Recommended Video Cards for ArchiCAD 13

by GRAPHISOFT, IllesArvay and Katalin Takács · updated: 05.24.2012

Improvements in ArchiCAD 13

Improved OpenGL Display for Smooth Edges in 3D. Sharp contour lines and improved shading colors in 3D views using OpenGL will enhance the quality of every 3D drawing, reducing the necessity to fine tune the images in 3rd party graphical applications.

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 13

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. Graphisoft recommends Nvidia Quadro FX series video cards with 512 MB video memory.

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 13.

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. On Mac there are no third-party drivers, and the drivers Apple builds into the operating system are very thoroughly tested for OpenGL compatibility, since the Quartz graphic engine itself is based on OpenGL. This is very different from the PC platform, where you have hundreds of different video cards available, drivers from different sources, most of them optimized for games and DirectX, not for CAD and OpenGL. You can be confident that all of the current Macs come with a video card that is compatible with ArchiCAD.


Test Results – Windows XP (32 bit)

Nvidia Quadro FX cards

The following video cards have been tested for ArchiCAD 13 on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
FX 580 Mid-range 512 6.14.11.8630 passed
FX 1700 Mid-range 512 6.14.11.8630 passed
FX 1800 High-end 768 6.14.11.8630 passed
FX 3700 Mid-range 512 6.14.11.8630 passed
FX 3800 High-end 1024 6.14.11.8630 passed
FX 4600 High-end 768 6.14.11.8630 passed
FX 4800 High-end 1536 6.14.11.8630 passed

ATI FireGL cards

The following video cards have been tested for ArchiCAD 13 on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
V 3600 Mid-range 256 8.634.0 passed
V 5600 Mid-range 512 8.634.0 passed

Gamer cards

Some popular gamer cards tested for ArchiCAD 13 on Windows XP (32-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
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

A known Ati card issue is that many old drivers cause crashes, but recent drivers are ok to use.


Test Results – Windows 7 (64 bit)

Nvidia Quadro FX cards

The following video cards have been tested for ArchiCAD 13 on Windows 7 (64-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
FX 580 Mid-range 512 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 1700 Mid-range 512 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 1800 High-end 768 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 3700 Mid-range 512 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 3800 High-end 1024 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 4600 High-end 768 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 4800 High-end 1536 8.16.11.9100 passed

ATI FireGL cards

The following video cards have been tested for ArchiCAD 13 on Windows 7 (64-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
V 3600 Mid-range 256 8.634.0 passed
V 5600 Mid-range 512 8.634.0 passed

Gamer cards

Some popular gamer cards tested for ArchiCAD 13 on Windows 7 (64-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
Asus Geforce 8600 GT High-end 512 8.16.11.9107 passed
Asus Geforce 8800 GT High-end 512 8.16.11.9107 passed
Asus Geforce 8800 GTX High-end 768 8.16.11.9107 passed

Video Cards tested for Virtual Building Explorer 2

Test Results – Windows 7 (64 bit)

Nvidia Quadro FX cards

The following video cards have been tested for VBE 2 on Windows 7 (64-bit):

Product Range Video RAM Driver Notes
FX 580 Mid-range 512 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 1700 Mid-range 512 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 1800 High-end 768 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 3700 Mid-range 512 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 3800 High-end 1024 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 4600 High-end 768 8.16.11.9100 passed
FX 4800 High-end 1536 8.16.11.9100 passed

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