Can You Run SolidWorks on M1 Mac?

In recent years, Apple has transitioned its Mac lineup from Intel processors to their own custom-designed M1 chips. This move has sparked a lot of curiosity among users, especially those who rely on resource-intensive software like SolidWorks. In this article, we will explore whether it is possible to run SolidWorks on M1 Macs and what considerations you should keep in mind.

Understanding the Transition to M1

The transition from Intel processors to Apple Silicon, particularly the M1 chip, brings about significant changes in terms of hardware architecture and software compatibility. The M1 chip is based on ARM architecture, which differs from the x86 architecture used by Intel processors.

Due to this architectural difference, software that was originally developed for Intel-based Macs may not run natively on M1 Macs. However, Apple has introduced a technology called Rosetta 2 that allows applications built for Intel processors to run on M1 Macs with translation assistance.

Compatibility of SolidWorks with M1 Mac

Unfortunately, as of now, SolidWorks does not have an official version that runs natively on M1 Macs. SolidWorks is primarily designed for Windows and has limited support for macOS.

This means that if you want to run SolidWorks directly on your M1 Mac without any workarounds or virtualization techniques, you might face some challenges.

Possible Workarounds

While there is no direct support for SolidWorks on M1 Macs at the moment, there are a couple of workarounds you can consider:

  • Dual Boot: One option is to set up a dual boot configuration by installing Windows using Boot Camp. This allows you to switch between macOS and Windows operating systems on your M1 Mac.

    Once Windows is installed, you can run SolidWorks as you would on a Windows PC.

  • Virtualization: Another option is to use virtualization software like Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion to run Windows within a virtual machine on your M1 Mac. This enables you to run SolidWorks alongside macOS without the need to reboot into a different operating system.

It’s important to note that both of these workarounds have their own limitations and may not provide the same performance as running SolidWorks on a dedicated Windows machine.

Considerations for Performance

If you decide to use one of the workarounds mentioned above, there are a few performance considerations you should keep in mind:

  • Hardware Limitations: While the M1 chip is powerful and energy-efficient, it may not match the performance of high-end Intel processors used in professional workstations optimized for SolidWorks. This could result in slower rendering times and decreased overall performance.
  • Compatibility Issues: As Rosetta 2 provides translation assistance for Intel-based applications, there might be compatibility issues or software bugs when running SolidWorks through emulation or virtualization software.

    It’s recommended to check with the software developers or user communities for any known issues.

  • Graphics Support: SolidWorks heavily relies on graphics processing units (GPUs) for real-time rendering and visualization. You should ensure that the virtualization software or dual boot configuration supports GPU acceleration for optimal performance.

The Future of SolidWorks on M1 Macs

The future looks promising for running SolidWorks on M1 Macs as Apple continues to improve their hardware and software ecosystem. With the growing popularity of Apple Silicon and increased demand for professional software on macOS, it’s likely that developers will start optimizing their applications, including SolidWorks, for M1 chips.

As of now, if running SolidWorks is critical to your workflow and you require the best performance and stability, using a dedicated Windows machine or a Mac with Intel processors might be the most reliable option. However, if you are willing to explore workarounds and accept potential limitations, running SolidWorks on an M1 Mac could be a viable choice.

In conclusion, while there is currently no native version of SolidWorks for M1 Macs, you can still run it through workarounds like dual boot or virtualization. However, it’s important to consider the performance limitations and compatibility issues that may arise. As Apple Silicon gains traction in the industry, we can expect more comprehensive support for professional software like SolidWorks on M1 Macs in the future.