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Computer Purchasing Guide

Looking to buy a computer for mechanical engineering based work? Here are resources that might help.

Last Updated: December 2017

What's important?

There's a lot of resources, both from vendors and from tech reviewers, about which computer is best for CAD (SolidWorks, AutoCAD, etc). The vendors are trying to sell you their stuff, while reviewers are (hopefully) making honest reviews. For example if you go on the NVidia Website, you'll find recommendations for best graphics cards for SolidWorks (SW). All SW users know that you can use SW with a computer that's way below these specs. Then why do they recommend this? Because they want to make sure when you use SW it will perform flawlessly, with instant refresh rates, and never crashing. Here's my take on it.

Here's a helpful review:

CPU - Quad core recommended

Intel Xeon


Intel i7

GPU - recommended

NVidia Quadro

AMD FirePro



Memory (RAM)

8GB and above

I mostly have experience with SW, and if you want to buy a laptop, I'd recommend in minimum the above specs. The reason why is because with every new version of SW that comes out your computer will just perform slower. Maybe they're doing something similar to what apple just got caught doing, who knows? In any case, getting the minimum specs above will ensure your laptop will perform for at least 2-4 years...what's the average life expectancy of a laptop these days?

BUT it also depends on what you're doing. Are you just looking to design little widgets for your high school engineering class, or are you looking to design your whole FIRST robot? If you fit the former category, you can get away with an i5 processor, and any other GPU. But if you're the latter, you probably want at least an i7, with SSD, and 16GB RAM. And if you're any where in between, then you might want to decide based on your budget. Desktops are more economic for $$/performance but they're not portable. 

Perhaps you can get away with using OnShape. To boost the performance of your computer while using SW here's two helpful guides I found online:

Now here are some laptops I've been looking at for my next computer:

HP ZBook 15u

Lenovo ThinkPad P50 / P51

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