Revit Workstations: The Goldilocks Principle ~ Peter Yackel
Choosing the right hardware for a Revit workstation is usually approached in two distinct ways. One, spend a lot of money on high performance components and a lot of RAM just to be sure it will handle any Revit task you throw at it, or two, spec the computer components based on the minimum or recommended system requirements for Revit as outlined by Autodesk. While the first approach will certainly have the user grinning from ear to ear in pure performance bliss, it’s overkill. The second approach will likely soon have the user pounding the keyboard or spending extra time chatting at the water cooler or coffee machine.
Years ago Autodesk decided to remove OpenGL support from their software. It now relies solely on DirectX instead. And there’s the rub. OpenGL can take advantage of high-end (and expensive) graphics cards. DirectX simply cannot exploit the video hardware the way that OpenGL can. Therefore, there is a sweet spot for the video card that you choose for Revit. For the sake of keeping this article as simple as possible, I will cover three graphics cards for comparison, The Nvidia Quadro K620, the Nvidia Quadro K2200 and Nvidia Quadro K4200. The K620 is an excellent choice for AutoCAD and will work for light Revit usage but takes a noticeable performance hit when your Revit models start to increase in geometric complexity. The K2200 is “just right” as Goldilocks would say. Spending more on the K4200 will not yield any noticeable difference in performance.
I’ll keep this one simple. Realistically, 8GB’s is not enough – don’t go by Autodesk system requirements on this one. 16GB’s is perfect for most users – regardless of model size/complexity. 32GB’s is recommended for the power users that keep numerous memory hungry programs/files open while they’re working in Revit – particularly the Adobe Creative Suite or Adobe CC.
Ah, yes…the Solid State Hard Drive that we’ve all heard about over the past 5 years or so. Many of you undoubtedly have these in your computers now. The price has dropped over the years and continue to drop as they supplant the old fashioned mechanical spinning hard drives. Sure, they still cost more per Gigabyte than a mechanical hard drive. But the difference in cost is justified at this point. Lower power consumption, no noise, low heat, no moving parts, featherweight, more reliable and mind numbingly fast are the SSD’s attributes that make this the only choice these days when spec’ing almost any computer – especially laptops. They enhance performance in Revit by a huge factor due the faster write speeds which translates to less finger tapping as the Revit model is saved locally.
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