Recommended Hardware

by GRAPHISOFT, Marton Kiss, Csaba Kézér, Márta Trón and István Moharos · updated: 09.05.2016

General Recommendations

Platform

All GRAPHISOFT products are available on both Windows and Mac platforms. BIMx has both iOS and Android based version for mobile devices. Choose the platform according to your taste. The two versions (Mac and Win) are fully compatible (file formats, TeamWork) so you can even work in mixed environments.

System Requirements

ARCHICAD 20 BIM Server 20 BIMcloud 20
ARCHICAD 19 BIM Server 19 BIMcloud 19
ARCHICAD 18 BIM Server 18 BIMcloud 18
ARCHICAD 17 BIM Server 17
ARCHICAD 16
ARCHICAD 15

Example configurations for ARCHICAD

The following chart can help to identify, what type of computer configuration might be appropriate for the given tasks. In the next “Example workstations and laptops” section specifications are given for each of the levels on both platforms.

Project size \ Level of detail Small Medium Large
Residential homes Apartment and office buildings High rises, hospitals, campuses
Schematic Entry-level Entry-level Mid-range
Average Entry-level Mid-range Mid-range
Detailed Mid-range Mid-rage High-end

Example workstations and laptops - Entry-level, Mid-range, High-end

 

Workstations

 PC Entry-level Mid-range High-end
CPU Intel Core i5 Intel Core i5 Intel Core i7
RAM 8 GB 16 GB 32 GB
GPU NVIDIA QUADRO K1200 4GB NVIDIA QUADRO M2000 4GB NVIDIA QUADRO M4000 or M5000 8GB
Disk 500+ GB 7200 RPM HDD 500+ GB SSD 500+ GB SSD
OS Windows 10 64-bit Windows 10 64-bit Windows 10 64-bit
 Mac Entry-level Mid-range High-end
Model 27-inch iMac 27-inch iMac 27-inch iMac
CPU Intel Core i5 3.20 GHz Intel Core i5 3.30 GHz Intel Core i7 4.00 GHz
RAM 8 GB 16 GB 32 GB
GPU AMD Radeon R9 M390 2 GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X 4 GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X 4 GB
Disk 1 TB 7200 RPM HDD 512 GB SSD 512 GB SSD
OS OS X 10.11 El Capitan OS X 10.11 El Capitan OS X 10.11 El Capitan

Laptops

 PC Entry-level Mid-range High-end
CPU Intel Core i5 Intel Core i5 Intel Core i7
RAM 8 GB 16 GB 32 GB
GPU NVIDIA QUADRO M1000M 4GB NVIDIA QUADRO M2000M 4GB NVIDIA QUADRO M4000M 8GB
Disk 500+ GB 7200 RPM HDD 500+ GB SSD 500+ GB SSD
OS Windows 10 64-bit Windows 10 64-bit Windows 10 64-bit
 Mac Entry-level Mid-range High-end
Model 15-inch MacBook Pro 15-inch MacBook Pro N/A
CPU 4th Gen Core i7 2.50 GHz 4th Gen Core i7 2.50 GHz N/A
RAM 16 GB 16 GB N/A
GPU AMD Radeon R9 M370X 2 GB AMD Radeon R9 M370X 2 GB N/A
Disk 512 GB SSD 512 GB SSD N/A
OS OS X 10.11 El Capitan OS X 10.11 El Capitan N/A

Useful information

 


ARCHICAD

CPU

With the implementation of CineRender engine by Maxon in ARCHICAD 18 a high performance CPU becomes even more essential than before. Besides rendering, the industry-first Background processing (available from version 17) uses multiple cores intensively. Background processing greatly helps the performance, navigation and display of extra-large, complex models. We recommend at least 4-core processors for standard BIM workstations, but 6-8+ cores can be optimal for the calculation of larger projects and quick rendering. It is worth keeping in mind though that prices rise exponentially with performance. For rendering speed – CineRender, Cinema 4D, Artlantis, the CPU is the most important component, so on computers doing all day renderings a high end processor is a good choice but on all other computers (not only used for rendering – regular BIM workstations) better invest more on the other parts.

RAM

ARCHICAD supports 64-bit on both platforms. To see the benefits of this, you need more than 4GB of physical RAM. 8 -32 GB+ is recommended nowadays depending on the size and the level of detail of your model. While most of the times ARCHICAD will use significantly less than this, since RAM is now cheap there is really no reason to economize here. There are times when you will run multiple copies of ARCHICAD or run other applications simultaneously.

 From ARCHICAD 17 only 64-bit operating systems are supported. All current Windows versions (Vista, 7, 8,8.1, 10) have 64-bit versions, OS X 10.6 and newer versions are 64-bit compatible.

Storage

ARCHICAD stores cached data while it operates, so there is a lot of file I/O going on while working in ARCHICAD — not just when saving files. Therefore hard drives are a key — and often overlooked — speed factor. With the price of solid state drives (SSD) coming down every year, they might be a sensible investment. You don’t need a huge SSD. You are better off with a smaller (say 128GB) SSD combined with a large conventional hard drive. You will install the system and ARCHICAD on the SSD, but you will store files on the conventional drive.

Check our brief SSD benchmark results: SSD

Video Cards

ARCHICAD uses hardware acceleration in both 2D and 3D. That said, while the importance of hard drives is often underrated, video cards are often overrated. In general we can say that it is more important to have a recent video card than a particularly high-end video card. It’s not a bad practice to replace the video card at the half of your computer’s lifespan.

When you buy a new card, it’s important to have enough video RAM. We currently recommend 1GB or more. Drivers are key for optimal performance. If you want to have a peace of mind about drivers, you might consider going with a “professional series” video card — at a much heftier price. You can find a list of recommended cards in our knowledge base.

Displays

Screen real estate is a huge productivity factor. Here we have only one recommendation: The bigger the better. You can also hook up two or more monitors, if your video card supports that. You can even have more video cards to support all of your displays.

 


BIM Server

CPU

For the BIM Server the CPU is an important factor, though the current mid-range CPUs can provide enough performance. Choose a Quad-Core system for the best price/performance value.

RAM

8 GB RAM for BIM Server is strongly recommended. On servers that are serving many TeamWork users or running large projects having 16/32 GB can easily produce its cost back – as RAM is relatively cheap and can speed up the overall performance.

Storage

For the BIM server this is the most important factor. As the server deals with large databases, huge caches for each connected TeamWork users a fast storage solution can dramatically speed up the overall TeamWork performance.

Ways to improve the performance

  • Use fast 7200+ RPM HDDs
  • Use HDDs in RAID units. With that you can have better performance and also enhanced data security. For available RAID options see the RAID article on Wikipedia. The most popular options are: RAID 0 (no redundancy), RAID 1 or the combination of these with 4 HDDs – RAID 1+0 or RAID 0+1 or RAID 5.
  • Use SSDs
  • Store the OS and BIM Server on one drive libraries and project databases on another (or even these two can be separated to different drives)

Some examples ordered by performance (ending with the fastest solutions)

  • One HDD that holds all data
  • Separate HDD that holds the OS and the BIM Server and a separate one that holds the databases (library and project). This means physically independent storage units not partitioned single HDDs
  • A HDD that holds the systems (OS + BIM Server), 2 or more HDDs in a RAID unit for the databases
  • A SSD as system drive (OS + BIM Server), 2 or more HDDs in a RAID unit for the databases
  • A SSD as system drive (OS + BIM Server), another SSD drive for the databases
  • Mac only: an iMac with SSD (OS + BIM Server), databases stored on an external RAID unit connected via Thunderbolt.
 The best is having internal drives as storage for the BIM Server. In case external drives are used, like Thunderbolt based storage solutions make sure that the BIM Server does not start with the operating system as the OS might mount the drive later than the BIM Server is started. For more details see the General BIM Server Configuration Guide

Video Cards, displays

As BIM Server is a server application it does not require 2D or 3D acceleration. You can use even an integrated solution that comes with your motherboard. Also you can even run the server without connected displays and access the computer via remote desktop.

Virtual machines

Many servers are running as virtual machines hosted on physical computers. BIM Server can also work in that way but note that it requires a really fast storage solution. In case the host hardware runs more HDD intense guest machines, like MySQL servers and such the simultaneous HDD access can drop the TeamWork performance. To avoid performance problems the best is having a separate storage unit that serves only the virtual machine that runs the BIM Server.


BIMcloud

Example specifications for BIMcloud

The following charts contain example specifications for BIMcloud setups, grouping example specs based on the number of active users.

The load on a BIMcloud not only depends on this, but also on other factors, such as the size of the projects, usage characteristics, network bandwith. If you need further help in choosing your hardware for BIMcloud consult the details below or get in touch with your local GRAPHISOFT reseller.

BIMcloud Manager

Users 15 users 50 users 100 users
CPU Dual core 2.0+ GHz Dual core 2.4+ GHz Dual core 3.0+ GHz
RAM 4 GB 8 GB 8 GB
Disk 100 GB 7200 RPM HDD 100 GB SSD 100 GB SSD
OS Desktop/Server Server Server

BIMcloud Server

Users 15 users 50 users 100 users
CPU Dual core 2.0+ GHz Quad core 2.0+ GHz Eight core 2.0+ GHz
RAM 8 GB 16 GB 32 GB
Disk
Application disk 100 GB+ 7200 RPM+ HDD 100 GB+ SSD SAN/100 GB+ SSD
Database disk HDD SSD SAN/SSD
IOPS for database 75-100 100-1000 1000+
Storage size for database  100 GB +

S size projects: 200 MB/project

M size projects: 500 MB/project

L size projects: 1GB+ / project

OS Desktop/Server Server Server

BIMcloud Delta Cache

Users 15 users 50 users 100 users
CPU Dual core 2.0+ GHz Quad core 2.0+ GHz Quad core 2.0+ GHz
RAM 8 GB 16 GB 32 GB
Disk 100 GB+ 7200 RPM+ HDD SSD SSD
OS Desktop/Server Server Server

 

BIMcloud Manager

CPU

In case of CPU the most important feature is its clock speed. The more users and projects that are active the higher this clock speed should be. Use a 2+ core 64-bit compatible CPU for the best performance.

RAM

8 GB

Storage

5 GB free disk space is required for the installation.

In case the BIMcloud Manager and a BIMcloud Server is installed on the same computer, make both system requirements are met.

BIMcloud Server

CPU

The BIMcloud Server is less sensitive to CPU clock rate than the BIMcloud Manager because it is capable of using as many cores as it is given. Choose a Quad-Core system for the best price/performance value. If there are more than 30 users who will be accessing the server at any time then 8 cores should be considered.

RAM

16 GB for BIMcloud Server is strongly recommended. On servers that are serving many TeamWork users or running large projects having 32 GB can easily produce its cost back – as RAM is relatively cheap and can speed up the overall performance.

Storage

For the BIMcloud server this is the most important factor. As the server deals with large databases, huge caches for each connected TeamWork users a fast storage solution can dramatically speed up the overall TeamWork performance.

Ways to improve the performance

  • Use fast 7200+ RPM HDDs
  • Use HDDs in RAID units. With that you can have better performance and also enhanced data security. For available RAID options see the RAID article on Wikipedia. The most popular options are: RAID 0 (no redundancy), RAID 1 or the combination of these with 4 HDDs – RAID 1+0 or RAID 0+1 or RAID 5.
  • Use SSDs
  • Store the OS and BIMcloud Server on one drive libraries and project databases on another (or even these two can be separated to different drives)

Some examples ordered by performance (ending with the fastest solutions)

  • One HDD that holds all data
  • Separate HDD that holds the OS + the BIMcloud Server application and a separate one that holds the databases (library and project). This means physically independent storage units not partitioned single HDDs
  • A HDD that holds the systems (OS + BIMcloud Server), 2 or more HDDs in a RAID unit for the databases
  • A SSD as the system drive (OS + BIMcloud Server) and 2 or more HDDs in a RAID unit for the databases
  • A SSD as system drive (OS + BIMcloud Server), another SSD drive for the databases
  • Mac only: an iMac with SSD (OS + BIMcloud Server), databases stored on an external RAID unit connected via Thunderbolt.
 The best is having internal drives as storage for the BIMcloud Server. In case external drives are used, like Thunderbolt based storage solutions make sure that the BIMcloud does not start with the operating system as the OS might mount the drive later than the BIMcloud Server is started. For more details see the General BIM Server Configuration Guide

Video Cards, displays

As BIMcloud Server is a server application it does not require 2D or 3D acceleration. You can use even an integrated solution that comes with your motherboard. Also you can even run the server without connected displays and access the computer via remote desktop.

Virtual machines

Many servers are running as virtual machines hosted on physical computers. BIMcloud Server can also work in that way but note that it requires a really fast storage solution. In case the host hardware runs more HDD intense guest machines, like MySQL servers and such the simultaneous HDD access can drop the TeamWork performance. To avoid performance problems the best is having a separate storage unit that serves only the virtual machine that runs the BIM Server.

BIMcloud Delta Cache

CPU

64-bit processor with four or more cores

RAM

16 GB or more is recommended

Storage

10 GB free disk space is required for the installation. During the installation you can specify the amount of disk space the proxy is going to use for caching. The default value is 40 GB, so make sure there is enough space for that. Later this value can be change by running the ‘Reconfigure v18 Proxy’ utility from the BIMcloud folder.

The speed of the storage is as important for the Proxy as for the BIMcloud Server, so consider the solutions explained there.

 

 


BIMx

From the point of view of BIMx we should separate the related computers, devices to two groups:

  • the computers where the BIMx model is exported and Global Illumination render is performed
  • the devices that can open and play the BIMx model

CPU

Up to ArchiCAD 15 the Global Illumination render is performed by the CPU. Starting with ArchiCAD 16 this load is shared between the GPU and the CPU. As the majority of the render is calculated by the GPU, any mid range CPUs should just work fine. For the second group any recent CPUs should be good even low-range ones.

Memory

Even the largest models can be opened with 4 GBs of RAM. Note that between iOS devices only the latest ones has enough RAM to open large models (iPad 3 and 4, iPad Air, iPad Mini 2nd gen., iPhone 5 and 5S has 1024 MB RAM).

HDD

Any current storage device should be fine for BIMx.

Video Cards

As BIMx is a graphics intensive application the most important factor is the video card and the amount of the available video memory. A large project with Global Illumination rendering may require more than a GB of video RAM. You can check the required memory at the Global Illumination settings after clicking Initialize. As the Global Illumination render is calculated mostly by the GPU you might want to consider a newer card – mid range and above. You can find a list of recommended cards in our knowledge base.

You may want to optimize your model to run on even on entry level computers or on mobile devices. For techniques see: BIMx/Optimization


This article is based on the following previously published articles, with updated and extended content:

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