Choosing the Best SolidWorks Graphics Card

When deciding to choose what hardware you will use to run your high-end 3D CAD software, you will need to select a SolidWorks graphics card. With so many options available, selecting the right graphics card may seem like a difficult task.

However, with a good understanding of how you plan to use the software and a budgetary target, you can make a good decision and feel confident that the chosen card will work for you.


Importance of Selecting a High-End Graphics Card

SolidWorks is a high-end 3D CAD modeling software. It’s highly demanding on hardware, and requires the appropriate selection of hardware components to run properly. In order to have the best possible user experience, it is important to select a an appropriate card designed for such a resource-demanding software.

Best SolidWorks graphics card

AMD Fire Pro

If you plan to make the significant investment in purchasing SolidWorks, it makes sense to provide the best possible platform to maximize your experience that fits within your budget. Keep in mind that a more expensive graphics card is not necessarily better suited for use with SolidWorks. Ultra high-end gaming cards may not necessarily be the most cost-effective choice for 3D modeling, and so you should consider looking specifically for workstation graphics cards, which the software may be able to use more efficiently.


Evaluate your Needs

How much power you need in a graphics card will depend on how you plan to use SolidWorks. These are questions you should ask when choosing a SolidWorks graphics card.

  • Will you be using dual monitors?
  • Do you plan on using the software to create photorealistic renderings of your models?
  • Do you plan on exporting the models to other ray-tracing applications for rendering?
  • Do you plan on creating visualizations of simulation data using Flow Simulation or FEA?

If you want to work more efficiently with these tools, you may want to consider selecting a higher-powered graphics card.

Best SolidWorks Graphics Card

We reviewed several graphics cards to find the two best. The AMD FirePro and NVIDIA Quadro are highly recommended for not just SolidWorks, but for other CAD softwares as well, e.g. AutoCAD, CATIA, among others. Check out the reviews, prices, and ratings of each by clicking below in the table:

DescriptionAmazon Price
AMD FirePro V4900 AMD FirePro for SolidWorks
The AMD FirePro is one of the best graphics card for SolidWorks and other CAD softwares. It is capable of dual monitor setup and is able to handle intensive 3D models. Features include:
  • Two Display Ports and one DVI-D port
  • 1GB of fast DDR5 memory
  • AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology
NVIDIA Quadro NVIDIA Quadro for CAD Softwares
The NVIDIA Quadro K600 is capable of connecting multiple monitors and can render any 3D model. Features include:
  • DVI-I and Display Port for monitors
  • 1GB DDR3 memory
  • Max. Resolution: 3840 x 2160

SolidWorks Graphics Card Driver Selection Tool

Once you understand your needs, you will have a better idea of the price range within which you may be willing to spend. The best place to start is probably the SolidWorks Selection Tool to evaluate a particular card in one of two ways –

  • By selecting a certified computer system and graphics card combination
  • By selecting from a list of graphics card by vendors

By using this tool, you can be sure that your card selection has been certified by SolidWorks. Check out the tool here.

If you want to see how various cards stack up against each other, check out their benchmarks.


Final Thoughts

Keep in mind the big picture when selecting a card for SolidWorks. If you are tailoring your hardware selection for this particular piece of software, you are making a decision about your own user experience. If you will be using the software on a daily basis, consider budgeting an amount of money that will cover the cost of the highest-end graphics card.

Take the time to decide for what purpose you will be using the software, how often you will be working with it, and select a certified card that meets these needs and fits your budget.

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  • Anthony Barker

    I’m trying to build a machine for solidworks and I’ve been frustrated with the price and confusion of graphics cards. I’ll be running a single 4k display through a DP1.2. I won’t be running any photo-real renderings or ray tracing, but I will be doing FEA. What’s an appropriate and economical graphics card to use?

    • core71

      Graphic cards listed here are at least for me too small. I would not think anything below 2GB (I have 4GB) and 6 MB cache (I have 8). I use a lot real time render feature and actual rendering tasks. For 4k I guess 2GB might be so-so enough – depending on actual modelling complexity in hand. That said, I dont use 4k – just dual full HD monitors…

      Solidworks performance depends hugely on complexity of CAD models incl. the actual “style” how geometry is modelled and the total number of parts and assemblies you need to run simultaneously. Therefore for better guidance, it would be nice to know more about your design needs. For example I might run >1200 parts in one top level assemby having ~500…700 individual part geometries (=rest are dublicates).

      Solidworks benefits from multi-core and hyperthreading processing typically during rendering, simulation and some techical drawing related features. Geometry solving/calculation/displaying 3d) then again does not utilize multi-core/ht that much, but is a CPU-eater anyways ***together*** with GPU. So, for Solidworks it’s important to balance both GPU and CPU to your needs. For CPU consider i7 or Xeon, or i5 for less demanding use.

      • Great answer. Thanks for sharing

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