Performance Tuning for AutoCAD 2012 on Dell Precision T5500

Demersus used Ask the Experts™
I have an engineer who uses AutoCAD 2009 on Win XP 64-bit.  The system is a Dell Precision T5500 with E5540 Xeon 8-core CPU, 16 GB of DDR2 RAM, nVidia Quadro FX 1800, and a 300GB SAS drive, no RAID.  The system was freshly configured back in July.

Support for AutoCAD 2009 is ending, so starting the process of migrating to 2012.  We checked with AutoDesk about having two versions of AutoCAD installed concurrently to allow him some time to transition.  We were told that there are no technical problems with this and since we have subscription licensing it's perfectly legal.  But, just one version can be running at any given time.

The performance of 2009 was never quite as good as we believed it should be given the specs of the system.  We hoped that moving to 2012 might result in an improvement, but just the opposite is true.  While 2009 still runs about as good as it did before, trying to work in 2012 is just totally miserable.  The system will slow to a crawl between mouse clicks when doing even the most mundane tasks.  It can take about 10 - 20 seconds before he can move the cursor at times.  I am not sure if other applications are affected when 2012 is running.

So, I'm hoping that someone can give advice on how to troubleshoot and do some performance tuning, perhaps even down to BIOS settings for CPU, memory and controller bus, etc.
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first and foremost make sure you have all of the service packs, and subsequent hotfixes if any, installed on the system, which can be found here:

Autodesk is known for "releasing" unfinished software and it has become an unwritten rule of thumb to wait until the first service pack is issued before using that version in a production workstation.

Another thing to check is that you have a Autodesk certified driver installed for your graphics card:


I did update the video driver based on the site you linked above.  He hasn't had a chance to test it yet.  I'll also check if any hotfixes are available, but I did that during the initial install back in July and ver. 2013 is already out.  So, I would assume that 2012 was fairly well baked by this past summer.

I also wanted to provided more detailed information about the hardware & configuration.  I took a close look at all the BIOS settings.

These are all enabled:
-Turbo Boost
-Speed Step
-C-States Control (this could be an issue
-Hardware Prefetch
-Adjacent Cache Line Prefetch

These are disabled:
-CPUID Limit
-HDD Accoustic Mode

Depending on whether anything had improved with the video driver update, next I may try disabling C-States and/or Speedstep.  But, I'm also wondering about the two Prefetch settings.
you might be able to pick up some speed by turn off the hyperthreading. Typically AutoCAD does not take advantage of multi-cored processors.

I still think the slowdown within 2012 is due to a software error and not something specific to a hardware issue. Another test is to log onto the machine using a different account to see if that user also has the same trouble using 2012. You could also try a safe mode reboot to see if CAD functions any better.
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I would start with setting the help system to be local. when it is set to go online first it is a bear to work with.
What size of file are you working with?
Are you using 3d modeling?
What other programs are you running at the same time?


The end user is still out for the holidays, so I'll need to get more info from him.  But, I didn't even realize that there was an online vs. offline help option.  I will turn that off before the user does any further testing of 2012.


This is the most recent feedback I've received from the end user:

"Civil 3D actually creates 3D models of the survey and engineering design data.  And the files are big.  Some do get above 10MB.  I find that slows performance, so sometimes I extract some of the entities and place them in separate files.  I try to keep my Civil 3D files below 10MB.  Most vary between 5MB and 20MB.  I should do some more housekeeping on my files, but there is a noticeable difference between 2009 and 2012.  2009 can be slow, but 2012 has been too slow for me to work with on my current files.  It also crashes and freezes up more.  Sometimes I have to crash it on purpose because it’s too slow.

The other programs I typically run are Outlook, Microsoft Office products, Photoshop, Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer.  Usually not all at once.  Sometimes I close programs to get more working power for Autodesk.  I sometimes try to have two large Autocad files open at once, but it will often crash when I do that and run a resource demanding command.  I try to have only outlook and Windows explorer on when working with large cad files.  The issue also exists with 2009, but 2012 is much worse."

Today I'm going to spend some time at the workstation applying any available updates and creating a test profile on the system.
after checking to make sure all updates and hotfixes have been applied the user should also look into creating data shortcuts with their design information. More information about Civil 3D data shortcuts:


I apologize for the length of time it's taking me to finalize this question.  My access to the system is constrained by the engineer's work load, etc.  But, there is a Service Pack 2.1 for AutoCAD 2012 that was released in late Sept.  I had planned to apply that patch last week, but it came with warnings about backing up customizations before installing.  Therefore I'm again waiting on the engineer to do his part before I move forward.

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