algorithmic modeling for Rhino

Grasshopper (and indeed Rhino) can be performance critical applications since both potentially deal with large amounts of data and computations. Although we aim to make our software runnable on low-end, over-the-counter computers, you may still run into serious performance issues. We have no strict recommendation or requirements, but here are the basic rules when it comes to picking hardware for Rhino and Grasshopper:

  1. Memory is key. If you deal with lots of data you need lots of memory to store it in. Since Windows itself (and any other applications that are running) require a lot of memory as well, you should make sure that you have sufficient RAM. Once you run out of RAM, Windows starts to use the hard-disk as virtual memory and when that happens you can say goodbye to performance. If you're running 64-bit Windows and a 64-bit version of Rhino, then there's really no upper limit to the amount of RAM you could install. I recommend getting at least 8GB of high speed RAM, but if you have money for more, go for it.
  2. Graphics cards are important for 3D display, but not much else. Unless you are running software which specifically uses the GPU for computations (a lot of modern Render engines for example) the only purpose of a video-card is to quickly display pixels on the screen. Be sure to get a fairly high-end card from a trusted manufacturer (ATI and NVidia basically). Do not, under any circumstance, settle for an Intel graphics card.
  3. Processors are tricky, so pay attention. It is important that you get as much bang for your buck as possible since computational speed is often a bottleneck. But remember that Grasshopper and (most of) Rhino are single-threaded applications* and therefore do not benefit from multiple cores. Do not be bamboozled by advertised processor speeds as those speeds may be given as a sum-total over all cores. I.e. an 8 core processor that has a total clock-rate of 6GHz will only give you 6/8 = 0.75GHz per core. If all you care about is Rhino and Grasshopper, you'd be better off getting a dual core @ 2GHz or even a single core at 1.8GHz

Some further points to take into account:

  • Grasshopper GUI is drawn using GDI+ which is not hardware accelerated. Grasshopper framerates are dependent mostly on processor speed.
  • Grasshopper 3D preview are drawn either in OpenGL or GDI, which are hardware accelerated. A better graphics card will improve performance here.
  • Grasshopper does not have heavy traffic to and from the disk. HD access speed is rarely a bottleneck.
  • Grasshopper requires .NET 3.5 while running on Rhino4 and .NET 4.0 or better while running on Rhino5. Be sure your windows supports these.
  • Rhino and Grasshopper sometimes run on virtual machines such as Parallels and VMWare, sometimes they don't. Even if they do, performance is typically pretty bad. Robert McNeel & Associates do not support these Operating Systems. 

This may change in the future, but not the foreseeable future.

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Replies to This Discussion

Regarding Memory. Does RAM frequency have much of an impact on the performance of Grasshopper or is it pretty much down to the GB? From reading performance tests for games it seems the difference provided by higher frequencies is negligible for that usage, equating to a percent or two. How about Grasshopper?

As an example, would one notice much of a difference in performance between an 8GB stick of 2133MHz DDR4 RAM and a 2400MHz stick? How about a 3200MHz stick? Assume Grasshopper is running on a 64bit system.

A follow-up question: Faster RAM frequencies are more expensive than slower. So, constrained by a limited budget, would it be better to upgrade to 8GB of 3200MHz DDR RAM (replacing an existing 8GB 2133MHz stick), or 16GB of 2133MHz DDR RAM (Adding an additional 8GB 2133MHz stick to the existing one)? From what I understand adding faster sticks to slow ones is kind of pointless as they are limited to the speed of the slowest stick, so I have not included that as an option.


I do not know, but I doubt the difference is large. If you're investing in memory you're better off getting larger L1/L2/L3 caches.

Right. I assumed so. I chose to upgrade to 16GB of 2133MHz DDR4. It certainly was a noticeable improvement, but I am already maxing out the RAM again with certain operations, particularly complex meshes. Looking into renting processing power to get over the computational hump for complex operations.

Dear friends please help
I am using HP Z6 workstation with intel 4108 1.8 GHz processor with 5Gb graphics card facing rendering issue
Hello David Rutten or other

"If all you care about is Rhino and Grasshopper, you'd be better off getting a dual core @ 2GHz or even a single core at 1.8GHz"

Does anybody know if this still counts for Grasshopper in Rhino 6?

Thank you






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