AutoCAD Plant 3D Performance - Maximizing Speed

Oct 31, 2014


AutoCAD Plant 3D is built on AutoCAD. AutoCAD is used for many things and is not solely optimized for 3D graphics. AutoCAD Plant 3D default settings are not set up specifically to favor editor response speed over display quality. This document presents options that go beyond tuning and identifies settings and strategies that can have an impact on editing behavior and model appearance.



This solution is split into three parts:

AutoCAD Plant 3D Settings

You can set system variables and use commands to improve display performance.

For more information see Maximize Plant 3D Display Performance in the Help and System Variables in the Command Reference.

You can close AutoCAD Plant 3D palettes that you are not using when working in the model. For example, closing the Data Manager can improve performance, especially when editing. You can also close Project Manager to improve performance. For best results close the palette, do not Auto-Hide.

AutoCAD Settings

There is no single best AutoCAD setting for performance because some settings are designed to disable features that one person does not need but the next person. In general the settings identified here are intended to maximize browsing speed.

You can use 3DCONFIG to set options that affect graphic card hardware performance.

The most significant choice is between 2D and 3D view modes. 2D modes can display 3D objects that look similar to 3D wireframe but the modes use a significantly different redraw database. The 3D redraw database is designed for quality and response but not for scalability. In practical terms this means that in 3D view modes performance degrades faster when the model in the display gets larger.

Changing to 2D wireframe with silhouettes off can significantly improve the performance.

If you turn off DISPSILH to improve the performance in wireframe, you should set ISOLINES to 4. Piping also uses PLANTPIPESILHDISPLAY which displays silhouettes for tube segments when DISPSILH is off.

For more information see  Control the Visual Style of the Plant 3D model.

Below are some of the AutoCAD system variables you can use to improve performance.

It is important to understand the impact of these settings and consider that they could cause undesired behavior. For example, turning off PICKFIRST speeds up browsing but disables the 'Select connected parts' shortcut menu. Dragging in 2DWireframe can be slower than 3DWireframe. The best performance configuration depends on how you are working with the model. Setting a low VIEWRES speeds up dragging in 2D mode. FACETRES is a similar variable that affects 3D views.

You can use VTOPTIONS to set a fast transition speed or to disable view transitions.

Other settings that are not specific to display can be used. For example you can freeze unused layers to improve performance instead of turning layers off.

You can also turn off features that you do not use. For example, if you do not need the properties window open, consider closing it unitl needed. Tracking, dynamic input and even grips can be turned off when not used.

Large Drawing Management

Breaking up larger drawings into smaller ones using external references can significantly improve performance. For example, you can place equipment, piping and structure into different drawings and break up large drawings by area.

Avoiding having too many layouts with too many viewports on the layout will also increase the performance significantly. Remember that each viewport needs its own regeneration. So if you have 10 viewports in one layout it needs 11 regeneration processes (10 viewports and 1 layout).


AutoCAD Plant 3D