LightWave 2018

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System Requirements

  • Hardware

Intel® Core™ 2 or better or AMD64 with SSE4 instruction set (Bulldozer onwards)
System RAM: 4 GB minimum

  • Operating System

Windows 7 64-bit or better


  • Graphics Card

NVIDIA® GeForce® 8400 series or ATI X1600 (minimum)
Minimum Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768 pixels
Minimum Recommended Screen Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixels

Upgrading From a Prior Version

If you already have a version of LightWave 3D installed on your computer, you will already have a hardware key (USB or parallel), also known as a “dongle”. This is no longer necessary for LightWave normally, but can still be useful if you are freelancing at a company that has strict network requirements for instance.

Other than the above noted issues regarding hardware keys, the same installation instructions apply for an upgrade as for new users. The installation program will not delete any existing objects, scenes, or images on your system unless an existing item has the same name and is in the same directory as an item that LightWave 2015 installs. For this reason, you should install LightWave 2018 in a new directory.

NewTek strongly recommends that you backup your system before you install LightWave 3D.

Software Installation

Download and install the most current current version of LightWave for which you have a license here: If you don’t already have an account you can download the trial version found here: and then create one.

Installation Options

Once you have agreed to the EULA, the type of installation is requested. The Render node entry is for installing on machines that won't be used for creating LightWave assets but merely for rendering them.

LightWave asks whether you wish to expand the Python runtime library. Users not interested in scripting can ignore this option. The next question about file extensions is checked by default and should only be unchecked if you are running multiple versions of LightWave. The advanced options for the Network Render Controller are the choice between an explicitly-launched Task Tray application or a Windows service that runs at startup. The last question pertains to how your machine will be referred to for network rendering. After these questions are answered or ignored, installation will commence.

Legacy Plugins

LightWave has a long and rich history and many plugins from that history. If you find yourself needing a legacy plugin for resurrecting an old project or similar, you will find a file called  in the support\plugins folder.

Running the Program

LightWave 3D is started the same way as any other program on the particular platform on which it’s installed. LightWave 3D has two major applications that work together: Layout and Modeler. Each program can be started independently; however, you may also access them by clicking the appropriate button on their respective interfaces.

It has been reported that occasionally, the necessary libraries for proper Python use do not get installed. If this is the case for you, installing the following two Microsoft visual c++ re-distributable modules required for pywin32 to work will resolve the problem: