Optimizing AutoCAD Performance
AutoCAD is the most popular CAD tool in use today. And despite the high level of performance of many workstations, the creative nature of CAD professionals and enhancements to this key product continue to demand ever higher performance levels. Poor AutoCAD performance levels actually can be quantified in real dollar terms based on the waiting time a CAD professional endures.
Before we get into some of the tips and tricks that can be used, it’s worth considering if the existing hardware should be replaced. With new workstations with very high performance starting around $1400, they are not hard to cost justify. The fully loaded cost of a CAD professional is $1000-$1400 per day. And if that professional is waiting just 20 extra minutes per day, that’s almost 7 days of wasted time per year, a very compelling ROI for a new workstation.
Tips From the Experts
While I have my own ways of coaxing more from existing equipment, looking at other resources gives us a more complete and consistent picture. So let’s look at some of the most commonly suggested solutions to a slow workstation. These tips come from a number of sources and are presented here to give you a starting point in your quest for performance.
- Minimize system activities that require the graphics processor. Turn off utilities that are used to “fancy up” the screen (Aero, Windows Presentation Foundation Font Cache) that aren’t needed.
- Make sure your hard drive is well managed. When we say well managed the goal is to insure that you’ve run defragmentation tools recently, and haven’t loaded the drive much beyond 75-80% of capacity. A full drive is noticeably slow.
- Reduce the number of elements that are included in the Start-Up menu. Over time, numerous services end up being part of the system start-up and require resources and memory, and can reduce performance levels. This is one part of the system that is not evaluated often enough.
- Registry clean-ups must be done regularly. This activity is one that some find a bit nerve wracking, but if you want to maximize performance, it must be done. Using a popular tool for this is the best way. I tend to shy away from the free tools, as the result just isn’t as good as is seen with the more professional versions
- Evaluate what resources are local and what are provided over the network. If you’re using templates, libraries, or files that are constantly going back and forth over the network, performance will suffer. In some cases making more resources available on your local hard drive will make a big difference.
This list of activities gives you a place to start. And of course, if you’re not completely comfortable undertaking any of these tasks, it’s worth getting a pro to do them for you. These 5 solutions can make a big difference. Of course, if your system is hopelessly overmatched by the designs and tasks that you do on a regular basis, it may be time to do a system upgrade.