Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Report The 360 View: Optimizing Parallels Settings for Autodesk BIM 360 Glue / Autodesk Navisworks

Optimizing Parallels Settings for Autodesk BIM 360 Glue / Autodesk Navisworks

Optimizing Parallels Settings for Autodesk BIM 360 Glue / Autodesk Navisworks

I switched to an Apple Macbook Pro three years back and has been using it ever since at work and home. Running BIM 360 Glue or Navisworks in a Windows virtual machine using Parallels has become such a breeze that I barely have to pause. It took me a while to understand the settings initially and some additional trial and error to identify what i believe to be the key parameters. I thought of sharing in this post some of these lessons learned in optimizing Parallels settings for use with BIM 360 Glue or Navisworks.
Autodesk BIM 360 Glue on a Macbook Pro running Parallels 10 and Windows 8.1
The above screenshot shows the Clash Resolution workflow of Glue in action. I have a 2013 Macbook Pro with Parallels 10 and Windows 8.1. The below Settings are specifically for Parallels 10, and you might notice minor changes in other versions. Irrespective of the version of Windows and Parallels you use, this should give a good starting point for you to set up your work machine.
Take a back up: Before you start modifying any settings, it is recommended to take a back up copy of your virtual machine. You will find a *.pvm file within your parallels folder. Make a copy of this and save it some where safely such that you can easily roll back to your existing virtual machine state.
Configure for Design: In the newer versions, Parallels has introduced an out of the box option to specify your intent for the virtual machine. This option is available while you configure the virtual machine or you can change it later from the General Settings. It is recommended to select "Design" from the options for best results while using any CAD software.
In addition to this, let us take a look at some of the other settings that are very important. All these setting are accessible by selecting the "Settings" of the virtual machine. There are four main tabs General, Options, Hardware and Security. We are going to focus on some key parameters within the Options and Hardware Tabs.
Virtual Machine Performance Options: Parallels provides options to tune for performance and power usage.   I would recommend selecting "Faster Virtual Machine" and "Better Performance" for best results. Rest of the Settings within Options didn't seem to make too much impact, so I kept the default configurations.
Hardware: I have found couple of settings within the Hardware tab to be the key for good graphics, especially when you are navigating 3D models. First is the CPU & Memory numbers. I have 16 GB of RAM on my machine and I have noticed the best performance when I dedicate 9-11GB for the virtual machine to go with 2 CPUs. There are some benchmark tests available on the web that point to this setting.
Parallels-hardware-cpu and memory
Next is the Video memory, and dedicating ~1GB of Video memory and using DirectX10 has worked quite well for me. What is more important is the Resolution. It is recommended to uncheck the 'Enable Retina resolution' box. On Windows 7, instead of this checkbox you will be presented with three options - Scaled, Best for Retina, More Space. I have found the 'Scaled' option to work very well.
Parallels-Video options
I think you are all set to take your newly tuned Windows virtual machine for a spin. Let us start in a Window mode or Full Screen mode (I never really liked the Coherence mode of Parallels). You can try what you like from the View options.
Couple of final tweaks to the Windows settings and you are all set. I typically run Windows in a 1440X900 Screen Resolution. And from the PC System Properties, I set Windows to 'Adjust for Best Performance'. 
Windows-best for performance
Restart Windows if necessary and you are ready to Glue it! 
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