Assembly Performance Best Practices

This article provides some of the best practices for getting large assemblies to perform faster. All of these settings may not be appropriate for your particular applications, but incorporating some of these options should allow your assembly to be loaded and be manipulated faster.


1) Image Quality

This setting is found it all 3 SolidWorks file types (part, assembly and drawing) and sets how accurate the graphical representation of your model will be. This is located in Tools > Options > Document Properties > Image Quality. The top slider bar is for the shaded modes (Shaded and Shaded with Edges) and dictates how many polygons will be used to represent your model. This can be seen in the preview of the page while sliding the bar to the extreme left and right. As this is a purely graphical setting, it only changes how the model is displayed on screen, but it is geometrically identical. For most applications, we recommend keeping this slider bar in the left third of the bar, which tends to give decent graphics without a significant effect on performance. If you need accurate model representation for something like a screenshot, you can temporarily increase the image quality.

The bottom slider bar is for the wireframe modes (Wireframe, Hidden Lines Removed and Hidden Lines Visible). If this is too low in a complex drawing, some lines may go missing.


2) View Settings


These settings on the Heads Up display add some realism to your model, but they are not necessary for simply modifying your work. These are RealView Graphics, Shadows in Shaded Mode, Ambient Occlusion, Perspective and Cartoon. RealView, Shadows, Ambient Occlusion and Perspective will add varying amounts of computational complexity to the rendering of your model. For the best speed we recommend turning these off when modeling.


3) Display Style


Also found on the Heads Up display, Display Style lets you pick between Shaded, Shaded with Edges, Wireframe, Hidden Lines Removed and Hidden Lines Visible. The default for most models is Shaded with Edges. If you need your model to load a little bit faster, switch to Shaded (without edges). Because SOLIDWORKS doesn't have to calculated the edge lines for the model, it tends to be better performance-wise.


4) Large Assembly Mode/Lightweight

Two quick options here to improve performance are opening the assembly in Large Assembly Mode or in Lightweight mode. Alternatively, you can set individual parts or subassemblies to be resolved as Lightweight. Full explanations of these modes are here:


5) SpeedPak

If you have a top level assembly that has other complex assemblies inside you may consider a speedpak configuration. This setting allows a subassembly to be loaded into an assembly with some of the components suppressed. A classic example of this would be a Car assembly where you have a motor assembly inserted. You can make a speedpak of the motor so you don't have all of the internal nuts, rings, pistons etc. loaded since you can't see them anyway.

A full explanation of this feature is here:


6) Large Design Review

If you only want to open up the assembly and look at it, take a screenshot, choose Large Design Review. This mode loads the graphics only so it is by far the fastest open mode. Since it is loading graphics only, you can't do much with it. This is a good way to open the model, rotate it and take a few screenshots.

A full explanation of this feature is here:


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