Hardware for the CAD Professional, Part 8: More Graphics Cards
So far in this series, we’ve discussed system requirements, commonly used terms, processors, RAM, hard drives and connectivity. This installment of Hardware for the CAD Professional will continue our discussion about graphics cards.
Installation and Configuration
Once you’ve decided on a specific graphics card and determined that it will work on both your operating system and the software package(s) you intend to use it with, then comes the installation and configuration of the software drivers. All the companies that manufacture workstation-level graphics cards spend a lot of time and energy in not only keeping their software drivers up to date, but also in certifying that a number of industry-standard applications work correctly with them. This, and the related support, is one of the added benefits in using a professional-level graphics card that can save you lots of expensive troubleshooting time.
Some vendors integrate special support for an application such as AutoCAD with their base drivers, while others provide accelerated drivers for such applications as a separate download. In either case, you want to be sure that you’re using the best drivers to get the maximum performance from your system. I am a strong proponent of regularly updating software drivers, finding that many such updates increase performance or add benefits beyond the typical “bug” fixing ensured by such releases.
Maximize Your Performance
First you have the drivers installed and have determined that they are working with your application. The next step is to maximize your performance. There are number of operating system level adjustments to make, but I’ll cover these separately. In terms of the graphics card drivers, there’s one big adjustment that can significantly increase performance — so much so that we automatically do it when testing graphics cards at Cadalyst. In your graphics card settings found in the operating system’s control panel, be sure that your settings for Vertical Sync are set to OFF or FORCE OFF. Changing this simple setting will provide significant performance benefits to your system.
There may be other configuration options you wish to make to your video drivers, but this one will certainly need to be done. Combined with the operating system configurations to be discussed next, the Vertical Sync settings will enable the level of professional level performance you expect from your hardware. Once you’ve made these settings, it’s time to configure your operating system for its maximum performance.
Author: Ron LaFon