Product Design

Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 (First Look Review)

1 Dec, 2007 By: Ron LaFon

Performance enhancements make 3D modeling tasks 10 to 60 times faster.

Autodesk's catchphrase for the newly released Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 is very apt: create stunning 3D in less time. Highlights of this release includes the addition of easy-to-use user interface (UI) and scene-management features, as well as Review — a toolset that supports interactive previewing of shadows, the 3ds Max sun/sky environment, and architectural and design material settings. DWG import enhancements and improved file linking both serve to strengthen compatibility with other Autodesk design applications such as AutoCAD 2008, AutoCAD Architecture 2008, and Revit 2008.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 is a leading 3D modeling, animation, and rendering solution used by gamer producers, film and video artists, and design professionals. This release also incorporates numerous time-saving 3ds Max/Mental Ray workflow features, such as sky portal lighting options and a camera-based interface for exposure settings.

These new features are certainly welcome, but the performance enhancements are particularly noteworthy. For example, material assignment is as much as 10 times faster for 10,000 nodes, and the selection of thousands of objects is, in many cases, more than 10 times faster. Transform objects is as much as 60 times faster for 5,000 objects or more, and moving objects to hidden layers also is as much as 60 times faster. These improvements — combined with others in grouping, cloning, and array functions — add up to more high-quality work in less time.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2008
Autodesk 3ds Max 2008

Both 32- and 64-bit versions of Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 are included in the box. The 32-bit version runs under Microsoft Windows Vista or XP with Service Pack 2 or later installed; DirectX 10 is supported under Vista, and DirectX 9 is supported under XP. The 64-bit version of Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 runs under Microsoft Windows Vista or XP Professional x64. Some features are enabled only when used with graphics hardware that supports Shader Model 3.0 (Pixel Shader and Vertex Shader 3.0).

All versions support hardware-accelerated OpenGL and Direct3D, are optimized for the Microsoft Intelli-Mouse, and require a DVD-ROM drive for installation. Apple computers based on Intel processors and running Microsoft operating systems are not currently supported. The 3ds Max 2008 32-bit software requires a system with an Intel Pentium IV or AMD Athlon XP or higher processor with at least 512 MB of RAM (1 GB recommended). At least 500 MB of swap space is required, with 2 GB recommended. Visit the Autodesk Web site for the 64-bit requirements.

Data created with the 64-bit version of 3ds Max 2008 will load in the 32-bit version of 3ds Max 2008 and vice versa. Files and scenes saved in 3ds Max 9 are forward compatible with 3ds Max 2008, but if a scene has been saved with plug-ins using a prior version of 3ds Max, it may not load properly if the plug-ins have not been installed for 3ds Max 2008. The good news is that all existing 3ds Max 9 plug-ins (32- or 64-bit) will work with the respective versions of 3ds Max 2008. A trial version of Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 is available for download and evaluation at

Enhancements to Mental Ray and the 3ds Max 2008/Mental Ray workflow will help achieve your look faster.
Enhancements to Mental Ray and the 3ds Max 2008/Mental Ray workflow will help achieve your look faster.

Several usability features are certainly welcome, but the performance enhancements found in Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 alone make it worth the price of the upgrade. Highly Recommended.

Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor, and a computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use social media — such as Facebook or Twitter updates, YouTube videos, or discussion forums — for work-related purposes?
Yes, I regularly use such resources for work-related purposes.
Yes, but on a limited or infrequent basis.
No, because my employer frowns upon or prohibits doing so.
No, because I don’t have the time or interest.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition