Architectural Viz- System Build specific to Arch Workflow


Trying to get a workflow and system build together for using Unreal
I have a strong system that needs to be updated as it wont run with Unreal Engine.
Currently it has an Intel Server Board , 24g of Ram, Dual Zeon and an old midrange Quadro card in it and the PSU says it can go to 1000.

My question is in regards to Ram and Graphics cards.
Should I go to 48 or 64 Ram,will I see any benefits on the UE side

Graphic Card.
As this is an Architectural Workflow it goes through AutoCad/Revit-Max-to Unreal.
Quadros are recommended for CAD-Revit-Max, and I presume its a gaming card (Titan) for Unreal.
The pricing between a gaming card and a quadro card are massive the Quadro M6000 is 6000 euro and a Titan X is around 1000. I cant stretch to a M6000 so chances are it would have to be a k4200/5200, with what seems like much lower specs.

Is anyone in the arch-viz side using gaming cards and is there any drawback in the other applications that you know of?

And are any of the more experienced game developers using Quadro cards?

Or is anyone using Quadros and gaming Cards in the one workstation?
Any and all suggestions welcome…

I think gaming cards are actually the way to go for unreal. I bought a gtx 980 for this and it’s wonderful. Just buy 1 card because afaik unreal doesn’t benefit from SLI.
Ram is important for lightmass global illumination. You also can use distributed rendering for that specific task. It’s done via the Swarm agent. I have 2 computers (16gb and 8gb) building my static lighting now. It helps.

So yea, I would try to get the best gaming gpu and as much ram as you could! I’ve never had a problem with 16gb so far tho… 24 is probably well enough to start with!!!

The Quadro will be of no benefit to UE4, it’s a workstation graphics card and there’s only a handful of applications where it performs better.

I don’t think you’d need to go to 48 or 64GB of RAM, 32 is probably more than enough.
For the best archviz rendering, I’d probably go with a TitanX and 32GB of RAM, and a 4k screen.

I use the GTX 970 with the Nvidia VXGI Unreal 4.8 branch. (Do a search for Gameworks Integration to learn more about this)

Most of my career in Arch Viz / Product Design I used the Quadro cards for Adobe, 3DS Max, Vray, and Solidworks. But for Unreal it seems more features/compatibility are available when you use gaming cards, or at least there are more unreal developers working with gaming cards. Today, a friend wanted to try VXGI on his Quadro 4200, and it worked and looks good. But it definitely has some drawbacks in speed/quality here and there.

I also see the big difference using the GTX 970 with Rift development.

I’ve been using the GTX 970 for the last 6 months and haven’t had any (unusual) issues with my existing programs (3DS MAX, Vray, Solidworks, Adobe). I primarily model in those programs and hardly use Vray anymore. I try to do as much visualization in Unreal as I can. I use it for Archviz interiors a lot, and VXGI has really helped me, since I usually don’t have time afforded to Unwrap my objects properly for baking.

Finally, I am also running 64GB ram which has come in handy for doing huge open worlds (Like the Unreal Full Kite Demo). I think you would be fine with 48GB for current arch viz needs, but with the 64GB ram I can easily work in Photoshop, Max, Solidworks, and Unreal all at once. I do a lot of switching between them.

I solved my unwrap problems with the Steamroller (free) script for 3ds max. It’s a god send!

Thanks for the info guys…I’ll be picking up a 970/980 next week, and I’ll be looking into Nvidia VXGI Unreal 4.8 branch too…
Cant wait to actually put something together…

Good choice Nvidia rocks! Neat feature is shadow play (GPU accelerated H.264 video encoder) if you want to record movies without performance hit at all, even in 4k!

Thanks again, but I’m stumping myself cos I’m doing too much searching and talking, I’ve found my 980 at a great price and found a quadro K4200 all for under my original budget…Would I be silly to buy both? Is it even possible to stick them both in one machine, (cooling PSU etc), my Board can handle it but I’ve set machines on fire before by not checking out all the variables:)

Dunno…having 2 gpus is not going to matter for unreal engine 4 afaik. If you think you really need a quadro for max/revit/cad it’s okay but Unreal isn’t going to benefit from it compared to the gtx!

I’m definitely going on your recommendation heartless ref the gtx…just ordered it:) still the Quadro thing is at me…
I’ll do some tests once I’m up and running and let other users know my findings…thanks for input

You can’t use more than one GPU for UE4. With 3ds Max you can only use multiple GPU’s for renderers like iRay, or VrayRT.

At some point though, with Windows 10/DirectX 12 there is a feature that allows you to use multiple graphics cards together for a game, they don’t have to be the same type or the same brand. But–it’s a feature that has to be implemented into the engine.

Although you can specify which adapter to use, so you could use a quadro for 3dsmax, and the gaming card for UE.

Here is my experience that I would like to share…

I’m an architect in a practice mostly working on large scale mixed used developments. We have extensive knowledge in Revit and Max and at the moment, we are experimenting with Unreal on one of our large projects. It is a site of 40,000 sq m. with more than 10 building towers. Our entire model is built in Revit and you can expect the model to be highly detailed with thousands of components.

Loading the whole model into max shows around 20million polygons and over 50million verts, this is already after extensive cleaning up within Max just before exporting into FBX individual parts.

The machine we use are custom built with specs:
i7 top of the line
Quadro K4200
64GB ram (8x8GB)
240GB SSD + 2TB drive

I noticed that when building lighting, the RAM usage for Unreal and Swarm agent combined is around 32GB, at this point, the system RAM usage is around 10GB. A preview lighting build takes around 10mins. We have not setup Swarm for distributed computing yet, but will try later to see any differences.

When building lighting, all cores of the CPU works at 100% similar to rendering in VRay or similar…

I also noticed that building the lighting takes up LOTS of c drive space, even though my default engine location is installed on the other 2TB drive.

Biggest limitation is the Quadro K4200 card. Although it is a very expensive mid-end workstation card, but I must say that it struggles a lot even just navigating around in the editor. The average FPS I get is always shown red. Although I must say the PostProcessing Volume might contribute to this, but I have already kept the materials as simple as possible.

On the Oculus? Epic quality setting gets around 5FPS and Low setting at around 10FPS.

So my advice would be the same as the above, don’t waste money on Quadro. Get a top of the range GeForce, put in LOTS of RAM!

I have tried the script you suggested for a Revit-> 3DSmax -> FBX workflow but I am still encountering problems when I am building the lighting :


do you have any suggestion on what’s going wrong here?

Hi Ahbstang… (and others),Thank you

Sorry for not replying sooner.I’ve been caught up in projects.
Thank you for the info.

I got my 980 card and put it in on the current machine…and everything started heating up to danger levels and just by the noise of it I know I’m pushing something in the wrong direction.I’ve fried machines before so it came out straight away, and I’m left with my current machine spec that runs everything great except Un-Real.The Bios is setup to run for CAD/Max and Vray and the guys that done it really know their stuff.
I’m half afraid to mess with it.
As its a server board and runs fantastic for Rendering in its current Set-up, I’m debating whether to buy another machine all together for Unreal work.
The other drawback is EEC Ram (currently installed), its way more expensive and I’m not sure of its benefit in the long run, if I want to keep the EEC I have I need to pick up more of it and it runs way higher than standard ram.

Do you think your current system with the 980 would create a better system/wprkflow overall? Also wondering about cooling for heavy asset work?Is the machine burning up on a high poly-count and materials?

I’d be in a similar Polycount (if not more) (I’ll check and come back)for the proposed projects and I’m wondering how you are getting on?
You seem to have progressed further than me but still in the testing phase also.
Any insights on any aspect of production / system builds is really appreciated.

Thanks again

Sounds like your case cooling and power supply is struggling. For Unreal Engine a “gamer” setup is probably more suitable, eg. 1000W PSU, single Nvidia 980 Ti, 16 to 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 2-4 TB secondary drive, Skylake i7*. The CPU and GPU coolers should be non-reference. 2 suitable case fans for decent airflow.

I’m running an Asus G55 gaming laptop and bit surprised I can even play with all the latest UE4 Engine projects and demos (with laptop GPU overclocked, no less), sometimes having 1-3 projects open at once, some running Swarm, some playback etc.

So in short PC gaming might provide a better direction for UE4 usage as opposed to “CAD” (for lack of a better term) workstations.

*If you hook up your main PC to the wired network then I’m sure you can utilise the other CPUs on the network for Swarm lightmapping.