3D Graphics Performance Comparison – Part 7 (AutoCAD)

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After getting horrible graphics performance from AutoCAD using its default graphics settings in my initial comparison I was convinced that I was doing something wrong. I asked around for advice and some of you asked me to turn adaptive degradation off, which helped a bit. But the frame rate dropped to a pathetic level. Some recommended that I turn on hardware acceleration, but that didn’t help much either. Shaan Hurley of Autodesk got into a conversation with me about this on Twitter and then discussed in detail by email. Finally I ended up sending my hardware specs to him along with AutoCAD’s performance tuner log file.

He came up with these suggestions:

  1. Set VSINTERSECTIONEDGES to 0
  2. Set VSSILHEDGES to 0
  3. Enable hardware acceleration (no need to turn off adaptive degradation)
  4. Download and install the latest NVIDIA driver for AutoCAD 2011 from the NVIDIA web site

The last one changed the game. Completely. According to Shaan, AutoCAD defaults to software acceleration due to stability issues with previous NVIDIA drivers. After downloading and installing the AutoCAD 2011 specific NVIDIA drivers for my NVIDIA Quadro FX 2700M graphics card and setting the graphic settings as listed above, this is what I got.

Just compare this with my previous video using my out-of-the-box AutoCAD installation. They are poles apart.

The funny thing is before downloading the latest NVIDIA drivers, the NVDIA control panel in my Windows 7 control panel already had an entry called “autodesk autocad”. So I thought AutoCAD 2011 had already installed the appropriate display drivers. I am not exactly sure what happened, but after I downloaded the latest drivers for my graphics card from the NVIDIA web site, AutoCAD 2011 began to fly. I am going to put AutoCAD in the second category.

So I guess the moral of the story is never to assume that your AutoCAD installation has been already optimized for the best graphics performance that you can possibly get. Go visit the web site of your graphics card manufacturer and see if there is a special driver for AutoCAD. Even if a custom driver has already been installed on your system, it may help to update it to the latest version.

This screen shot shows the display quality. I think this could be improved a bit.

Click image for larger view

Part 8 >>

  • Ralphgrabowski

    Ha! I had told you you needed a special driver for AutoCAD.

  • Yup, you were right. I had checked the version numbers of the driver DLLs and they seemed to be current. Then with nothing else left to try, I went ahead and downloaded the latest installer from NVIDIA and everything worked smooth.

  • Shaan

    Check out this post from earlier this year:
    http://autodesk.blogs.com/between_the_lines/201

    Make sure to review your cards results in our testing for the optimal driver and versions: http://www.autodesk.com/autocad-graphicscard