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    Default Solidworks 2020 Review

    Hi all,
    I've been running SolidWorks 2017 SP5 exclusively due to it's stability. Looking to hear from SolidWorks 2020 (and 2021) users to see if there are any substantial benefits to upgrade. I'm getting to the point where a lot of my clients models are coming from newer SW versions and it's nice to be able to edit the native file instead of a dumb solid. I use quite a bit of the software so if anything is awesome or lacking with the new versions I'm all ears.

    Some notes/questions:

    Stability is most important to me.
    Any speed/file size improvements?
    Direct editing improvements/enhancements?
    Surface editing improvements/enhancements?
    How is the new Visualize?
    Any great new features?

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    We've been running SW2020 SP05 since about mid-August here at work. Running on my Dell Precision 5510 I haven't managed to crash it yet so stability hasn't been issue. We upgraded from 2017 as well for some of the same reasons you are. Overall I haven't noticed any significant upgrades but I am not the most advanced user. Our use is strictly in-house so there isn't much need for Visualize or anything like that.
    So far it's been a treat to use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BugRobotics View Post
    Hi all,
    I've been running SolidWorks 2017 SP5 exclusively due to it's stability. Looking to hear from SolidWorks 2020 (and 2021) users to see if there are any substantial benefits to upgrade. I'm getting to the point where a lot of my clients models are coming from newer SW versions and it's nice to be able to edit the native file instead of a dumb solid. I use quite a bit of the software so if anything is awesome or lacking with the new versions I'm all ears.

    Some notes/questions:

    Stability is most important to me.
    Any speed/file size improvements?
    Direct editing improvements/enhancements?
    Surface editing improvements/enhancements?
    How is the new Visualize?
    Any great new features?
    I am running 2020 SP3 right now. Hopefully soon to upgrade to 2021 SP1.....

    Stability is decent in the higher SP numbers. 2020 is better than 2019 IMO.
    2020 speed hasn't changed much, but 2021 is supposed to be substantially faster especially for drawings.
    Direct editing is similar, maybe a little better.

    Great new features?

    -Tab-Slot for sheet metal (2018).

    -Automatic mate breadcrumbs (2020). [Ctrl+click two faces, chose mate type, okay, lock rotation and flip alignment options show as crumbs.] This is a big deal to me!

    -Drag multiple features to a folder (2020).

    -Auto-repair references for fillets/chamfers (2020)

    -Lock rotation for Slot Mate (2021-haven't tried this yet).

    There are a few others I can't think of just now.......

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    Stability of 2020 has been fine for me and our team in the mid SPs. In terms of features it definitely creeps up on you, and the few times I've gone back to an earlier version I've been incredibly frustrated by some missing feature. After upgrading every year since 2008 it's hard to remember what got added when but I'm sure if you jump from 2017 to 2020 you will be pleasantly surprised. The features raised above are good examples.

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    There are a couple improvements. Not worth the nearly 6k/year we are paying for annual maintenance on two seats of standard and one seat of professional.

    Sorry, just got hit with another maintenance invoice from our distributor. I'm going to upgrade them all to the latest version and cancel maintenance. In 3 years we can just buy 3 more seats. Really ready to be done with Solidworks. It's BS that the maintenance costs are roughly equivalent to a subscription on software that has barely changed in a decade.

    We pay the same in maintenance for a couple of 40k CAM software seats... And I can pickup the phone and get help programming a part in about 30 seconds. I've reached out to Solidworks tech support once in a decade, and it was not effective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boosted View Post
    There are a couple improvements. Not worth the nearly 6k/year we are paying for annual maintenance on two seats of standard and one seat of professional.

    Sorry, just got hit with another maintenance invoice from our distributor. I'm going to upgrade them all to the latest version and cancel maintenance. In 3 years we can just buy 3 more seats. Really ready to be done with Solidworks. It's BS that the maintenance costs are roughly equivalent to a subscription on software that has barely changed in a decade.

    We pay the same in maintenance for a couple of 40k CAM software seats... And I can pickup the phone and get help programming a part in about 30 seconds. I've reached out to Solidworks tech support once in a decade, and it was not effective.
    Yea, I agree across all points. The maintenance structure is garbage. Never used tech support once. Issue is I have HSMWorks that will cease to support 2017 after next year (although HSMWorks is gonna be killed off soon if I had to bet) and clients keep sending over newer and newer versions of models and it's a pain to go and edit dumb solids.

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    Default Does 2020 support high-res monitors?

    Does 2020 have high resolution monitor support? This is a biggie as I have a high res laptop that makes using SolidWorks a pain in the ass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boosted View Post
    There are a couple improvements. Not worth the nearly 6k/year we are paying for annual maintenance on two seats of standard and one seat of professional.
    Typically won't purchase maintenance if we need to upgrade. So I had about 6 or 7 seats that ranged from 2007 up to 2019. We were able to do a recapture program for just under $6k for three of the seats that was good for 18 months before the next renewal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boosted View Post
    Sorry, just got hit with another maintenance invoice from our distributor. I'm going to upgrade them all to the latest version and cancel maintenance. In 3 years we can just buy 3 more seats.
    In three years they'll call you up and offer to waive back maintenance if you sign up for 18 months of maintenance. That's what I just did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BugRobotics View Post
    Does 2020 have high resolution monitor support? This is a biggie as I have a high res laptop that makes using SolidWorks a pain in the ass.
    Yes, I have two 4k monitors and SW behaves normally on them without any HiDPI workarounds.

    It's slow about switching parts from the taskbar, it always was, but seems worse on 4k. You have to hover your mouse over it on the taskbar and wait for the blue spinner to disappear before you click, otherwise nothing happens. This on a very fast workstation.

    I didn't use 2017-2019 so can't really compare with those versions directly, but stability is generally much better than it used to be. It doesn't seem to horribly overcommit GDI objects anymore, which was the biggest cause of crashing in SW previously, but I'm not certain if this is actually due to them fixing something in SW or if it's Windows, because the display driver model was massively overhauled in W10.

    Also, again idk how they were in 2017, but direct editing is still pretty hopeless in SW. The basic move, delete, replace tools work fine as long as the geometry is simple. Things like removing fillets on more complex models fail more than they succeed.

    Like Boosted, I can't wait to get rid of SW. I was all set to migrate to NX earlier in the year, but the pandemic and resultant lockdowns have put a lot of strain on our finances so things like that are off the cards for now.

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    I would love to upgrade to NX. It's just that we have so many man-hours invested into SW files...............

    Do any of you CAD gurus know how hard it is to switch your files? Does it mean a complete redo?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    Yes, I have two 4k monitors and SW behaves normally on them without any HiDPI workarounds.

    It's slow about switching parts from the taskbar, it always was, but seems worse on 4k. You have to hover your mouse over it on the taskbar and wait for the blue spinner to disappear before you click, otherwise nothing happens. This on a very fast workstation.

    Also, again idk how they were in 2017, but direct editing is still pretty hopeless in SW. The basic move, delete, replace tools work fine as long as the geometry is simple. Things like removing fillets on more complex models fail more than they succeed.

    Like Boosted, I can't wait to get rid of SW. I was all set to migrate to NX earlier in the year, but the pandemic and resultant lockdowns have put a lot of strain on our finances so things like that are off the cards for now.
    Thanks for the info regarding the monitor support and direct modeling. Seems as though SolidWorks is intent on milking their ancient code base instead of doing a proper re-write. Nothing groundbreaking since I've started using in 2009. High res monitor support is definitely an issue in 2017 and 2018. By "normal" do you mean the text isn't tiny in some areas and large in others?

    Interesting about NX. I wouldn't mind changing my entire workflow (it's just me) as I really enjoy using good tools. I've never messed with NX but have read great things. Do you have any good resources available for NX I can read/watch?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BugRobotics View Post
    Thanks for the info regarding the monitor support and direct modeling. Seems as though SolidWorks is intent on milking their ancient code base instead of doing a proper re-write. Nothing groundbreaking since I've started using in 2009. High res monitor support is definitely an issue in 2017 and 2018. By "normal" do you mean the text isn't tiny in some areas and large in others?

    Interesting about NX. I wouldn't mind changing my entire workflow (it's just me) as I really enjoy using good tools. I've never messed with NX but have read great things. Do you have any good resources available for NX I can read/watch?
    You can do a 30 day trial of their subscription based version. I tried it for a couple hours and deleted it. I'm sure it's very powerful in the right hands but I didn't care for it.

    I was also going to upgrade to SW2021 but realized it's about half a gig and will take hours on my internet. Maybe I'll start it before I go to bed tonight.

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    Watch this guy Siemens NX Pro Tutorial - how to design extreme flexible parts through horizontal relations - YouTube and another german guy called wolfgang walden. The video I linked is a good example of what nx can do that other programs might not be able too. The biz learn video on delete face is another good example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BugRobotics View Post
    High res monitor support is definitely an issue in 2017 and 2018. By "normal" do you mean the text isn't tiny in some areas and large in others?
    If you need something that works, I've been running Wildfire 2 at 3840 x 2400 on a 1995 Octane for quite a while. Irix, 4Dwm and X have no problem with whatever resolution you can come up with, and neither does Pro/E ...

    If Solidworks and Windows can't handle it yet, well, shame on them. You'd think that in 25 years they could catch up ?
    Last edited by EmanuelGoldstein; 11-21-2020 at 06:40 AM.

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    We just took the Solidworks plunge at work for 2020. So far so good. I can't really offer any current comparisons because we're upgrading from Mechanical desktop 2004. Seriously...... Better late than never I guess lol.

    As for stability, It hasn't crashed on me yet, although I haven't really got into any big assemblies yet either. It can't possibly be worse than a 16 year old copy of mechanical running through an XP virtual machine .

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChipSplitter View Post
    I would love to upgrade to NX. It's just that we have so many man-hours invested into SW files...............

    Do any of you CAD gurus know how hard it is to switch your files? Does it mean a complete redo?
    I was using an older version of NX (10.something I think), it would import SW parts as dumb solids. Not such a big deal tbh as the direct (synchronous) modelling tools in NX are so superior to those in SW it's not funny. If you needed to change up a part to the point that it couldn't be done with the synchronous tools you'd be better starting from scratch anyway. NX often could successfully import a solid from a newer version of SW. SW however frequently fails to import NX files, even though it's the most recent version and the files were saved with that old version of NX. Luckily featurecam comes with autodesk/delcam's Manufacturing Data Exchange Utility, which is the most robust and flexible converter I've ever come across - it never fails.

    Quote Originally Posted by BugRobotics View Post
    Thanks for the info regarding the monitor support and direct modeling. Seems as though SolidWorks is intent on milking their ancient code base instead of doing a proper re-write. Nothing groundbreaking since I've started using in 2009. High res monitor support is definitely an issue in 2017 and 2018. By "normal" do you mean the text isn't tiny in some areas and large in others?

    Interesting about NX. I wouldn't mind changing my entire workflow (it's just me) as I really enjoy using good tools. I've never messed with NX but have read great things. Do you have any good resources available for NX I can read/watch?
    Yes, "normal", everything looks fine, scaling works properly across the board as far as I can tell.

    When I learned that I was going to need to use NX I bought a tutorial book, but I really didn't need it. At least for me, NX cad was very intuitive and I clicked with it immediately. I think when people talk about the steep learning curve of NX they are mostly talking about the CAM, which I have no experience with.

    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    If you need something that works, I've been running Wildfire 2 at 3840 x 2400 on a 1995 Octane for quite a while. Irix, 4Dwm and X have no problem with whatever resolution you can come up with, and neither does Pro/E ...

    If Solidworks and Windows can't handle it yet, well, shame on them. You'd think that in 25 years they could catch up ?
    Solidworks is a from scratch WinAPI application, and Windows has extremely poor support for monitors full stop. Support for HiDPI, multiple monitors, HDR*, are all absolutely hopeless on Windows compared to other platforms. It is the fault of Microsoft for building such a shitty OS, and the fault of Solidworks for leaning so heavily on the WinAPI.

    *In fact, MacOS is the only OS that has actual, real support for HDR right now, it is awful on Windows and non-existent on Linux. MacOS also has by far the best support for HiDPI displays and had better support for multiple monitors thirty years ago than Windows does now. Linux does HiDPI and multiple monitors pretty well.

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    Just a follow up. I've been testing 2020 SP5 for a few weeks now and it has been stable on both my custom built desktop rig and P53 Thinkpad. A few notes:

    • Only one crash thus far (running for about four days with 7 CAM assemblies and around 20 parts open at the time when I attempted to insert a part into an assembly that was a circular reference). I would have expected a crash during the 3rd day with 2017 SP5 with that number of documents.
    • HSMWorks is stable.
    • Handles large assemblies (500-1000 parts) better than 2017. Opens faster and smoother.
    • Deals with large meshes and STEP files better. Just did a 3D scan yesterday with over around 1.2 million poly faces and the export from Geomagic was opened on my laptop in under 10 seconds.
    • Drawing performance is better as well with their new lightweight editing tool.
    • Rendering through Photoview360 is stable.


    I'm making the jump. Thanks for the feedback.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BugRobotics View Post
    Just a follow up. I've been testing 2020 SP5 for a few weeks now and it has been stable on both my custom built desktop rig and P53 Thinkpad. A few notes:

    • Only one crash thus far (running for about four days with 7 CAM assemblies and around 20 parts open at the time when I attempted to insert a part into an assembly that was a circular reference). I would have expected a crash during the 3rd day with 2017 SP5 with that number of documents.
    • HSMWorks is stable.
    • Handles large assemblies (500-1000 parts) better than 2017. Opens faster and smoother.
    • Deals with large meshes and STEP files better. Just did a 3D scan yesterday with over around 1.2 million poly faces and the export from Geomagic was opened on my laptop in under 10 seconds.
    • Drawing performance is better as well with their new lightweight editing tool.
    • Rendering through Photoview360 is stable.


    I'm making the jump. Thanks for the feedback.
    For all the bad rap that SWX gets, if you jumped back ten years I'll bet you could hardly function. There have been some serious enhancements in the last 5 years. And the forum has some awesome people that know just about everything.

    All that said, I AM tired of their unfixed bugs and 95% implementation (aka the 5% missing functionality) where they add a new improvement...........but stop six inches short of making it a revolutionary one. Duh!

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    I've used SW for the last several years, upgrading roughly every couple of years, and seems to me that the amount of change is pretty minimal. But I think SW works pretty great as is. For the simpler types of models that I typically do, I like it a lot better than NX.

    I'll have to reevaluate if they do get rid of HSMWorks - that is a key reason I like SW!


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