Does linking objects via .blend files improve performance?

I have my first large (for me) project and I’ve done everything by exporting from AutoCAD as .obj files, then importing in to blender. The overall scene is starting to grow quite large, and even when working in just wireframe mode my less than a year old iMac is struggling.

If I were to do the same scene over by importing each .obj into its own blend file, then linking all of the blend files into the main blend file scene, would I notice any improvement in performance? I know at the very least it would make it easier on me for the sake of applying materials one object at a time.

Yeah I think that is a good workflow. To reference assets into a file from other files. Also if you have a lot of things duplicated or arrayed you can save a lot of ram by using group instances. Groups can be made from linked objects or you can even link groups. And then instance them as groups. Groups have a good workflow for linking because you don’t have to worry about breaking object names or mesh names. Anything a part of the group will get linked.

Here is a video on groups and group instances:

I work a lot with CAD data and I always use a linking workflow, it has saved my ass dozens of times e.g. when I realise at the very end of animation that some part gets zoomed in on more than planned and it needs higher resolution. Just reexport with highter tesselation and all the scenes are updated. Highly recommend this way to work.

Just remember that linked objects can’t be edited in the destination, while appended items can. This may not be an issue for you, since it appears you are using CAD data, so things should be modelled to scale an all, and shouldn’t need much editing once imported into your main scene. And like Richard said above, groups and group instances will help lighten the load on the scene.

Also if duplicating an object for the scene and you are not editing it alt+d vs shift+d would be another way to lighten the load. If you edit one of the duplicated alt+d objects they will all be edited.