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Topic Title: Best Laptop card for CAD use (SolidWorks)
Topic Summary: What is the best Video Card for handling large assemblies
Created On: 06/15/2012 10:24 AM
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 06/15/2012 10:24 AM
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Joined: 06/15/2012

I am looking into replacing an aged desktop with a new Dell Laptop capable of handling large assemblies in Solidworks 2012. I have looked at a couple combos to try and maximize performance and minimize cost. What I have noticed is that Dell is obnoxiously restrictive on what they allow you to customize with, here are the two leaders of the pack so far:

1) Dell Precision M6600 Workstation $3,379
Intel Core i7-2760 2.4 Ghz 6M cache (only processor shown available)
NVIDIA Quadro 4000M 2 GB GDDR5 (SolidWorks Approved)
16 GB DDR3-1600MHz
750 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive

2) Alienware M17x $2,624
Intel Core i7-3820 up to 3.7 Ghz 8M cache
2 Gb GDDR5 AMD Radeon HD 7970M
24GB Dual Channel DDR3 1600 MHz
500GB 7200 RPM with 32GB mSATA caching SSD

The main deterrent that I can see for the Alienware is the fact that the AMD Radeon 7970M is not listed as a certified SolidWorks card, they primarily recommend Quadro cards or FirePro but this seems to be because that is all they have tested (from what I read). From the benchmark data I have seen on the two GPUs it looks like the 7970M blows the Quadro out of the water (I think these numbers come from Gaming performance though).It just seems that you can get so much more computer for the price compared to the M6600.

From my research I have come to find that the priorities of components should be Processor, RAM, Hard Drive, GPU, if this is the case then the M18x is head over heels better than the M6600. Does anyone have experience running SolidWorks with large assemblies on the AMD Radeon 7970M?
 06/23/2012 05:22 PM
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Stanley Hudson

Posts: 274
Joined: 09/17/2008

There are driver "hacks" in order to get these cards to work. Professional cards (in most cases) are just rebrands of consumer cards with larger frame buffers (more VRAM) and
professional driver support. For Solidworks, you're going to be drawn to the card that has superior FLOPs. I really think the Alienware computer is better suited for you, however realize that getting the card to properly support the program won't be entirely legal, but will end up the better solution in the end. Also, you can throw technical support out the window if you modify the files needed to get the card to work, but it appears that only "real view" is disabled from non-professional cards.

Anyway, here's a link for you to get that to work :

Users on the Solidworks forums are split on the issue. Personally, I use a 5770 for Autodesk Inventor and experience no issues.

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