Can You Use a Gaming Laptop for SolidWorks?

CADspace, largest dedicated National SolidWorks Value Added Reseller, was recently approached by our partner COM1, who focus on providing integrated IT solutions to resellers, to review a new addition to their product range. Of course, having worked with COM1 for a while now, we hoped they had something interesting for us to look at.

Sure enough, we were presented with two Infinity Gaming Laptops. Now, like you, I had never heard of this brand so I asked for some more information. Turns out, COM1, designed and produced these laptops. From a long history of distributing laptops, they’ve ventured into making laptops now too.

What does this have to do with SolidWorks you may ask? Whilst SolidWorks only recommends CAD Mobile Workstations for use with SolidWorks, they may not always be available, or even as spec’d up or as affordable as gaming laptops. So, we took advantage of this opportunity to review the Infinity Gaming Laptops and put it through its paces using SolidWorks – running 3 main tests you can review the testing process below.

Let’s just say I was impressed with my first look of the packaging. It’s simple yet makes me feel like I’m definitely getting high end gear. Both laptops had similar packaging, and they were safely protected internally too, including their chargers.

*TLDR, if you want to go straight to the answer you can scroll down to the conclusion and miss out on all the testing and results.

We received two laptops to review, they were Infinity V5-9R6-88 and Infinity X5-9G6-88. You can click on the links to see more detailed information about the system. However, here is a brief overview of their specifications, with respect to aspects of computers that affect SolidWorks performance.

SpecsInfinity V5-9R6-88Infinity X5-9G6-88
CPUIntel i7-9750H @ 2.6GHzIntel i7-9750H @ 2.6GHz
GPUNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660TiNVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
HDD512GB SSD M.2 NVMe512GB SSD M.2 NVMe
RAM16GB 2666Mhz DDR416GB 2666Mhz DDR4
DISPLAY15.6” 144Hz IPS-Level15.6” 144Hz IPS-Level
WEIGHT1.865 Kg1.967 Kg

Before we started testing these laptops with SolidWorks, we really wanted to get a good feel for how they perform daily tasks. The simple task of opening internet browser Chrome, which is notoriously RAM hungry, was very quick. With 12 YouTube tabs open, it was still very quick. Working with emails and day to day word processing was a breeze.

One curious point was the responsiveness of the mouse cursor, it almost felt like it moved before I moved it. This is thanks to its 144Hz response time display. My personal laptop, like most laptop screens have 60Hz refresh rate. Whilst screen refresh rate is crucial for gaming, it’s not as important for CAD modelling, although it was a welcome “refreshing” upgrade from my system (thumbs if you get it).

SolidWorks Tests

There are 3 tests that we are really after in terms of SolidWorks usage;

  • SolidWorks Rx Benchmark 2020
  • SolidWorks Visualize Rendering
  • SolidWorks Simulation

SolidWorks Rx Benchmark

SolidWorks Rx Benchmark is an internal test SolidWorks has, to provide direct feedback on system set up, specifically on hardware that affects SolidWorks performance – CPU, hard drive and graphics card. The results with both Infinity Laptops looked like this – both systems had almost identical times, a difference of 0.2 seconds overall – statistically insignificant, so I call it a tie.

How does this compare to a CAD Mobile Workstation? Well we have one of those too, an MSI Mobile Workstation, it resulted with an overall 79.6 seconds. Overall time is important, but you need to look at each individual result to understand how that will affect your SolidWorks experience. The main point here is the difference in graphics card, the Mobile Workstation has a fully certified Quadro P1000 GPU vs. the GTX and RTX in the Infinity laptops. This is expected as SolidWorks utilizes the graphics hardware differently providing smoother graphical experience in Quadro cards. However, processing commands are slower and opening and closing of files will also be slower in this Mobile Workstation due to the differences in hard drive and CPU hardware.

SolidWorks Visualize Rendering

The next test was rendering capabilities using SolidWorks Visualize. SolidWorks Visualize has the ability to render your models using both CPU and/or GPU. So, this is when gaming Graphics Cards can really shine. The main point you look at here is the number of CUDA cores (or Stream Processors in AMD, new in Visualize 2020) in the GPU, this is directly proportional to the rendering performance.

We have a standard image we like to render to establish a baseline, see above, which is 4K resolution, running at 2000 passes and only rendered using GPU. The render time is in seconds, the lower the better.

SystemRendering HardwareRender time
Infinity V5-9R6-88RTX 2060 (1920 CUDA Cores)1178 seconds
Infinity X5-9G6-88GTX 1660Ti (1536 CUDA Cores)2190 seconds

Training Machine (i5 @ 3.0GHz)

*added to illustrate GPU vs GPU performance

CPU (4 Cores @ 3.0GHz)>18,000 seconds (we stopped it at 5 hrs)

One interesting point that should be noted is the fan noise level in the Infinity X5-9G6-88, it increased quite a bit when under full load rendering this image. So, if you will be using this system for rendering make sure your nearby colleagues are not sensitive to fan noises.

In this case, we can see that the more CUDA cores equates to faster rendering of images. As a general comparison, GeForce cards to Quadro cards, GeForce cards generally have more CUDA cores running at faster clock rates. So, in this occasion a gaming Laptop with a GPU that has more CUDA cores would be the better choice for SolidWorks Visualize, as is the case with both Infinity Gaming laptops. On top of this GeForce cards are generally cheaper, so you can get more bang for your buck.

SolidWorks Simulation

The final test we wanted to use our Infinity laptop systems was for Simulation. This is a process that relies heavily on CPU power. To put it simply, the faster the CPU, the faster you’ll get your result. The great thing about both of our Infinity Laptops is that they use 9th Generation Intel CPU i7-9750H @ 2.6 GHz. No expense was spared to ensure quick response and faster calculations.

Our finite element analysis was quite simple to set up and included one part, but required many complex Simulation calculations – this test has 40,586 nodes, 19,520 elements and 242,834 degrees of freedom.

SystemSimulation HardwareCalculation Times
Infinity V5-9R6-88i7-9750H @ 2.6 GHz, turbo to 4.5 GHz231 minutes
Infinity X5-9G6-88i7-9750H @ 2.6 GHz, turbo to 4.5 GHz240 minutes
Training Machine (i5 @ 3.0GHz)i5-7400 @ 3.0 GHz, turbo to 3.5 GHz293 minutes

Again, it’s quite easy to see the direct effect CPU has on solving these complex mathematical problems. With the high end i7 processors in the Infinity Gaming Laptops we get at least 20% faster results than a typical CPU found in many computers.

Images

Here are some of my favourite images of the Infinity Gaming laptops, the images display their modern and sleek looks. The Infinity X5-9G6-88 is on the left (with the coloured keyboard) and the Infinity V5-9R6-88 is on the right.

 

 

Conclusion

We really wanted to answer 1 question, “Can you use gaming laptops with SolidWorks?”. We were very fortunate that in the process we got to review two outstanding Infinity Gaming Laptops.

The answer to the question…? Yes, you can (*with some caveats*)

There’s always a catch with these types of questions, SolidWorks officially requires a CAD Workstation, however the hardware internally is almost the same. This begs the question, why can’t we use gaming laptops with SolidWorks? In reality you can use any Windows computer system with SolidWorks, however this recommendation is made to ensure that you have a smooth experience using SolidWorks.

The Infinity Gaming Laptops certainly have the hardware level to provide a smooth experience with SolidWorks, in certain aspects of SolidWorks it can be better than a CAD Workstation. The exception here is that there are certain SolidWorks capabilities that only work with CAD level GPU’s, e.g. RealView, Enhanced Graphics Performance option, etc.

Would I use a gaming laptop for SolidWorks modelling? Yes, for general modelling of less than 1000 parts I definitely would.

Out of the two laptops that we had the chance to review, I personally would choose using the Infinity V5-9R6-88, for the simple fact that it had the GTX 2060 graphics card. However, it’s hard to look past Infinity X5-9G6-88 as the coloured keyboard makes me the talk of the town, and the position of the webcam (at the bottom of the display) allows for the laptop to be raised and keeps the camera view at eye level – meaning I can even use this at work for conference calls.

If you’re looking to grab yourself an Infinity Gaming Laptop please give CADspace a call on 1300 799 223 and we can go through the full model range with you and choose the perfect system for your requirements.

Thanks again to COM1 for providing us the opportunity to review these laptops, it helped answer a question many SolidWorks users and I have been wondering for a while.

By Gabriel Davila
CADspace National Sales Manager (and closet nerd)

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