Dell Inspiron Mini 10v – Part 3

Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.

In Part 2 I unveiled my evil plan of crashing SolidWorks 2010 on my lovely brand new Dell Inspiron Mini 10v. This is what happened.

One of the reasons of doing this was to determine whether it was even possible to use a netbook to simply view large data sets. But at that time, my problem was that I did not have any large assemblies at hand to find out whether the software and operating system, given the hardware it had to rely on, could handle it. So I decided to create my own large data set. I didn’t have the time nor the patience to create a bunch of large parts and assemble them together. So I decided to make just one large complicated part. This is what I came up with.

Click image for larger view

Here is a closer look.

Click image for larger view

Something as weird as this needs explanation. Basically, I created a rectangular slab and sketched a tiny ellipse at one of the corners of its top face. I then used the ellipse to created a 40×33 rectangular pattern to get 1320 ellipses, which I then used to do a “Through All” cut. That went smoothly. I expected a crash in the next step, not here. Next I sketched another tiny ellipse on the right face of the slab and use it to create a 33×2 rectangular pattern, with the idea that after doing a “Through All” cut, the elliptical holes created would intersect those made in the first operation. SolidWorks cranked for while and surprisingly succeeded making the second cut. Frankly, I didn’t think I would reach this far. Finally, as a last step, I created a 40×2 pattern of circles on the front face of the slab and did another “Through All” cut so that they intersected the intersections of the previous two cuts. This time SolidWorks went for a long walk. And so did I. When I returned, to my utter amazement, I found that the third cut operation had succeeded as well. So basically I had successfully managed to cut a total of 1466 circles and ellipses intersecting each other from three directions.

Hats off to the Parasolid modeling kernel for even allowing me to do something this crazy. That too on a netbook. I simply wanted to create a model with a lot of topology (faces, edges and vertices). I believed I achieved that because, thanks to the circular and elliptical edges, the 3D solid had a render mesh of over 2.2 million triangles and the resulting SolidWorks part file was 35 MB. As far as navigating around the model is concerned, I don’t think you can do much with a 6 second gap between consecutive frames. Given that the Intel Atom processor that the netbook uses is about half as powerful as a regular processor of the same clock rate, this is to be expected.

Well, so I failed in my attempt to crashing SolidWorks on the Mini. Maybe I could try shelling the solid to a thickness of 0.1mm. But I think I have already put the hardware and software through enough misery for one day. Moreover I have better things to do with my time.

In summary, for what it is designed to do, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10v (and I guess other similar netbooks as well) are just fine. They are extremely small and easy to carry around. Mine came with a 6 cell battery which gives me about 6 to 7 hours, which is great because my HP tx2000 used to die in a hour. I got a nice tight fitting case from the dealer that also had a pouch for the charger, which I must say, is quite small. So after everything is packed this whole thing turns out to be way smaller than a regular laptop bag. Extremely convenient.

Obviously you cannot effectively do real engineering kind of work on these netbooks and neither are you expected to. But, as I found out, you can run a bunch of CAD applications and they respond pretty well. You may even be able to push them to do some complex stuff like I did if and when the need arises. But it would not be wise to rely on them for doing actual work. Netbooks are primarily meant for easy traveling, that’s all.

I am eagerly looking forward to using my Dell Mini during my upcoming US visit which includes SolidWorks World 2010 and a visit to Autodesk. I think the thing I will like most is the 6 to 7 hours of battery time. No more hunting for places to sit that are close to power outlets. Travel unplugged.

  • reader

    interesting post. how did you estimate number of triangles used to render the part?

  • Save as STL file. SolidWorks will report the number of triangles. SolidWorks uses the render mesh to output a STL file.

  • linsd

    SolidWorks 2010 or the previous version having problem handling complex cut through geometry or cut through all on complex geometry, the speed of this kind of operation is 10 times slow than SE ST and ProE WF 4. This has been confirmed as a performance bug in SW 2010 Beta,

  • Nurk

    Hi Deelip,

    Is there any delay when you pan or rotate 3d model ?
    Usually it will happen on 256 Mb VGA memory or less.

  • Yes, I mentioned a 6 second gap between consecutive frames. For large models as this, navigations becomes almost unusable. But of course, that is to be expected.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Deelip,

      I know you are very busy.
      But would you like please to create a small video that show it to me the delay when you rotate model in SolidWorks ?

      And yes, you can easily create it using this :

      Just my personal request.

      Thanks for all your info 🙂

  • Nurk

    Hi Deelip,

    If you have time, it will be nice to see speed when you rotate your 3D model.

    You can easily create video use this program :

    FYI : is there any approval required when I post a comment in this blog ?

    I cant see my post directly after I hit “post comment”.

  • I recently started moderating comments, but only from those who do not have a Disqus account. I suggest that you create one.

  • I find this interesting because SolidWorks and Solid Edge both use Parasolid as their modeling kernel. So if this is true then the problem may lie with the way SolidWorks feeds input to Parasolid and I am having a hard time understanding how that may be possible.

  • linsd

    This is how I created the test:
    1. Generate a parametric formula driven driven curve, quite complex one, include some trig function and power function, and then revolve it become a solid.
    2. Now just export this solid to step file and import to Pro/E , SolidWorks and SE,
    3, Draw a simple sketch perpendicular to the revolve profile and do a cut extrude, and the performance in SolidWorks is 10 times slow, I purposely created a video to demonstrate the difference during beta testing.

  • Nurk

    Hi Deelip,

    The problem with disqus is I cant subscribe to my email account.
    So when there is new comment I cant get reminder / forwarder to my inbox.

    Thanks !

  • As far as I know, Disqus send you notifications of comments. See

  • hol

    Hi Deelip,

    I want to hear from you your experience after using Dell Inspiron 10v for a couple of days.

    Are you still happy and not any issue so far ?


  • It's perfect. Are you thinking of getting one?

  • hol

    Yes, in the near time. Thats because your
    Are you prefer to use Windows Xp or 7 ?

  • I have to use XP because of old versions of Visual Studio. Otherwise I would prefer to use newer versions of Windows, or for that matter, any other product.

  • hol

    Ok, thanks and I will let you know when I have purchased the new one.

    Thanks 🙂

  • hol

    I am sorry, I cant imagine 6 second gap between consecutive frames.

  • hol

    Would you like please to create a small video for me so I can see “6 second gap”

    Thank You !

  • I have a dell mini 10 (not the 10v). It's a great little machine for personal use. (web surfing, small applications). I can't imagine using it for CAD

    • The guy

      I happen to learn Solidworks 2014 on an Dell Mini Intel Atom 455 machine. And it … works.

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  • Jafri

    Hello, i am using the acer 532h netbook with xp edition…its great for me to do stuff in it as an engineering student…I already use autocad 2006 in it…Your post regarding the use of solidworks is interesting…could u please give a brief on using other softwares like catia, pro/E,ANSYS on it…Thanks.

  • Jafri,

    I'm not sure exactly what you want to know. I have a bunch of CAD systems running on my netbook. They all work fine, only slower, obviously.

  • Hi, im using dell inspiron mini also but im kinda disappointed because it only have 8mb total display memory. i cant watch an HD video of can even play plants vs zombies.

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