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How to Enable Hardware GL and RealView in Solidworks on a Virtual Machine for a MacBook Pro

(2021 update, Intel Macs only. M1 is uncharted territory.)

Well, well. After six interminable years Apple finally released a successor to the MacTube made out of 100% pure-grade unaffordium. I know you wanted those mind-blowing specs, but it’s out of your budget and anyway Solidworks is single-threaded so you’re fooling yourself if you think you need a jetpack to go to the hardware store. I know you wanna look great getting there, but you. don’t. need. it. You don’t! Maybe they’ll make a Pro for the Rest of Us someday, but until then:

You got a 16" MacBook Pro! Congratulations! 64GB of RAM is nothing to sneer at, and the hardware horsepower will cut minutes off your rendering times. Plus it has a hardware ESC key, just like olden times. Wowie wow!

Once you get your VM installed, the first thing that’s gonna blow your mind is that you can copy the VM image (well, in Fusion at least) from your old machine straight over and you won’t even have to reauthorize Windows or Solidworks. Even more surprising is that, you’ve already hacked the registry on your old machine, against all good reason Fusion will believe your graphics hardware hasn’t changed on the new one, but it’s…crashy. So you’re going to want to fix your registry settings BEFORE you experience the subtle, but pernicious bugs that will cost you hours of work.

One other interesting side note is that software GL on the new MBP is astonishingly good — for a hot second I had accidentally reverted my registry and didn’t notice until I tried to switch on RealView and it was greyed out. If you don’t need RealView, at least you can finally get decent performance without having to munge around with delicate system settings. If that’s you, stop now and go watch cat videos or something.

A huge shoutout to Sean Murphy for contributing hours of trial and error in working this guide out and sharing it with the rest of us.

Step 1: Launch the Registry Editor. In the Windows search bar, type “regedit.”

Step 2 (optional for the fearless/foolish): Export a backup of your registry. I still never do because my life is actually that boring.

Step 3: Go to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SOLIDWORKS ####\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Current and note the Renderer label. It should be something like SVGA3D; build; RELEASE; LLVM;. Copy that whole string, semicolons and all. You’ll need it to create a new Key later. In the Current key, change the value of the Workarounds DWORD from 10 to 4000480

Step 4: Go to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SOLIDWORKS ####\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Gl2Shaders\Other. In the left tree of RegEdit, right click on Other. Select New->Key. Paste the name of the Renderer from above exactly as shown in Current (semicolons and all!). In the new folder in the right RegEdit window, right click and create a new 32-bit DWORD. Name the new DWORD Workarounds and give it a value of 40000.

Step 5: Go to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SOLIDWORKS ####\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\VMware, Inc. Select the Workarounds key and change the value to 4000480.

Step 6: Double check that there is a sub key to VMWare, Inc. (i.e. Gallium, Fusion’s openGL driver) (Good chance there is, so if it’s not there…worry). If so, open folder and change Workarounds value to 4000480.

Step 7: Close the Registry Editor and restart Windows. (You might get away without rebooting, but probably not. Just do it.) Launch Solidworks after restarting and either open a file or start a new one. You should see the RealView icon not greyed-out, and under Options > Performance “Use software OpenGL” should be greyed out and unchecked. Now you’re on hardware GL. Win!

Step 8 (optional): Export a backup of your registry with the new settings. You shouldn’t have to worry about this much since you now have this guide to refer to, but in I still have PTSD from SW2018 aggressively resetting the registry after every launch through several service packs. Reloading the registry is way faster than redoing all these settings every time. SW2018 can burn for all eternity.

Step 9 (even more optional): Autodesk is cutting some killer deals on Fusion360 subscriptions lately. I know Solidworks is the 800lb gorilla, industry standard, and all that, but one of these days someone needs to knock them off the throne so they will actually innovate and offer competitive pricing. Fusion is looking pretty tasty. Be that guy.

[A note about Realhack, for the curious: I haven’t had any success with Realhack in several generations. Perhaps it works better with non-Apple spec’ed hardware. I always give it a shake first, to my continual disappointment.]

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Josh Buesseler

Josh Buesseler

Founder of Delicious, an industrial design consultancy specializing in strategy-driven, user-centric product experiences. www.wearedelicious.com