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SOLIDWORKS 2020 SP1 CPU Performance

Written on February 28, 2020 by William George
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Introduction

With the recent release of SOLIDWORKS 2020's first service pack, as well as multiple new CPU launches from Intel and AMD in the past few months, we thought it would be a good time to do a roundup of processor performance in modeling, rendering, and simulations within SOLIDWORKS. In the past we have found this application to vary greatly in how it uses the CPU, with some functions being single-threaded while others are able to use all the cores effectively - and, of course, a spread of behavior in-between those extremes.

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Test Hardware

Here are the detailed specs of the test platforms we used:

AMD Ryzen Test Platform
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 AORUS ULTRA
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA Quadro P6000 24GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
SOLIDWORKS 2020 SP1
Intel Core Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 9900K
Intel Core i7 9700K
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12S
Motherboard Gigabyte Z390 Designare
RAM 4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA Quadro P6000 24GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
SOLIDWORKS 2020 SP1
AMD Threadripper Test Platform
CPU AMD TR 3990X
AMD TR 3970X
AMD TR 3960X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3
Motherboard Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS Pro WiFi
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA Quadro P6000 24GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
SOLIDWORKS 2020 SP1
Intel Core X Test Platform
CPU Intel Core i9 10980XE
Intel Core i9 10900X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12DX i4
Motherboard Gigabyte X299 Designare EX
RAM 4x DDR4-2933 16GB (64GB total)
Video Card NVIDIA Quadro P6000 24GB
Hard Drive Samsung 960 Pro 1TB
Software Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
SOLIDWORKS 2020 SP1

Benchmark Details

Our SOLIDWORKS benchmark suite was originally developed by one of my colleagues here at Puget Systems: Matt Bach. He put together a series of AutoIt scripts that run through testing a variety of the capabilities in SOLIDWORKS, which I have updated and added to over the years. I have been aided in that process by the help of many readers who have suggested changes, provided additional files for testing, and more. I have done my best to cite their contributions when changes they help with are made to our testing.

Most recently, before this last round of benchmarks, I added a rebuild test with the help of Issac Roberts, an Aerospace Engineer. I was having trouble because our former rebuild file was taking only fractions of a second for a full rebuild in SW 2020, far too short to get any actionable data. Issac provided an artificially complex file that was built specifically to take a lot longer to rebuild - more so that most real world assemblies, but it worked well to give us more measurable times so that we can look at the behavior of different CPUs in this area.

The whole battery of tests was run multiple times on each CPU, with the fastest result (lowest time) used for this article. We didn't have any significant outlier results and saw very little variance between runs, so we opted for this method over an average of scores. The results are broken up into individual graphs below and followed by our analysis.

Results & Analysis

Here are galleries of the results from each part of our SOLIDWORKS testing. AMD chips are shown in red - darker for Threadripper, lighter for Ryzen. Intel processors are in blue, similarly with Core X models in a darker shade and the mainstream Core in a lighter color.

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SOLIDWORKS start up, file open / close, rebuild, and motion study performance

In this first set of data, we can see that the tested Intel processors are somewhat faster for starting up SOLIDWORKS itself as well as opening files, though saving files is a more mixed bag - and has much less overall variance. Motion studies also show a pretty small variance, but slightly favor Intel again.

That brings us to rebuild testing, and this deserves some explanation. Our previous test file for rebuild was only taking fractions of a second in SW 2020, so a reader (Issac Roberts) reached out to me to help provide a more complex assembly that was specifically tailored to increase rebuild time... and boy did it work! However, it uncovered something odd: the times that SW itself reported for rebuilding the assembly were drastically different from the actual time that the system was unresponsive while working on it. As such, I started recording both numbers - and have provided them here on separate charts. In both cases, AMD's processors were faster for rebuilding than the Intel chips we tested - but the difference in actual, real-world time was far smaller than the numbers which SW reports. Remember that getting to these results required extra work, though, and most files won't take anywhere near this long to rebuild.

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Various SOLIDWORKS simulation tests

Simulations in SOLIDWORKS come in many varieties, and show equaly varied performance across the CPUs we tested. The Stress simulation seems to be the biggest outlier, which had low core count processors doing the best... but the overall variance wasn't huge. Close behind are the Thermal and Airflow simulations, which both also had little variance between most of the processors - with the exception of AMD's Threadripper 3990X, which did particularly poorly. I don't have an explanation for that, but it may have to do with how many cores & threads it supports (64 / 128, respectively) interacting badly with SOLIDWORKS. That is just a guess, though.

Moving on to our newer "Benchmark" simulations, Intel's top Core i9 and AMD's 24- and 32-core Threadripper processors all did very well - but Intel has a price advantage at that level, making the Core i9 10980XE the best value / performance choice for this workload.

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SOLIDWORKS PhotoView 360 rendering

PhotoView 360 is where high core count processors really shine, since CPU-based rendering like this scales extremely well. Because of that, we see all three of AMD's 3rd Gen Threadripper chips doing extremely well here. If you do a lot of rendering, the speed those processors offer can easily outweigh their slower performance in other areas simply because of how long rendering itself often takes. The Ryzen 9 3950X also puts in a very respectable showing here, as does Intel's Core i9 10980XE if you do lots of simulations as well.

The last gallery, below, has a different color scheme. These charts are looking at frame-rates while rotating an assembly, with varying quality settings. Instead of using colors to separate processors, this time the colors correspond to the settings used in the viewport.

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Assembly rotation performance

And lastly, looking at framerates while rotating assemblies - all of these CPUs are more than fast enough for general modeling work! There is some variation, mostly limited to low quality modes, but the selection of video card ends up having a much bigger impact on this aspect of SOLIDWORKS. For more information on that, check out our companion SOLIDWORKS 2020 SP1 GPU performance article.

Conclusion

It is tricky to make a single recommendation when separate aspects of an application behave differently, so this conclusion is broken down based on usage:

  • For general engineering work, along with motion studies and simple simulations, Intel's Core i9 9900K is a great choice
  • For more in-depth simulations, Intel's Core i9 10980XE offers some of the best performance at a great price
  • For rendering, AMD's 3rd Gen Threadripper chips are clear winners - but other high core count processors do well too

We offer SOLIDWORKS-specific workstations focusing on the first two of those categories, and have other rendering-optimized systems for those whose workload is heaviest in that area.

Looking for a SOLIDWORKS Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of powerful and reliable systems that are tailor-made for your unique workflow.

Configure a System!

Labs Consultation Service

Our Labs team is available to provide in-depth hardware recommendations based on your workflow.

Find Out More!
Tags: Dassault, Systemes, CPU, Processor, Performance, Intel, Core, i7, i9, Solidworks, AMD, AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen, AMD Threadripper 3rd Gen, Threadripper, Core X, Ryzen, Rendering
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