Building the best Cinema 4D Workstation Computer (Updated)

12 October 2016

Last Updated November 2017.

It’s always fun to research new hardware components to make your new Workstation or Computer work as fast as possible in your desired Programs without having to spend an arm and a leg.

Making sure your hardware is not slowing you down when spending valuable time on the Computer is of utmost importance.

This is why I have put together this Guide to building the best bang-for-the-buck Cinema 4D PC and Workstation.

This Guide can also read as: Best Blender PC or Best 3ds Max PC, Maya, XSI, You name it, since these 3D Animation Software Packages all tend to work very similarly! But I will focus on a Cinema 4D PC here.

But first, let me say this:

Don’t buy a pre-configured Workstation!

Don’t buy a pre-configured Workstation. They are ridiculously over-priced. The Computer Parts I recommend in this Article will cost you roughly 1750$. The same configuration on Boxx.com for example will cost you over 5000$. Go have a look yourself, be sure to Input the same specs as listed here.

Build your own Workstation!

Building it yourself is probably the most fun part in getting a new Computer.

If you have never built a Computer before you might think: I don’t know how! I might end up breaking something.

Let me tell you this: If you know how to put together a Lego set, you can build a Computer. Here is how.

If you don’t think you want to build it yourself, many shops offer to put together the hardware you chose for some extra money.

That said, what I could do now, is just list a few Hardware parts and say: “Hey, buy that, it’s the best.” Unfortunately its not quite that easy.

What the best Computer for Cinema 4D is, really depends on your use case. Are you mainly animating? Modeling? GPU Rendering? CPU Rendering? Simulating? Texturing?

This List could go on and on so what I will try to do here when People ask me what the best Computer for 3D Animation, the best Workstation for 3D Animation or specifically the best Computer for Cinema 4D is,  is configure a Workstation that makes most of the stuff an average C4D User uses, run the best it can. With “most of the stuff” I mean:

  • Animating: Great performance
  • Modeling: Great performance
  • Texturing: Great performance
  • Simulating: Good average performance
  • CPU Rendering: Good average performance
  • GPU Rendering: Good average performance

So here goes:

The Best CPU for Cinema 4D: Intel i7 8700K

Wait, What?

A 6-Core CPU for a 3D Software? Couldn’t I easily get an AMD Ryzen or Threadripper chip that has 8+ Cores and much better multi-core performance for the same price…?, you might ask.

You could, but you shouldn’t. And here is why:

Your work hours are much more expensive and valuable than the computers’ work hours. You can easily bill a client tenfold for your own working hours compared to your computers render-time.

If this Computer will be your Workstation for actively working on your projects, you will want as fast a feedback and as fast a viewport as possible.

Slow viewport and lagging clicks is something we want to avoid or reduce as much as possible or you will end up getting frustrated, work slower and lose motivation.

The Computer should not slow you down when actively interacting with it. You will want realtime playback when animating your characters, sculpting on millions of polygons or set-dressing some hundreds of thousands of trees into your environment. Every split second here counts.

Many Cinema 4D features like deformers, generators and cloners are calculated on the processor using only a single CPU-core. This is where you will want the fastest possible core speed.

The Intel i7 i7 8700K has 3.7 GHz base clock and 4,7 GHz Turbo to make the viewport refresh as fast as currently possible. It is the fastest single core CPU currently on the market. With decent cooling, you can also overclock it.

RAM: 32+ Gbyte DDR4 (Look for high Clock Speeds, low CL latency)

RAM is quite cheap nowadays RAM prices have unfortunately increased in the last couple of months but 32GB helps when you have large scenes (high polycounts, displacements…) and textures, or multiple applications open at the same time.

Graphics Card: Nvidia GTX 1060

There is no need to get an overpriced Nvidia Workstation Graphics Card (Quadro). Since the bottleneck in viewport speed is almost always the single-core cpu speed, a “Gaming” Graphics Card such as the Nvidia GTX 1060 8GB will be more than enough.

GPU Rendering

If you are planning on rendering with your GPU (Redshift3D, Octane, VRAY RT …) you should consider the Nvidia GTX 1070 ti 8GB, 1080 8GB or even the 1080ti 11GB.

The important part here is how much VRAM you need to render your scene and can your render engine use system memory if the scene is larger than the VRAM.

The GTX 1070 ti and 1080 have dropped in price quite a bit and you get 2432 – 2560 cuda cores of power on 8GB of VRAM.

Mainboard

Asus Prime Z370-A is a great LGA-1151 (v2) Motherboard choice that supports CPU overclocking. It has 4 RAM Slots for a max of 64GB of RAM.

HardDrive

Definitely go with the new M.2 form-factor such as the Samsung 960 PRO/ EVO. These are blazingly fast. Be sure your Motherboard has a socket that supports pcie speeds on M.2. (The Asus Prime Z370-A has this support)

Cinema 4D does not heavily rely on Hard Drive performance, so you could easily save some money here and go with a slower Samsung 850 EVO SSD, which is still very fast.

Case

I recently built this hardware configuration into a Corsair Carbide 400Q Case, which I am very happy with. If you are thinking about adding 3+ GPUs though you will want a bigger case.

Conclusion

This Workstation will give you roughly 1360 R15 Cinebench Points, which is still excellent for CPU-rendering. This PC though was configurated as a Workstation and not a render-node, meaning: “As little delay as possible while actively working on Scenes”.

Cinema 4D Render-Node or Rendering Workstation / Best Computer or Workstation for 3D Rendering

Now lets look a bit into what the best PC configuration for 3D Rendering would be. If you are looking for fastest CPU-render-speed the Processor configuration will have to go into a different direction: Max CPU Cores (e.g. Dual Xeon E5 2630v3 or i9 7900X – 7980XE), but this will then be slower for actively working, Animating/Modeling/Texturing in the viewport and more expensive.

The AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs  such as the 1700 or the 1800X and AMD Threadripper CPUs have great Multi-Core Performance. Highly recommended and a great price/performance ratio compared to Intel CPUs!

Check this Link for CPU Single and Multi Cinebench Benchmark Scores of all modern CPUs: http://cbscores.com/index.php?sort=single

 

In your opinion, what is the best Hardware Configuration for Cinema 4D? Have you ever built a Workstation yourself? Share your knowledge in the Comments!

Alex - post author

Hi, I am Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist / Motion Designer and Compositor currently living in Frankfurt, Germany.

I have built a multitude of Workstations and Renderfarms for all kinds of 3D related use cases and love to optimize them as much as possible.

After working in the 3D/VFX Industry on-staff for several years, I have recently gone freelance and am having a blast!

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I'll try my best to help out. :)

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Parthibaraj rajasekar
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Parthibaraj rajasekar

Sir, will this configuration also work best for after effects and premiere pro?

Aivaras
Guest

It’s sad but true that peeps spend mega bucks on 8, 10 core cpus to do C4D/AE work when an overclocked quad core machines regularly outpace them.
@Parthibaraj – the recommended spec is true for AE but Premiere will benefit from as much CUDA or Opencl performance as you can throw at it – therefore a 1070 or even a 1080 will be better, specially if you’re editing/grading uhd.

tov
Guest
tov

are there any website that could help me find all these parts? like a PC simulator ?

rogerC
Guest

Cheers for the article, really great help (as one abotu to switch from Mac to PC). Can you suggest a case?

What do you think of this setup?
I was told the case is too small and will not work well with air-flow.

FRACTAL DEFINE R5 BLACK QUIET MID-TOWER CASE
Intel® CoreTMi7 Quad Core Processor i7-7700k (4.2GHz) 8MB Cache
ASUS® PRIME Z270-P: ATX, LG1151, USB 3.0, SATA 6GBs
64GB Corsair VENGEANCE DDR4 3000MHz (4 x 16GB)
8GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 1070 – DVI, HDMI, 3 x DP – GeForce GTX VR Ready! 240GB HyperX SAVAGE 2.5″ SSD, SATA 6 Gb/s (upto 560MB/sR | 530MB/sW) 2TB SATA-III 3.5″ HDD, 6GB/s, 7200RPM, 64MB CACHE
24x DUAL LAYER DVD WRITER ±R/±RW/RAM
CORSAIR 450W VS SERIESTM VS-450 POWER SUPPLY
1 x 1 Metre UK Power Cable (Kettle Lead)
Corsair H60 Hydro Cooler w/ PCS Liquid Series Ultra Quiet Fans
ARCTIC MX-4 EXTREME THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY COMPOUND
ONBOARD 6 CHANNEL (5.1) HIGH DEF AUDIO (AS STANDARD)
10/100/1000 GIGABIT LAN PORT (Wi-Fi NOT INCLUDED)
2 PORT (2 x TYPE A) USB 3.0 PCI-E CARD + STANDARD USB PORTS
Genuine Windows 10 Home 64 Bit – inc DVD & Licence
United Kingdom – English Language
Windows 10 (64-bit) Home DVD with paper sleeve
FREE 30 Day Trial of Microsoft® Office® 365
BullGuardTM Internet Security – Free 90 Day License inc. Gamer Mode Microsoft® Edge (Windows 10 Only)

Phil
Guest

[Solved – See Comment Replies] Great build, but worth mentioning that the ASUS Prime Z270A comes shipped with 0505 BIOS which aren’t compatible with the i7-7700K. You’ll need to get the BIOS updated – which is kinda tricky if it doesn’t boot.

Phil
Guest

Hey Alex,
Just wanted to thank you again for your sound advice. I must admit I was a little worried when the cost of this build came in so cheap. But this is an epiphany for me, my new workstation absolutely rocks! Files that clogged up and crashed my old mac pro are absolutely fine on this build, I have struggled for so long.
There’s so much advice out there about building machines with Quadros and multi processor CPU’s for 3D work, costing shed loads of money, it was really refreshing to read your no-nonsense article.
My build came in at under £1.9K – absolutely stoked!
Really grateful to you.
Best
Phil

Polystorm
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Polystorm

Great post, this really helps me in spec’ing machines for my department as we are planning on crossing the fence from the Apple world.

I do have a question though. Since the 4.5GHz 7700s are faster than higher core counts, what about the upcoming iMac Pro which is up to 18 cores and 4.5 GHz (they call it “Turbo Boost”). This sounds like it solves both problems of render speeds and viewport performance. For me, that and the fact that my workflow is way faster in the OSX environment sounds like a win/win/win situation. Or is that wishful thinking?

Tony Cappello
Guest

Great article Alex. I am currently working on the new Subway restaurant for Subway HQ. I built a killer model of the entire restaurant including bathrooms, back room, and dining room, sub area etc. Most of the projects I have built out were smaller in scale and I had high hopes once I got rolling on this. About 2-3 weeks into the project and looking pretty great, I hit a wall and started having memory issues, it stopped me flat out, so now I am trying to backtrack so I can at least get something to my team. I am going to try an have them build me a new machine and this article helped big time! If you have any other articles you might be able to post regarding these issues, please do,learning more and more about the systems, tricks in the software, cards, memory etc only makes us stronger as designers, keep up the great work.

Atlan Frédéric
Guest
Atlan Frédéric

Congratulation for your contribution.
I know it’s not the best but I am obliged to work with a laptop.
Which one should I buy? With 16 or 32 Go ram?
Think you verymuch for your help.
HP ZBook 15 G4
Lenovo ThinkPad P51
Dell Precision 5520 UHD
msi we63

Tahseen
Guest
Tahseen

really great article, very great help, thanks alot, do you prefer i7 or xeon for x-particles and octane workflow? and what do you suggest for a motherboard which has 2 sockets for GPU?

trackback

[…] the investment, which is reasonable, because more cores facilitate faster rendering. As Alex from CGDirector explains however, the fastest response time while actually working on a project is far more […]

J W
Guest

Hey Alex thanks for the post, I’m currently moving over from mac to allow me to use Octane. I am however, unsure what kind of cooling I would need for the above build? Whats a good thrifty option? Thanks for your time.

J W
Guest

From what I can tell GPU’s / Graphics cards are very expensive right now due to the bitcoin mining craze, do you have any advice as to how I can combat this (being completely new to building a PC) The Nvidia GTX 1070 for example is sold out and totally inaccessible as I write this. Thanks for your time!

Rich
Guest
Rich

Great article Alex, thanks. Just wondering what sort of power unit I’ll need if I use this setup. Cheers.

Yogin
Guest
Yogin

Sir, as of now GTx 1060 and gtx 1070 prices are skyrocketting, is it worth to Invest in Quadro series? for Workstation or should wait for price drop in GTX card

Solcarlus
Guest
Solcarlus

Really great post.

Based on it, it would have been a no brainer for me to pick an i7-8700k for the config I’m about to build if I did not need to rely on 128gb of RAM at the same time to get really comfortable when actively working in Houdini, C4D and After Effects (-> my main objective).

In this 128gb ram context, would it then make sense in your view to then opt either for the i7-7820x or the i9-7900x as second best picks for the same purpose/objective?

1) If so:

a) any preference between the 2? Among other things, the i9 is notably more expensive than the i7 but seems to bring proportionally more rendering speed on the table (which may still be welcome even if not the main objective)

b) any insights/opinion on a possible unstability (crashes) reported on these 2 CPUs with the Adobe softwares (can’t remember where I read that but I may remember (and can be mistaken here) this could be possibly due to the high temperatures these 2 CPUs are said to generate and was possibly mitigated if not solved for some reason when used with the motherboard Asrock X299 Extreme4 (which mobo I cannot unfortunately get for commercial reasons anyway)).

2) If not, any other alternate CPU you’d have in mind?

Thanks a lot in advance

Julia
Guest
Julia

I am interested by the answers on this one. Could anybody reply please?

Matt
Guest

Hey Alex, I am a musician who is looking to invest in a serious visuals rig (budget around 2k) and I’m planning to use Cinema 4D to create clips as well as Premiere to organize and render music video content. BUT, my main mission is to use Touch Designer live to generate and manipulate material made in C4D.

From what I’ve seen having more cores can be great for render times in content creation, but Touch Designer’s website (Derivative is the company) also says that having multiple cores is beneficial to doing fluid manipulation and generation of visuals. I do believe that (as you mentioned in your article) having a smaller amount of fast cores with a great graphics card is what’s most important., but am wondering if you could advise me on what combination you think is good with a budget of around 2k, with the priority being use of Touch Designer and live sourcing MIDI in real time.

I’m planning to put quite a strain on the computer with Touch Designer live since I have a lot of pressure sensitive foot controllers that I use for effects in my music that I’d like to link to generative (new content) and triggered (pre-existing content) for visuals.

Any advice here is much appreciated, as I am new to the visuals world and have only really worked in Resolume on a macbook 2012 (lol).

Future More Mobile Rig?
With the budget only for 1 super computer I would most likely bring it to the gigs at first, and eventually purchase a macbook less prone to crashing alongside an external GPU unit, unless you’d advise otherwise.

Colin
Guest

‘m building a render node which will be purely used for Cinema4D & Vray. I don’t need a fancy graphics card (yet) (i don’t think!) i just need to be able to switch it on, hit render from my main machine and let the Threadripper do it’s stuff.

I know this has all probably been discussed a thousand times but I’ve looked at so many videos and read loads of build descriptions but find it hard to reach a decision about certain parts due to peoples different opinions.

The thing i am struggling with the most is the ram, can i use 3000mhz DDr4 or should i really go higher?
I’m going to add 64gig of ram which should be enough, obviously i can pick up 8×8 sticks cheaper than 4×16 but are there major benefits to running 4×16 apart from having room to upgrade?

Can anyone recommend an RGB/LED 64gig kit that will suit the Threadripper?

Here is my parts list so far…. https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/list/VpFjXP