There's a fair amount of confusion about what the best computer CPUs are for SOLIDWORKS. Over the past several months, I've seen blogs, forum posts, and presentations that skirt around the subject, with nebulous statements, and in some cases outright incorrect information. So, I thought I'd set the record straight.
What IS the Best CPU for SOLIDWORKS?
There is a real answer to this question, and although the specific model will change over time, the overall answer is definitive.
Ready? Here it goes:
The best CPU for SOLIDWORKS is the one that provides the best SINGLE-CORE computing performance. Period.
Why is This?
Because SOLIDWORKS, like other MCAD systems, is largely single-threaded. What's the thing you wait for most often, the thing that is never fast enough? Rebuild. And, rebuild in SOLIDWORKS is single-threaded.
Now, it's true some things in SOLIDWORKS are multi-threaded, but they are relatively minor when compared to rebuild. Sure, opening multiple files is multi-threaded, but the open file operation isn't CPU-bound, it's storage system-bound.
Creating high-quality hidden line views on drawings is multi-threaded, but that's not done all that often. Even when updates occur, it's not something you deal with every minute of every day when using SOLIDWORKS. Rebuild is and it equals performance to a SOLIDWORKS user.
So then, what's the best CPU available for SOLIDWORKS today?
Looking at www.cpubenchmark.net and cpu.userbenchmark.com, and homing in specifically on the single-core benchmark numbers, the Intel Core i7-8086K (brand-new and available in limited quantities) is the clear winner when it comes to single-core performance. The Intel Core i7-8700K is right behind it, followed closely by its predecessor (the Intel Core i7-7700K)
You don't have to take my word for it. There are numerous places in the SOLIDWORKS forums where Dassault Systèmes personnel discuss the single-threaded nature of much of SOLIDWORKS (especially rebuild).
A few people have even gone through actual testing over the years; a Google search will turn up a lot of hits. Puget Systems completed the most recent tests comparing CPUs for SOLIDWORKS 2017 and SOLIDWORKS 2018. You will notice in these tests that Core I9, Xeon, and AMD CPUs do NOT impact SOLIDWORKS performance in a positive way. Indeed, they are all SLOWER in SOLIDWORKS rebuild than any of the three Intel Core i7 CPUs I mentioned earlier. Looking at the CPU benchmark sites, you will see their single-core performance benchmarks are all lower, as well.
What about SOLIDWORKS Simulation?
Well, that's a more complicated situation. There are a lot of different meshers and solvers across the SOLIDWORKS Simulation portfolio, and they are all different. In general, tests done by companies, such as Puget Systems, show diminishing returns with core counts greater than six, so the two fastest SOLIDWORKS CPUs (Core i7-8086K and Core i7-8700K) would still be best for most Simulation users, as well.