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Re-upgrading a home computer for Revit
October 19, 2012 10:18 AM   Subscribe

A little over a year ago, I posted this question about upgrading my home computer to be able to run Revit. I successfully monkeyed with my box to be able to run Revit 2012, but now my firm has upgraded me to Revit 2013, for which my video card no longer works properly. The major complication now is that I got the only video card I could find that worked with Revit and fit my motherboard, so this time it won't be as simple as just switching out the card. What's my best course of action to remedy the current situation? Technical stuff, specs and further questions after the jump.

Basically, what's happening is that every once in a while, more frequently for certain actions with the program, my screen will go blank, then come back, and I get an error message saying that my video card has stopped working and recovered. Revit then fails and shuts itself down. To fully correct the system, I have to restart the computer; if I just start up Revit again, the video card fails again almost instantly. The video card is listed in the link below (you have to change the filter to show all cards tested) as having stability issues, and boy, howdy. All other aspects of the computer seem to be functioning fine with the program - my processor isn't quite up to spec but I'm not running really slow or anything. As in the previous question, I'm not doing anything super-fancy like detailed renderings or building fly-throughs; I'm just modeling buildings in black and white and producing line-drawing construction documents.

A lot of the technical info for my computer can be gleaned from the previous question, but here's the basics:
HP P6510F computer specs
In the last go-round, I upgraded the video card to an ATI FireGL7600, took out one of the 2GB memory sticks and added 3 4GB sticks (giving me a total of 14GB currently), and upgraded the power supply to a 650W unit. I'm running Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.

Revit 2013 system requirements

List of video cards tested for Revit 2013

So, the main issue here is that my motherboard supports a PCI Express x16 video card connection, and the video card I got at the time was the only type I could find at NewEgg with that configuration that was recommended for Revit, and they apparently don't even stock cards with that configuration any more. That means that I'm going to have to go with something that's a PCI Express 2.0 x16 or something similar, which I assume my motherboard will not support. Is that assessment correct? That means that in addition to getting a new video card, I'm going to have to upgrade the motherboard if I plan on keeping the same computer, which brings us to the more detailed questions:
1. Is it even worth trying to upgrade my current computer, or should I just buy/build/have built a new box to spec?
2. If upgrading the computer is worth it, is this something I could potentially do myself (note that the previous upgrade I made is the only experience I have with messing around inside the shell of the computer) or should I have a pro handle it? I would like to basically keep all the other things in the computer the same and just switch out the motherboard and video card (possibly the memory if my current memory doesn't work with the new motherboard), so that would also mean I'd have to remove and re-install the processor, and maybe some other things.
3. Will upgrading the motherboard lead to any other complications or jack up my program licensing?
posted by LionIndex to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
 
PCI Express is both forwards and backwards compatible. A 2.0 (or 3.0) card should function fine in a 1.0 motherboard; it'll just run at the 1.0 speed. For Revit, the PCI Express slot is probably not a bottleneck so you shouldn't have an issue.

And looking at the specs for the motherboard in your computer, it looks like it has PCI Express 2.0 anyway ("Gen 2.0").
posted by zsazsa at 10:33 AM on October 19, 2012


Well, aside from the fact that I could have gotten a better video card the first time around, that's really the best news possible.
posted by LionIndex at 11:46 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) 14GB of RAM is good, Autodesk recommends 20 times the project size and it sounds like your files are well under that limit. If using the program doesn't feel slow I recommend against upgrading.
2) I'd advise against trying to built a production machine from scratch. Building a computer is straight-forward but downtime is expensive.
3) Maybe. If you're using a standalone license it's probably tied to the MAC of the motherboard's NIC and you'll need a new license file.

Have you tried working in non-acceleration mode? I thought it'd kill performance but it didn't make a noticeable difference in day-to-day drafting.

Big R - Options - Graphics - Use Hardware Acceleration
posted by llin at 11:52 AM on October 19, 2012


1) 14GB of RAM is good, Autodesk recommends 20 times the project size and it sounds like your files are well under that limit. If using the program doesn't feel slow I recommend against upgrading.
2) I'd advise against trying to built a production machine from scratch. Building a computer is straight-forward but downtime is expensive.
3) Maybe. If you're using a standalone license it's probably tied to the MAC of the motherboard's NIC and you'll need a new license file.

Have you tried working in non-acceleration mode? I thought it'd kill performance but it didn't make a noticeable difference in day-to-day drafting.


I can give the acceleration thing a shot, but really the only issue I'm having is with the video card. You're correct in guessing my typical project file size - the biggest I've done is 60MB, but that file had a lot of junk and images loaded into it that could be purged and easily make the file more manageable. Downtime is already an issue here, just because I have to restart my computer a few times a day to keep working, so I'd gladly trade that off in getting a new computer that works properly with the program.
posted by LionIndex at 12:02 PM on October 19, 2012


I can give the acceleration thing a shot, but really the only issue I'm having is with the video card.
Turning off the graphics acceleration should alleviate the driver crashes. Revit is quite picky about the video card (I've seen crashes with nVidia Quadro cards so at least it's consistent) and running in 2D/CPU mode has stabilized previously crashing machines.
posted by llin at 12:17 PM on October 19, 2012


Yeah, I just de-activated hardware acceleration and tried my best to break the program with things that were instant crashes previously, but everything went along just fine. I'll probably still upgrade the card at some point in the near future (it crashes in other programs, like IE9 on flash-heavy sites, of all things), but turning off the acceleration seems to at least make it stable enough that I can get some work done without re-starting all the time.
posted by LionIndex at 12:23 PM on October 19, 2012


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