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On my machine Mac OS X x86 (64-bit) running on iMac (27-inch mid 2010), 2.93 GHz Intel Core i7, 8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3, Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5750 1024 MB, OS X El Capitan (10.11.6), it feels like Mathematica 11.1 is much slower to update graphics than Mathematica 8.0.

Consider plotting the third example in the documentation for RegionFunction:

SphericalPlot3D[1 + Sin[5 θ] Sin[5 ϕ]/5, {θ, 0, Pi}, {ϕ, 0, 2 Pi}, 
  Mesh -> None, RegionFunction -> (#6 > 0.95 &), 
  PlotStyle -> FaceForm[Orange, Yellow]]

enter image description here

As I rotate the image in Mathematica 11.1 (click+drag), it feels like the graphic updates are choppy, refreshing at around 20-30 FPS (Preferences->Appearance->Graphics settings set to No Antialiasing).

In Mathematica 8.0, the same graphic updates rotates much more smoothly, I'd say somewhere 40-50 FPS (Preferences->Appearance->Graphics settings set to No Antialiasing).

Is it slow on your machine as well? What settings can be changed to improve performance on Mathematica 11.1?

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    $\begingroup$ On my system (Mathematica v11.1.1 for Mac OS X x86 (64-bit) running on MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014), 3 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, Graphics: Intel Iris 1536 MB, macOS Sierra (10.12.5)), your graphics example updates smoothly even when Preferences | Appearance | Graphics is set to Highest Quality. $\endgroup$ – Bob Hanlon Jul 10 '17 at 4:47
  • $\begingroup$ @BobHanlon how does it compare with Mathematica 8 or 9 on your machine? $\endgroup$ – QuantumDot Jul 10 '17 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ Also updates smoothly in versions 8.0.4 and 9.0.1 $\endgroup$ – Bob Hanlon Jul 10 '17 at 22:46
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In 10.4, we did a major update of the OpenGL version. On my Linux machine, it is actually dramatically faster. On OSX, there seem to be performance regressions. In part, this is because Apple really hasn't invested in their OpenGL drivers in the last couple of years, shfiting their focus Metal.

Also, since V10, our visualization functions are doing much more. If you copy the V8 output to V11, you'll see that it rotates significantly faster (25-30% on my MBP) than the plot generated in V11.

You can experiment with this GraphicsOptions -> RenderingOptions in the Options Inspect, but the defaults are pretty good. I'll poke our 3D guru to see if he has any suggestions.

Update from 3D graphics guru: the source of this slowdown was identified and fixed in version 11.1.1, which is a free update from 11.1.0. On my system, this roughly triples the performance (from about 20 to about 60 FPS), so I'm reasonably confident it will work for you too.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you're right! It's really choppy in 10.4 on my mac. But the copied graphics from v8.0 into v10.4 or v11.1 doesn't really improve the performance. Do you know if there are plans to switch over to Metal engine? $\endgroup$ – QuantumDot Jul 11 '17 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @QuantumDot there are no current plans to switch to Metal. There are mutliple competing new standards (some cross-platform and some platform specific), each with their own pros and cons. We are continually evaluating them but are for now sticking with OpenGL. $\endgroup$ – Itai Seggev Jul 11 '17 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ Ok thanks, I tried playing with the GraphicsOptions->RenderingOptions but couldn't make it run faster. I'll wait and see what your 3D guru says. $\endgroup$ – QuantumDot Jul 12 '17 at 1:44

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