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SOLIDWORKS 2017 Intel Core i7 7700K & i5 7600K Performance

Written on January 5, 2017 by Matt Bach
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Introduction

When Intel launches a new set of CPUs, the main question everyone wants to know is how much faster they are compared to the old models. In this article, we will be tackling this question in terms of SOLIDWORKS performance by examining how the new Intel Core i7 7700K and i5 7600K perform compared to the previous generation Intel Core i7 6700K and i5 6600K. In addition, we will also look at a number of "High-End" Core i7 CPUs including the i7 6850K, i7 6900K, and i7 6950X.

There are a wide variety of tasks we could test in SOLIDWORKS, but in this article we will specifically be looking at:

  1. Opening/saving assemblies and drawings
  2. Rebuilding an assembly
  3. Performing a motion study
  4. Rotating a complex assembly model
  5. Running a simulation (FEA and flow)
  6. Rendering

We are going to divide these tasks into three groups: general modeling, simulation, and rendering. If you would rather skip over the individual results, feel free to jump right to the conclusion section.

Test Setup

To see how the new Core i7 7700K and i5 7600K perform in SOLIDWORKS, we used the following configurations:

These test configurations include three different platforms along with seven different CPU models. For SOLIDWORKS, we typically would recommend a quad core CPU with a high frequency since most modeling tasks cannot efficiently take advantage of having more cores. However, we also wanted to include some of the "High-End" Core i7 CPUs with 6-10 cores since some tasks (like FEA simulations and rendering) can give better performance with a higher core count CPU.

To make sure our results are as accurate as possible we used a combination of Solidworks macros and a custom AutoIt script to start Solidworks, load the relevant test file, then time how long it takes to perform the task we want to benchmark. The files we used were a mix of Solidworks training files and files available from GrabCad.com. These files and the associated test are:

Test Files
File Open & Save Assembly - Vertical Twin Steam Engine with Reverse Gear (by Ridwan Septyawan)
Drawing - punch_holder (Solidworks Performance Test dataset)
Motion Study Gear Train Mechanism with Fixed and Swaying Axes (by trinityscsp)
FEA Simulation FEA Benchmark V3
Flow Simulation - Airflow Billboard - Lesson14 Case Study (Solidworks 2015 Flow Sim. training files)
Rebuild/Rendering Vertical Twin Steam Engine with Reverse Gear (by Ridwan Septyawan)
Model Rotation Audi R8 by ma73us

File Open/Save  - Assembly

File Open/Save - Drawing

Motion Study

FEA Simulation

Flow Simulation - Airflow

Rebuild/Rendering

Model Rotation

 

General Modeling Tasks

SOLIDWORKS 2017 7700K 7600K General Modeling Benchmark

 

File Open

File Save

Rebuild

Motion Study

Model Rotation

 
  Performance compared to 
Intel Core i7 6700K
Performance Compared to
Intel Core i5 6600K
Intel Core i7 7700K 107.0% 118.5%
Intel Core i5 7600K 99.3% 110.2%

For the general modeling tasks we tested (including opening/saving files, rebuilding an assembly, motion study, and rotating a complex model), the difference in performance across the various CPUs was very consistent. On average, we saw about a 7% increase in performance with the new Intel Core i7 7700K compared to the old Core i7 6700K which exactly matches the 7% difference in the maximum Turbo Boost frequency between the two CPUs.

Interestingly, while the Core i7 7700K didn't see any better performance than what was simply gained through the higher operating frequency, for the Core i5 7600K this is not the case. This time, instead of the ~8% increase in frequency over the Core i5 6600K, we saw on average a 10.2% increase in performance. This isn't a large discrepancy, but it is enough to indicate that there are other architecture improvements in the new Kaby Lake CPUs beyond the raw increase in frequency.

One last thing we want to point out is that since these tasks are all single or lightly threaded, meaning they do not benefit from having a higher number of cores, the 6-10 Core CPUs do not fare particularly well. These CPUs are anywhere from $630 to $1750, but due to the lower frequencies and older architecture they are simply outclassed by the quad core CPUs. 

FEA Simulation

SOLIDWORKS 2017 7700K 7600K FEA Simulation Benchmark

  Performance compared to 
Intel Core i7 6700K
Performance Compared to
Intel Core i5 6600K
Intel Core i7 7700K 105.4% 125.2%
Intel Core i5 7600K 90.8% 107.4%

We decided to keep FEA simulations separate from the general modeling tasks because simulations (and rendering for that matter) are able to benefit from a CPU with a higher core count. The scaling is nowhere near perfect, but it is good enough that the results are quite a bit different. This time, the Intel Core i7 7700K is only 5.4% faster than the i7 6700K and the i5 7600K is actually 9.2% slower.

What we want to be sure to point out is that the Core i7 7700K is not actually the best CPU for running FEA simulations in SOLIDWORKS. It is almost identical to the 6 core i7 6850K, but it is about 10% slower than the 8 core i7 6900K and 13% slower than the 10 core i7 6950X. A 10-13% decrease in simulation times may not be worth the much higher cost for most users, but if you have a dedicated machine for simulations it might be worth it. Just keep in mind that for general modeling tasks these CPUs will actually be about 25% slower than the Core i7 7700K.

Rendering

SOLIDWORKS 2017 7700K 7600K Rendering Benchmark

  Performance compared to 
Intel Core i7 6700K
Performance Compared to
Intel Core i5 6600K
Intel Core i7 7700K 110.2% 164.2%
Intel Core i5 7600K 76.9% 113.3%

Rendering is another task that is able to take advantage of higher core count CPUs, but unlike FEA simulations it is extremely efficient at doing so. For this task, the new Core i7 7700K is about 10% faster than the old i7 6700K. The Core i5 7600K did not fare as well, coming in at about 23% slower than the i7 6700K although it is still 13% faster than the old i5 6600K.

Once again, however, the i7 7700K is not the best CPU for rendering in SOLIDWORKS. If you do a lot of rendering, the 6 core i7 6850K is about 14% faster than the i7 7700K, the 8 Core i7 6900K is about 50% faster, and the 10 core i7 6950X is about 75% faster.

Conclusion

Overall, the new Core i7 7700K is about 7% faster than the old Core i7 6700K for general modeling tasks, 5.4% faster for simulations, and 10% faster for rendering. This isn't a huge increase in performance, but it is enough to be noticeable in many situations. The Core i5 7600K, on the other hand, is only a bit slower than the i7 6700K for general modeling tasks (less than 1%), but is about 9% slower for simulations and 23% slower for rendering.

For most users, this makes the Core i7 7700K a great all-around CPU for SOLIDWORKS. If you do a large amount of simulation or rendering, you might opt to use one of the 8 or 10 core "High-End" Core i7 CPUs, but be aware that these CPUs are significantly slower for general modeling tasks.

A 5-10% gain in performance over the previous generation CPUs isn't terribly great, although in reality it isn't all that much less than we have come to expect over the last few years. Huge 50% performance gains from new CPUs simply do not happen anymore as we get closer and closer to the limits of current manufacturing technologies. Is this relatively small gain in performance worth upgrading from an i7 6700K to an i7 7700K? That is really only something you can answer for yourself, but for many users it probably is not. Is it worth using an i7 7700K if you are already planning on purchasing a new system? Considering it shouldn't be any more expensive than the old i7 6700K we would definitely say "yes!"

Tags: SOLIDWORKS, CPU, Processor
JP

Great job! I'm surprised that even in finite element there's only 8% difference between the newer i5 and the 10 core.

Posted on 2017-07-28 12:54:45