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Best Dell for SolidWorks 2011 under $2500

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July 15, 2011 5:14:37 PM

So I just started a new job and the computer they have for me to use is not cutting it. It's a Dell Vostro 420 with a Nvidia 9800GT video card, 8 gigs of ram and a 2.50ghz Core 2 Quad processor. Right now it has a lot of problems running Solidworks 2010 SP.0 and running any other program, or having multiple parts open. It freezes a lot and linear patterns will almost guarantee it to crash the program. It's unbearable. Everything is so slow to respond to mouse clicks.

My company gave me a $2500 budget to work with and the new workstation needs to last me 2-3 years. The only catch is it has to be a Dell pre-built system. I know I could build a very nice setup for $2500 if I did it myself but they won't let me.

Right now I am just kinda still trying to figure what I want. I have always been into PC gaming but SolidWorks functions completely differently. So I know it may not help me to have a killer gaming graphics card.

I have been comparing the Alienware Area51 to the Dell T5500. All my files will be saved on a server so I was really hoping to get a SSD for booting and running programs off of.

I should also mention that the work I do in SolidWorks aren't too terribly demanding. I work for a bag manufacturer so my products aren't usually much larger than a large suitcase and my assemblies are usually only 30-60 piece assemblies. I do also use photoview to get a realistic render for the clients.

So programs to be used daily/simultaneously:
Solidworks
Google Chrome
Outlook
Photoshop
360 photoview
Exact Max
Illustrator (occasionally)

Thanks in advance everyone.
September 8, 2011 3:35:46 PM

awkwardly awesome said:
So I just started a new job and the computer they have for me to use is not cutting it. It's a Dell Vostro 420 with a Nvidia 9800GT video card, 8 gigs of ram and a 2.50ghz Core 2 Quad processor. Right now it has a lot of problems running Solidworks 2010 SP.0 and running any other program, or having multiple parts open. It freezes a lot and linear patterns will almost guarantee it to crash the program. It's unbearable. Everything is so slow to respond to mouse clicks.

My company gave me a $2500 budget to work with and the new workstation needs to last me 2-3 years. The only catch is it has to be a Dell pre-built system. I know I could build a very nice setup for $2500 if I did it myself but they won't let me.

Right now I am just kinda still trying to figure what I want. I have always been into PC gaming but SolidWorks functions completely differently. So I know it may not help me to have a killer gaming graphics card.

I have been comparing the Alienware Area51 to the Dell T5500. All my files will be saved on a server so I was really hoping to get a SSD for booting and running programs off of.

I should also mention that the work I do in SolidWorks aren't too terribly demanding. I work for a bag manufacturer so my products aren't usually much larger than a large suitcase and my assemblies are usually only 30-60 piece assemblies. I do also use photoview to get a realistic render for the clients.

So programs to be used daily/simultaneously:
Solidworks
Google Chrome
Outlook
Photoshop
360 photoview
Exact Max
Illustrator (occasionally)

Thanks in advance everyone.


Dell Precision workstations are the correct class for this application. find one with I5, I7, or Xeon processor, 4GB or better RAM, workstation graphics card like Nvidia quadro or ATI Firepro graphics. Windows 7 64 bit. Wouldn't worry too much about hard drive spec as long as it is at least SATA II and 250GB, since it sounds like most of your data is on a server probably running a RAID array of SAS drives. YOU MUST MAKE SURE THAT YOUR NETWORK CONNECTION IS GIGABIT ALL THE WAY FROM THE SERVER TO YOU, OTHERWISE YOUR NETWORK CONNECTION WONT KEEP UP AND WILL CAUSE THE PROBLEMS YOU ARE DESCRIBING.

DELL PRECISION T3500, T5500, T7500 ARE GREAT CHOICES, ALTHOUGH YOU COULD BEAT THE PRICE BY BUILDING IT FROM NEWEGG PARTS.
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September 8, 2011 6:58:09 PM

I guess I should have updated this thread. Thanks for the input. But I ended up building my own.
i7 2600k CPU
GTX 580 3GB GPU
ASUS P8P67 Deluxe Mobo
Corsair AX850 PSU
Crucial M4 128GB SSD
(2) WD Black Caviar 1TB HDD's in a RAID 1 setup
G.Skill 16GB 1600 Ram
XSPC CPU waterblock
EK 570/580 Waterblock
XSPC RS240 Radiator
Phobya 200mm Radiator
XSPC Dual bay res/pump combo

Our Dell rep quoted us $4000+ for what we wanted for a workstation. Plus after talking with of my friends in the engineering industry, many of them basically told me that with the size of the models/assemblies I would be dealing with, a Xeon setup wouldn't really benefit me. Besides now I can tinker more with my setup. I didn't want to mess around with overclocking a Xeon.

Right now I am waiting for my PSU to come back from Corsair. Overcurrent protection kicked in one day while the computer was at idle. I recently picked up a Cyberpower UPS 1500PFCLCD unit to prevent this from happening again. Before that incident, I was overclocked to 4.8ghz at 1.37v and would stay under 60 degrees while folding a -bigadv WU on all 8 cores. For now I am back to my Dell Vostro 420 and I am missing my PC very badly. I am ready to throw this Dell out the window.

I still have a lot planned for the case. It will get much cleaner looking. I ordered some more fittings so I can have proper turns and hide some of the tubing. I am also going to hide the hard drives. I am going to be removing the stock fan controller and replacing its opening with a fill port for my res. I might also end up painting the case to something less flashy. I thought I would like white but it quickly got old to me. Also the tubing will more than likely be changed to black.

This is all going to be a long time coming as I am very busy at work and have little downtime to work on the computer. But there are occasional days where I can put a few hours into it.

Here is what it looks like right now.



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September 8, 2011 9:01:05 PM

Beautiful build. I think it makes a good first impression so it should be left the way it is :)  But I do get how it might get old fast.
What fans are you using?
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September 8, 2011 9:32:16 PM

Right now I am using the stock 200mm fan for the 200mm radiator, and (2) Silverstone FM121-B fans to cool the 240mm up top. I am still looking for a good 200mm replacement for the front. I want to run a push pull setup on the 200mm radiator as I tested it out by using zipties to mount the 2nd stock fan to the radiator and my temps went down by almost 5 degrees overall.
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September 8, 2011 9:55:08 PM

Yeah I have looked at the NZXT fans before, I haven't heard wonderful things about them. There aren't too many great 200mm fans out there. I am tempted to remove the optical drive tray, get a EK 150 res, get a XSPC RS240, and (2) Silverstone AP121 fans and build a airbox to get proper airflow through the radiator. It's a lot of extra money for very minimal results but I am a bit of a perfectionist and this current setup bugs me.
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September 9, 2011 2:41:59 AM

Hmm I never thought about doubling up 2 of them. Decisions, decisions. I think I might try some 180mm fans since I have seen a lot more 180mm fans with positive reviews. I am still really tempted to remove the optical drive bay though, I literally never use my optical drive. If I have to use it, I just hook it up externally. I just want to make it as clean as possible. After some more practice with sleeving, I am going to sleeve everything to match my theme.
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September 9, 2011 1:21:31 PM

Looks like you spent more than the generous $2500 for this? Also it is the wrong graphics card for Solidworks. In fact, this build is totally wrong for what you listed as your needs. Pretty nice pc if you are beta testing all the latest games on dual 1080p screens. I still can't imagine needing anything close to that much ram though.
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September 9, 2011 1:50:34 PM

pickmikesbrain said:
Looks like you spent more than the generous $2500 for this? Also it is the wrong graphics card for Solidworks. In fact, this build is totally wrong for what you listed as your needs. Pretty nice pc if you are beta testing all the latest games on dual 1080p screens. I still can't imagine needing anything close to that much ram though.


Just for the hardware it was about $2800 with several combo deals. And the build isn't wrong at all. I have yet to encounter any issues with solidworks at all. It also cut my render times down to nothing. Workstations don't always have to be overpriced Xeon's and Quadro's. When i did my research, I spent a lot of time debating back and forth if a Xeon setup was worth it and in the end it just wasn't for me. Our IT person has a Xeon E5645 2.4ghz processor and a Quadro 4000 and we tried SolidWorks out on her computer for a bit and it didn't do anything any better than my current setup. Mine was actually a little faster with rendering.

I am not trying to say that those components are bad, I just think they are a little overpriced for what they are. I think they work wonders for servers and what not. I just don't have that workload for it. And I don't think I ever will. We design custom bags. They don't get too complicated.

Thanks for the input guys.
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September 9, 2011 11:58:40 PM

awkwardly awesome said:
Just for the hardware it was about $2800 with several combo deals. And the build isn't wrong at all. I have yet to encounter any issues with solidworks at all. It also cut my render times down to nothing. Workstations don't always have to be overpriced Xeon's and Quadro's. When i did my research, I spent a lot of time debating back and forth if a Xeon setup was worth it and in the end it just wasn't for me. Our IT person has a Xeon E5645 2.4ghz processor and a Quadro 4000 and we tried SolidWorks out on her computer for a bit and it didn't do anything any better than my current setup. Mine was actually a little faster with rendering.

I am not trying to say that those components are bad, I just think they are a little overpriced for what they are. I think they work wonders for servers and what not. I just don't have that workload for it. And I don't think I ever will. We design custom bags. They don't get too complicated.

Thanks for the input guys.


That's good to know that your computer handles Solidworks without issues. I was curious if it would at all since Solidworks website only seems to list workstation cards as certified. I haven't researched comparisons between Xeons and I5/I7's but I suspect you are right. Dell must think otherwise though since they don't offer a workstation without a Xeon. IDK. If anything, my previous response was intended to say I think you overspec'd, on drives, memory all the extra money spent on a fancy case and liquid cooling. But, It probably makes work more fun. Right?
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September 10, 2011 12:41:22 AM

It definitely makes work more fun. :) 

I am only running 8 gigs of ram right now due to the fact that I wasn't able to get over 4.0ghz with the 16 gigs. It runs stable at 4.8ghz. The most ram usage I have seen so far is about 6.5 gigs. So unless I start running our Gerber cutting program at the same time as everything else, I should be ok.

The reason I have the SSD and a raid 1 setup is because we have very small available server space. They are trying to hold out as long as possible without upgrading the servers. So instead of my work being saved on the servers, it is saved on the Raid 1 array and then backed up daily to a 2tb external hard drive. This way I always have access to it anyhow, since our servers like to go down pretty often.

The fancy case and watercooling is due to A. noise and B. Temps. I work in a small, quiet office. I didn't want to bother everyone with a hair dryer going 24/7 in my cubicle. And my setup runs damn near silent and my temps are great. I have always like Corsair's case quality and after seeing other people's WC setups in a 600T, I decided that would be the best case for my needs. And well I love white so it was a no brainer for me.

We are already looking at a new setup (not for me specifically) but it will be for our new program to run our Gerber cutting machine. This is one will definitely be a Xeon though as the rep for the software company basically told us that the program is super demanding and they haven't had much luck running it on regular machines. Now before anyone says that I should have built a Xeon setup so then we wouldn't another system, this will be a dedicated unit. It is going in the server rack, and will only be used by a few select individuals.
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