Thursday, April 18, 2013

What's the best computer to buy for Revit 2014?

Here we are are again at another release cycle for the Building Design Suites (Including Revit) and all the Autodesk offerings! So with that comes the inevitable questions, namely: What's the best computer to buy for Revit 2014?
Aren't you excited?

This post will be in two parts: 
1) Generic Recommendations 
  • Useful to spec your own machine and suggested peripherals
2) Specific Recommendations
  • Nearly an actual manufacturer recommendation

Part 1 | Generic Recommendations 

Autodesk's SysReq's can all be found at the prior link but I would emphatically caution you to go well beyond even their "Performance: Large, Complex Model" spec's, as I will illustrate below!!!

The "Performance: Large, Complex Model" spec's (With my comments in Blue):
  • Windows 8 64-bit Enterprise or Professional edition, or Windows 7 64-bit Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium edition OK, say goodbye to Vista64!!!
  • Multicore Xeon or i-Series processor or AMD equivalent with SSE2 technology (highest affordable CPU speed rating recommended) -Can't agree more, this is where the bulk of $$$ should go!
  • Multiple cores for many tasks, up to 16 cores for near-photorealistic rendering operations Yes! 16 cores!!!
  • 16 GB RAM (Usually sufficient for a typical editing session for a single model up to approximately 700 MB on disk. This estimate is based on internal testing and customer reports. Individual models will vary in their use of computer resources and performance characteristics.) It's 2013 now and we should think of 16 GB being the base amount for Workstations, but 32GB or 64GB are my recommendations! 128GB seems a bit costly for average projects and users but those who do large projects should really fight for 128GB.
  • Models created in previous versions of Revit software products may require more available memory for the one-time upgrade process -See? 16GB is not going to be "enough" to work effectively for many, if not most of us.
  • 5 GB free disk space; 10,000+ RPM for Point Cloud interactions Can you say: SSD? Solid State Drives are mandatory IMHO!!! Use the old spinning drives for archiving, etc. but use SSD's for all system and other software + Active Workstation storage... Several drives may be required (read as: ARE Required) these days... Also; only 5GB of free space? Hahaha -if you only have 5 free GB of space you need some help -or a new SSD!!!

  • 1,920 x 1,200 monitor with true color That should say: 
  • 2 x 24" Monitors at 1920 x 1200 pixels for a Basic setup
  • 2 x 27" Monitors at 2,560x1440 pixels for a Recommended setup
  • 4 x 24" or 4 x 27" Monitors for a Preferred setup
  • DirectX 10 capable graphics card with Shader Model 3 as recommended by Autodesk
    •  See this link to find "Certified" Graphics cards, etc. The ADSK "Recommended" ones may be OK but then again, maybe not... Use at your own choosing, after testing.
  • Internet Explorer 7 (or later) Yeah that will happen since it's built into Microsoft Windows, though I use Mozilla Firefox primarily.

  • MS-Mouse or 3Dconnexion-compliant device -I suggest the following:
  • Download or installation from DVD9 or USB key OK
  • Internet connectivity for license registration and prerequisite component download OK

Part 2 | Specific Recommendations

Well I am (still) not going to recommend any one manufacturer with an emphatic endorsement...but I was close!!! -And it may seem like I am recommending one mfg. but, well, you decide for yourself...

I was close to recommending BOXX Workstations outright...Close.

The BOXX 4920 and BOXX 4050 Workstations were graciously extended as Demo's to prove out their potential ROI to me; toward my potential and necessary future acquisitions. What I found was, that for me, in AEC, with different project types and sizes, the BOXX 4050 appeared the best candidate; balancing performance in a moderately cost effective Workstation. 

Why am I not emphatically recommending BOXX outright? I have mixed thoughts... The BOXX Workstations and the GOBOXX Laptop/Mobile Workstations are truly great machines; although they are a bit expensive in direct comparison to other mfg's..

1) The BOXX 4050 is a machine that I will be specifying for a select group of Designers and 'Large Project' teams. The productivity increases will pay for these Workstations in a matter of month's... Over the 3 year run of the Workstation, I see a lot of ROI (AKA: profit) from this approach...

That said and to be totally honest, I will also acquire both HP Workstations and Dell Workstations, spec'd to match the BOXX 4050 apples-to-apples and see if the cost differential or support or if anything else affects my future purchases... I have already tasked my long-time, multiple firm Network Team (SADA Systems) to get quotes for similarly spec'd Workstations from both HP and Dell and they report the cost delta ranges about $500 to $1,000 less than BOXX, but only time will tell if the components perform comparably, keeping in mind that the BOXX Workstations are overclocked to their maximum.

With the cost of the BOXX 4920 coming in just below $6,000 I cannot see the ROI being clear unless one has an unconstrained budget. Of which I do you??? The ROI between the 4050 and the 4920 does NOT make sense to me, being that $2,000 only gets marginal percentage point increases for the cost (see the rendering "Time" differentials below).

The BOXX 4050 though, coming in at just about $3,900 makes it attractive, given the performance it provides and where, for just over the cost of a single 4920, one can get nearly 2 of the 4050's, if not 3 other decent machines... It's all a balancing act, no? 

That all said; the BOXX Workstations did work amazingly fast and I really liked having them around.
For instance the rendering differences were extraordinary. -I rendered the same file from 3 machines: Note the costs are "as configured" -one can spend a bit more or less depending...

Project File Size: 19.5 mb

Faces: 35,316

Materials: 105

Rendering Results:

HP Z400 ($2,500 +/-)

Res: 2800 x 2100

Time: 56m 59s

BOXX 4050
($3,900 +/-)

Res: 2800 x 2100

Time: 19m 0s

BOXX 4920
($6,000 +/-)

Res: 2800 x 2100

Time: 17m 24s

So there it is in not so small a nutshell...Get the most you can afford and make sure the service contract is up to your needs as well!!! 

Cheers, -J

Monday, April 08, 2013

@LARUG | Leading The Way | Following Revit Topographies

No need to say more, except the handout will be posted after RTC Australasia and RTC North America...That'll be even greater!!! Click the image to see what's up with Revit Content actually following topo's...