Well, my main thought would be that I am not at all experienced with setting up the new pretesselated displacement.
And, that I doubt many others are yet either, so you may want to start a new thread about it in the main Maxwell forum to get things started.
For displacement in general though, yes, the subdivision of the geometry to which it is applied matters greatly, and this is most likely why you are not getting the results you see in the preview, in the actual render. By saying 'subdivision', I am not referring to the Subdivision
parameter in the UI (which was previously named Precision
, I think), but to the physical makeup of the mesh being displaced. SolidWorks will probably provide you with, say, a plane made of two triangles, or something along those lines, and it will not work well at all, as there is alot of math involved in interpolating the pixels of your map over those long distances. So you want to find a way of forcing a more highly subdivided mesh to begin with, and I might assume this to be the case whether you used on-the-fly, or pretesselated. SolidWorks meshing being so primitive, though, you may need to generate this geometry in another application (you mention lightwave); I do not recall there being any tricks for telling SolidWorks to use a 'minimum edge length' or similar.
One thing I can
tell you about pretesselated displacement is that it can easily eat up all the memory you've got in relatively short order. That's the whole reason why Maxwell's displacement has always been analytical; but there are not-insignificant gains to be made at render time by sparing the engine from doing all of that math, so depending on the situation, you may prefer to use one or the other. If you are running in 32-bits, I would probably recommend staying away from pretesselated, period, but that is just me -- when you run out of memory, it's game over.
As for crashing, I would be interested in knowing if you believe it to be due to out-of-memory or not. You could check that by monitoring the application (SolidWorks if you're using Fire, or maxwell.exe) in Task Manager. From what I've seen, you can pretty easily run out of memory even in a 64-bit application.