VistaWith an addiction to trying new stuff when it comes out, its been difficult finding what I actually need to get SolidWorks to work the best on Vista. So, when the Windows Vista native version of SolidWorks was made available as a pre-release download from the SolidWorks web site May 4th and thought I’d try to that question to rest.

Via Ian Baxter from SolidWorks:

“Please note that hardware-accelerated OpenGL drivers for Windows Vista are not yet available from graphics card vendors such as NVIDIA and ATI. Therefore, SolidWorks on Vista uses software OpenGL drivers that are installed with the Microsoft Vista operating system, so cannot take advantage of any hardware acceleration provided by the graphics card. Consequently, graphics performance with SolidWorks running on the Windows Vista operating system is slower than with SolidWorks running on Windows XP. If it is known in advance that you are working with large assemblies or complex parts, it is recommended that the Windows XP version of SolidWorks 2007 is used in these situations
SolidWorks will qualify certified hardware OpenGL drivers as they are released from the graphics vendors.”
Bulletin: Support for Microsoft Windows Vista

If this is OpenGL emulation, it’s going to run like crap as a layer on top of Direct3d. But supposedly the creator of OpenGL said a while back that it will be Natively Supported in Windows Vista. I haven’t heard about this yet and I’m sure if OpenGL was running better or alongside Direct3d SolidWorks would let us know.

What you need to get SolidWorks running optimally on Vista is a graphics card that is going to support WDDM…

“The Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) allows for the visual effects seen on a user’s desktop to scale relative to the available graphics hardware.” – Windows Vista Enterprise Hardware Planning Guidance

So you need to keep a look out for what SolidWorks has certiefied and what GPU manufacturers are planning. Here’s one link that may come in handy.

Technet article for CPU and GPU manufacturers supporting WDDM

I ran the test on my Nvidia Quadro FX 1300. It meets minimum criteria (of course), but failed the recommended for GPU, and the optimal for GPU and CPU. Optimal reccomendation was 3.4GHz CPU and 256MB GPU, i.e. nVidia GeForce 7800 (review) that I’ve found for $476.

nVidia for vista


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.