SOLIDWORKS Visualize Workstation FAQ
Q: Where should I prioritize my budget to get the best rendering performance?
A: Visualize is based on the NVIDIA Iray rendering engine which means it can utilize both the CPU and GPU (or multiples of each) in your system to complete a render. Although it can use both of these components, the GPU is by far the most important for rendering performance so it is a good idea to prioritize the GPU over the CPU. It is still a good idea to have a decent CPU to help with things like opening models but spending more of your budget on the GPU should give you faster render times.
Q: Should I get one expensive GPU or multiple lower-end models?
A: This is a complicated subject, and the answer really depends on the type of GPU you will be using. Based on our testing (links to which can be found to the right) for most Quadro cards you should not be able to make a wrong choice. Due to how the pricing of these cards work and how well Visualize scales with multiple GPUs it is actually really hard to end up in a situation where you are spending more money and not getting more performance. On the GeForce side, it is possible to spend more money for less performance, but as long as you stick to either the GTX 1070 or Titan X cards you should not run into this issue.
Q: Do I need to use a Quadro card or is GeForce OK?
A: For Visualize alone, a Quadro card is technically not required and a GeForce card will give you much higher performance for your dollar. At the moment, Dassault Systems does not have a hardware requirements list for Visualize but it is worth being aware that they historically advise their users to use a workstation card and will often not offer full support for consumer cards. If your workstation will also be used for SOLIDWORKS modeling, however, we highly recommend using at least a Quadro primary card. Not only are there some significant performance advantages to doing so (in our testing we found that in "shaded w/ edges" mode even a low-end Quadro will out-perform the fastest GeForce card) but using a workstation card is the only way to get official support for features like Realview and Ambient Occlusion.
Q: Can I mix Quadro and GeForce cards?
A: It is entirely possible to mix Quadro and GeForce cards, and even mix and match different models as well. Visualize should be able to use any modern NVIDIA GPU no matter what model or combinations of models it is. So if you want a primary Quadro card for SOLIDWORKS alongside 1-3 GeForce cards to accelerate performance in Visualize that should work without too many issues.
Q: How much system RAM do I need?
A: The amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the complexity of your renders. In general, however, rendering in Visualize does not need a huge amount of RAM - most users will find that between 16GB and 32GB of RAM should be plenty.
Q: Will an SSD give me better performance?
A: An SSD won't make your renders any faster, but SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives and can make your system overall much faster. Not only will using an SSD as your primary drive make Windows and other programs launch much faster, in many cases can give a noticeable decrease in the time it takes to open and save files as well. Be aware that smaller files tend to not be I/O bound which means that there may not be a large difference with a faster storage drive but in general the longer it takes you to open your files, the more useful an SSD will be.
Q: Do I need a Xeon CPU?
A: In the past, Xeon CPUs were more robust than their Core i5/i7 counterparts. Today, however, there is very little functional difference between the two Intel product families for workstations. In addition, Xeon CPUs are almost always clocked slightly lower than the Core i7 CPUs which means that you will be giving up a small amount of performance to gain a set of features that are typically only useful for servers.
Q: Should I get an overclocked system?
A: In general, we do not recommend overclocking for any professional workstation. Typically, the modest performance gains are not worth the downsides associated with overclocking which can include instability, shorter hardware lifespan, and potential data inaccuracies. If your specific needs call for overclocking, our Deluge line of systems have more robust cooling and offer overclocking.
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