets with no more than 2000 PartsMOBILE WORKSTATIONDESKTOP WORKSTATION
PROCESSORIntel Core i7 11850H 2.5GHz (4.80 GHz)Intel Core i9-10900X (3.7GHz, 4.7GHz)
GRAPHICSNVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 6GBNVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 8 GB
RAM16GB, 2X8GB, DDR4 2933Mhz Non-ECC 32GB, 4x8GB, DDR4 UDIMM non-ECC
STORAGEM.2 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD2.5” 512GB SATA Class 20 SSD
O/SWindows 10 Pro 64bitWindows 10 Pro 64bit

High-End Specification for Solidworks

For All, Rendering, large assemblies and complicated simulationsMOBILE WORKSTATIONDESKTOP WORKSTATION
PROCESSORIntel Core i9 11950H 2.6GHz (5.00 GHz )Intel Core i9-10900X 3.7GHz (4.7GHz)
GRAPHICSNVIDIA RTX A3000, 6 GB GDDR6Nvidia RTX A4000, 8GB+
RAM64GB, 2X32GB,DDR4 2933Mhz Non-ECC 64GB 2x32GB DDR4 2666MHz Non-ECC
STORAGEM.2 1TB PCIe NVMe SSDM.2 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
O/SWindows 10 Pro 64bitWindows 10 Pro 64bit

Desktop Workstation or Mobile Workstation for Solidworks?

Choosing the right workstation, whether that be a Solidworks Workstation laptop or desktop PC. This decision can significantly impact your productivity and work quality. When deciding between a desktop vs mobile workstation, there are several key factors to consider. 

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice depends on your specific needs and working environment. So let’s explore some of the pros and cons of these different workstations to ensure you can run SolidWorks as smoothly as possible.  

Choosing A CAD Desktop Workstation?

A Desktop Workstation is an optimized computer for running programs such as Solidworks. They offer powerful processors, and have some of the best graphics cards for Solidworks. In addition, Workstation PCs also have more RAM and storage than regular desktops.

For example, the Dell Precision 7920 Workstation, which costs $20,000, comes with dual Intel Xeon Platinum 8260 processors, up to 96GB of memory, and more than five storage drives.

What’s more, this desktop workstation also features powerful Nvidia Quadro RTX graphics cards, making it ideal for longer simulations and more complex Solidworks rendering tasks. Although expensive, it’s one of the best workstations for Solidworks.

Choosing A Mobile Workstation

Mobile workstations are designed for running resource heavy programs like Solidworks and AutoCAD. These laptops offer all the power of a desktop computer but in a portable form factor.

Mobile Workstations come with powerful CPUs like the latest Intel Core i9 or Intel Xeon CPUs and the latest certified NVidia RTX graphics cards. Top-end mobile workstations can have up to 128 GB Non-ECC RAM and masses of PCIe NVMe solid state drives.

However, all this power comes at a price, with top-end mobile workstations costing up to $7000. But, if you need something more portable and want to take your Solidworks license with you wherever you go, a powerful Mobile Workstation is one of the best solutions.

Desktop PC For Solidworks
Laptop For Solidworks

Can You Use A Gaming Laptop For Solidworks?

Yes, it is possible to use a gaming laptop for Solidworks, but not all gaming laptops are suitable for running Solidworks smoothly. Solidworks works best with a graphics card that is certified by Solidworks to ensure compatibility and reliability.

While gaming laptops often come with powerful graphics cards, they are typically not certified by Solidworks. However, consumer graphics cards (gaming GPUs) like the NVidia GeForce RTX 30 or 40 series or AMD Radeon can still handle smaller parts.

Helpful Content: Check out this list of the best laptops with the best cooling systems so they are able to handle heavier lifting much better.

Gaming laptops are ideal for students learning how to work with Solidworks. It’s essential to consider the size and complexity of the projects you will be working on and choose a laptop with a dedicated GPU that meets SolidWorks’ minimum requirements for optimal performance.


Conclusion

There is no definitive answer to the laptop vs desktop for Solidworks debate. The choice depends on your own needs. While a high-end desktop workstation offers unparalleled power and performance, they are not ideal for users who need to move around with their projects.

For Solidworks students, a Razer gaming laptop would be an excellent choice as consumer cards can handle smaller parts. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide between the power and performance of a desktop workstation and the portability of a laptop for your Solidworks needs.

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Thanks for Reading, Cya Next Time!

Considering A Laptop? Read my gaming laptop buying guide for helpful tips and buying advice from an experience laptop user with 17 years of tinkering.

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