Computer and grapics card question for new computer/laptop

I am looking to upgrade computers soon and would appreciate some input. I am running SW2008 sp4 32 bit XP Professional SP2
My current system:
Pentium 3.4 ghz EE processor with 4GB ram. Nvidea Quadro FX 3000 8x agp graphics card. (has 256 ram) I run (2) 20" samsung flatscreen monitors. I run SW dedicated to one monitor with reference material and other programs in the second monitor. I would guess the computer is at least three years old.
I have not had any real performance issues with the computer set up I listed above. It seems to be able to run SolidWorks with the largest assemblies that I've done okay, of course I do see some performance issues when compared to smaller assemblies but all in all it gets the job done. A lot of the jobs I do require modifications with results in large rebuild times. This computer is also used for various other programs as well. (IE: it is not just a dedicated workstation)
I'm sure that any one of the computers listed below would outperform my current system. All of these systems would be a dedicated SolidWorks workstation with minimal other programs installed (at least that's what I am intending).
Do any of you have these or similar setups, and if you do how do you like them? Should I see a significant improvement in performance with any of these systems and which ones would you think would be best deal with best performance for Solidworks?
Also, I wouldn't mind going with a laptop if I'm not going to suffer in performance.
Mobile choices Dell M6300 we/ 4GB ram, Windows Vista ultimate. Core 2 Duo T9300 (2.5ghz) 6M L2 Cache 800 mhz Dual Core Nvidea FX 1600 M 512 MB TurboCache (256MB discrete) running SolidWorks 64-bit comes with a free additional 19 inch flat-panel display $2455
Dell M6300 w/ 4GB ram, Windows Vista ultimate. Core 2 Duo T9300 (2.5ghz) 6M L2 Cache 800 mhz Dual Core Nvidea FX 3600 M 512 MB running SolidWorks 64-bit comes with a free additional 19 inch flat-panel display $2925
Desktop choices
Dell Precision T3400 Windows Vista ultimate Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 3.0ghz 1333 mhz 4MB L2 4GB ram Nvidea FX1700 512MB PCIe running SolidWorks 64-bit $2538
2nd choice is the same as above with a Core2 Quad Q6700 (2.66GHz/1066MHz 2 x 4MB/L2) Approx $2900
Thanks,
Brian
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Hi Brian, I don't think they would do better, as in native Solidworks, (which only makes use of a single processor at the moment), the processor is the key component. Going from a 3.4Ghz to 2.5Ghz would really hurt! If you use a lot of the add-ins, then maybe.
I went from a single 3Ghz core to AMD 4800 dual core, (2.4Ghz per core) and really noticed the difference. Now back at 3Ghz per core.
I would ask for a test run first, if the supplier refuses, go somewhere else.
Please report back your findings, as this would help the good people here,. thanks
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Brian have you thought about building one? possibly its not cheaper but if you are tech minded its an interesting exercise
at the moment I am 3/4 way though building one myself - haven't made one before - not too hard - plenty of helpful info/reviews on the internet...
its an E8500 o/c 20% to 3.8 ghz with a Thermalright Ultima 90 gpu cooler in an Antec Solo case, Gigabyte EX38 DS4 mobo blah, blah...
making the wiring tidy has been the hardest part so far
I am anticipating full load o/c temps will be slightly less than full load at stock with OEM fan
when the Q9650 are at run out prices I might drop one in as a replacement...
I picked that since SW is mostly single core and sometimes a bit more I would stick with a fast duo but of course rendering would be faster and multi tasking even better with a quad
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Hello Neil,
Thanks for responding, I appreciate it. I have actually built three systems over the years with my last one being the one I described in my post. That's a great option and that's most likely the way I'll go for a workstation. I just ran some rough numbers on it and it looks like around $2200-$2400 would build a decent system. That would have the E8500 with 8 GB of RAM and the Quadro FX 1700. I think that system should be decent and also remedy the "out of memory" problem that raises its head from time to time.The system would also be upgradeable to the extreme edition processors and 16 GB of RAM when it becomes more affordable.
I had the experience of buying a Dell system once before and your post brought back some memories (not good) about it. It seems that the salesperson I had a difference of opinion on a system that would be upgradeable. All of the technology was maxed out when I purchased it. I thought "never again", and I started building my own. Really I haven't had any regrets with a build your own system.
Thanks, Brian
This

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Both systems would be significantly faster than what you have now. A Core2 at 2.5GHz is roughly equivalent to a P4 running at 5 GHz.
On the notebook, stick with the 1600M graphics. The 3600M doesn't have much of an impact on SolidWorks performance, but it will drain the battery (and heat up) faster.
On the desktop, get either the e8400 or e8500 CPU. These are the newest dual core processors and are about 5% faster than the previous generation running at the same clock speed. Unless you do a lot rendering or analysis, there is no benefit to going with the quad core processor. The FX 1700 is an excellent choice.
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Just to add perspective to that estimate jimsym,
I am anticipating the overclocked E8500 I am constructing will be 5x faster for a single core in comparison to my faithful old P4 2.66 ( don't laugh) that I have used for SW05.
because SW will run 2 cores for some work it will add about another 20% to performance or be 6x faster total. This estimate is born out by SuperPi benchmarking and Anna Wood's rebuild benchmark result list.
I agree that a FX1700 card is a good cost/performance trade off for regular use however if you are using Realview effects? it may not have enough muscle. Perhaps someone here can tell us about the real world performance hit on various cards with Realview enabled.
HTH Neil
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BTW for those who are interested in such things the E8600 @ 3.33 ghz is most likely out in a few weeks at the price of the E8500 presently. This has a FSB multiplier of 10 so it will pull 4ghz o/c fairly easily I would think...
I think this is the last speed step before the Nehalem hyperthreaded quad chips. Those are rumoured to be -US$300,600,900 for 2.66,2.93,3.2 ghz - with a more expensive X58 mobo and 3x DDR3 memory slots to fill.
Clock for clock single thread performance I understand maybe much the same for Nehalem as Wolfdale but for multi there is a healthy jump - some 25%. Apparently they are not as easy to overclock either.... It will be interesting to see if these chips deliver as much of a performance increase for SW as we might expect. Remembering too hyperthreading delivered a performance penalty for SW in its last incarnation... Its a pity really SW seems so bound to sequential calculations with all those threads beckoning.
I guess time will tell.
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Thanks jimsym,
I appreciate your input about the graphics card and I will keep that in mind.
It seems that the M6300 is a popular choice for SolidWorks mobile workstation. But I think a little while on that, the jump from 4 GB to 8 GB of RAM is about $1000.
Have you or do you know anything about SAGER notebooks? It seems that you can spec out a decent system with them as well with the 1600M choice for a graphics card.
I think I will stay with the desktop workstation for now.
Thanks Brian

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AFAIK, the T3400 will top out at 8GB RAM. I don't think the P45 chipset supports 16GB. (I could be wrong.)
In any event, you must run a 64-bit OS in order to use even a full 4GB RAM. Few SolidWorks users need more than 4GB, VERY few need more than 8GB.
As much as I dislike Vista in general, for 64-bit computing I'd go with Vista. NO ONE is going to do anymore driver development for XP-64 and many of the drivers are still shaky.
On the M6300, Dell nails you on the 4GB DIMMs. I'd question your need for 8GB, but if you do really need it, buy the system with 1GB and purchase the 4GB DIMMs from a reputable third party.
On the Sager (and Eurocom, Hypersonic, and others....) you can get a lot of computer for the money, but I'd be very leery of their support for 64-bit operating systems. You are completely dependent on the notebook manufacturer for driver support.
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