There is one question that we probably get 1-2 times per day in the CADimensions offices, which is, “Is there a SOLIDWORKS for Mac?”
We would like to start with a disclaimer. There are obviously arguments to be made for both sides of this debate which is nothing that we intend to settle here. The whole “Mac vs PC” conversation is bigger than us and we don’t intend to offer any opinion on the matter.
So, why can’t you get a SOLIDWORKS for Mac operating system? This is a totally fair question for somebody who is just doing research into things like “what is CAD?” because while Macs are just so common today. When SOLIDWORKS was being developed, that wasn’t always the case, and to tell this story properly, we have to jump into the Wayback Machine and step into the year1995.
In the early days of the computer age, platforms like Windows were being brought in to replace machines that ran primarily in business environments. These companies may have used IBM mainframe computers since the late 50s and by the time we hit 1995, PCs that run on Windows dominate the space for business computing. This is where Bill Gates cashes in.
We all know some part of the Genesis story behind the development of Windows and Macintosh. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were rivals, peers, was it poor foresight to not make the SOLIDWORKS platform Mac compatible?
Not So Easy
There is a mythological lore that surrounds Steve Jobs and a lot of that has to do with pop culture and his portrayal in movies or books but all of that insight into the beginning of Apple does tell us a lot about their go-to-market strategy. Apple wanted to be the machine for your home, your personal computer. The position was to let IBM and Dell and HP fight over the business machines, Apple is going to be the machine on your lap in your living room.
Built With Windows In Mind
SOLIDWORKS was built during the 90s when IBM compatible computers running Windows were simply more prevalent in the business world. Windows had many advantages to developers who were looking to build software simply because it was open-source. Being open-source meant you could customize, change, boost, and really experiment with what a computer but also software is capable of doing.
As a result of that tandem evolution of PC and Software, SOLIDWORKS incorporates many tools and commands that were designed to interface specifically with a Windows operating system in mind. Things that are common actions like “right-click” in SOLIDWORKS would need to be accounted for in a different way. Keystrokes that are incredible, timesaving shortcuts would all need to be re-written to respond with a Mac keyboard.
Why Not Start Now?
We would be lying if we didn’t own up to thinking this to ourselves at least a few times. Hey, why not just make a SOLIDWORKS for Mac? Macs today are synonymous with being powerful machines, especially when it comes to graphics, rendering, and working with programs that require a lot of capability. As we are CADimensions and not SOLIDWORKS we can’t comment on any official position they may take on this. We assume it would probably be cool, but too darn expensive!
We wouldn’t hold our breath waiting for a SOLIDWORKS for Mac.
What Do I Need To Run SOLIDWORKS?
So you already invested in a Mac but you need to run SOLIDWORKS, what are your options?
Well, you’re going to need to invest in a PC, and CADimensions is a re-seller for Boxx, a line of PCs built to run SOLIDWORKS. Read more about Boxx.
No matter what brand PC you end up with, we do have some suggestions based on our experiences. A lot of this is what guides our decisions when buying the computers that our engineers work from. Of course, you can always see what SOLIDWORKS recommends as their base system requirements here.
Spring For A Good Graphics Card
SOLIDWORKS is a visual program that let’s engineer build incredible things in 3D space. In order to render those graphics, you need a card capable of some pretty heavy lifting sometimes. We often recommend the Nvidia Quadro series, and you don’t have to go top of the line. Nvidia has a great product and their mid-range cards work for a majority of everyday SOLIDWORKS applications.
Choose Clock Speed Over Cores
The more cores the better right? It depends on what you’re doing. SOLIDWORKS is built as a linear application. This means that as it processes the data in the tree, it does so from the top down. It’s building a model, so that makes logical sense that you would build an object that way. As a result, SOLIDWORKS is often only drawing on one core of your machine at any time. In contrast, if you’re using a program like Visualize, for example, to render out a high definition image. This process will use multiple cores for concurrent processing of the image from all angles because it can.
What really helps boost performance and should be something you consider carefully is the clock speed. The clock speed is the best indicator of what kind of user experience you will have working with SOLIDWORKS. The faster clock speed means information is being processed faster. The end result is a better user experience.
Clock speed and cores are getting better every year, these are just a few things to keep an eye out for.