If you work or study in Computer Aided Design/Engineering, you may be familiar with Solidworks, a program primarily used on Microsoft Windows by more than two million engineers (as of 2013 - it’s probably a whole lot more these days!)
In order to run such complicated software, you need a laptop with enough power to withstand its hefty processes, given it’s been updated greatly since its conception and original version, which debuted in 1995.
To ensure you pick out a product that’s suitable for this and other similar software, there’s no need to open hundreds of tabs.
Just choose from our list of five of the best, right here, right now. We’ve done all the research for you!
Prefer to know more about your purchases, rather than trust the words of a stranger?
No worries - consult our Buyer’s Guide, where we’ve clearly outlined everything you need to know, without resorting to difficult technical jargon.
Likewise, should you still have a question, concern or stress, just consult the set of FAQs right at the end; after gathering some of the most common queries from fellow Solidworks fans, there’s a good chance we’ve covered yours too!
Scared Of Solidworks Stress? Here’s Our Top Pick:
OUR TOP PICK
It might be an expensive investment, but this Vivobook is ideal for a budding CAD student to achieve their wildest design dreams, and that’s why it’s our number one choice for use with Solidworks. It ticks every single developer recommendation!
A brand new, four-sided NanoEdge design suggests a near bezel-free display, practically frameless - more screen space than you’ve ever seen before, for immersive visuals that really make your projects pop.
Boasting the latest Intel Core i7 processors and discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics, it’s more than capable of achieving the 3.3 GHz required for Solidworks and should have no trouble at all running even the most complicated files.
16GB of RAM paired with a 1TB SSD and the latest Windows 10 Home OS means lag shouldn’t be a problem, and your laptop should run near-silently, too! There’s even a 5.65 inch touchscreen built in, offering a useful secondary display!
You can see and view more with the 178 degree wide viewing angle, and it’s lightweight enough to carry around all day long with no trouble, weighing less than 3lbs!
Plus, an ergonomic backlit keyboard for those late-night study sessions.
- 15.6 inch full HD display, 88% screen-to-body ratio
- Super powerful i7 processor and NVIDIA graphics card
- Interactive, secondary touchscreen enhances your productivity
- 16GB of RAM - meets Solidworks guidelines
- A pretty pricey investment! RAM cannot be upgraded, either
Though it’s advertised as a gaming laptop, the specifications needed for blasting zombies in HD are equally as powerful as those for running CAD programs, so the MSI GL65 encompasses everything you need. It’s a bonus if you game, too!
An extremely thin, 144Hz IPS-level thin bezel display offers a rapid refresh rate that unlocks your GPU’s full potential, for ultra-smooth graphics and powerful AI enhancement that will bring your designs to life.
16GB of RAM is plenty of memory for processing complex data without any lag, whilst the very latest NVIDIA GEForce RTX graphics card with superior performance offers up to 52% speed increase in comparison with previous generations.
Dedicated Cooler Boost 5 CPU/GPU thermal solutions (two fans, four exhausts and seven pipes!) are designed to secure optimum performance, even under the most extreme pressures, so those extra large files will prove no trouble at all.
A powerful SSD drive working alongside the newest Windows operating system ensures total compatibility with the latest version of Solidworks, so there’s no need to download an older version.
It’ll run like clockwork, too.
- 144Hz extremely thin bezel display
- 52% speed increase on previous models
- Revolutionary cooling system for crunching intense projects
- Monitor, customize and optimize settings using MSI’s free Dragon Centre software
- Poor quality sound via tinny speakers (but that doesn’t matter for Solidworks!)
From tech giant Dell comes their newest offering, the Inspiron 17-700, brand new for 2020, boasting the newest Windows 10 Pro software and a whole host of other features that’ll have Solidworks running like a dream, every time.
Combining the flexibility of a tablet with the full power and capability of a desktop CPU, loaded with the sixth generation i7 processor and 16GB RAM for the speediest loading times and completing more intensive tasks without breaking a sweat.
Convertible between four different modes, you can use the standard laptop setup for typing up, fold in half for tablet and stylus style designing (or easy swiping), then in meetings or to deliver a presentation, flip round into ‘tent’ or ‘stand’ and share it all.
Proffering not just a 1TB HDD, but a bonus 128GB SSD, everything works in tandem for an effortless, efficient working laptop that allows you to take full advantage of every bit of the 17.3” brushed aluminum display.
Instant startup, swift switching between applications and frequent updates will vastly increase your productivity - never again be slowed down by your computer!
You’ll only have your own procrastination to overcome.
- Four mode, convertible tablet laptop hybrid
- Desktop style CPU and GPU for ultimate power
- 5GB of free OneDrive storage
- 6th generation i7 processors
- All of those features come at a price - a high one!
Promising the next generation of performance with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, the Legion 5 from Lenovo.
A smart dynamic discharge management system fuses practicality, precision and performance to prioritize your most important tasks.
By combining industry-beating thermal efficiency to handle anything you want to throw at it, the Coldfront 2.0 system cools and dissipates any heat using the dual-channel thermal mechanism, proffering nearly 70 polymer coated fan blades.
Stunning visuals on the Full HD IPS display and a 144Hz refresh rate allow for less than 3 milliseconds of response time, and up to 8 powerful Zen 2 cores on the latest Ryzen processor paired with NVIDIA GTX graphics offer a futuristic performance.
Delivering an unprecedented increase in speed and performance, multitasking and those especially heavy workloads are absolutely no problem for the Legion 5, so you can really get the full Solidworks experience, lag free.
Plus, with Legion’s dedicated 24/7 phone and live chat services, led by experienced technicians who can offer expert advice on hardware optimization, you’ve got more than enough support in the event of an issue.
- Latest Ryzen 4000 H-series processing unit and 16GB of RAM
- Immersive IPS display, ultra-thin bezel
- Coldfront 2.0 technology keeps those fans running efficiently no matter how large the workload
- Full-time customer service for full support
- Limited battery life in comparison to other laptops
Though it’s certainly a budget option (at least, in comparison to the other laptops on our list!) the 14z-fq00 from HP’s Pavilion series offers an impressive set of specifications, including a whopping 32GB of RAM!
Thanks to an impressive AMD Radeon Athlon Silver graphics card, 2TB SSD and advanced communication power, you can save, store and load faster than ever before; dual-core two way processing offers optimum efficiency on the go.
Though on the slightly smaller size, the 14 inch display is still beautiful with HD BrightView technology and anti glare on the widescreen LED display, for looking at your CAD designs in all of their glory.
On Windows 10 Home, you can achieve everything you’d want to on the newest version of Solidworks with full compatibility and all the performance you’d expect from a high quality Microsoft operating system.
Super lightweight, sleek, and more than portable at just over 3lb, it’s extremely portable for working on the go - be sure to avoid choosing S-Mode at installation and stick to the original operating system to avoid restrictions to the Windows Store
- 32GB of DDR4 RAM for smooth program running
- AMD Radeon graphics card for shared video memory
- Windows 10 Home included as standard
- Anti-glare and energy efficient
- Not as powerful as some of the other offerings
Best Solidworks Laptop Buying Guide
Picking out a laptop that works well with Solidworks uses the same principles as buying a decent laptop in regards to durability and speed, as well as ensuring it meets the specifications outlined by the developers.
Let’s go through them!
In an ideal world, you’re going to want to run Solidworks on Microsoft Windows, as it is not currently supportive of macOS; you can use an Intel-based Mac that has Windows installed and in use, but the manufacturers advise against such practices.
Though older iterations of Microsoft OS can still support previous versions of the software, you won’t be able to run the most up to date version (due for release in early 2021), though Windows 7 can run the 2020 file which is impressive.
If you’re really determined to use Solidworks on your Mac, Innova Systems, a well known assistive service for CAD programs, have developed a workaround guide, though you’ll need considerable knowledge of OS and installation to follow it!
Often referred to as the CPU, or Central Processing Unit, your laptop’s processor is important for the smooth and efficient running of any program - without a sufficiently powerful unit, you’re doomed to eternal lag and buffering.
The folks at Solidworks suggest aiming for a processor running at 3.3 GHz or higher is your best bet for optimum performance; from Intel, who is the biggest producer of processors, this is the equivalent of a Core i3.
However, this is the bare minimum, and by opting for an even stronger, more capable processor can vastly increase the speed at which you complete your work. If you struggle with productivity as it is, it can be a godsend!
Likewise, for the sake of handling a wider range of features with more efficiency, it’s recommended you opt for the latest Intel i7 or Xeon processor, as well as turning on Turbo Boost where possible to improve overall performance.
When it comes to RAM, or Random Access Memory, it is recommended you use a laptop with at least 16GB, if not more, though if you’re only running a PDM Contributor/Viewer or Electrical Schematic, 8GB or more should be sufficient.
For more complicated models and drawings, running simulations or working with particularly large data sets, you might be better off with more like 32GB of RAM, for the sake of loading complex data-heavy calculations.
Should your laptop run out of memory, it’s possible that your file loading time will become noticeably - if not dramatically - slower, so save yourself the hassle and invest in a decent, high quality laptop with plenty of RAM, right off the bat.
Rather than specify a single graphics card, Solidworks have actually compiled a list of certified graphics cards, in order to ensure you pick up a laptop that is compatible for their program - isn’t that kind of them!
They also have a list of older graphics cards, which aren’t officially certified by Solidworks anymore (because they rely on outdated technologies), but will still be able to withstand the demands. This is ideal if you’re on a budget!
Said page is regularly refreshed with new driver releases and software updates, so if you’re ever looking to upgrade or replace your setup, be sure to check again and make sure you’re working off of the latest information!
In order to achieve optimal performance, Solidworks recommend a Solid State Drive or SSD; much like a regular Hard Disk Drive, they are used for the reading and writing of data, but can maintain stored information even when the laptop is off.
You’ll find that this will benefit your laptop usage on a daily basis, because not only are they immobile (requiring no movement to work), but much faster than their older counterparts, and a great deal quieter to run, too.
When it comes to Solidworks in particular, this will not aid in program performance in general (your laptop’s GPU is more important) but ensures that your startup time is much shorter, as well as increasing the speed at which you can save and load files.
Of course, if you’re planning to do all of your Solidworks designing at home, this doesn’t really matter too much, but for those who prefer the opportunity to work on the go, prioritizing a lightweight and portable design is in your best interest.
One that weighs less than 5 pounds will be more than fine for toting around in a backpack, though you may have to compromise the display size for the sake of obtaining a lighter model if you prefer.
On that note, battery life is also an important consideration, given that Solidworks is such an intensive program when you’re running large files. A laptop that can cope with the demands of such software for more than an hour or two is necessary.
Slightly more obvious, but still important to mention, is durability: there’s no point investing in a sleek and sexy high powered laptop if it’s going to fall apart or succumb to transportation pressures after a few weeks of use!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I make Solidworks run faster?
There was actually a study conducted by Computer Aided Technology Inc (CATI) who developed a brilliant paper regarding the best way to maximize Solidworks performance - there are several steps you can take, but here’s the short version.
Adjusting Windows Visual Effects settings to disable unnecessary animations, unnecessary details and other design elements that can be scaled back (under Performance Options) for an 8.5% speed increase.
By setting Solidworks options to “optimal” - which involves turning down a number of quality settings and features - you can boost your speed by 9.1%, though if you need some of those switched on for work, striking a compromise is probably better.
Any program add-ons you’re not using, you can also turn off (provided you don’t need them) for a more efficient performance, as well as turning off your antivirus software for the duration of working on Solidworks.
To learn more about how to improve your productivity using CAD software, have a look at the more thorough guide that the folks at TransMagic, a popular Softworks add-in, have developed based on the CATI study.
Can I get Solidworks for free?
Whilst the program itself is not free, it’s possible to get a week long free trial of the software, to road test before you commit to purchasing.
However, if your school or college have paid for their Student Access program, you could already have access.
It’s likely that in the event you’re studying a CAD course, your education facilities will provide you with a copy of Solidworks, and if they don’t, it could be worth asking them to use some of their budget for a copy of the license!