Yes Navisworks is a hungry beast that needs a lot of power, and one of the most common questions we get in support is the minimum and recommended specs for a machine to run it. So here's the official recommended 2012 System requirements: -
- Microsoft® Windows® 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, Home Premium, or Home Basic edition, Microsoft® Windows Vista® Enterprise, Ultimate, Business, Home Premium, or Home Basic edition (SP2 or later), or Microsoft® Windows XP Professional Home 32-bit (SP2 or later) or Professional x64 edition (SP3 or later)
- AMD Athlon™ processor, 3.0 GHz or faster, or Intel® Pentium® 4, 3.0 GHz or faster (recommended)
- 512 MB RAM (2 GB or greater recommended)
- 11 GB free disk space for installation
- 1,024 x 768 VGA display with true color (1,280 x 1,024 monitor and 32-bit video display adapter recommended)
- Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 6.0, (SP1 or later)
- Microsoft Mouse-compliant pointing device
Now this doesn't mean you should simply choose a machine with all these as a minimum, but it also doesn't mean you need to hook your machine up to the nearest clock tower waiting for lightning to strike. Navisworks is a graphically intense application that is utilized in many different ways, particularly for handling very large models. We know you're pushing Navisworks to its limits but if you want to get the most from Navisworks, you should invest appropriately.
Let's take each bullet point and see where you can improve
- In Navisworks 2012 we only support Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. 32-bit machines have a per-process address space limit of 2GB, which means each single process can only use a maximum of 2GB of RAM. This is irrelevant of how much RAM is on the machine. This can be extended to 3GB by turning on the 3GB switch; worth thinking about if you have large animations, clash tests or simulations to run.
- 64-bit Navisworks on a 64-bit machine offers substantial improvements on memory available too, for example on Windows 7 Ultimate, 32-bit machines are limited to 4GB of physical memory for all processes, whereas 64 bit machines can access up to a whopping 192GB of physical memory and 8TB of address space (this includes Virtual Memory as part of your disk space)!
- Navisworks is a single threaded application, so if you decide to go for a multi core processor, be aware, the only benefit you will gain in Navisworks is that it should free up a single core for Navisworks use, you won't get 4 times the performance on a quad core processor unfortunately. So when looking at processors look towards the clock speed of each individual processor core as just a single one will be doing all the hard work.
- This is one of the most important areas on any machine. Assuming you've not restricted yourself to 3GB of memory by going on Windows XP 32 bit, then you should be investing heavily here. We have very few hardcoded limits on what Navisworks can do, in general the only limit is the performance available on your machine. If you have a gigantic model, you will need a substantial amount of memory to load the model, then even more to actually start doing things with it. We do get lots of people complaining that their machine freezes up when using 512MB memory but loading models that are detailed cityscapes they're trying to render in incredible detail, if you're expecting to work your models hard, then please please get a machine that can work harder. More details on physical memory and address space limits on each operating system can be found here.
Navisworks technology means you don't have to load the entire model into memory, so if you have a large model and 'Close NWC/NWD files on Load' is switched off in Options > Interface > Performance then when you open a model we will initially only load enough of the model in memory that you will need to see. Meaning you can work with the file much more quickly, we'll initially load a basic level of detail then stream more of the model as you need it in the background. So here the toolbar tells you much of what you need to know. The center icon, the disk, indicates how much of the model is loaded, about 40% here, when the disk turns red this indicates your machine is struggling to load the model, if it stays like that for a while, it's probably time for some more RAM.
- 11Gb is the minimum we need for installation, yes it's a lot but it's becoming the norm, and with memory getting cheaper than ever (1TB Hard Drives on Amazon for $58!), there's not much reason not to overdo it. It was only 3 or 4 years ago I remember someone saying to me that they couldn't see why anyone would ever need 20GB on a machine, as a bonus though, the more disk space you have, the more you can use as virtual memory.
- If you're going to be sat in front of a screen reviewing models all day you want to make your viewing area as large as possible. You can look at bigger screens, widescreens, higher refresh rates, higher DPI or even more than one screen, we have plenty of users who do clash tests on one screen and have the main viewing window on another. Another alternative are interactive whiteboards like the ones SMART Technologies produce, perfect for collaboration meetings.
- Everyone has a mouse, nothing too complex here. If you have a scroll wheel on your mouse it opens up some additional navigation controls, or if you want to splash out, why not go for a supported 3D mouse, not only do they look cool, they also change the way you'll interact with your model.
BONUS : Graphics Card
- We get asked a lot of graphics cards and we'll do another post soon giving you more details about what to look for in a card. But briefly, we don't have any recommended cards we've done performance testing on yet, but NVIDIA GeForce and Quadro cards and the higher end ATI cards have historically been the most reliable. As with everything, the more money you spend, in general the better a card you get, and as Navisworks is a graphically intense application, along with RAM, we recommend this as one the two main areas to invest in. Keep your card drivers up to date, in fact, when you first install a card, update your drivers, generally the ones on the CD are a bit outdated and more recent ones will be available from the manufacturer's website.
Here's some more information on how to improve Navisworks performance on the blog.
We'd love to hear back from you any tips you have, or suggestions of areas you'd like us to talk more about, just use the link to the left to email us.