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October 13 2016

The best hardware for Lumion

More and more architects are systematically using 3D visualization as an integral part of their design workflow. Successful projects and great visualization go hand in hand. Architects and designers have turned to Lumion for their visualization solution because of its simplicity, quality and speed. In order to get the most out of this cutting edge software technology, there are some choices to make in relation to hardware. This article aims to shed light on choosing the right hardware for a great Lumion experience.

What does a great Lumion experience feel like?

As an architect you should expect your software to be fast and reliable. Loading and updating 3D models should be simple and speedy. You should be able to click your scene into shape with effortless ease and without being hindered in your thought process. As waiting time is a crucial factor in creating a smooth and efficient workflow, you will also not want to wait too long for your production to render.

This kind of software experience will not only speed up production, it will also make visualizations easy and fun to create. Choosing the right hardware is essential for creating this experience.

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Above: NVidia Titan X Graphics Card

Unleashing the power of the Graphics Card

A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is a combination of many processors on a graphics card. These processors carry out all calculations necessary to display images on your computer screen. The development of Lumion has been enabled by the continued development over recent years of the GPU. Lumion works together with the graphics card to produce compelling scenes, which unfold in real time on your screen. This same GPU power is harnessed in producing the final rendered images, movies and panoramas, with the result that render time is very short.

Upgrade your Graphics Card

One of the most significant developments early in 2016 was the launch of the latest range of NVidia cards. Great news for Lumion users because the new cards are way faster than the best cards previously available and should have the knock-on effect of making other excellent cards available at even lower prices than before.

For example, the ‘passmark’ website shows that the standard price of a GeForce 980Ti card is now just $429. This is a card with really excellent performance, available now at a very reasonable price. Even the fastest card out there (the new Nvidia Titan X) is a relatively modest $1200. Ok it isn’t cheap but CAD-dedicated cards like the Quadro series often retail for above $4000!

The best value-for-money graphics cards can be found on the passmark website. Any card above a passmark score of 2000 can run Lumion but 8000 points or more would be best. Basically, the more points the better as this makes complicated scenes run smoother and render times come down.

The table below gives the view of the Lumion team on the best graphics cards out there at the moment for laptops and desktops, based on price/performance ratio.

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Above: Selection of the best value-for-money graphics cards

*USD price in the table above is the published passmark price, rounded off

If you want to upgrade your desktop graphics card but don’t know how, then check out this blog.

New Computer?

You can choose to upgrade your graphics card but maybe you prefer an off-the-shelf computer?

It’s important to bear in mind that a desktop will have a better performance than a laptop for any given price.

As a rule of thumb, computers designed for playing high-end games are also ideal for using Lumion. They also tend to be better value for money than high-end architectural computers, which are often not optimised for using real-time visualization programs like Lumion.

Here are some suggestions from the Lumion team based on the best price/performance ratios for some of the machines we use in the Lumion office.

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Above: Example of value-for-money computers which run Lumion very well

The prices in the table above are indicative based on the Lumion team’s experience but it’s definitely worth shopping around to see what deals you can find in your part of the world. The list is also far from comprehensive and there are many capable computers on the market with a great price/performance ratio.

If you have a bit more cash available and are looking for a custom-built ultimate computer which combines CAD capability with the ability to run Lumion, then Boxx computers has come up with some options specifically for Lumion users.

Technology has really moved on in the past year and better performance is now available at an improved price. For example, last year it simply was not possible to get a Geforce GTX 1060 card in a laptop which weighs just 1.8kg and costs less than $2500… amazing price/performance ratio, which can only be good news for Lumion users.

One final thought

Lumion is like a racing car. It’s fun, fast and powerful. But without a race-track, you can’t use it to best effect. A great graphics cards is the race-track that Lumion needs. The better the race-track, the faster Lumion can go, the more fun you have and the speedier and more seamless your workflow. Luckily, Lumion is a lot easier to drive than a racing car!

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