Does anyone know if there is a major improvement in C3D 2014 over 2010? I work at a very small engineering firm and we are trying to determine if the upgrade is worth the cost.
Are you on subscription and already have it and are just wondering if you should install it? Then the answer is a wholehearted yes.
Did you let your subscription lapse (or never had it) and you need to upgrade? That's another story all together. C3D 2014 is much better then 2010 but is the cost worth the upgrade? How much is the cost and how much time (i.e.. money) will the upgrade save you? How much do you use it in a given work week? What size projects do you work on (data size, not necessarily area size)?
These are things you'll have to consider when making this decision.
How is it better? What can it do that 2010 can't? Mostly all I use for 2010 is fairly small surface creation just to verify our grading meets our client standards. For the bigger projects we do, I use the surface for cut and fill estimations. Are there any amazing drainage programs that come standard?
HELL YES its worth the upgrade. For starters, supported under new operating systems. Its also "past the great divide", where some major internal changes were made at the 2012 to 2013 upgrade like DWG version and dotNET version which will affect any third-party programs you are running on top. Also better point cloud support. And with subscription-only upgrades on the horizon its probably a good time to buy in for future-proofing your next upgrade.
Might also be worth checking out the suite packages; while some will yell out "STOP! You'll never use all of those programs!" never say never. The additional options for visualization from Infraworks and other tools can be highly useful in moving the business forward from where you are now. For example, we never did ANY rendering when I joined my current employer. Now we are doing stills on almost every project and more and more short animations for sales presentations. Just be aware of all the costs and licensing restrictions (1 suite license is ONE license, not 1+1+1+... for every product in the suite).
I'd concur with BrianHailey's and dgorsman's comments and add that you should review the minimum system requirements - they are very mnimum - for 2014 as is only available for 64 bit OS's (and you need a PC with some serious grunt to run packages in the IDSP but not so much for Civil standalone) so you may be looking at a hardware upgrade as well
Mostly all I use for 2010 is fairly small surface creation just to verify our grading meets our client standards.
That is not a valid reason to upgrade to 2014.
Are there any amazing drainage programs that come standard?
From your specifications above, I advise your firm to wait and preserve cash. Wait until we see more drainage program integration into the Civil 3D model environment.
The same bugs in QTO and the Road Rehab subassemblies, etc. from 2010 are still present in 2014.
Google, "Civil 3D 201x what's new"
My personal favorites are the new pline and hatch editing commands. Not sure if 2010 was a 64 bit app...C3D itself is more stable...others feel free to add to this list..
Is 14 worth the upgrade?
Functionally, surfaces and pipes haven't changed in how you create them in several versions. However, the underlying engine of AutoCAD as well as how Civil 3D functions perform calculations and refresh object labels is VASTLY improved.
So it comes down to time spent doing the same task. If you find that seemingly simple tasks take some time, it is highly probable that those same tasks in 2014 are light years faster.
With those thoughts in mind, you don't see those improvements if your hardware isn't at least a Windows 7 machine, 64 bit, with 8GB of RAM and a certified graphics card. So there might be more cost than just upgrading software.
My 2 cents.
A few more links to study. I'd also discuss this with your reseller - if they're any good.
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