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SolidWorks Workstation (~$1600), First Build Ever

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June 21, 2009 1:52:24 PM

Hello All. I would like to build a Workstation to run SolidWorks so I can work from home. From what I have read and experienced, a SolidWorks machine is all about the processor. So I have tried to put the most money in the processor and the hard drive, and tried to save money on the other components.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: (August) BUDGET RANGE: ($1600 max)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: (SolidWorks, COSMOS, possibly Dragon Naturally Speaking)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: (Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: (no preference)

PARTS PREFERENCES: (intel)

OVERCLOCKING: No for now, maybe in 2 years
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: (1440x900)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: (OpenGL is against my religon;))

Here is my preliminary parts list:

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor

G.SKILL PI Black 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL4D-4GBPI-B

Intel X25-E Extreme SSDSA2SH032G1 2.5" 32GB SATA II SLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD)

Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600AAJS 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM

EVGA 512-P3-N973-TR GeForce 9800 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
Note: I am fully aware that this is not a SolidWorks supported video card. Here are my reasons:
1) I don't believe in Synthetic benchmarks
2) My friend runs SolidWorks with a GTX+ and it screams. After seeing his machine I think the GTX+ is overkill. He can rotate large assemblies at light speed with no chunking.
3) I have read an article which I cant find now that said in non-synthetic tests, the GTX+ actually beat GL cards that were 3x expensive.
4) I would much rather have the $350 in my pocket than the customer service. If my EVGA breaks, I can buy a new one and still be ahead cash wise.

Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply

SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner - OEM

Also I plan to get XP, Office, and Outlook.

This is my first build.

Is this a good build? Is there something that needs to be improved performance wise? Is their any place I can save money without sacrificing reliability?
June 21, 2009 7:26:04 PM

1. The GPU has minimal impact on SolidWorks, unless you do renderings/high detail/complex parts. SolidWorks is heavily CPU bound.

2. Yes, the GTX+ will beat low end workstation cards. This however, changes as the part's become complex,etc. For example an assembly with ~50-80 parts become a bit laggy and the lines become jagged on a decent gaming card (ie 9600GT).

3. SolidWorks uses OpenGL for it's 3D.

4. If you plan to use FloWorks or any other COSMOS product (ie Works,Motion,etc) frequently then go with a i7/i5. Also next version of these software (esp. FloWorks) are suppose to have support up to 16 threads which would mean an i7 will benefit a lot. Simulation times will get a major boost from an i7.

5. With your budget, I don't see why you essentially spend/waste money on a socket that's reaching EOL.

6. Drop the SSD. It won't benefit much on a CAD workstation. Spend that money on more RAM or better CPU.

7. Plan to overclock?
Related resources
June 21, 2009 10:15:18 PM

"Drop the SSD. It won't benefit much on a CAD workstation. Spend that money on more RAM or better CPU"

Can you elaborate on this comment? SolidWorks2009 takes sooooo long to fire up and also takes an equal amount of time to open large assemblies even on brand new machines. If I were to take this money and spend and use it to upgrade to i7 technology, I would expect the performance gain to be barely perceptable. However, I would expect the benefit of a SSD to be quite perceptable. I would really like to hear your perspective on this.
June 21, 2009 10:18:44 PM

I should mention that I use COSMOS maybe 3-4 times a year.
June 21, 2009 10:47:26 PM

Motive_Force said:
"Drop the SSD. It won't benefit much on a CAD workstation. Spend that money on more RAM or better CPU"

Can you elaborate on this comment? SolidWorks2009 takes sooooo long to fire up and also takes an equal amount of time to open large assemblies even on brand new machines. If I were to take this money and spend and use it to upgrade to i7 technology, I would expect the performance gain to be barely perceptable. However, I would expect the benefit of a SSD to be quite perceptable. I would really like to hear your perspective on this.

Comment really should have said: Drop the SSD and get a RAID set up.

Also, if installing all the labraries,docs,etc expect to use up about 10GB, which would leave your SSD with about 20GB for OS,etc.

How big are the assemblies? If you are saving big assemblies, then from a price vs performance stand point you should probably get a RAID 01 set up. On my RAID 01 set up, SolidWorks/Inventor start up in about 30 seconds, and I can save a pretty large (~800MB) assembly in less than 30-40 seconds. If you want the good write/read performance you should probably get a 2x VelociRaptor in RAID 01 as you will have larger space and about smiler performance to a SSD.
June 21, 2009 10:49:16 PM

Motive_Force said:
I should mention that I use COSMOS maybe 3-4 times a year.

How complex are the sims? If this is for educational (ie College) then what you have would be OK with what you have. I still think, that given your $1600 budget, you should get a i7 or i5 as it is more future proof and the LGA775s are reaching EOL.
June 21, 2009 11:19:16 PM

Seems that way to me as well. Doing a RAID with a couple Caviar Blacks will be a much nicer way to go.
June 22, 2009 12:00:42 AM

^True the Caviar Blacks should be good in RAID01. Any one got any benches for this in RAID?
June 22, 2009 2:36:51 AM

30 seconds feels like an eternity to me.

Is cost the only reason to use RAID instead of SSD? Are their other pros/cons? What little information I could find seemed to suggest that the specific SSD that I choose would be a lot faster than a RAID setup in random reads and writes. Also I should mention that Amazon has that specific SSD for only $315.

I will check into i7 again, but the last time I checked (~January) i7 was out of my price range.
June 22, 2009 3:04:14 AM

I found an i7 MOBO for $200, the Nehalem for $280, and the RAM was close to the same price. So I would estimate that going i7 will cost about $140 more. This was less than I expected an I will definitely consider it.
June 22, 2009 3:42:53 AM

Motive_Force said:
I found an i7 MOBO for $200, the Nehalem for $280, and the RAM was close to the same price. So I would estimate that going i7 will cost about $140 more. This was less than I expected an I will definitely consider it.


Just make sure that board you found is set up to hold 6 x 2 gigs of RAM so that you can add another 6 gig later on. If you don't mind, can you link us to that board please.
June 22, 2009 2:56:25 PM

^Both are good choices, but if you want 3 PCIe (you would need 3 PCIe only if you plan to Tri SLI or if you plan to use PCIe RAID cards,etc) then go with the P6T.
June 22, 2009 5:29:31 PM

Intel X25-E SSD vs. VelociRaptor
Edit: See my next post for caviats on this benchmark.

This is a very interesting benchmark. What surprised me is that on the write test the the MLC SSD was slower than the conventional drives, but the SLC SSD was way faster.

Although this is does not take into account the effect of RAID. What would you imagine the effect of RAID would be?
June 22, 2009 5:53:55 PM

I violated one of the fundamental forum rules: Always read the whole article before posting it. At the end of the article it pretty much says that all the graphs are crap:

Quote:
"Unlike with mechanical or MLC drives where data can be stored in multiple states, the SLC memory only modulates between written and unwritten. This means that once the drive has written to each cell, rewriting to them means the drive must first set the cell from written, to unwritten and then back to written in accordance with the new data, doubling the write times the second time the drive needs to write to that particular cell.

While fully formatting the drive resets all the cells to unwritten and brings back that awesome write performance evident in our graphs, it’s hardly reasonable for end users to have to format their drive every time it fills up and although we realise this is a very specialised enterprise level drive, it’s still a disappointing flaw that’s unfortunately part of using SLC memory in the first place."
June 22, 2009 7:39:30 PM

That's an issue that is being worked on and there has been some improvement I think. There should be an update over at Anandtech as I recall. He's all over this.
June 23, 2009 12:16:33 AM

Motive_Force said:
I violated one of the fundamental forum rules: Always read the whole article before posting it. At the end of the article it pretty much says that all the graphs are crap:

Quote:
"Unlike with mechanical or MLC drives where data can be stored in multiple states, the SLC memory only modulates between written and unwritten. This means that once the drive has written to each cell, rewriting to them means the drive must first set the cell from written, to unwritten and then back to written in accordance with the new data, doubling the write times the second time the drive needs to write to that particular cell.

While fully formatting the drive resets all the cells to unwritten and brings back that awesome write performance evident in our graphs, it’s hardly reasonable for end users to have to format their drive every time it fills up and although we realise this is a very specialised enterprise level drive, it’s still a disappointing flaw that’s unfortunately part of using SLC memory in the first place."

IIRC there was a firmware update to fix these issues. At least for the Intel SSDs.
June 23, 2009 12:17:29 AM

Why_Me said:
The Asus would be the better choice between those two boards imo for the fact it allows you to add another 6 more gigs of RAM in the future (6 memory slots total), unlike the UD3P which has only 4 memory slots.

True that. This wild benefit quite a lot in a CAD build.
June 24, 2009 2:33:43 AM

Here is an interesting article about something called MATRIX RAID.

MATRIX RAID Article

Here are a couple of interesting conclusions I took from this:

1) A single drive can out perform RAID 0 on boot times.
2) RAID 0 has no effect for software boot time
3) Suprisingly MATRIX RAID 0 seems to offer the benefits of RAID 10 but with only two drives.
4) RAID 0 and the like seems to only have a significant benefit for file copy operations

Now I really don't know what to do.
June 24, 2009 2:55:56 AM

Motive_Force said:
Here is an interesting article about something called MATRIX RAID.

MATRIX RAID Article

Here are a couple of interesting conclusions I took from this:

1) A single drive can out perform RAID 0 on boot times.
2) RAID 0 has no effect for software boot time
3) Suprisingly MATRIX RAID 0 seems to offer the benefits of RAID 10 but with only two drives.
4) RAID 0 and the like seems to only have a significant benefit for file copy operations

Now I really don't know what to do.


This HD is one of the faster ones out there atm, and it's by far the most recommended one on this board.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Discount: -$7.00 Combo Price: $162.98 $20.00 Mail-In Rebate
OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G1600LV6GK - Retail
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
June 24, 2009 2:08:44 PM

Thanks for the suggestion. The Caviar Black is definitely an excellent drive.

Here are a couple of thoughts
1) My entire work computer is currently using only 24 GB. To me a 500 GB feels wasteful.
2) I still think that the Intel X25-E is the way to go, but now that I have the additional cost of the i7, I simply don't have the money. I think I will get a cheaper drive now, and upgrade to SSD when the price comes down and when I have money again.

This drive is a little cheaper and got really good benchmarks.
Caviar SE16
June 24, 2009 4:10:04 PM

^Yeah, you can always upgrade the drive. Given that the SSD prices are dropping and many manufactures are starting to use the Indilinx controller, current issues of the older drives (esp. ones that use the JMicron) should be solved.
April 21, 2010 2:10:07 PM

Hi everyone,

This was an interesting thread because I can driectly relate to this:

I am currently designing a Baja vehicle that has well over 100 different parts on it and everytime I open it it takes about 2 mins to open and then to perform mates and rotate the assembly it takes well over thirty second or more of lag!

I am actually looking into building a CAD computer to run my Solidworks (32 bit), ANSYS and Matlab.

Could you guys give me a list of computer parts that I would be able to use to build a computer that would be able to run these programs smoothly because I am consistently building assemblys containing any where from 100 - 300 parts!

Right now I have a Labtop (4GB ram, 32 bit) that runs all these and it does good with small assembly's ( 6 to 7 parts) but with this baja Senior Design Project I can't even really work efficiently on it because the lag is so bad.

My price limit on this is around $800 because I am a poor Senior in college!

Thanks,

Phillip

April 21, 2010 8:26:10 PM

^ Please post in a new thread. This thread is DEAD.
!