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Our past testing of graphics cards, in SOLIDWORKS 2018, wasn't all that impressive – because for a long time the CPU has been a limiting factor when it comes to graphics performance in SW. The 2019 version came out recently, though, and looks to change that story. It has a new feature, currently in beta status, called "Enhanced graphics performance". It can be enabled in the System Options, under the Performance section, and its description is pretty straight-forward: "Improves graphical performance which will scale with your graphics card." We looked at how this mode improves frame-rates when modeling on the previous generation of Quadro video cards, and now that we have the full line of new Quadro RTX cards available we are going to repeat the same testing in SW 2019 SP2.
Please note that the Enhanced Graphics Performance feature is in beta. We are testing it only as a preview of future performance. We recommend heeding this warning shown when you click to enable this option: "Pre-production version for quality evaluation. May be unstable and have critical bugs; should never be used in a production environment or to modify production data."
Test Hardware & Methodology
For my testbed system, I used the following hardware:
|CPU||Intel Core i9 9900K|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte Z370 AORUS 5|
|RAM||4x DDR4-2666 16GB (64GB total)|
|Video Card||NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000 48GB
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 6000 24GB
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 16GB
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 8GB
|Hard Drive||Samsung 960 Pro 1TB|
|Software||Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1809)
SOLIDWORKS 2019 SP2
This platform is built around an Intel Core i9 9900K, with very high clock speeds, to avoid the CPU being a bottleneck in this testing. That processor also gives the best performance right now in SOLIDWORKS for general usage and modeling. More than enough RAM was included, to avoid that being a bottleneck of any kind, and a super-fast M.2 SSD was used for the same reason. For the video cards, we included the full Quadro RTX line this time around – for earlier cards, including the Quadro P-series, see our previous article.
The only options changed from default settings in SW 2019 SPs were the aforementioned "Enhanced graphics performance" mode being enabled and disabling use of "Large assemblies". No LOD settings or other graphics quality sliders were changed.
To perform the actual benchmarking, I used the same basic testing we've used here at Puget for analyzing graphics performance in SOLIDWORKS in the past, just updated slightly for the 2019 release: a mix of AutoIt scripts and SOLIDWORKS macros to set the different quality settings, load the relevant model, and record the average frames per second while rotating the model. To recorded the FPS, a macro is used with a timer to rotate the model 45 degrees to the left and right for a set number of frames. From the number of frames and the total time it took to render those frames, our software is able to determine the average FPS.
For test samples, we have utilized models available from GrabCad.com that provide a range of complexities based on the total number of parts and number of triangles – along with one extremely large assembly provided by the gentleman who organizes the CAD Monkey Dinner that we have sponsored at SWW for the last several years. Here are details about the models we use in our testing:
Lego Tower Bridge
by Daniel Herzberg
4372 parts – 40.9 million triangles
One note that I would like to make is that if you do not know how many triangles the models you work with have, the easiest method I know of to find out is to simply save the model as an .STL file. During the save process, a window pops up with information about the model including the number of files, the file size, and the number of triangles.
There are a lot of data points that come from testing four models with four different graphics settings across a four video cards at two different resolutions. To present all of that information, we have put together charts showing the frames per second (FPS) we measured in each model + settings + GPU combination at both 1080P (1920×1080) and 4K (3840×2160):
Analysis & Conclusion
This is where I would usually try to sum up all the data above in a simpler, easy-to-understand graph… but there isn't really much point. All four of these cards maintained over 30fps in all of our testing, even with our most complex model and demanding settings. There is a difference in performance across the cards, but it is above the level I would consider to be my expectation for a good usage experience. As such, any of these Quadro RTX cards will serve SOLDIWORKS users very well! And that is good news, since the RTX 4000 is far less expensive than its siblings. For folks working with smaller assemblies, an older Quadro P-series card might be fine too.
Please keep in mind that these recommendations are for SOLIDWORKS 2019 with "Enhanced graphics performance" enabled, and that mode is still in beta. At some point it will be released as a full feature, presumably, and may eventually even be the default or only option – but right now, it should be used carefully for evaluation or testing and avoided for critical work.
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