The Best Laptops For SolidWorks, Ansys and CAD: Workstations And Laptops For Every Budget

CAD, SolidWorks, Ansys, 3D modeling and rendering are specific niches and not every laptop can run them.

They are very demanding to run and can cause freezes or lagging if your hardware is not up to it. That’s why the best gaming laptops and workstations are often recommended for running them smoothly.

You can also check out the recommended hardware for handling SolidWorks smoothly. Looking at the requirements you quickly notice how demanding the software is. Looking for the best can take ages.

That’s why we did the work for you in looking for the best laptops/workstations to run SolidWorks, Ansys, CATIA and CAD ranging from $400 to $2500.

We also have a laptop guide for running engineering applications (Ansys, SolidWorks, Matlab, etc) which you can check out.

Related: Best Laptops For Autodesk Revit And AutoCAD


msi we75

Best Workstation For Professional Use

MSI WE75

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lenovo thinkpad p52

Best Value Workstation

Lenovo ThinkPad P51

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dell precision m3530

Best Low-end Workstation

Dell Precision M3520

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dell inspiron 7000 gaming

Best Bang For Buck

Dell Inspiron 7000

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Here’s Our Recommended List Of The Best Laptops For SolidWorks, Ansys And CAD


MSI WE75

MSI WE75 9TK-654 (i7-9750H, 32GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 6GB, 17.3' Full HD, Windows 10 Pro) Workstation Laptop

MSI WE75 is the best-recommended workstation laptop for CAD and 3D modeling. Not only that, it is a certified SolidWorks workstation.

This workstation has been approved by SolidWorks to run their software without any problems.

The performance it provides is top-notch. An 9th Gen Intel i7 processor, 32 GB RAM and an NVIDIA RTX 3000.

The Quadro RTX 3000 is a mobile high-end workstation graphics card for notebooks. A graphics card which has certified drivers for stability and performance in CAD software.

Not only will the Quadro be able to handle 3D modeling and rendering well it is also powerful enough for gaming. Quadro cards are normally thought to provide poor gaming performance but that’s not the case.

They are just slightly less powerful compared to the consumer GTX cards in gaming. But are optimized for 3D modelling and rendering.

Gaming won’t be an issue for this workstation. The storage is a 512GB PCIe solid state drive which is fast in accessing data.

The workstation’s display is a 17.3-inch Full (1920 x 1080) NTSC 94% IPS. A colour accurate display with above average colour reproduction.

Viewing angles are great and the display as a whole is sharp and vivid. The ports selection is great, a USB Type-C and three USB 3.1 ports.

The downsides of the workstation are the battery life, absence of a Thunderbolt 3 port and weight.

The battery life is poor averaging about 3-4 hours of normal usage. Most workstations and gaming laptops are plagued by such a problem because of the powerful hardware they have.

Also, there is no Thunderbolt 3 which should be available for its price. The workstation is also heavy weighing almost 6 pounds and more than an inch thick. Not a portable workstation.

What makes the MSI WE73 one of the best workstations for SolidWorks and Ansys is its powerful hardware especially the NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000.

It will be able to handle medium-high assemblies without any problems. Definitely, suited for professional or personal use.

Pros Cons
Excellent Performance Pricey
Certified SolidWorks And CAD Workstation No Thunderbolt 3
Good Port Selection Heavy

MSI WE75 9TK-654 (i7-9750H, 32GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 6GB, 17.3" Full HD, Windows 10 Pro) Workstation Laptop
  • Display: 17.3" Thin Bezel Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS-Level 72%NTSC (100% sRGB) Display | Graphics Card: NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 6GB GDDR5
  • Processor: 9th Gen Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-9750H Six Core (2.6GHz-4.5GHz, 12MB Intel Smart Cache, 45W)
  • RAM: 32GB (2x 16GB) DDR4 2666MHz | Hard Drive: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional (64-bit) | Warranty: 3-Year MSI USA Warranty Parts & Labor (include 1 Year Global Warranty) + Lifetime...
  • PROMOTION: Exclusive Workstation Bundle ($30 value). See description for more details.

Last update on 2019-08-23 at 13:05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

MSI WE75 Review

Lenovo ThinkPad P51

Lenovo ThinkPad P51: 15.6' IPS | Xeon E3-1505M v6 | 32GB RAM | 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD | NVIDIA Quadro M2200 4GB | Fingerprint | Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

The Lenovo ThinkPad P51 has one of the best price-to-performance ratios amongst workstations. A SolidWorks recommended laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad has a strong set of hardware configuration.

Powered by an Intel Xeon chip, 32 GB RAM and a Quadro M2200. Both the Intel Xeon and NVIDIA Quadro has been optimised for CAD works, 3D modeling and rendering.

The Quadro also has certified drivers that can run SolidWorks and Ansys with the required stability and performance.

For gaming, the Quadro is behind the GTX 1050 in terms of performance. It will handle casual games well but AAA games will only run smoothly on low or medium settings. The massive amount of RAM is an advantage in running CAD and SolidWorks.

The storage is a 512 GB PCIe SSD which makes the system run smoothly. For Lenovo ThinkPad’s display is a 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) which is vibrant and colour accurate.

It also has a 180-degree hinge allowing it to lie flat. The ThinkPad has all the ports you need – Thunderbolt 3 and four USB 3.1 ports. For a workstation, the battery life is impressive averaging 8 hours of normal usage.

Not all workstations are perfect. The ThinkPad is heavy and thick. Weighing almost 6 pounds and an inch thick.

This workstation’s weight and thickness can be a problem especially if you are looking for something much more portable.

The Lenovo ThinkPad is a durable workstation, one of the many reasons for its popularity. It also has great price-to-performance and great battery life for a workstation.

One of the best laptops around to handle Solidworks and Ansys, if, you do not mind its reduced portability.

Pros Cons
Great Price-to-Performance Ratio Heavy
Certified SolidWorks And CAD Workstation
Great Battery Life

Lenovo ThinkPad P51: 15.6" IPS | Xeon E3-1505M v6 | 32GB RAM | 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD | NVIDIA Quadro M2200 4GB | Fingerprint | Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • Intel Xeon E3-1505M v6 (Quad Core, 3.0 GHz on the base / up to 4.0 GHz with Intel Turbo, 8MB, 2400MHz)
  • 32GB DDR4 Memory (upgraded, maximum memory capacity is 64 GB), 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • 15.6 Inch IPS FHD (1920x1080) Screen, Anti-glare, NVIDIA Quadro M2200 (4GB) graphics and Webcam
  • Intel 8265 ac WiFi and BlueTooth 4.1, Fingerprint Sensor, 6 Cell Battery, Backlit keyboard
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Last update on 2019-08-23 at 15:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lenovo ThinkPad P51 Review

Dell Precision M3520

Dell Precision M3520 Mobiel Workstation Laptop, 15.6in FHD (1920x1080), Intel Core 7th Gen i5-7440HQ, 16GB, RAM, 512GB Solid State Drive, Windows 10 Pro (Renewed)

The Dell Precision is a certified refurbished workstation. Refurbished workstations are returned when the buyer encounters a problem and return them.

The manufacturer then solves the problem and releases it back into the market but with a refurbished label attached to it. Certified refurbished is when repairs are done by certified people.

Also, the Dell Precision’s display is lacklustre. It’s not sharp and vibrant. Colour accuracy and reproduction are also average. Being certified refurbished and having a lacklustre display are the two reasons why you shouldn’t get this.

Now for the reasons why you should get the Dell Precision.

Certified refurbished workstations are much cheaper than their brand new counterparts. Same applies to this workstation. Even though it is certified refurbished the performance is great.

It has an 7th Gen Intel i5-7440HQ. It also has 16 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA Quadro M620.

Enough RAM to handle SolidWorks and an NVIDIA Quadro M620 which has certified drivers for the best stability and performance.

The storage is also a 512 GB SSD for fast access to your data. For gaming, the M620 provides similar performance to the NVIDIA MX150 which is only good for casual games. AAA games will have a hard time running unless you play on low settings.

The Dell Precision has a long battery life about 8-9 hours of normal usage. That’s enough battery power to get yours throughout the day.

On the port side, you have three USB 3.1 and a USB Type-C which doesn’t support Thunderbolt.

The Dell workstation is also light. It weighs almost 5.2 pounds. Most workstations weigh closer to 6 pounds or even more. This makes the Dell Precision portable and easy to carry with you.

Dell Precision M3550 offers great value even though it is certified refurbished. A great workstation for those who can’t afford the more expensive models.

Pros Cons
Superb Performance Certified Refurbished
Great Battery Life Not The Best Display
Durable No Thunderbolt

Dell Precision M3520 Mobiel Workstation Laptop, 15.6in FHD (1920x1080), Intel Core 7th Gen i5-7440HQ, 16GB, RAM, 512GB Solid State Drive, Windows 10 Pro (Renewed)
  • Intel Core 7th Generation i5-7440HQ Processor (Quad Core, up to 3.80 GHz, 6M Cache, 45W)
  • 15.6 inch FHD (1920x1080) Wide View Anti-Glare LED-backlit IPS | NVIDIA Quadro M620 2GB GDDR5
  • 16GB, DDR4-2400MHz SDRAM, Non-ECC
  • 512GB M.2 SATA Class 20 Solid State Drive
  • Dell Factory Refurbished | Three Year Dell Warranty

Last update on 2019-08-23 at 15:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Dell Precision M4800

Dell M4800 15.6in FHD Ultrapowerful Mobile Workstation Business Laptop Computer, Intel Core i7-4810QM 2.8Ghz, 16GB RAM, 500GB HDD, WiFi AC, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Windows 10 Pro (Renewed)

The Dell Precision M4800 is a cheap workstation alternative if you are on a tight budget. It might not be the best but it is has a certified Quadro K2100M graphics card needed for performance and stability in CAD, SolidWorks and Ansys.

Its greatest strength is the ease at which you can upgrade its parts without breaking the bank. The RAM and SSD can easily be changed and upgraded for more powerful parts for better performance.

It has a 4th Gen Intel i7 processor, 16 GB RAM and a 500 GB HDD. The Intel processor has a high clock speed which can be boosted up to 3.8 GHz. The RAM is also sufficient enough to handle SolidWorks.

What holds the Dell Precision back is its 500 GB HDD. A slow hard drive which impacts the performance of the workstation. Swapping it out for an SSD can improve the performance of the system.

The display is a 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) which has decent viewing angles, sharpness and brightness. The port selection is great – four USB 3.0 ports which are more than enough.

On to the downsides, the Dell Precision is certified refurbished which might put some people who prefer brand new machines off.

It is also heavy weighing a little over 6 pounds and an inch thick. Not easy to move around and the battery life is not very good. It will last about 3-4 hours on average.

Even with all its flaws, the Dell Precision provides a lot of value, especially at such a cheap price.

The ease at which you can upgrade its RAM and SSD is also an advantage. A solid workstation to run not only SolidWorks and Ansys but CAD applications, if, you are on a tight budget.

Pros Cons
Affordable Certified Refurbished
Solid Performance Not The Best Battery Life
Plenty Of Ports Heavy

Dell M4800 15.6in FHD Ultrapowerful Mobile Workstation Business Laptop Computer, Intel Core i7-4810QM 2.8Ghz, 16GB RAM, 500GB HDD, WiFi AC, NVIDIA Quadro K2100M, Windows 10 Pro (Renewed)
  • 15.6" Ultrasharp FHD (1920x1080) Wide View Anti-glare LED Backlit Display
  • Intel Core i7 Quad-Core (i7-4900MQ) 2.80 GHz up to 3.8GHz processor; 16GB system memory for advanced multitasking; 500GB HDD
  • Bluetooth, WiFi 802.11ac, HDMI; 4x USB 3.0; 1x USB/eSATA; DVD-RW; Nvidia Quadro K2100M (2 GB)
  • Windows 10 pro 64 bit; Backlit Keyboard

Last update on 2019-08-23 at 15:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop PC, 15.6' Full HD 144Hz 3ms IPS Display, Intel i7-9750H, GTX 1660 Ti 6GB, 16GB DDR4, 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, Backlit Keyboard, PH315-52-78VL

The Acer Predator Helios 300 is for CAD, SolidWorks and Ansys students who prefer the consumer laptops to the more expensive workstations.

The Acer Predator Helios 300 sports an NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti, 16 GB RAM and a 9th Gen Intel i7 six-core processor.

Enough performance to handle SolidWorks project assignments which are not demanding as projects in the professional environment. The GTX 1660 Ti is a high-end graphics card which does well on AAA games.

The high refresh screen rate also makes sure there is no stuttering and tearing during gameplay. You can also overclock the CPU to get more performance out of it.

For storage, it has a 256 GB PCIe SSD fast but might not be sufficient enough if you are working with large files. The display is a 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz IPS. The battery life is not impressive averaging about 3-4 hours of normal usage.

The Acer Predator Helios 300 is now thinner and lighter. It’s less than an inch thick and weighs about 5 pound. Thermal management is also better so thermal throttling is rare.

The Performance and display are where the Acer Predator Helios 300 shines best. Enough performance to handle SolidWorks and gaming if you are a student.

The only downside is the reduced amount of stability you doing large assemblies. Nevertheless, a solid laptop for a SolidWorks and Ansys student.

Pros Cons
Great Performance Bloatware
Good Display Poor Battery Life
Good Build Quality

Sale
Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop PC, 15.6" Full HD 144Hz 3ms IPS Display, Intel i7-9750H, GTX 1660 Ti 6GB, 16GB DDR4, 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, Backlit Keyboard, PH315-52-78VL
  • 9th Generation Intel Core i7 9750H 6 Core Processor (Up to 4.5GHz) with Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Graphics with 6GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM
  • 15.6 inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen LED backlit IPS Display (144Hz Refresh Rate, 3ms Overdrive Response Time, 300nit Brightness and...
  • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory, 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD (2 x PCIe M.2 Slots | 1 Slot Open for Easy Upgrades) and 1 Available Hard Drive Bay
  • Backlit Keyboard | LAN: Killer Ethernet E2500 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN | Wireless: Killer DoubleShot Pro Wireless AC 1550 802. 11ac...

Last update on 2019-08-23 at 15:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Acer Predator Helios 300 Review

Dell Inspiron 7000

Dell Inspiron 4K Gaming Laptop: Core i7-7700HQ, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD+1TB HDD, W10H 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD, GTX 1060 6GB, 15.6-inch UHD Display

The Dell Inspiron 7000 is another great laptop for CAD, SolidWorks and Ansys not only for students but those who can’t afford the expensive workstations.

Where the Dell Inspiron goes wrong is its battery life and weight. The battery life is poor averaging 4-5 hours of normal usage could have been more if the display was Full HD (1920 x 1080).

The weight is a little above 6 pounds and an inch thick.

Where the Dell Inspiron goes right is the performance, storage and display. Powered by a 7th Gen Intel i7 quad-core which has a high clock speed, 16 GB RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 1060 Max-Q.

High clock speeds are an advantage. A large amount of RAM also fulfils the minimum system requirements needed to run SolidWorks.

The graphics card, on the other hand, can handle SolidWorks for low assemblies or projects provided by your school. Anything demanding might cause instability since it is not a CAD or SolidWorks certified graphics card.

The Dell Inspiron has massive storage. Combined storage of 512 GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD. Enough to store large projects and other files on.

The display is a 15.6 UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS. It’s bright and has decent colour reproduction. Gaming would be an immersive experience.

AAA games will have a harder time running on a 4K resolution. Reducing the resolution will make things run smoothly. On the port side, there is a Thunderbolt 3 and three USB 3.1 ports.

The Inspiron 7000 is one of the best Dell laptops for students because of its ability to handle CAD, SolidWorks and Ansys projects in college and for those who can’t afford the more expensive workstations.

Pros Cons
4K Display Heavy
Large Amounts Of Storage Not The Best Battery Life
Great Performance

Dell Inspiron 4K Gaming Laptop: Core i7-7700HQ, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD+1TB HDD, W10H 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD, GTX 1060 6GB, 15.6-inch UHD Display
  • 2.80GHz Intel Core I7-7700HQ Quad Core Processor
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM | 1TB HDD + 512GB SSD
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 With 6GB GDDR5
  • Windows 10

Last update on 2019-08-23 at 15:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


What To Look For In Getting A Laptop For SolidWorks, CAD, Ansys And Catia

CPU

First of all, you should consider the clock speed. According to SolidWorks, you need a minimum of 3.3 GHz or higher for everything to go smoothly. Ansys doesn’t provide any information about the minimum system requirements.

But to be on the safer side, you can use the system requirements provided by SolidWorks as a guide. Also, CPUs with high clock speeds and cores are preferred to multi-core CPUs with lower clock speeds.

For this reason, you should prioritize high-end Intel (i5 and i7) and AMD (Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7) over the less powerful processors especially those ending with U.

GPU

NVIDIA Quadro, AMD FirePro, AMD Radeon Pro are the only certified dedicated graphics cards required to run SolidWorks smoothly.

The information on certified graphics cards can be found here. The certified graphics cards provide superior performance and stability, especially in 3D model viewing.

Consumer graphics cards (NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon) do not provide the best stability and performance.

The reason why consumer cards are mostly recommended is that they are cheap compared to Quadro/AMD Pro cards. Only consider them if you are doing low assemblies and can’t afford the workstation cards.

RAM

A minimum of 16 GB RAM is the required amount. Upgrading or purchasing a laptop with 16 GB RAM or more will take you a long way. 32 GB RAM is the recommended amount.

SolidWorks and Ansys are RAM-hungry and will quickly eat the RAM if you do not have sufficient amount causing freezes and lags. You also need a lot of RAM if you tend to open a lot of applications.

Storage

Solid State Drives are the best out of the storage devices and a large amount too. The faster your storage device the faster everything becomes. Boot-up speeds, loading, the launching of applications.

Your SolidWorks and assembles will load faster. The whole systems benefit from having a fast solid state drive. Also, keep at least 20 GB of free space available for installation.

Feel free to drop a comment if you need help or just want to share your thoughts.

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