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Postby barney » 25 Jul 2012, 14:14

We have a small TAFE-Granville user group happening for Revit and we would like to do a typical home walk through. Can you please help with the Computer hardware required to do this? Whist we can use a gaming style computer for the drafting, we beleive we may require a workstation specific hardware for revit -3d max presentation, with a Xeon procesor, nor how many threads or cores. Nor which model is more suitable. Any suggestions would be gratefully received.
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Postby corinoco » 03 Aug 2012, 17:07

Hi Barney,

The quick answer? Bigger is better. More RAM, better spec processor, better spec graphics card will all help improve rendering time.

The detailed answer: It really depends on what you are trying to do. The recommeded spec for Revit (or any decent graphical application) these days is a 64bit machine, preferrably running Windows 7 64 bit. Any modern 64 bit CPU (my experience is Intel only - you're on your own for AMD as I haven't been keeping up with their development) has got at least 2 cores, so almost any of the i3 and above series is fine.

RAM - as much as you can cram in, but a useful minimum is 4GB, 8GB is better. 16+ is really nice if you can afford it.

Graphics card - this is where I diverge from Autodesk specs - My feeling is that while a workstation-class GFX card is nice, they are also hilariously expensive. Again, my knowledge here is limited to one provider - Nvidia. I don't have any experience (apart from bad ones) with Radoen/AMD cards - personally I wouldn't recommend them. I hear too many horror stories with Catalyst drivers; so I actually recommend sticking with Nvidia in this case.

As for the GFX card itself, anything in the 200-series or above is ample for Revit - revit does not offload any rendering onto the GFX system, so it's really only being used for screen display. Put the money you save from a Quadro-series card into more RAM / better CPU.

Walkthorughs (in Revit at least) don't actually require any hardware beyond what you would normally use - as long as you aren't trying to do a 10-minute walkthrough at HDMI resolutions (1400x900 or above). If you are trying to do something that big - use 3DS Max, and build a render farm! :D

The specs above are relevant for Revit - if you are using 3DS Max you might require slightly higher specs, especially RAM and the CPU. 3DS will also make more use of a Quadro-series card than Revit will. Revit is only partially multi-threaded (mostly only the rendering engine & selction subsystem); 3DS is fully multithreaded.

For comparisons: My work rig is a Dell T3500 with a Xeon W3530 @ 2.8Ghz, 12GB RAm,64 bit Win 7, Nvidia Quadro 2000 1GB GFX card. It's FAST.

My home rig is a home-build with Asus P35Q-Deluxe MB, Intel Q9550 (2.8ghz I think, but older gen than above), 8GB RAM, 64 bit Win 7, Nvida G275-700MB gfx card. It is between 3-4 years old (gfx card is newest part) and is quite reasonable for most uses. I have done renderings in 3DS Max of about 30 seconds at 1280 x 1024, and it took less than 24 hours.

That said, I also run Revit on an Asus N10 Netbook - it has an ATOM 270 CPU, 2GB Ram, Nvidia M9800 gfx chipset and cost about $450 3 years ago. I have run Revit files as large as 150MB, not at all fast, but usable for drafting. Rendering is not great and chews up the battery in about 30 mins!

TLDR: You don't necessarily need a Xeon with 128G of RAM; Revit can be happy in quite modest specs.

What would be useful is if you are able to provide details of what you have, or are planning to use to run it, as well as what versions of OS, Revit & 3DS you are planning to use - you might be able to get away with minimal upgrades or even none!

Also drop by the User Group when it meets; anyone who uses Revit is by default a hardware nut - you have to be!
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