OpenGL for Solidworks - truth or lie?

HI all,

I am a newbie here, and I am one year into my ID program. I am considering getting a new laptop for the coming semester. I envision myself using photoshop and illustrator and autocad most of the time now, but will probably move to solidworks or alias. now, the big question is of course which laptop to get. i have read quite some praise on the dell M60 which has a NVIDIA Quadro FX Go1000 card with 128Mb RAM, so I am considering that. on the other hand, I have also been considering the Sony A series. the big plus over there is that it has a HUGE 17" screen. however, it has got only an ATI mobility Radeon 9700, with 64Mb RAM. so, what i would like to ask is:

  1. Does support for OpenGL helps a lot? what advantage does that have? with the money i spend on the Dell, i can get a pentium M 1.7GHz, while the dell would come with a pentium M 1.5GHz. granted i would use more some solidworks, but i probably won’t be using it 90% of my time, 50% more like it (i still like to make foam mock-ups…)

  2. Continued from the above question, does a faster processor compensate for a slower graphics card?

  3. Does a bigger screen help much? Of course, i am using a little 12 in screen now which is way too small even for word, but from a 15 in to a 17 in, how much better would that be? what would be your opinion?

anyway, thanx for all your input in advance. please tell me your opinion…

  1. CAD generally optimized for OpenGL which is cross-platform. games run on DirectX which is Windows. its important. also know that video RAM is for games mostly. to handle all the hi-rez textures locally. dont need nearly as much for CAD. not so long as you arent planning to do realtime textured CAD (see older threads on that topic).

  2. used to be graphics was entirely processed by the CPU. with GPU’s the direction has changed. but still believe that CPU will be called when necessary under certain conditions.

  3. get biggest screen possible. nothing worse than zooming in and out non-stop.

thanx for your reply ykh…

i am still trying to decide which machine i should choose…

from my point of view, seems that the sony with 17 in screen would be a better choice (bigger screen + faster CPU), especially considering that i probably wouldn’t be using CAD all the time…

thanx again, and i still appreciate inputs from others.


consider dell’s m series workstations

For student-level SW the Radeon will be fine. For heavier work the NVidia cards are the way to go. Plus with the quadro FX cards you can use “Realview”, sort of a real-time rendering engine. This would be good for impressing clients. Solidworks actually has a video card compatibility page on their website, but you may have to be a subscription customer to access it…

honestly, do you guys think that if i buy a laptop computer now, would it last 3 years? i mean, for student work (and i am a photographer/web designer too, so have to take into account those needs at the same time) do you think that the radeon would be outdated and become inadequate soon?

thank you very much!!


I think you would easily get 3 years out of a laptop. I still work at home on a 6 year old AMD 750 (desktop). When I say “heavier” work with SW, I mean either assemblies with many parts (>250) or very surface-heavy models (ie. complex detailed injection molded parts with hundreds of features).

Oh, and by the way, Open GL compatibility is paramount with programs such as SW. This is why SW does their own testing and publishes video card compatibility tables. Poor drivers and incompatibility are one of the leading causes of crashes with SW (and probably other CAD software also).