This article aims to help you understand what hardware is important when looking for a system to use Solidworks specifically and the minimum requirements to run the program. We have also provided some suggestions of starting points for laptops you might like to consider.

Dell Precision 5750

Operating System

While not hardware, since an Operating System is the software that all other programs are handled through, it’s worth noting for Solidworks. While other CAD software might be compatible, Solidworks is not natively supported by Apple’s MacOS. Although there are workarounds to run Windows on a Mac which would allow Solidworks to be run, this can cause performance overhead or other unforeseen issues.

In addition to this, it’s recommended to use a system that runs Windows 10 or 11, as Windows 7 and earlier are not supported in more recent versions of Solidworks, and to avoid Macs.


CPUs are the core processors of a computer, and are the key component for how fast it can calculate and how much it can calculate at once, based on the speed and core count of the CPU respectively. Other CAD software might benefit from high core counts, allowing for lots of calculation to be performed at the same time, but Solidworks only uses around 2 cores. While this means Solidworks won’t see any direct performance increase beyond dual core systems, it can still be worth using a system with 4 or more cores, as these can be allocated to background processes or other programs used in the workflow.

It may be more practical to look at what other programs you plan to use and see if they require a CPU with more cores, especially if you plan to run them concurrently. Additionally, higher end CPUs will have both faster individual core performance as well as more cores, so you’ll likely have enough cores for background tasks, as most dual core CPUs would have low performance in CAD.

Intel Core i5 processors are the minimum we would be comfortable suggesting, though i7 and i9 would provide greater performance in spite of more cores not directly contributing. We would therefore recommend an i7, i9 or equivalent Ryzen 5, 7 or 9 CPU.


RAM is the memory that computers use to store information they’re using, and you could need a lot more than average computing for CAD. Solidworks’ official website suggests a system with “16GB or more”. This is certainly a good recommendation for minimum spec, but the actual amount of RAM needed can vary greatly.

You can check Solidworks official site for exact specifications here 

For larger projects, 32GB, 64GB or even more may be required, though entry level CAD can absolutely run with Solidworks’ recommended 16GB, we would recommend choosing 32GB so you have extra room for other programs, or 64GB if you don’t intend to upgrade the system for a long period of time.

This unresponsiveness can lead to time spent struggling with the system, increasing the time it takes to perform tasks, which in turn reduces productivity. Ensuring that you have a computer with enough processing power for the workload you’re working on is hugely important, especially for larger projects where low performance systems would lead to stability issues.


The GPU is a processor similar to the CPU, but is specialised into handling graphics calculations, such as 3D models and 2D graphics that are crucial to CAD work such as Solidworks. While perhaps not as important to performance as it is for other CAD software, the GPU is still important for using Solidworks.

Solidworks’ website has a list of supported systems and GPUs, and it appropriately includes a large number of Quadros and Radeon pros. While other GPUs may work with the program, we would recommend systems that have GPUs listed in the official spec for Solidworks. These receive the most support (such as studio driver updates) and will provide the most stable experience in comparison to standard gaming GPUs.


While not necessary for the machine to function, a larger screen size will help keep your work from feeling cramped without the need for an external display. We’d recommend around 15.6” as a good starting point, but if you would prefer to have a smaller laptop an external monitor could be an option if you are happy to do most of your CAD in your workspace rather than on the go.

Ensure that you have the right ports for any peripherals you’re using; if you intend to use an external GPU instead of a dedicated one in the laptop, Thunderbolt is important. If you intend to use multiple external displays, ensure you have outputs on your laptop that can support them. Any other features, such as touch screens or webcams, should also be taken into account depending on personal requirements.


Dell Precision 7700 Series

A laptop from the 7700 Precision series, such as the Dell Precision 7740, is a great option for upgradable RAM: While some units are configured in dual channel, the total DIMM slots is 4, meaning there’s at least 2 slots still open for upgrades if the initial memory becomes inadequate. This helps to save in the short term by not having to buy a more expensive configuration when it’s not necessary, and long term by not having to upgrade to another laptop entirely.

Lenovo ThinkPad P15

The ThinkPad P15 is not only a compelling Lenovo option for CAD, it’s also a great point of comparison for CPUs - while it’s spec includes multiple options for i7, i9 and Xeon processors, it only has one option for i5 while having the most options for i7. In most cases, the i5 is the minimum “entry-level” option for CAD, but as a lot of the performance comes from the extra cores this can be less relevant for Solidworks (depending on your projects).

HP ZBook 15 G5

Lastly, a HP ZBook 15 G5 has plenty of ports including Thunderbolt 3 USB-C with DisplayPort output. This could be a great option if you intend to use multiple external displays, or plan to use other peripherals that need the high speed connection. Laptops have limited upgradability in terms of ports, so it’s important to get a system that meets your needs the first time.


For Solidworks, most of the normal rules for CAD apply: a CAD grade of GPU, similarly powerful CPU and large amount of system memory are recommended. On top of this, Solidworks only works on more up to date versions of Windows, so Mac products and older versions of Windows are ill advised as compatibility is uncertain.

Solidworks is therefore not overly restrictive in terms of new CAD laptops; unless you prefer Macs, any hardware that would be recommended to use in current versions of Solidworks supports Windows, and would therefore be compatible.

If you are interested in getting a laptop with Solidworks in mind, or other design softwares, below you can find our range of CAD laptops as well as an in depth look at the system requirements for a selection of design softwares.