Recommended Video Cards
All GRAPHISOFT products are available on Windows and Mac platforms as well. 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 have Macs and PCs running side by side in your office.
- About BackgroundProcessing
- About Multiprocessing
- About 64-bit
- How to use MagicMouse in ArchiCAD
- How to use MagicTrackpad in ArchiCAD
- Ctrl+Shift shortcuts in combination with the Numeric keypad don’t work on Windows
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.
ArchiCAD supports 64-bit on both platforms. To see the benefits of this, you need more than 4GB of physical RAM – 8 GB+ is recommended nowadays. 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.
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 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
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. 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.
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, BIMcloud Server
For the BIM Server and BIMcloud 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.
8 GB for BIM Server, 16 GB for BIMcloud 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.
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 the system drive (OS + BIM Server) and 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
- Mac only: an iMac with SSD (OS + BIM Server), databases stored on an external RAID unit connected via Thunderbolt.
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.
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 Manager does not require extreme CPU performance. Use a 2+ core 64-bit compatible CPU for the best performance.
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.
64-bit processor with four or more cores
16 GB or more is recommended
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.
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
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.
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).
Any current storage device should be fine for BIMx.
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:
- What kind of machine should I buy written by Tom Waltz
- Find the Optimal Hardware Configuration for ArchiCAD written by GregKmethy published on CAD Speed