In which direction is AutoCAD’s performance going?

In which direction is AutoCAD’s performance going?

I see quite a few comments in various places that say that AutoCAD’s performance has been getting progressively worse by the year. Is this what most people think, or just the viewpoint of a few complainers? Let’s find out, shall we? I’ve added a poll that asks for your opinions. Feel free to comment, too.

Note that this is a poll about raw performance, not productivity. It’s possible (though difficult) to make a program go slower but still allow you to produce more work in a given time, so I’ll cover the productivity angle in a later poll.

This poll is purely about how fast AutoCAD seems to you. How often do you find yourself hesitating, or waiting, or even going for a coffee break, while AutoCAD does its stuff? Is this getting better or worse? If you compare it with an earlier release, does it seem faster or slower? It is to be expected that some things will get faster and some slower, but what’s your overall impression?


  1. It is not a good sign that I have to drastically upgrade my computer with every year’s release. I used to look forward to the next release for the new features, now I just know my cadding will be going that much slower.

  2. I often hear this complaint from other drafter. “AutoCAD X doesn’t run as fast as AutoCAD Y did”. Obviously there are additions to the code with every release but there are also improvements to the existing code that make it tighter and cleaner. Frankly there is almost no logical complaint to be had over incremental upgrades. Unless I am mistaken the CAD engine does not get “major” overhauls in releases that do not introduce new .DWG formats.

    What these users need to realize is that this is just the nature of computing. It is true that computing power is rocket high with every new generation of CPU and video card. But most firms are not upgrading to every new CPU and video card. And when upgrades do occur those firms are certainly not going to the bleeding edge of technology. So what you have is a software platform that is on a steady (possibly exponential) improvement cycle that is paced (not identical) to current computing developments but is being installed on hardware that is several iterations behind the curve. In other words people are loading more and more into an old pick-up and complaining that the MPG is getting worse. And when they finally decide to change trucks they go get a used truck instead of the newest model.

    This isn’t at all a new or even isolated issue. All fields related to computers suffer from the cost vs. performance vs. duration debate. PC gaming has long since been this situation. And even the lowest priority administration computers have recently had to face the upgrade curve for applications such as Office 2007.

    In my firm we have been upgrading every 3 years or so. And when we upgrade I try my best to push for hardware that is just behind the bleeding edge. I find that this added investment over more pedestrian (and older) hardware is the sweet spot that will give our firm the most reward. And our CAD stations have done well on that routine.

    Currently we are trying to find the same sweet spot with Civil3D. But that is a different engine and a different story.

    Face it, if you are in the game be in it to win. If not do not complain that your old workstation isn’t pulling the weight when it wasn’t even really up to the challenge when it was “new” old technology.

  3. Your question of “does it seem faster or slower” is right on the money. User perception is everything. Remember how fast AutoCAD R12 started up in DOS (even on the hardware of that time) compared to AutoCAD 2009 on some of the best hardware today? Just that one comparison tells many users that 2009 is “slower”.

  4. Start up is a bunk measurement. Performance should be secondary or consider productivity instead of milliseconds of difference on start up or individual operations. Take for example an activity in AutoCAD R12 that took 20 steps and 4 minutes and opening multiple drawings, now being down with 2 steps in 20 seconds? Is that less important than start up? I think there are two sides to performance Productivity ~ making tasks shorter and faster and the performance which can be impacted and less clear as hardware, OS, running applications all affect this which is not measured in milliseconds and less hard to realistically notice a 2 millisecond improvement that represents a 4x performance increase of a specific function.

    So personally I think task productivity is more important than a faster splash screen but both are considered.

    Hey you should see how fast 2.18 loads on DOS 6, but then again it would take me two days to do what I can do in 5 minutes in AutoCAD 2009 which is productivity.

    Steve and RK, go back to R12 and see how poor your productivity is but heck you would have a slightly faster start up time. Your competitors would love you to go back to R12. 🙂


  5. Shaan, thank you for your comments. Hopefully, it’s obvious from my posts here that I’m quite aware that performance and productivity aren’t the same thing. The difference between the performance and productivity poll results so far would seem to indicate that blog nauseam readers are also smart enough to make that distinction.

    However, that doesn’t let Autodesk off the performance hook. Performance is one of the many things that impact productivity, and unlike most new features, is something that impacts the productivity of everybody. Autodesk could do better, should do better, and indeed has done better in the area of performance.

    AutoCAD users appear to be generally of the opinion that AutoCAD is getting noticeably slower (nobody’s complaining about 2 millisecond delays), and are unlikely to be happy about it. Your competitors would love you to continue making AutoCAD slower.

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