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Graphic Cards' Performance Review for Archicad 24

Haris Matthaiou

Windows Specific Recommendations

OpenGL 4.0 compatible graphics card with dedicated memory of 2GB or more is recommended to fully utilize hardware acceleration capabilities. We do not recommend the following graphics card legacy families:
  • Nvidia Quadro FX and Quadro (Fermi architecture) series
  • AMD FireGl series


Installing graphics card drivers

Graphics 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. Both Nvidia and AMD provide "Clean-install" options with their driver installers. In rare cases where vendor's uninstall operation is not possible, there are several tools that can help, like AMD's AMD Clean Uninstall Utility, third party tools like Driver Cleaner , Driver Fusion or gaming community's popular DDU Display Driver Uninstaller. Such tools should only be used as the last resort for troubleshooting.

Graphics card drivers

Certified Nvidia Quadro Windows 10 driver: 442.92
Release date 2020.04.16
Certified AMD FirePro and Radeon Pro driver: 20.Q2
Release date 2020.05.07
Nvidia GeForce driver win 10: NVIDIA Studio Driver 442.92
Release date: 2020.04.16
Release Date 2020.05.27

"Professional" vs. "Gaming" graphics cards

Graphics card manufacturers typically have different product lines targeted for "gamers" and "professional content creation users". While the hardware setup is very similar for both cards, there are main differences in their firmware and driver. "Gamer" cards (such as Nvidia GeForce and AMD/ATI Radeon) are optimized for 3D games, where speed is more important than image quality/accuracy. Typically a 3D model in a game contains a low number of polygons with textures applied to them, while polygon count is high in CAD modeling, and the quality of the stationary image of the wireframe or the 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 AMD FirePro) are built according to the chip manufacturer's references, so you can always be sure that the driver delivered by the chip manufacturer (e.g. Nvidia or AMD) fits your card. The manufacturers of gaming cards (such as ASUS, Sapphire, Gigabyte, PNY, etc...) may diverge from the chip manufacturer's references.  Also, the product life cycle and driver release cycles are shorter in case of gaming cards. Graphisoft cooperates with:
  • Nvidia to test and certify graphics card drivers for the Nvidia Quadro K, M and P series.
  • AMD to test and certify graphics card drivers for the AMD FirePro W and Radeon Pro WX series.


Graphics card drivers for laptops

Both Nvidia and AMD provide driver support for dedicated graphics cards on laptops. There are still laptop vendors (especially for legacy/end-of-life-support laptops) that provide their own driver support. If you are experiencing display issues with such laptops, and your vendor 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:  FLEM ATI Radeon Legacy Modder / Nvidia legacy laptop drivers. Nowadays, laptops vendors are using the standardized drivers provided by chipset manufacturers.


Recommended graphics cards for laptops

There are professional cards available for workstation laptops, such as the Nvidia Quadro and Radeon Pro, that slightly under-perform from their desktop counterparts. We have also good experiences with most of the dedicated Nvidia's GeForce cards, somewhat middling experience with AMD/ATI cards, and very bad experience with on-board (integrated) Intel graphics cards. Definitely avoid the latter at the moment. Although integrated graphics cards (iGPU)  are gradually improving in terms of performance, still perform quite badly for 3D demanding applications like Archicad.  At the moment, AMD's Ryzen processors with integrated Vega 10 & Vega 8 graphics processors perform significantly better than the rest of iGPU solutions and on par with Nvidia's low ended dedicated GPU line (MX series).

Frame rate, monitor refresh rate and smooth navigation

A general notion is that in order to achieve smooth 3D navigation, 30 frames per second will suffice while with 60 frames per second, motion will be buttery smooth for very fast movement. That should be the general guideline for deciding what graphic card to purchase. To be more specific, the maximum frame rate that you may achieve smooth navigation, is directly connected to your monitor's refresh rate.
The refresh rate is the number of times in a second that a monitor updates the displayed image. If the graphic card is feeding the monitor faster than the monitor's refresh rate, there will not be any improvement in motion flow but visual artifacts may be introduced (screen tearing). To prevent such side-effects, most graphics card drivers have Vertical synchronization option (V-sync) enabled by default to lock the frame rate to monitor's refresh rate. Archicad is utilizing this feature in 3D navigation.
Most monitors have a fixed refresh rate of 60 Mhz which correlates to 60 frames per second. Especially for navigating in Archicad, such monitors are more than adequate to provide smooth 3D navigation. Any monitor with higher refresh rate is mostly for gaming users where extremely fast pace game-play without stuttering, tearing, and motion blur is important. If a graphics card can provide an average frame rate between 30 to 60 frames per second in 3D navigation, that card should be adequate to experience smooth navigation in Archicad. To complicate things a little more, the past few years more and more monitors are implemented with either Nvidia's G-Sync or AMD's FreeSync technology. These technologies provide the monitors with variable refresh rates controlled by the graphics card.
While these implementations are mainly targeting gaming users targeting higher frames, both technologies provide a feature to provide smooth navigation when 3D navigation frame rate is low (below 30 frames per second). It works by an algorithm at hardware level that adaptively inserts additional frames to the monitor to enforce smoothness and prevent juddering. If this technology is supported by your monitor and your graphics card, you may experience smooth navigation -without jitter- even with lower frame rates (down to 10 frames per second).

Mac Specific Recommendations

Graphics card drivers for Macs

OpenGL compatible graphics card with on-board memory of 2048 MB or more is recommended to fully exploit hardware acceleration capabilities. Since Macs are offered with a graphics 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. macOS's graphic engine, Quartz does not allow an application to access graphics card functions directly, which minimizes the possibility of application-specific display problems. On Mac there are no third-party drivers, and the drivers that Apple builds into the Operating System are very thoroughly tested for OpenGL compatibility, since the Quartz graphic engine itself is based on OpenGL with OpenCL support. This means a big difference between the Mac and the PC platforms, where are hundreds of different graphics cards available. You can be confident that all of the current Macs come with a graphics card that is compatible with Archicad. For the best performance, choose Mac computers with dedicated graphics cards. Integrated Intel Iris and Intel HD cards work with Archicad, but their performance can be quite limited.
NOTE: Customers with AMD video cards from macOS 10.15 Catalina may experience random crashes in different scenarios while working in Archicad. Please have a look at this article for more detail.

External graphics processor in macOS

With High Sierra 10.13.4, macOS rolled official support for connecting external graphics processor (eGPU) through Thunderbolt 3 port interface. Additional information is provided by Apple in this article. Our preliminary tests suggest that eGPU can be a very useful solution for machines with integrated graphics cards that have limited processing power and VRAM. Machines with integrated Intel Iris graphics card can hugely benefit from this solution for improving the 3D performance, utilize additional VRAM to handle external UHD monitors with ease and the possibility to connect additional monitors. In case of recently released discreet graphics, it may not be worth switching to an eGPU solution yet–unless additional monitors are required. A graphics card inside an eGPU enclosure is significantly slower than the same graphics card working on an internal PCIe slot. There may be an increase in performance by a better GPU loaded externally, but in most cases, this increased performance is not proportional to the upgrade. In the near future, we will provide additional information on several graphics cards once our extended eGPU tests and evaluations are completed.

Graphics Card Tested with Archicad 24

Here you can see the results on how different graphics cards performed on a reference computer configuration with different monitor resolutions. The measurements were done on a computer with CPU Single-Threaded Performance rated at 2194. The cards were tested with a small (250000 polygons), a medium (1,6M polygons), and a large (10M polygons) size project on Windows 10 64 bit. Frame per second rate shows the speed of the graphics card measured while navigating in the 3D window of Archicad. Apart from the graphics card's processing power, there are numerous factors that affect the 3D navigation performance.
The computer's processor (CPU) plays a major role during 3D navigation. The CPU feeds the graphics card (GPU) with data to process and display. If the CPU doesn't feed data to the GPU fast enough, you cannot utilize the GPU's full potentials. Thus it is important to pair a powerful GPU with an equally powerful CPU to mitigate CPU bottleneck.  Please note that 3D navigation is utilizing a single core of your processor. That is why CPU Single-Threaded Performance is important for mitigating that CPU bottleneck. Another factor that will affect 3D navigation performance, is the monitor resolution. The higher the resolution, the higher the strain on the CPU and even higher on the GPU.
When the resolution is increased, the frame gets bigger and consequently the more processing required the longer it takes for the GPU to finish the computation. That is why the speed (frame rate) drops with higher resolutions. Another aspect often neglected is the memory size of the graphics card. When we open a file and navigate on 3D, the memory of the graphics card (VRAM) is used first, when it runs out then the Main Memory (RAM) is used. It is important to understand that your computer's memory is much slower than your graphic card's dedicated memory (VRAM) for 3D operations.
So storing data on the computer memory (RAM) for 3D operations is something that should be avoided. To prevent that from happening we need to make sure that our graphics card has enough memory (VRAM) available to handle our model. There is no rule of thumb to estimate how much memory we need. We cannot draw a parallel between the project file size and the graphics card memory usage. Archicad stores the model information of the objects' parameters, and not by the coordinates of the polygons. Huge files that have a lot of parameters might occupy large amount of memory. And when the parameters of some geometry objects are set to large resolution or segmentation it adds an extra burden. Also, there might be a model that itself is only just a few kilobytes, but its parameters would use up a big portion from the graphic card memory in ultra high resolution with lots of large textures triggering slowness.
We recommend 2GB of dedicated memory for small to average-sized projects, but if your work involves UHD resolution monitors with large complex models,  your graphics card dedicated memory should be at least double.

Test Results - Windows 10

The following graphics cards have been tested for Archicad 24

Small project (250000 polygons)


Medium project (1,6M polygon) - FPS ratio:


Large project (10M polygon) - FPS ratio:


Graphics Cards Tested for BIMx

Here you can see our BIMx results with different graphics cards. We used a quite complex model, the Shanghai Park Hotel, this can be downloaded from here amongst other BIMx ready Global Illuminated buildings. Tests were done on Windows 10. Frame per second rate shows the speed of the graphics card measured while navigating in BIMx with the full Global Illuminated model (with shadows on).

Test Results - Windows 10

The following graphics cards are being tested for BIMx

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