SOLIDWORKS on a HP Spectre x360 #SOLIDWORKS

We copped a hammering from a freak hail storm around 6weeks ago!  Hail the size of tennis balls hurled out of the sky for around 30minites.  They smashed around 70 roof tiles on the house and gave 3 of the family’s cars a real beating!  It took me a couple of hours on the roof, in the rain,  covering the broken tile to seal the roof
In that time I had one and only one leak.  Which just so happened to be directly over my running laptop.

It was a HP ProBook 470 G1 17″ laptop with a discrete graphic card.  Nothing real special but at the time I purchased it, it seemed like a good idea.  I had a love hate relationship with it.   Once I set it up. it up it was fine, but that did take a new install of Windows 8.1 then Windows 10 to get it right.

It’s was brought as a personal computer to run SOLIDWORKS Beta for testing, used to present at my Sydney SOLIDWORKS User Group meetings, along with my own SOLIDWORKS personal development.   Along with writing this blog!

It was starting to be a pain to travel with.  Not that I do a lot but dragging out a 17″ laptop at airports was starting to wear thin!   I had been thinking about something different for a while but to be honest couldn’t really justify replacing something that was doing the job. (Although in hindsight I would reconsider that statement)

As I had to make an insurance claim to cover the repairs to the house and cars I took the opportunity to claim for the computer.  As it was a personal claim the insurance company sends it off to a retail store.  The retail store soon realised that they weren’t going to be able to replace it like for like and promptly gave me a store credit!

I have never brought a computer via a retail store before.  Neither for business or for home.  I’m much more used to being able to select the specification I want, balanced to the budget I want to spend.  It was interesting having to look at what they had in stock, in what specification and for what money!

I’ve been toying with the idea of a 2in1 /hybrid/ convertible laptop for a while.  The specification on these compact machines are up there with many full size laptops.  With the added benefits in weight saving and touch screen.    With SOLIDWORKS 2018 looking to have the ability to use freehand sketching, using a pen or stylus, on Windows 10 touch screen devices, it added some influence, as well.

I shortlisted the Microsoft Surface, both Pro & Book, Lenovo Yogo 910, Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 13 convertible.    I eliminated the Microsoft Surface Pro & Book straight away.  The Book on cost, comparing equal/similar specifications the cost of the Surface Book is so much greater.  The Pro, a little because of it’s size.  More because of the detachable keyboard.   There were a few things about the Lenovo Yogo which I didn’t like.  If you read any of the comparison reviews it consistently rank lower than both the listed Dell & HP products.   Looking at it in the store, personally I liked both the feel & look of the Dell & HP over the Lenovo.  Computer like cars can be a personal thing!

The HP Spectre x360 13 is also the latest released machine and consistently rank number one by most of the comparison review.  It was also better value for money than the Dell XPS 13.   These are the specifications that I ended up with:

  • Intel® Core™ i7-7500U Processor (Intel® HD Graphics 620, 2.7 GHz, up to 3.5 GHz, 4 MB cache, 2 cores)
  • 13.3″ diagonal FHD UWVA BrightView WLED-backlit touch screen (1920 x 1080)
  • 8 GB LPDDR3-1866 SDRAM (onboard)
  • 256 GB PCIe® NVMe™ M.2 SSD

I wasn’t sure I would get another HP computer but one look at the HP Spectre x360 soon wiped that thought from my mind.   The Spectre is the most un-HP computer that HP  has made!  If Apple products are the benchmark for hardware in regards to engineering and design then the HP Spectre x360 more than matches them!  This is one beautifully engineered product.

Before I installed SOLIDWORKS 2017 I first upgraded Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro.   Then uninstalled everything I didn’t want.  Uninstalled the usual range of trial programs, games and corporate programs that comes with any new computer.

With SOLIDWORKS 2017 install the first thing to do, is run the SOLIDWORKS Performance Benchmark Test.

The HP Spectre x360 returned the following:

Graphics: 18.1sec, Processor: 37.7sec, I/O 25.5sec.  Overall 81.2 Rendering 7.5sec.   As a comparison the last laptop I ran the test on was a msi WT72.   A laptop aimed at the professional CAD market.  That was two years ago but it provides some interesting comparisons. The msi WT72 figures are: Graphics: 10.6sec, Processor: 35.1sec, I/O 20sec.  Overall 65.7 Rendering 8sec

Overall that an increase of around 23%.  Although if you look at the processor and I/O it is just 7%.   It we look at a more practical example like opening a Large Assemblies.   147MB in lightweight mode, 1741 parts.  On average it opens in round figures of 74seconds.  As a comparison on my work custom built IC3D overclocked 4.4gHz liquid cooled computer, which takes on average  around 58seconds.   A difference of around 22%

I have this little filter which is always good for testing.  It is only a small part – 6.38MB in size but with Linear Patterns, Mirroring of Patterns and  Fillets applied to those features it is always taxing on rebuild times!    The HP Spectre x360 has a rebuild time of 363.91seconds.   If I compare that to the msi WT72  which took 334.84second and my IC3D  that took 287.78seconds.  That is around 7% more than the WT72 and 20% over the IC3D.  Those figures look familiar!

Moving on to rendering I use a common Rendering Benchmark (by Rob Rodriguez – Axis Cad Solutions ) “Speaker for Render Benchmark”  The HP Spectre x360 rendered the image in 11minutes 27second.   Compared to the msi WT72 in 4minutes 43seconds.  That a increase of 142%,  which does highlight that the i7-7500U processor of the Spectre is only a two core/4thread in comparison to the WT72’s i7–4720HQ being a 4core/8 thread.  Allowing that the  i7–4720HQ is a 100Hz slower processor.

The most noticeable thing was the tremendous spot temperature that the Spectre developed during the rendering!  Localised to the back of the top left hand corner of the aluminum chassis , it was burn your leg, scary hot!

So rendering may not be the best idea on the Spectre!   Lets address the other issue which may be of concern …. the integrated graphic card.  At this stage I have not had a single issue in SOLIDWORKS.   I have to say that over the years using a variety of NVIDIA & AMD, both supported and non supported graphic cards I’ve have very little issues.  To a point I’ve seen the same traits using both supported and non supported cards.  Yes I’ve read the horror stories that people report but personally I have never experienced any.

Rotating my large assembly (tested above) I get very little graphic blocking.  A little around the wheels but no shuttering or delay.   That model is around the maximum size the 8gb of RAM fitted to the Spectre can comfortable handle.  It uses around 6.5gb.  If I was ordering one,  it would have been with 16gb of RAM

If you are looking to run SOLIDWORKS (other CAD application are applicable) as a full time professional application then the HP Spectre x360 is not for you.

If you travel, like to or need to do some design on the run and want a all round versatile, light weight, stylish, beautiful hybrid 2in1 computer then you should at the very least consider the HP Spectre x360.

 

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