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SOLIDWORKS 2021 Requirements and Recommendations

SOLIDWORKS clients often overlook the importance of having the correct hardware to support their new 3D CAD purchase. A common question we get asked is what should be considered before buying or upgrading equipment, so we thought it would be helpful to compile all the published system requirements along with our Engineering Team’s recommendations in one place.

SOLIDWORKS System Requirements

These requirements apply to all SOLIDWORKS products except where noted. Use this information to ensure you are always working with a SOLIDWORKS-supported and optimized system for hardware, operating system and Microsoft products.

SOLIDWORKS Products for Windows

(EDU 2020-2021)
(EDU 2021-2022)
Operating System 
Windows 10, 64-bitYesYes
Windows 8.1, 64-bitNoNo
Windows 7 SP1, 64-bitYes (until SW2020 SP5)No
Virtual environments(See chart below)(See chart below)
Processor3.3 GHz or higher
RAM16 GB or more
PDM Contributor or Viewer: 8 GB or more
DrivesSSD drives recommended for optimal performance
Microsoft Excel and Word2013, 2016, 20192016, 2019
AntivirusSOLIDWORKS recommends:Use a trusted antivirus product. Keep your antivirus product updated to the latest version.Stay updated with the latest antivirus definition/signature file (This defines the known current vulnerabilities and exemptions). Consider creating exemptions for SOLIDWORKS file types and folder locations to improve SOLIDWORKS file based runtime performance such as File Open/Save/Save As and PDM Vault Checkin/Checkout. 

Supported Virtual Environments (Hypervisors)

Virtualization EnvironmentSOLIDWORKS 2020SOLIDWORKS 2021
VMware vSphere ESXi6.76.7 U3
VMware Workstation1515.5
Microsoft Hyper-V20192019
Parallels Desktop, Mac14TBA
Citrix XenServer7.68.2
  • SOLIDWORKS and eDrawings require a GPU for optimal performance in a virtualized environment. 
  • SOLIDWORKS Composer is not supported in virtualized environments.

SOLIDWORKS Server Products

Operating Systems
Windows Server 2019YesYes
Windows Server 2016YesYes
Windows Server 2012 R2NoNo
Windows Server 2012NoNo
SQL Server
SQL 2019YesYes
SQL 2017YesYes
SQL 2016YesYes
SQL 2014Yes (until SW2021 SP5)Yes (until SW2021 SP5)

Microsoft/Apple Products (SOLIDWORKS 2020 – 2021)

Microsoft ProductsStart of LifeEnd of Life*
Windows 10, 64-bit2015 SP5Active
Windows 8.1, 64-bit2014 SP12018 SP5
Windows 7, 64-bit2010 SP12020 SP5
Windows Server 20192019 SP3Active
Windows Server 20162017 SP2Active
Windows Server 2012 R22014 SP32019 SP5
Windows Server 20122014 SP02018 SP5
SQL Server 20172018 SP0Active
SQL Server 20162017 SP0Active
SQL Server 20142015 SP02021 SP5
SQL Server 20122013 SP22019 SP5
IE 112014 SP3Active
Excel, Word 2019
(64-bit recommended)
2019 SP2Active
Excel, Word 2016
(64-bit recommended)
2016 SP3Active
Excel, Word 20132013 SP42020 SP5
Excel, Word 20102010 SP52018 SP5
macOS Catalina (10.15)eDrawings 2020Active
macOS Mojave (10.14)eDrawings 2019Active
macOS High Sierra (10.13)eDrawings 2019Active
macOS Sierra (10.12)eDrawings 2017eDrawings 2019
OS X El Capitan (10.11)eDrawings 2017eDrawings 2018
OS X Yosemite (10.10)eDrawings 2015eDrawings 2018
  • End Of Life (EOL) corresponds to the last SOLIDWORKS release where a Microsoft product is supported (This is synchronized with the Microsoft Mainstream Support End Date). SOLIDWORKS releases after the EOL are not supported for the said Microsoft product and SOLIDWORKS installation is blocked in the case of an operating system.
  • SOLIDWORKS Product Support Lifecycle defines the End Of Support for SOLIDWORKS versions.
  • SOLIDWORKS recommends using the latest Microsoft update of Windows, Office and Internet Explorer.
  • SOLIDWORKS supports each Windows 10 release for applicable SOLIDWORKS releases as long as it is still covered by both the SOLIDWORKS Product Support Lifecycle and Microsoft Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet.
  • SOLIDWORKS recommends using a Windows Server operating system for all SOLIDWORKS server-based products.
  • Windows Home Editions and Windows To Go are not supported.
  • Apple Mac® based machines running Windows using Boot Camp are not supported.
  • SOLIDWORKS 2018 on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 requires the Microsoft April 2014 update.
  • It is not recommended to install any instances of other applications on the SOLIDWORKS PDM Archive or Database Server. For PDM Professional, it is recommended the Archive and Database servers are two separate, dedicated machines.
  • To ensure optimum performance, it is not recommended to install antivirus software on the SOLIDWORKS PDM vault computer.
  • SOLIDWORKS does not test or certify VPN (Virtual Private Network) solutions but provides best-effort support. Users may be directed to work directly with their VPN provider to resolve issues on a case-by-case basis.
  • Beginning with SOLIDWORKS 2020, DVD distribution media will only be provided on request. 

CATSolutions Recommended Hardware Configurations

Below, the CATSolutions team has compiled a general hardware recommendations list for three general levels of SOLIDWORKS user.