What Computer do I Need to Work with Point Clouds in Revit?

Point Clouds in Revit and ReCap - Will your computer run it? If not, see what specs you should chose for your PC to work with point clouds.

Point cloud - a file that stores coordinates in XYZ space of a large number of points. There are many advantages when working with such files, but there is also one significant drawback – point clouds are very demanding to the computer system requirements. The simplest cloud usually weighs around 5GB while a point cloud of a large project can easily exceed 100GB.

When working in Revit there is an official computer system requirements guidance from Autodesk and a large community of users who can advise on choosing a right PC for a particular task. It is the opposite with point clouds as there is initially no information on how powerful a computer needs to be.

Based on several experiments conducted, let's try to find out how the PC requirements are affected depending on the size of the point cloud?

Point Clouds for the Experiment

Three point clouds were selected for this experiment:

Figure 1 – Cloud №1

A simple floor with almost no interior walls. This project was scanned only from the interior, therefore is missing the external walls and elevations of the building.

Point cloud size: 4.91GB

Figure 2 – Cloud №2

Full 3d laser scan of the property, both internally and externally. This house was scanned externally from all four sides and also two floors and a loft were scanned internally.

Point cloud size: 15.9GB

Figure 3 – Cloud №3

A hotel building scanned both internally and externally. The building had four floors, plus a basement. In addition to the building survey, the surrounding land around the property was scanned too.

Point cloud size: 88.2GB

Determination of the most loaded system elements.

All three point clouds were opened on the PC and the load on the system was measured using the task manager.

Testing was carried out on Windows 10. Autodesk Revit 2020 and ReCap version: 7.0.

PC specifications:

CPU:  AMD Ryzen 5 3600

GPU:  GeForse GTX1660Ti

RAM: 32Gb

Storage device: SSD

Experiment 1

For ReCap the resource utilization measurements were taken for opening a project and working with a project. For Revit, the resource utilization measurements were taken from working with a project. The project in the first experiment contains no elements and only the point cloud is loaded.

  ReCap Revit (maximum load)
  Cloud 1 Cloud 2 Cloud 3 Cloud 1 Cloud 2 Cloud 3
CPU 15%-20% 23%-25% 16%-23% 30% 32% 32%
RAM 10%-11% 14%-16% 14%-16% 18% 19% 26%
Storage device 10%-35% 55%-72% 50%-85% - - 50%
GPU 5%-42% 11%-40% 11%-40% 50% 50% 50%
Loading time 5,19 sec 10,16 sec 28 sec  

Conclusion: In ReCap the load on the CPU, memory and video card, changes are not significant with different point clouds. The difference in the load on the hard drive, however, is clearly visible, where with a larger point clouds there is constant access to the disk and the load reached 85% of the SSD resources.

In Revit, the CPU and GPU usage is higher, but also does not depend on the point cloud size. Memory resources grow steadily with the size of the point cloud. For small point clouds, hard drive resources are almost not used, but with a large point cloud, SSDs are used.

Experiment 2

Comparison of the load on the system when opening Revit with a point cloud uploaded to it vs opening a completed project in Revit with uploaded point cloud and a point cloud opened in ReCap at the same time.

  ReCap Only Revit only ReCap+Revit+completed project in Revit
  Cloud 3 Cloud 3 Cloud 3 (average - peak)
CPU 16%-23% 32% 40%-85%
RAM 14%-16% 26% 50%-50%
Sorage device 50%-85% 50% 0% - 50%
GPU 11%-40% 50% 40%-80%

In actual operation of Revit + ReCap, the computer constantly experiences a heavy CPU load with peaks of up to 85%. The memory load is also steadily increased to 50%. The hard drive is hardly used when working in Revit. However, at times, peaks of up to 50% appear. When working in ReCap, there is a constant hard drive load of 20% -30% with peaks up to 50%. The video card has a constant load of 40% with rare peaks up to 80%.

Overall, the average CPU and GPU load has not significantly increased compared to working in Revit or ReCap alone. The only differences are the peaks in maximum loads. The disk is not used significantly in Revit compared to ReCap. The main load goes to the RAM, which is used linearly more.

Conclusion: To work with point clouds, regardless of the cloud size, you need your PC to have a set of characteristics on the CPU + GPU + Hard disk. The sizes of the point clouds you are planning to work with also affects the amount of RAM required. With large point clouds, the CPU and graphics card must cope with occasional peaks.

Working with point clouds on different PCs

For the experiment, 4 personal computers and 1 laptop were chosen:

  Laptop 1 PC1 PC2 PC3 PC4
CPU Intel Core i5- 5200u Intel Core i5-3550 AMD Ryzen 5 1600 AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Intel Core I9 7980 Xe
GPU GeForce 940m Radeon R9 200 GeForce GTX1070 GeForce GTX1660Ti GeForce GTX1080Ti SLI
RAM 12Gb 12Gb 16Gb 32Gb 64Gb
Storage device HDD HDD SSD SSD SSD

Comparison of the characteristics of computers for the experiment.

The comparison was carried out on a 10-point system. The highest score was chosen for 10 points. The remaining is a percentage of it.

CPU comparison

  Laptop 1 PC1 PC2 PC3 PC4
CPU Intel Core i5- 5200u Intel Core i5-3550 AMD Ryzen 5 1600 AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Intel Core I9 7980 Xe
Points 0.9 1.6 3.8 5.3 10

GPU comparison

  Laptop 1 PC1 PC2 PC3 PC4
Video card GeForce 940m Radeon R9 200 GeForce GTX1070 GeForce GTX1660Ti GeForce GTX1080T
Points 0.8 2.5 6.8 6.8 10

Assessment of computers for a comfortable work

The comfort assessment was carried out on a 10-point scale system, where:

  • 1 point - it is almost impossible to work, there is a freeze after each operation, the program closes or the system crashes.
  • 3 points - it is very difficult to work, often the system freezes, long point cloud loading.
  • 5 points - it is difficult to work, some individual elements like floor plans do not create difficulties, other individual elements like facades lag and take a long time to load.
  • 7 points – it is possible to work quite comfortably, occasional lags on complex elements appear.
  • 10 points – comfortable to work without any computer lags or freezing

Point Cloud No 1

4,91 Gb

Point Cloud No 2

15,9 Gb

Point Cloud No 3

88,2  Gb

Laptop No 1

Intel Core i5- 5200u, GeForce 940m, 8Gb, HDD

3 1 0


Intel Core i5-3550, Radeon R9 200, 12Gb, Storage device: HDD

7 4 3


AMD Ryzen 5 1600, GeForce GTX1070, 16Gb, Storage device: SSD

9 7 6


AMD Ryzen 5 3600, GeForce GTX1660Ti, 32Gb, Storage device: SSD

10 9 7


Intel Core I9 7980 Xe, GeForce GTX1080Ti SLI, 64Gb, Storage device: SSD

10 10 10

Choosing the right computer to work with point clouds in Revit

  1. Laptops are rarely a suitable option for this kind of work. There are some gaming models with good characteristics, but during operation they usually get very hot and it will become difficult to work with. External cooling systems also do not help much.
  2. Storage device - SSD. When working with point clouds, the hard disk is often accessed, so an SSD is the necessary choice for such work.
  3. RAM - 16 GB is the minimum you would need for working with point clouds. A lower value is only suitable for very small point clouds. 32GB or more is the recommended value.
  4. The CPU depends on the sizes of projects you are planning to work with. For small projects, AMD Ryzen 5 1600, Intel Core i5-3550 CPU models and their analogs will be sufficient. For multi-story buildings and complex industrial buildings, the minimum CPU model should be AMD Ryzen 5 3600 or higher.
  5. GPU – similarly to the CPU, it all depends on the point clouds you plan to work with. For small houses, the models Radeon R9 200, GeForce GTX1070 and their analogs will be sufficient. For multi-story buildings and complex industrial buildings, the minimum model to be considered is the GeForce GTX1070, GeForce GTX1660Ti and their analogues.

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