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Clarification of requirements for VW2009 Mac.



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I am happy to report that VW09 installs and runs very well on my PowerBook G4 17" (1.67GHz, 2GB RAM, Mac OSX 10.4.11) for the 2D work that I do - I can't tell any difference between it and VW08 for my files. The interface is responsive to the new features, so it looks good.

This defers the purchase of a new machine for a while longer, something I very much appreciate as spending money on computers looks to be an increasingly futile exercise.


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The gory details from the NNA intranet:

Vectorworks 2009 System Recommendations

Last Modified: 9/22/2008

For changes, contact: Paul Pharr

Status: Approved

Approvals: Paul Pharr

Applies to VW version: 2009

Please note the title change from Requirements to Recommendations. We now specify a hardware andsoftware configuration for real-world use. There are notes belowdiscussing tradeoffs which can be expected if users decide to use Vectorworks with other hardwareor software configurations.

The following are real-world system recommendations for running Vectorworks 2009. In some demandingcases, we would suggest a more capable machine than is described by these recommendations. Likewise,there are some less demanding situations where Vectorworks will perform well on older hardware.The Vectorworks user experience is always improved by faster processors and additional RAM.

General Recommendations Macintosh Windows
Operating System Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later

Mac OS X 10.5.4 or later

Windows XP SP 3

Windows Vista SP 1

Other Software QuickTime QuickTime 7.2 to 7.5 (higher versions not recommended)
Processor PowerPC G5 2GHz or betterIntel Core 2GHz or better Pentium 2GHz or better
Other Hardware DVD-ROM drive (dual layer) DVD-ROM drive (dual layer)
Screen Resolution 1024 x 768 (XGA) 1024 x 768 (XGA)
Display color depth 15 bit or higher 15 bit or higher

Hard drive space 10GB free
Vectorworks plus RenderWorks
Hard drive space 10GB free
Vectorworks Designer
Hard drive space 10GB free
Vectorworks Designer plus RenderWorks
Hard drive space 10GB free

Additional Details

Strict Minimums

The absolute software version requirements in order for Vectorworks to launch are oftenbut not always more relaxed than our recommendations. Vectorworks 2009 requires the followingas an absolute minimum:

  • Windows XP or Vista or later
  • QuickTime 7.2
  • All attached video monitors set to 15 bits per pixel or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.4.0 or later
  • QuickTime 7.0
  • All attached video monitors set to 15 bits per pixel or higher

We do not currently have strict runtime checks of other aspects of the machine configuration such as the processor architecture.

Remote and Virtual Machines

We do not consider remote login environments such as Remote Desktop, Terminal Services and VNC or virtual machine environmentssuch as Parallels and VMware to be appropriate for regular work, so Vectorworks performance in these situationsis not of primary concern to us. They may be appropriate for administrative testing or utility purposes, and Vectorworks is fully functionalin these environments. You should not expect high performance - especially with interactive screen feedback.

We do support Vectorworks running under Bootcamp on Intel Macs. As long as you have appropriate and current drivers for the hardwareon your machine, you can expect fast and reliable Vectorworks behavior.

Maintenance Releases

Unless there is a known problem with a maintenance release of the operating system, werecommend the latest maintenance release at the time we ship a new release of Vectorworksas a minimum because that is what we test with. If you have problems withan earlier maintenance release, we will often ask you to update as an initial troubleshootingstep.

On Windows, we recommend against updating QuickTime primarily because most Windows users are not awarethat Vectorworks depends on QuickTime and can possibly change behavior when QuickTime is updated. We have never hadproblems, however, which were traced back to bugs in newer releases of QuickTime, so updating QuickTime onWindows is not a risky choice.

64 Bit Windows

On the Windows platform, the user must choose whether to run with a 32 bit or 64 bitoperating system. Vectorworks runs well and is fully supported in either environment, and we have no known problemsin Vectorworks 2009 caused by running under a 64 bit operating system. Having said that,the following are also true:

Vectorworks 2009 does not use 64 bit addressing and does not benefit from running in a 64 bit environment.

Vectorworks does run about 5% slower in a 64 bit environment due to a 32 bit emulation layer.

We have noticed that drivers for 64 bit Windows are somewhat more problematic than those for the more mainstream 32 bit versions of Windows.Should you choose to run 64 bit Windows you should make sure you carefully choose your hardware and driver versions to avoid problems.

Optimizing Performance

Newer processor architectures often bring substantial improvements in performance. Mac IntelCPUs are substantially faster than G5s and we recommend using Intel based Mac hardware in allperformance-sensitive applications.

Faster or slower processor clock speeds have a predictable impact on Vectorworks performance.We choose our recommendation based on our perception of mainstream needs and the current availablehardware.

RAM requirements are usually driven by performance considerations. Large files and especiallycomplex rendering modes such as HDRI and radiosity consume large amounts of memory. WhenRAM runs out, Vectorworks usually continues to function, but is slowed significantly by the need toaccess the hard drive to provide virtual memory. Extreme lack of RAM maycause operations to generate errors in cases where given sufficient RAM they would otherwise succeed. Fasterhard drives can have an unexpectedly large impact on system performance especially when virtualmemory is actively being used.

Hard drive size requirements are driven by the total size of Designer with Renderworksincluding all content files. You can easily reduce this size by opting to not installsome Vectorworks content files.

Video Cards

IMPORTANT - Vectorworks 2009 has a completely new document interaction interface whichdepends on a high bandwidth interface between the CPU and the screen. This has thepotential to provide a very fast and fluid screen interface if used on appropriatehardware or a noticeably slower interface if used on the wrong hardware. It is especiallyimportant to choose a CPU and video card which are current-generation if you useVectorworks on a very high resolution 30" monitor. Some users may be dissatisfied with30" monitors when used with older generation processors or video cards.

We strongly recommend that all users check that their video drivers are current. Mostfunctional problems have been traced to older video drivers during our testing.

More Information

For the latest information on our video card recommendations for Vectorworks 2009, go to the Vectorworks Knowledgebase and search for "opengl".

For the latest support information on Vectorworks 2009 go to the Vectorworks Knowledgebaseand search for "2009".

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Thanks Paul,

Well, I satisfy two criteria :-)

Despite the detail in these recommendations and the context in which they are framed, it still would have been difficult to judge if VW2009 would have worked acceptably on my system without actually trying it. Had it not been satisfactory I would now be hunting for new hardware on eBay.

Obviously NNA want users to have the best 2D/3D experience but depending on your specific needs, other options may be just as good.

It will be interesting to see if VW2010 makes significantly heavier demands on the hardware but the biggest performance improvements usually come from the code and not the chips.


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Hi Paul,

Thank you for your post on this subject. I do find, however, the recommendation of 128 MB VRAM a bit on the conservative side. Especially for Windows I believe VW 2009 might actually make good use of 256 MB VRAM. Or am I wrong here?

Another thing, that really puzzles me more, is the number of processors used. A few of my Windows clients complained about the speed of VW 2009. They told me VW 2009 only used 1 processor while rendering. So I did a bit of testing on my Mac and I found that VW 2009 uses only one processor when rendering in Radiosity. Final Quality Renderworks uses 4 processors. But that is a speedier process anyway.

Can you shed some light on this?

Kind regards,

Gerard Jonker

Mac OS X 10.5

Macintosh Pro 2 x 2.66 Ghz Dual



Vectorworks 2009 SP2 (build 99197)

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