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 and Hardware Recommendations

ARCHICAD 21 BIM Server 21 BIMcloud 21
Previous versions Previous versions Previous versions
Recommended Hardware for ARCHICAD Recommended Hardware for BIM Server Recommended Hardware for BIMcloud

Recommended Video Cards

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.


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:

  • Was this Helpful ?
  • 11   ​4

Related content

Recommended Video Cards for ARCHICAD 17

Improvements in ArchiCAD 17 The latest 3D OpenGL related improvements: The Real-time 3D Cutting Planes Separation of OpenGL 3D window from Internal Engine to some extent OpenGL Vertex Buffer Object (VBO) improvements- performance improvement on mac which…

BIMx Application Settings on Mobile Devices

  Location of BIMx Settings Android Devices BIMx Settings, accessible while BIMx is running Click the three dots icon shown at the top of the screen while BIMx is running. In the drop-down menu select "Settings" button to reach all of the BIMx…

Recommended Video Cards for ARCHICAD 16

  Improvements in ArchiCAD 16 The latest 3D editing OpenGL improvements include realtime shaded feedback for morph editing, surface snap rectangle feedback to the cursor and rotation feedback for 3D (and 2D floorplan as well). Antialiasing is applied…

Multiprocessing and ARCHICAD

  Multiprocessing means the use of two or more Central Processing Units (CPU) at the same time. Most of new computers have dual-core processors, or feature two or more processors, therefore they are called multiprocessor computers .   What is…