I’m running Civil 3D 2009 on a PC with an Nvidia Quadro 3500 video card. I’ve recently taken a few steps to speed things up. First, I disabled Communications Center, which speeds up start times. Second, I installed the latest Nvidia Drivers. Finally, I installed the Nvidia Powerdraft Drivers.
I didn’t do any benchmarking, so I can’t say exactly what effect these changes had, but if you are having problems with AutoCAD’s speed, you might want to try a few of these things.
All three of these steps are independent, although you would probably want to do Step 2 if you are going to do Step 3. Step 3 requires you to have a Quadro card.
Step 1: Disable Communications Center
You can skip this step if you want your Comm Center to run.
This one is easy, just run regedit (Start:Run:regedt32) and go to the following key:
Then set “LOADCTRLS” to 0.
( “LOADCTRLS”=dword:00000000 in .reg-speak)
That’s it. Next time you restart Civil 3D, Comm Center will be disabled.
Step 2: Install latest Nvidia drivers
Get your Nvidia drivers here.
If you have a Quadro card, you will be given the choice of installing either the Graphics Driver, or the Performance Driver. You might want to check to see which one is most current. At the time of this writing, the Graphics driver was published on October 15, 2008, and the Performance Driver was published on July 11, 2008. Sometimes a new Performance Driver will be released prior to an updated Graphics Driver, to give reviewers a chance to experience new technology (according to their FAQ). Sounds like a beta to me, so you might be better off going with the Graphics Driver every time, regardless of the release date. [UPDATE 2008-11-14: I just switched to the older Performance Driver version 176.04, because the 178.26 Graphics Driver seemed to be causing a number of stability issues (windows partially disappearing, some lock-ups).]
Install that driver and restart your computer.
Step 3: Install AutoCAD Powerdraft Driver
The Powerdraft Driver is a special driver for AutoCAD applications which allows AutoCAD to efficiently access the special features of your Quadro card. Download it from the Nvidia driver download page. Select Quadro for Product Type, then your series and model, then “AutoCAD Performance Driver”. Hit select to go to the download page where you can pick which version of AutoCAD you are downloading the driver for. Both the OpenGL and DirectX links will download the same install file (Powerdraft2009_XP_Vista_32_64.exe).
If you have vanilla AutoCAD 2009, the 2009 file should install just fine. But if you have Civil 3D, you’ll get an error that says “Setup was unable to find an installed version of AutoCAD 2009. Please make sure that AutoCAD 2009 is installed and then run setup again.” Fortunately, MSutton posted a nice workaround on the Nvidia forums. I’m going to copy his solution and add a few comments and changes:
- Download Powerdraft Installer (direct link to 2009 download page)
- Launch setup – let the installer extract the files
- Wait for the error message – do not hit okay or cancel
- The installer creates a folder off the root drive, for me it was “04-28-2008-0710”. (I launched the installer from my D: drive, so that folder was created in the root of D:).
- Copy the three driver files into the Autocad Driver Directory, for me D:\4-28-2008-0710\Disk1\win32\ -> C:\Program Files\AutoCAD Civil 3D 2009\Drv\ (MSutton had described the method for win64 and AutoCAD MEP).
- You can now cancel the installer program
- Launch Civil 3D
- Type 3dconfig at the command prompt
- Goto “Manual Tune”
- Select nVidia driver from the Driver Name drop down box (I selected nvgl9.hdi, you might want to try the DirectX version).
That’s it. You may have to restart AutoCAD.