Recommended Video Cards for ArchiCAD 12

by GRAPHISOFT, Greg Kmethy and Katalin Götz · updated: 05.24.2012

Improvements in ArchiCAD 12

ArchiCAD 12 introduces full hardware acceleration in 2D views on the Windows platform, using DirectX technology. This means that all drawing tasks, previously performed by the CPU, are now taken over by the graphic card. This provides better performance, and introduces new features such as anti-aliasing in all 2D views. In 3D, OpenGL engine is used, as in previous versions.

On Mac, ArchiCAD 12 uses the Quartz drawing engine in 2D views, which uses partially hardware acceleration, and partially CPU using multi-threading. In 3D, OpenGL engine is used.

These changes employ the latest technology in graphic display, so selecting a capable video card, and using the proper drivers is essential.

General Video card requirements for ArchiCAD 12

PC: Open GL and DirectX 9 compatible graphic card with 256 MB or more on-board video memory is recommended to fully exploit hardware acceleration capabilities.

Mac: Open GL compatible graphic card with 256 MB or more on-board video memory is recommended to fully exploit hardware acceleration capabilities.

“Professional” vs. “Gaming” video cards

Graphic card manufacturers typically have different product lines targeted for “gamers” and “professional users”. While the hardware setup is very similar in case of both cards, there are key differences in their firmware and driver. “Gamer” cards (such as Nvidia GeForce and Ati Radeon) are optimized for 3D games, where speed is more important than image quality. Typically a 3D model in a game contains a low number of polygons with textures applied to them, while in CAD polygon count is high, and the quality of the still image of the wireframe or shaded model is more important than navigation speed. Also, professional cards’ memory usage is optimized for using multiple application windows, while in gaming this is not relevant. Another key difference between the two product lines is the way they are delivered and supported. Professional cards (such as Nvidia Quadro and ATi FireGL) are built according to the video chip manufacturer’s references, so you can always be sure that the driver delivered by the video chip manufacturer (e.g. Nvidia or ATI) fits your card. The manufacturers of gaming cards (such as ASUS, Sapphire, Gigabyte, PNY, etc…) may diverge from the chip manufacturer’s references, so their drivers may not be compatible with the chip manufacturer’s reference driver. Also, the product life cycle and driver release cycles are much shorter in case of gaming cards.

Graphisoft cooperates with Nvidia and AMD to test and certify video card drivers for the Nvidia Quadro FX and the ATI FireGL series. These product lines are recommended by Graphisoft for ArchiCAD 12.

Installing video card drivers (Windows)

Video cards only perform properly, if they have a hardware vendor supplied driver (not system built-in driver) installed correctly. It may happen that remnants of a previous installation interfere with the current driver installation. If you experience display issues with the drivers listed below, please “clean-install” the driver again. “Clean-install” means removing all previous driver files before installing a new driver. Unfortunately, a simple uninstall may not efficiently remove all components of a driver. There are tools that can do it, like ATI’s cat uninstaller cat uninstaller or third party tools like driver cleaner or driver cleaner pro 1.5

Video card drivers for laptops (Windows)

In most cases, graphic card drivers for laptops are supplied by the laptop manufacturer, and graphic card vendor supplied drivers (so called “reference drivers”) will not install on laptops. This makes it practically impossible for us to test laptop video cards. If you are experiencing display issues with your laptop, and your supplier does not offer you a driver update, you might try – at your own risk – to tweak a desktop driver to work on your laptop. Note, that this is obviously not encouraged by your laptop supplier. mod tool for ATI cards nvidia laptop drivers

For reasons detailed above, we can not recommend any specific card and driver combination for laptops. However, there are professional video cards available for high-end laptops, such as the Nvidia Quadro, which are just as good as their desktop counterparts. We have also good experiences with most of the standard Nvidia cards, somewhat worse experience with AMD/ATI cards, and very bad experience with on-board intel graphic cards. Definitely avoid the latter.

Video card drivers for Macs

Since Macs come with a default video card (with one optional choice at some series), and the drivers are bundled with system updates, we can not recommend a specific card or driver. Mac OSX’s graphic engine, Quartz does not allow an application to directly access video card functions, which minimizes the possibility of application-specific display problems. Currently there is one known OpenGL bug that is not ArchiCAD-specific, and seems to affect all Macs with ATI cards. see details on AC-Talk


Test Results – Windows XP (32 bit)

Nvidia Quadro FX cards

The following video cards have been tested for ArchiCAD 12 on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
FX 350* Entry-level 128 6.14.11.6947 Error N1
FX 370 Entry-level 256 6.14.11.6947 Error N2
FX 550 Entry-level 128 6.14.11.6947 Error N3
FX 570 Entry-level 256 6.14.11.6947 Passed
FX 1700 Mid-range 512 6.14.11.6947 Passed
FX 3500 High-end 256 6.14.11.6947 Passed
FX 3700 High-end 512 6.14.11.6947 Passed
FX 4600 High-end 768 6.14.11.6947 Passed

*legacy product

ATI FireGL cards

The following video cards have been tested for ArchiCAD 12 on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
V 3200 Entry-level 128 8.453.1 Error A1
V 3300 Entry-level 128 8.453.1 Passed
V 3400 Entry-level 128 8.453.1 Passed
V 3600 Entry-level 256 8.502.0 Error A4
V 5000* Mid-range 128 8.453.1 Error A2
V 5200 Mid-range 256 8.453.1 Passed
V 5600 Mid-range 512 8.502.0 Error A4

*legacy product

Gamer cards

Some popular gamer cards tested for ArchiCAD 12 on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
Asus Geforce 8500 GT Mid-range 256 6.14.11.7516 Passed
Asus Geforce 8600 GT High-end 512 6.14.11.6921 Passed
Asus Geforce 8800 GT High-end 512 6.14.11.6921 Passed
Asus Geforce 8800 GTX High-end 768 6.14.11.6921 Passed
Sapphire Radeon HD V 2400 XT Mid-range 256 8.476 Error A3
SApphire Radeon HD V 2600 XT Mid-range 256 8.476 Error A3

Test Results – Windows Vista (32-bit)

Nvidia Quadro FX cards

The following video cards have been tested for ArchiCAD 12 on Windows Vista:

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
FX 350* Entry-level 128 7.15.11.6947 Passed
FX 370 Entry-level 256 7.15.11.6947 Passed
FX 550 Entry-level 128 7.15.11.6947 Passed
FX 570 Entry-level 256 7.15.11.6947 Passed
FX 1700 Mid-range 512 7.15.11.6947 Passed
FX 3500 High-end 256 7.15.11.6947 Passed
FX 3700 High-end 512 7.15.11.6947 Passed
FX 4600 High-end 768 7.15.11.6947 Passed

*legacy product

ATI FireGL cards

The following video cards have been tested for ArchiCAD 12 on Windows Vista:

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
V 3200 Entry-level 128 8.453.1 Error A4
V 3300 Entry-level 128 8.453.1 Error A4
V 3400 Entry-level 128 8.453.1 Error A4
V 3600 Entry-level 256 8.502.0 Passed
V 5000* Mid-range 128 8.453.1 Error A4
V 5200 Mid-range 256 8.453.1 Passed
V 5600 Mid-range 512 8.502.0 Passed

*legacy product

Gamer cards

Some popular gamer cards tested for ArchiCAD 12 on Windows VISTA:

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
Asus Geforce 8500 GT Mid-range 256 7.15.11.7516 Passed
Asus Geforce 8600 GT Mid-range 512 7.15.11.6925 Passed
Asus Geforce 8800 GT High-end 512 7.15.11.6925 Passed
Asus Geforce 8800 GTX High-end 768 7.15.11.6925 Passed
Sapphire Radeon HD V 2400 XT Mid-range 256 8.476 Passed
Sapphire Radeon HD V 2600 XT Mid-range 256 8.476 Error A4

Error Descriptions

The related Error messages for Nvidia cards:

  • Error N1: Rectangular bounding box appears around polygonal Gradient Fill.
  • Error N2: Very slow performance in OpenGL 3D.
  • Error N3: No antialiasing in 2D hardware accelerated mode.

The related Error messages for Ati cards:

  • Error A1: No feedback while rotating trace reference.
  • Error A2: No feedback while moving drawing content or rotating trace reference.
  • Error A3: Hardware acceleration turns off. Rotating trace reference is jittery.
  • Error A4: Rotating trace reference is jittery.

Test Results for Virtual Building Explorer – Windows XP (32 bit)

Nvidia Quadro FX cards

The following video cards have been tested for Virtual Building Explorer on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
FX 370 Entry-level 256 6.14.11.8120 Passed
FX 570 Entry-level 256 6.14.11.8120 Passed
FX 370 LP Mid-range 512 6.14.11.8120 Passed
FX 580 Mid-range 512 6.14.11.8208 Passed
FX 1700 Mid-range 512 6.14.11.8120 Passed
FX 1800 Mid-range 768 6.14.11.8208 Passed
FX 3500 High-end 256 6.14.11.8120 Passed
FX 3700 High-end 512 6.14.11.8120 Passed
FX 4600 High-end 768 6.14.11.8120 Passed
FX 4800 High-end 1536 6.14.11.8120 Passed

ATI FireGL cards

The following video cards have been tested for Virtual Building Explorer on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
V 3600 Entry-level 256 8.563.0 Error B1
V 5200 Mid-range 256 8.563.0 Error B1
V 5600 Mid-range 512 8.563.0 Error B1

Gamer cards

Some popular gamer cards tested for Virtual Building Explorer on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
Asus Geforce 6600 Entry-level 256 6.14.11.8206 Passed
Asus Geforce 8500 GT Mid-range 256 6.14.11.8120 Passed
Asus Geforce 8600 GT High-end 512 6.14.11.8120 Passed
Asus Geforce 8800 GT High-end 512 6.14.11.8120 Passed
Asus Geforce 8800 GTX High-end 768 6.14.11.8120 Passed
Sapphire Radeon HD V 2400 XT Mid-range 256 8.582 Error B1
SApphire Radeon HD V 2600 XT Mid-range 256 8.582 Error B1

Error Descriptions

The related Error messages for all cards:

* Error B1: Texture scaling problem in “Fixed” OpenGL precision mode. Please use “Float 1″ or “Float 2″.

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