Modern laptops do not get left behind when it comes to comparing performance with that of desktops. In fact, high-end laptops are designed to provide desktop-class performance which makes them suitable for top computer-aided design (CAD) software, including SolidWorks. So, it’s safe to say that you can totally rely on the right laptop as your mobile SolidWorks workstation.
There is one common misconception that the best laptops for SolidWorks are the ones having top-of-the-range hardware configuration. The reality is, it’s important to know that the hardware requirement for CAD software isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The hardware configuration you need in a laptop largely depends on the requirement that is specific to you. If you are a learner/a beginner in SolidWorks, a mid-range laptop with better-than-average specifications will help you get the job done. On the other hand, if you are a seasoned SolidWorks professional or want to build your engineering design expertise in it, a high-end laptop will be the right investment for you.
To help you have the right hardware requirement at your disposal, we have compiled a list of some of the best laptops for SolidWorks and other professional-level CAD software. In the list, you will find laptops of different brands, technical specifications, usages, and price. We recommend going through this minimum hardware requirement specs sheet prior to checking out our amazing laptop selection!
CPU – The minimum CPU requirement for SolidWorks is Intel core i5 quad core processor. Since SolidWorks is largely single-threaded, CPUs with a good single core performance are the recommended choice.
RAM – 8GB is the minimum requirement for doing basic-level SolidWorks tasks. 16 GB DDR 4 RAM and above can help you meet the memory requirements needed for large-scale models and extensive simulation studies.
GPU – NVIDIA Quadro, AMD Radeon Pro WX and AMD FirePro series are certified for use in CAD software. Look out for a GPU falling under one of these series.
Storage – Keeping all your models (both 2D and 3D) consolidated under one storage unit helps you keep proper track of them and easily access them. For that, a minimum of 256 GB of SSD storage is a must. Having 1TB HDD storage comes as an additional benefit.
MSI WE75 – Overall best laptop for SolidWorks
SolidWorks compatibility at its best
Running a specific CAD or MCAD (Mechanical CAD) software in a laptop becomes a hassle-free experience if the hardware is optimized for it. And if this seems wishful thinking to you, it isn’t, definitely not with the MSI WE75. The NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 GPU that this laptop uses is certified for SolidWorks. The GPU can take all the modeling, rendering, and rebuilding tasks you throw at it.
However, it’s not just the certified GPU that makes MSI WE75 one of the best laptops to run SolidWorks. The laptop also comes as an unmistakable choice with a high processing power that its 9th generation Intel core i7 CPU cranks. Coming on par with the processing power is the laptop’s fast 32 GB DDR4 RAM which helps you steer clear from lag and freeze issues that are common in low-end hardware configuration. MSI WE75 also stands out from the crowd with its large 17.3 inches full HD display. The display has a good color reproduction and helps ease your viewing experience when designing or iterating 3D models that have multiple parts. Adding more viewing comfort is the display’s good viewing angles.
Storage isn’t the best highlight of this laptop, but its 512 GB SSD storage capacity can suffice for all your storage needs. If you need more storage, later on, you can simply go for external or cloud storage options. Also, its uber-chic body design helps you make a sophisticated style statement.
GPU suited for SolidWorks
Thin bezels display
No Thunderbolt 3
Weight is a bit on the heavier side
HP ZBook 15u G5 – A powerful desktop in disguise
Product design and development are two areas where SolidWorks finds a majority of its applications in. If you use the CAD software for either one or both purposes, the HP ZBook 15u G5 is the right mobile workstation for you. The entire Z workstation lineup of HP has been designed for high-performance, scalability, and reliability that is needed in professional-level product design and development. And this HP ZBook 15u G5 carries the DNA of the brand’s Z workstation lineup.
The laptop gets its high processing power from the powerful 8th generation Intel core i7 quad core processor. With the CPU’s 4.0 GHz of overclocking power combined with 32GB of DDR4 RAM, you can work on multiple assemblies and iterations without breaking a sweat. HP ZBook 15u G5 comes under the category of SolidWorks recommended laptops as it uses the ultra-fast and powerful AMD Radeon Pro WX 3100 GPU. The 15.6 inches full HD display and highly-responsive trackpad with multi-gesture support let you enjoy productivity at its peak.
HP’s entire Z workstation lineup meets the ISV (Independent Software Vendor) certification, and the ZBook 15u G5 is no different. Passing ISV certification bears the testimony that the software and hardware integration work well with professional applications.
Smooth and reliable performance
Premium build quality
Not the best webcam
Weight is a bit on the heavier side
Dell Precision 5530 – A perfect balance of price and performance
It can be a bummer if the price of a mobile workstation outweighs the performance that it can deliver. But it’s companies like Dell that come into the picture and offer immense value in exchange for the prices they list. This has been certainly true with the Dell Precision 5530 as it strikes a fine balance between price and performance. A look at the laptop’s technical specifications and you will know that the company didn’t hold back in configuring a powerful hardware setup that’s suitable for running professional-grade CAD software.
Dell Precision 5530 draws attention with its 8th generation Intel Core i7 6 core CPU that is capable of delivering consistently-powerful performance. The CPU’s hexa core architecture is just what you need for SolidWorks-related multi-threaded rendering. Also, SolidWorks IGES exports don’t come as a performance challenge, given the high single-core benchmark of the CPU. Boosting more computing power is the CAD software-certified Nvidia Quadro P1000 GPU.
In the laptop’s memory department, a 16 GB DDR4 RAM does all the multi-tasking handling. The combination of 256 GB SSD and 500 GB HDD storage capacity meets your 2D and 3D model storage requirements. Dell Precision 5530’s full HD display has thin bezels which open up more viewing room in the 15.6 inches footprint.
Performance outweighs price
Lightweight and thin body design
Bottom placement of the webcam
Lenovo ThinkPad P53s – The Swiss Army Knife-equivalent of CAD-suitable laptops
Lenovo laptops of the ThinkPad series have remained at the forefront of professional-level fast and reliable computing over the years. Working professionals (based on various industries) who have used one of the ThinkPad models know how work-focused they are designed to be. For engineering/technical design students and professionals who want a powerful laptop that can keep up with their go-getter spirit, Lenovo ThinkPad P53s is the answer.
Lenovo ThinkPad P53s isn’t the most expensive laptop, but it sure does perform like one, thanks to its 8th generation Intel core i7 quad core processor. If needed, the processor can clock up to 4.60 GHz of computing juice for processing-intensive tasks. The laptop’s computing strength also lies in its GPU, the powerful NVIDIA Quadro P520 which helps secure its position amongst some of the best laptops for SolidWorks. The graphics card can efficiently handle SolidWorks-related model simulation and rendering tasks. Whether you want to work on multiple models or open more than one software, the 16 GB DDR4 RAM has got your back for going on a multi-tasking spree.
There’s no denying to the fact that ThinkPad laptops have the best-in-class keyboards. Similar to other ThinkPads, this model has desktop-like keyboard functions and feel which perfectly complements ergonomic viewing that its 15.6 inches full HD display offers. Also, the classic three-button responsive trackpad helps you smoothly execute certain SolidWorks commands with mouse gesture shortcuts.
Performance that’s in line with ThinkPads’ reputation
Good battery life
Not the best aesthetics
ASUS ROG Hero III G731GW – stay ahead of the CAD curve
Modern games are CPU and GPU-intensive, just like high-resolution 3D modeling, simulation, and rendering in SolidWorks. What this means for you is that you can use the high-level computing arsenal of the ASUS ROG Hero III G731GW to crush all your CAD tasks. Given the thought-out configuration of this laptop, it’s better to let the technical specifications do the talking.
Starting the specification rundown with the CPU is the perfect way to introduce the uncompromized processing power of this laptop. A 9th generation Intel core i7 hexa core processor makes way for a beastly performance. The CPU doesn’t hesitate to push up to 4.5GHz of processing speed should you need it. Parallel thread computing through hyperthreading is backed by NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 GPU and 32 GB DDR4 RAM in conjunction with the CPU. In other words, multi-threaded tasks such as creating intricate hidden line views and opening multiple files are handled well. Also, the laptop’s processing power doesn’t fall behind in single-threaded applications. Therefore, rebuild, one of the core areas of SolidWorks, is well-supported.
A 1 TB of fast SSD storage is more than what you can ask for in a powerful laptop like the ASUS ROG Hero III G731GW. Its 1TB HDD storage is an unmistakable addition. And not to forget its 17.3 inches full HD display that offers a utilitarian and immersive viewing. This laptop tops in the design category as well. The future-proof aesthetics of this model ensure that it’ll not look outdated for many years to come.
Uncompromized hardware configuration
Modern body design
Bodyweight is a bit heavy
Acer Nitro 5 – an affordable pick that helps you get through
Owning a laptop that helps you get most of your CAD work done doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shell out a high budget. The Acer Nitro 5 is one affordable and powerful laptop that breaks this misconception. Acer certainly deserves a round of applause for configuring just the right amount of computing power that doesn’t raise this laptop’s price range high.
At the heart of the Acer Nitro 5 is its 9th generation Intel core i5 quad core processor that helps you get medium-level work done such as designing single parts or small assemblies limited to up to 10 parts. Considering the price tag that Acer Nitro 5 comes at, the brand didn’t cut corners in graphics processing power. The powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTZ 1650 GPU that’s used in this model makes it a better-than-good laptop for Solidworks and other CAD and MCAD software.
A whopping 1TB of HDD and 128 GB of SSD storage capacity make up for the decent 8GB DDR3 RAM. If you aren’t into multitasking when working, the laptop’s RAM will get you through just fine. The thin bezels of the full HD 15.6 inches display design are in sync with the modern gaming-like aesthetic of the laptop.
Powerful performance in a budget
Not the best RAM
A bit bulky design adds to its body weight
Acer Predator Helios 300 – your perfect productivity companion
If Acer can pull off a powerful performance in a mid-range, budget laptop, they certainly can set the bar higher with a range-topping model. The Predator Helios 300 is a tangible testimony to this. The laptop’s got all the SolidWorks-related computing power you need as it houses one of the most powerful hardware configurations that are available in a 15.6 inches display size footprint.
On paper, a 9th generation Intel i7 hexa core CPU powers the laptop with up to 4.5 GHz of processing speed. The combination of a 16 GB DDR4 RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU can take some of the most graphics-intensive CAD tasks you throw at it. The 144 GHz of refresh rate of the full HD display unfailingly complements the graphics processing power of the laptop’s GPU, CPU, and RAM ensemble.
One of the biggest benefits that you’ll find in 15 inches laptops like the Acer Predator Helios 300 is full keyboard size (which includes the number pad on the right-hand side). At first, it may seem trivial, but it comes as one of the minimum SolidWorks requirements. You can use the dedicated number pad to work with shortcut commands in SolidWorks and other CAD software. Loading complex 3D models can be time-consuming, but not with the laptop’s 512 GB SSD storage that has fast read and write capabilities.
Performance justifies its price
Good for long-term CAD usage
A bit bulky and heavy
Razer Blade 15 – Powerful performance bundled in a sleek package
One of the primary reasons that laptops stand out from desktops is portability. In other words, it’s the portability of laptops that help you have the power of a mobile workstation wherever you go. The Razer Blade 15 capitalizes on the portability factor with a desktop-class computing performance. In fact, Razer Blade 15 is one of the few laptops to sport a powerful CAD-suitable performance on a 15.6 inches display footprint category, and that too on a sleek and lightweight chassis.
The specification amazement in this laptop starts with the 8th generation Intel core i7 hexa core CPU. The CPU works together with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU to deliver consistent performance and amazing frame rates in high-resolution 3D modeling. While you’re busy designing, simulating, or rendering 2D and 3D models, the 16 GB DDR4 RAM does the memory-keeping duty.
Razer Blade 15 leads with speed not just in the computing department but also in storage. The fast read and write capabilities of the 256 GB SSD storage further accelerates the overall performance. And if you need more storage for space-heavy files, 1 TB of HDD storage capacity is there to back you up. It would be an injustice to Razer Blade 15 if its compact body design isn’t talked about. The uber-chic aesthetics that the slim and portable body of this laptop carries makes it a winner amongst other mobile workstations.
Reliable performance that’s well-suited for CAD software
Highly portable body design
Not the best battery backup
GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P 15 inches – unsurpassed performance optimization
GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P takes the slim and portable chassis leap just like the way Razer Blade 15 does. But it’s worth noticing that the portable design approach isn’t focused just towards aesthetics, much emphasis has been laid towards CAD-suitable performance as well.
GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P stands out from the crowd with its excellent performance optimization that is backed by Microsoft Azure AI. The system analyses user preference data and automatically adjusts the best CPU and GPU wattage setting. Although this feature is highly beneficial for gaming, it comes into good use when working on SolidWorks as well. This is especially true for several SolidWorks tasks such as 3D model rendering and rebuilding that take quite a significant amount of time. Coming to the laptop’s core computing units, an Intel i7 hexa core processor works together with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 GPU and 16 GB DDR4 RAM to support all your CAD-related computing needs.
The stunning 144GHz refresh rate of the laptop’s 15.6 inches full HD display makes sure that graphics isn’t compromized for high-resolution model-designing. Storge with fast access isn’t a problem with GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P, all the credit goes to its 1TB SSD storage capacity. Also, the sleek design of this laptop makes it look like an ultra-modern mobile workstation.
Powerful computing in a sleek footprint
Portability at its best
High SSD storage capacity
Bottom placement of the webcam
Microsoft Surface Book 2 – versatility and powerful performance combo
If you are somebody who works or prefers to work from scratch when it comes to CAD-related model designing, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 can be your perfect companion. Amongst several reasons why, the most important one (as you’d already guess) is its 2-in-1 laptop and tablet mode. Initial model conceptualization through sketching can become way easier for you with the Surface Book 2’s tablet mode. The Surface Pen supports multiple features such as lag-less fidelity, pressure sensitivity, and tilt shading that add more convenience. The innovative Surface Dial opens up more room for interacting with your initial sketches or prototype models in the most natural and immersive ways.
Luckily for people who prefer the upright stance of laptops, the Surface Book 2’s tablet mode doesn’t overshadow its laptop mode. When converted into laptop mode, this Surface Book feels and performs like some of the other good laptops for SolidWorks and other CAD software. This laptop gets top-of-the-line computing power from its 8th generation Intel i7 quad core CPU and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 discrete GPU. Its 16 GB RAM does all the good work of keeping multiple tasks in memory.
The 15 inches display of the Surface Book 2 doesn’t go unnoticed, not certainly with its ultra HD pixel-dense resolution. A 512 GB of fast-access SSD storage adds more value to the overall hardware configuration of this 2-in-1 laptop.
Multiple options for add-ons
Compatible add-ons such as Surface Pen and Surface Dial come separately
FAQs to clear your further doubts (if you have any)
What are the areas in a laptop for SolidWorks that you can compromise on?
Ideally, the best option is not to compromise on anything when choosing a laptop for SolidWorks and other CAD and MCAD software. However, when it comes to having a limited budget, you are left with no choice but to make some sacrifices.
Since portability is one of the primary reasons for many to choose a laptop over a desktop, smaller display size such as 13 and 14 inches work just fine. You can let go of a bigger display size if it’s adding up the cost. Less RAM (not lower than 8 GB) is another area where you can optimize your budget if you are a SolidWorks beginner as you’ll be working on simple models. Many laptops come with the option of upgrading RAM. As such, you can increase RAM size later on, should you need it.
How long will the latest (SolidWorks-recommended laptop) laptop last?
There’s no definite answer to this. Several factors such as build-quality, hardware scalability, and the way you use it can determine the longevity of the latest laptop you choose. From a general point of view, you should be able to use a recently-launched laptop for up to 6 years.
The latest laptops, especially ones with best-in-class hardware such as Intel core i7 and i9 processors, DDR4 RAMs with speeds above the 3000 MHz mark, and GPUs with 4000+ CUDA cores and 1500 MHz+ boost clock can be future-proof for up to 6 to 7 years. How well you take care of your laptop will also determine its longevity.
Should I choose thin body design over a bulky one for portability?
If you intend to use the laptop as a powerful mobile workstation for SolidWorks and other computing-intensive CAD software, it’s best not to let the thin body priority get in the way. The reason why some modern laptops are not so thin is because of the well-calibrated cooling system they employ. And the better the cooling and thermal management, the more miles your laptop’s CPU and GPU will be able to cover without performance drops. Besides, most modern not-so-thin laptops aren’t overly bulky to the extent that portability takes a hit.
Once you have found a laptop that suits your SolidWorks requirements, your role to play is to regularly optimize it for the best performance and experience. We recommend two important ways to do this, first is to use add-ons such as SSDs, video cards, a digital drawing pad, and a multi-function mouse.
The second step is to keep your laptop’s graphics drivers up-to-date. You can do this by visiting SolidWorks’ certified cards and drivers page where you can check if the latest driver version of your laptop’s graphics card is available. If yes, simply download the latest certified graphics driver version and optimize your laptop’s GPU for better-suited performance.