How Video Cards Can Effect SOLIDWORKS Performance

In our most recent round of SOLIDWORKS Performance testing for SOLIDWORKS World 2015 we took a long look at video cards and how they interact with SOLIDWORKS. With most of our testing we look at the time to complete a set of actions within SOLIDWORKS. When testing video cards it is a little different as we need to look at Frames Per Second and the overall user experience of how a model responds and feels as it moves and rotates on the screen.

We found a lot of interesting data in our testing but the one thing that we were surprised to find is something everyone has probably seen at some point when working in an assembly.

When working along building your assembly your video performance suddenly becomes rough and choppy rather than the smooth easy rotation previously experienced. What we found is that there is a point at which SOLIDWORKS determines that an assembly is too big or too complex and begins doing something different.  We have been given a few different explanations of the behavior but unfortunately they don’t match each other. Thus we are continuing our search for the actual culprit in this dramatic loss of performance.

In our testing of the NVIDIA K620, K2200, and K4200 graphics cards; we found that the point of diminished performance occurred somewhere between 570 and 735 unique components. We see in the images below that our Frames Per Second with different Level of Detail (LOD) Settings can drop by over 10x from about 325 FPS to around 33 FPS.

K620-FPS K2200-FPS K4200-FPS

Why this makes such a big difference is because most monitors are running at 60Hz which equals 60 FPS. This means that before the drop we are running beyond the monitors display ability and after the drop we are running at about half of its display ability.  This is a difference in performance that is perceived by the user usually as a choppy spin or a drop in model detail when rotating the model.

As we dig deeper we hope to uncover the triggering factors for this phenomenon.  Is it number of components, number of unique components, depth of the assembly, complexity of the image being displayed or some combination of these or any number of other possible contributors.  When we track it down we will be sure to let you know.

For a complete copy of all of our findings on SOLIDWORKS Performance with Hardware and Modeling Methodology please go to


Josh Altergott

CATI Support Manager

Josh Altergott
Josh Altergott is Support Manager at Computer Aided Technology, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations in Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. He is a regular contributor to the CATI Tech Notes blog.