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

Written on January 5, 2017 by Matt Bach


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


Model Rotation


General Modeling Tasks

SOLIDWORKS 2017 7700K 7600K General Modeling Benchmark


File Open

File Save


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.


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.


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!"

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Tags: SOLIDWORKS, CPU, Processor
Alex Taguchi

Great review! One thing that I've been wondering is how the core count vs clock speed impacts the Iray-based SWX Visualize rendering times, specifically using the Hybrid option. Since Vis is included in the same package of SOLIDWORKS that pv360 is, we're going to start seeing pv360 users switching over to Vis for the superior quality of the final renders.

Posted on 2017-01-04 19:48:44

We did some Iray testing a bit ago that covers some of what you are asking: https://www.pugetsystems.co... . What we found is that even though Iray is able to use both the CPU and GPU, devoting more of your budget towards more powerful or multiple video cards is definitely the way to go. In addition, the more GPU power you have lessens the impact of having more CPU cores.

We haven't repeated that testing again with the new Pascal video cards and Kaby Lake CPUs, but I suspect that with a single P5000 or P6000 you will still get better overall system performance from a CPU with a high clock speed (like the i7 7700K) than one with a higher core count. If you have two GPUs (either two Quadros or a secondary GeForce card just to speed up Iray), I'm pretty confident that more cores won't help much if at all. Lower-end GPUs like a M4000 or M2000 you would probably want a CPU with a higher core count, but honestly a faster GPU is likely going to give you more performance for your dollar than a higher core count CPU. Not to mention the fact that it would be much better for SOLIDWORKS overall.

Posted on 2017-01-04 20:34:12
Alex Taguchi

Agreed. Thanks for the info. Everything you've been concluding has also coincided with our own tests and benchmarks so it's nice to see a more thorough testing like yours confirm our own thoughts on SOLIDWORKS performance. I have shared all of your SOLIDWORKS related posts to my entire technical support team to use as reference when talking to customers regarding hardware and performance issues. Keep up the awesome work!

Posted on 2017-01-05 18:39:08

Thanks! If you ever think of anything else you would like us to include in our testing, don't hesitate to stick a comment on any of our articles asking for it. We're always on the lookout for ways to improve our testing.

Posted on 2017-01-05 20:54:15

Hello Matt,

Id like to know how the new Iris 650 and the slightly older Iris Pro 850 compares to a basic, say k620, quadro card?
Especially in a Intel NUC enviroment, maybe with a complementary external gpu?

Say a intel NUC7i7BNH vs NUC6i7KYK, compared to one of you K620 workstations?

Posted on 2017-02-20 13:42:40

That is really hard to say without direct benchmarking - especially since the CPU in the NUC is not nearly as powerful as the standard desktop CPUs. Directly comparing the Iris 650 to the K620, I would imagine they are actually pretty close to on par. The K620 might be 10-15% faster, but I wouldn't expect more than that. Once you factor in the CPU, however, it could easily change quite a bit depending on the exact CPU you use on the traditional desktop system.

One thing I will note is that external graphics isn't something I would really recommend right now. It is a really cool concept that we hope will take off, but if you are looking for something that just works without requiring you to fiddle with it from time to time it isn't quite at that stage right now. People have made it work but it can definitely be a challenge at times.

Posted on 2017-02-20 18:50:04
Paul Joannides

Hi. Just wondering if you have any thoughts about the i7 7700 vs the i7 7700K. Given there isn't much difference in price between the two, I'm assuming people who aren't interesting in OCing might prefer the 7700 for it's lower amount of heat generation. However, I don't know if that is something to be concerned about. I don't see where you use the 7700 in any of your systems, where you do use the 7700K. So I'm assuming the extra heat vs. performance is something you've considered. Thanks!

Posted on 2017-03-06 22:23:01

The 7700K is about 10% faster (roughly speaking) for about $50 higher price. To me, it seems like there is almost never a reason to get the 7700 instead. The only times would be small form factor systems where the 7700K was too hot or used too much power (like our smallest Echo model) or in cases where the $50 would break your budget.

Posted on 2017-03-06 22:25:56

I should also note that the Core i5 7600K has the same maximum turbo boost speed as the i7 7700 (non-K) and costs even less. In applications where Hyperthreading won't be used effectively it is a strong option as well (again, if you can't afford the 7700K).

Posted on 2017-03-06 22:27:46

Thanks, William. Much appreciated. How effectively does After Effects use Hyperthreading? Am wondering if the $100 difference between the 7600K and 7700K wouldn't be better spent on more RAM.

Posted on 2017-03-06 23:54:36

Hmm, I'm not sure. I know the 7700K does great in AE, but the reason we don't often recommend it for that program is that it only supports 64GB of memory at most - and large AE projects can benefit from even more memory than that. If you are on a budget, though, I could potentially see a good argument for going with the 7600K if doing so allows you to get more RAM, storage, space, a better video card, etc.

Posted on 2017-03-07 00:01:56

Thank you! I currently have 8GB, so the thought of 64GB makes my jaw drop.

Posted on 2017-03-07 00:24:26
Alex Taguchi

Are there any plans to test the Ryzen 1800x/1700x against the i7-7770k and 6900k for SOLIDWORKS Simulation/Flow Simulation?

Posted on 2017-03-09 22:00:49

Yes, we have an article up for that: https://www.pugetsystems.co... that includes some simulation tests. The 1800X results are placeholders at the moment, although I have the testing running right now so I should be able to update with actual results later today.

Edit: Figured I might as well put in the answer as well. Overall, Ryzen falls behind Intel's CPUs quite a bit for simulation within SOLIDWORKS. You are looking at about 20-25% faster performance with the i7 7700K or 30-35% faster performance with the 6900K.

Posted on 2017-03-09 22:14:04
jorge Hdez

Hi I'm trying to buy a pc for Maya, Blender, photoshop, premier, and I do not know which option to buy ...
1700x 2x gtx 1080
7700k 2x gtx 1080
2683 v3 2x gtx 1080.
I'm not a gamer...

Posted on 2017-03-15 10:43:36

Unless you are using a GPU-based rendering engine in Maya or Blender (such as Octane), dual video cards won't actually be of any benefit for the software you listed. It would actually be better to only get a single GTX 1080 and spend that savings on a higher-end CPU like a 6850K or possibly 6900K. That will give you much better render times out of Maya or Blender (assuming you are not using a GPU-based rendering engine of course) and better performance in Premiere Pro as well.

If you are limited to just those three configurations you listed, though, I would definitely go with the "7700k 2x gtx 1080". It should be much faster overall than the other CPU options you listed. It may be slightly slower for rendering, but overall I think you would be happier with the 7700K.

Posted on 2017-03-15 17:24:42

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