Like most software developers, Autodesk maintains a list of system requirements for Inventor that can be used to help ensure the hardware in your system will work with Inventor. However, most "pc requirements" lists tend to cover the required hardware, not what hardware would actually give the best performance. In addition, some lists can be outdated, list old hardware revisions, or simply outright list sub-optimal hardware.
Because of how inconsistent those lists can be, we've taken the time to perform testing to determine what hardware runs Inventor the best. Based on this testing, we have come up with our own list of recommended hardware for Inventor.
When it comes to CPUs there are two main specifications that define the capability of a CPU:
- The frequency directly affects how many operations a single CPU core can complete in a second (how fast it is).
- The number of cores is how many physical cores there are within a CPU (how many operations it can run simultaneously).
Whether a higher frequency or higher core count is faster depends on how well a program is designed to take advantage of multiple CPU cores. In the case of Inventor, the majority of the software is only single threaded so it is only able to utilize a single core of the CPU. For this reason, our general recommendation when choosing a CPU is to simply go with a model that has a high frequency. For current generation CPUs, the fastest CPU for general Inventor use is the Intel Core i7 6700K which operates with a base clock of 4.0 GHz and a maximum Turbo Boost clock of 4.2 GHz. If you are looking for an ultra-reliable workstation, the Intel Xeon E3-1275 is slightly slower with a maximum Turbo Boost clock of 4.0GHz, but allows for the use of technology such as ECC (error correcting) RAM.
While there are a number of specific tasks that are able to use more than one core (a list is available here), the two main times having a CPU with more cores would give a perceptible performance benefit is if you are rendering or performing FEA simulations. If you do a heavy amount of rendering, we recommending looking at our CPU-based Rendering workstations which are specifically designed for optimized performance when rendering.
Video Card (GPU)
For Inventor, the video card is what handles displaying the 2D and 3D models on the screen. While mainstream GeForce cards can technically give you better performance for your dollar, Autodesk only officially certifies and recommends workstation cards such as those in NVIDIA's Quadro product line. Because of this, we highly recommend using a Quadro card in any professional environment to ensure that you will be able to get full support from Autodesk if you every have a software issue.
In most situations, the faster the video card the better performance (in terms of frames per second) you will get when working with 3D models and assemblies. In general, a Quadro M2000 4GB is great for small assemblies, while a Quadro M4000 8GB will be better for medium assemblies. If you work with very large assemblies, you may even consider a Quadro P5000 16GB.
While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the size and complexity of the model you will be working with, we generally recommend a minimum of 16GB for all our systems. For larger and more complex assemblies that have more than 1,000 parts, we recommend upgrading to 32GB of RAM.
For most Inventor uses, ECC memory (which can automatically detect and fix minor memory errors) is not required. However, if you need the most reliable workstation possible the small price increase is likely a good investment. The downside to ECC memory is that it requires an Intel Xeon processor which for general Inventor use will not be as fast as the Intel Core i7 CPU that is in our Core i7 recommended system.
Storage (Hard Drives)
With the falling costs associated with SSDs, we almost always recommend using an SSD for the primary drive that will host your OS, Inventor itself, and any active projects you are working on. The high speed of SSDs allows your system to boot, launch applications, and load files many times faster than any traditional hard drive. However, SSDs are still more expensive than traditional drives per GB - so for long term storage we recommend having a secondary traditional hard drive in addition to a primary SSD. If you can afford it, having multiple SSDs (one for the OS and Inventor and a second dedicated for active projects) along with a larger traditional drive for storage is even better.