Building the Best Cinema 4D Workstation Computer [2021 Guide]

CG Director Author Alex Glawionby Alex Glawion   /  Updated   /   480 comments
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Building the Best Cinema 4D Workstation Computer [2021 Guide]

It’s always fun to research new PC-Parts to make your new Workstation or Computer run as fast as possible in your main workloads, such as Cinema 4D, without having to spend an arm and a leg.

There’s nothing more important for your long-term liquidity and ease of mind than working on a fast PC that does not hold you back. It keeps you from losing valuable time that would otherwise quickly eat into your margins.

I’ve put together this guide to building the best bang-for-the-buck Cinema 4D PC – or “Workstation” if it’s responsible for your income.

If you are using other software, as well, such as Blender, Sketchup, After Effects, or would just like to look at what a basic PC for 3D-Modeling & Rendering would look like, check this Article.

But first, let me say this:

Don’t buy a pre-built Workstation!

Don’t buy a pre-built Workstation, as these are ridiculously over-priced. A PC that consists of the same parts that I recommend in this article will cost you at least 30% more when buying Pre-Built.

Often even more than that.

Build your own Workstation

Building your PC yourself is probably the most fun part of getting a new Computer.

If you’ve never built a Computer before and are thinking: 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.

How Long Does it Take to Build a PC

Here’s our Beginner’s PC-Building Guide that is easy to follow and will get you started quickly.

How to build a PC -Step by Step

If you don’t want to build the PC yourself, many shops offer to put together the hardware you chose for some extra money. Or maybe you have a friend that’s into that sort of thing? I know I was when I was little.

That said, what I could do now, is just list a few PC-Parts and say: “Hey, buy that, it’s the best.”

Unfortunately:

  1. it’s not quite that easy and
  2. I’d like to try and teach you how to pick the right parts so you can do it yourself

Let’s start with the “It’s not quite that easy”:

The best Computer for Cinema 4D depends on your use case.

Are you mainly Animating? Modeling? GPU Rendering? CPU Rendering? Simulating? Texturing?

From all of those links, you can already tell that we have specialized Guides on almost every aspect of a 3D Artist’s Pipeline.

PC for Cinema 4D Viewport Animation Modeling

This list could go on, so what I’ll do here, is configure a Workstation that makes most of the features an average Cinema 4D User uses, run the best it can.

With “most features,” 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

In the list above, you’ll notice that I focused on making active tasks run the best they can – These are tasks that you work on actively while sitting in front of your PC.

Passive tasks, such as rendering, are tasks that the Computer can do on its own, without requiring interaction from you.

Cinema 4D Render Stages - CPU Rendering

Why this differentiation?

Take a look at our 3D Modeling & Rendering Guide here for an in-depth answer. To summarize, it has to do with:

  1. specific PC-Parts (e.g., the CPU) that are optimized for specific workloads, and
  2. your time being that much more valuable than your PC’s work hours.

So here goes:

Best Hardware Parts for Cinema 4D

The Best CPU for Cinema 4D: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X, 5950X, or Intel Core i9 10900K

Wait, What?

A 10 to 16 Core CPU for a 3D Software? Couldn’t you easily get an AMD Threadripper CPU that has up to 64 cores with better rendering performance…?

You could get such a CPU-Render-Monster, but you most likely shouldn’t.

Cinema 4D CPU

Ryzen 3600 CPU in its Socket

Let me explain why:

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

If this Computer you’re building is your Workstation for actively working on your projects, you will want the fastest feedback and lag-free Viewport in Cinema 4D possible.

A slow Viewport and lagging Clicks are something you want to avoid entirely or reduce as much as possible. Project quality is all about iteration, and if you can’t navigate your Scene quickly enough or play back an animation in real-time, you’re going to waste a lot of time.

The Computer should not slow you down when actively interacting with it.

You will want real-time playback when animating your characters, sculpting on millions of polygons, or set-dressing some hundreds of thousands of trees into your 3D environment.

Every split second here counts.

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

Single core vs multi core performance

Why just a single CPU Core?

Because many processes heavily depend on hierarchical chains and can only be stepped through one at a time and not offloaded to different Cores.

Cinebench Scores - Single Core Hierarchy

Hierarchy of Execution (simplified)

As CPUs have temperature and power limitations, this is how it usually is set up: A CPU with fewer cores can clock very high, and a CPU with a lot of cores has to clock fairly low, so it doesn’t get too hot or draw too much power.

Thankfully, this still leaves us with some great CPUs to pick from:

The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X has a 3.4 GHz base clock and a 4.9 GHz Boost Clock to make your viewport as responsive as currently possible. (Check our Cinema 4D Viewport Performance Benchmark Rankings here)

It’s also a CPU with one of the highest Cinebench Single-Core Scores on the market.

AMD Ryzen vs Intel CPU

The AMD Ryzen 9 5900X and Ryzen 7 5800X, although sporting fewer Cores, offer similar speeds but come at better price points.

Highly recommended!

Memory (RAM) for Cinema 4D: 32+ GByte DDR4

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

When it comes to RAM be sure to check out our guide on buying the Best RAM for AMD Ryzen CPUs.

I recommend the Corsair LPX Vengeance 2x16GB 3200MHz RAM Kit as the Corsair Vengeance Brand has been proven many times to be among the highest valued RAM Modules you can get for any platform – be it Intel or AMD.

You’ll also be able to install these Modules in Small Form Factor PCs with little room, as they are very low profile.

Corsair Vengeance LPX

Image-Source: Corsair

To maximize your performance when choosing RAM be sure to get high-clocking RAM with low Latency.

Performance Improvement through RAM Modules with lower latency and higher clock speeds

3200Mhz or 3600Mhz Kits are the standard nowadays and will squeeze some extra bit of performance out of your system compared to lower clocked RAM (2400, 2666Mhz).

Your final Memory Size should be in a Kit (sold together in one package), as Modules within a Kit are pre-tested in the factory.

Mixing RAM kits can lead to compatibility issues

That way, you don’t risk incompatibilities with mixing Modules of different Kits, even if they are of the exact same type. (e.g., buying two 16GB Kits for a total of 32GB instead of a single 32GB Kit can lead to issues as well!)

Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti or RTX 3070

For most Cinema 4D Users, there is no need to buy an overpriced PRO-Level Workstation Graphics Card (e.g. Nvidia Quadro).

The bottleneck in Cinema 4D Viewport Performance is almost always the single-core CPU performance. This means “Gaming” Video Cards such as the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti will be more than enough for everyday workloads.

Nvidia RTX 2070

Image-Source: Nvidia

You really only need Quadro or other “Pro” GPUs when you rely on either official software certification or official support from the application’s vendor.

This, though, is really only interesting for people working in large corporations or using Software such as Solidworks that come with features that make use of Quadro GPUs.

For Cinema 4D, stick with a Mainstream GPU. (Nvidia GeForce GTX, RTX, AMD Radeon RX)

GPU Rendering in Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D comes with various Renderers. Whether you want to use CPU or GPU Rendering in Cinema 4D depends on your use-cases.

Cinema 4D’s Internal and Physical Renderers are CPU-based and are still very popular, although they lack some features that have been included in third-party renderers for years.

More and more Freelancers and smaller Studios are using GPU Render Engines, though, nowadays, and after AMD’s ProRender was a popular choice for a while, it has recently been replaced by Redshift as the go-to GPU Renderer for Maxon’s Cinema 4D.

GPU render engines

If you plan on rendering with your GPU (Redshift, Octane, Vray, Cycles …), you should consider a second,  third, or even fourth GPU.

You can also get a single higher-tier GPU such as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 or even the RTX 3090.

Multi GPU for Rendering

Get a quick overview of how powerful different GPUs are with the Redshift Benchmark List here.

The important part here is how much VRAM you will need to render your scenes and if your render engine of choice can use system memory if the scene doesn’t fit into your GPU’s VRAM.

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 currently offers the highest value in many GPU rendering benchmarks and pulls ahead in performance per dollar in Octanbench.

Highly recommended!

AMD has GPU offerings too, and if you use ProRender or another GPU Render Engine that supports AMD’s GPUs (there aren’t many), grab one or more Radeon RX 6800XT’s and you’re set!

However, do note that Nvidia GPUs are currently in the performance lead, even in Render Engines that support AMD GPUs.

Motherboard for Cinema 4D

If you’re looking to buy an Intel CPU such as the Intel Core i7 10700K or Intel Core i9 10900K, the MSI Tomahawk Z490 is a great LGA-1200 Motherboard choice that supports CPU overclocking and up to 2 GPUs. It has 4 RAM Slots for a maximum of 128GB of RAM. You’ll find more Motherboard recommendations for Intel Mainstream CPUs in our Intel Motherboard Guide.

Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite

Image-Source: Gigabyte

If you’re considering going with AMD’s CPU offerings (e.g. 5700X, 5900X, 5950X), take a look at the MSI Unify X570 which is an excellent Motherboard that isn’t too expensive.

More recommendations can be found in our AMD Motherboard Guide here.

Hard Drive / SSD

You should absolutely consider an M.2 NVME SSD such as the Samsung 970 PRO/ EVO. These are blazingly fast and you’ll be thankful for the extra performance especially when you’re also doing some Compositing or Video Editing.

Our NVMe Guide will help you choose the right drive for your needs.

Best SSD for Photo Editing

Cinema 4D itself doesn’t heavily rely on Storage Drive performance, though (mainly just for loading and saving scenes, Project Files and rendered Images), so you could easily save some money here and go with a slightly slower Samsung 860 QVO SSD, which is still very fast.

Case

I recently installed these parts into a Corsair Carbide 275Q Case, which I am very happy with. If you are thinking about adding 3+ GPUs though, you will want to look for a bigger case such as the Fractal Design XL R2.

 

 

 

Case Airflow

Image-Source: Corsair

Power Supply for Cinema 4D

We haven’t talked about Power Supplies yet, mainly because they won’t impact Cinema 4D’s performance at all. There still are a few things to keep in mind, though, as your components last longer when powered by a quality PSU.

Because a PSU delivers the power to all of your other components, it comes with a lot of cables that can clutter the inside of your PC if they are not hidden away or “cable-managed” nicely.

I recommend buying a modular Power Supply which lets you detach any cables that you don’t need in your specific Build.

Generally, shopping for a PSU is quite easy. Make sure the PSU has enough wattage to power all of your components – You can calculate the wattage you need on beQuiet’s wattage calculator.

Brands to look out for are Corsair, Seasonic, beQuiet, and EVGA.

Conclusion

This Workstation will also give you good CPU & GPU Render Performance, but this PC was configured as a Workstation and not a render-node, meaning: “As little delay as possible while actively working on Scenes”.

So, good for Rendering and excellent for active work.

Active work can include a lot of different disciplines and we have specific PC Build Guides on each of them:

That said, here’s what we recommend specifically for general Cinema 4D workloads:

Cinema 4D PC Build

Here is an excellent “all-rounder” Cinema 4D PC Build I put together for you with all the compatible parts:

Let’s go through this real quick:

CPU: The AMD Ryzen 5900X is right in the sweet spot of Cost and Performance. You’ll get high single-core performance while still being able to make use of 12 Cores.

Cooler: A strong third-party Cooler such as this beQuiet Dark Rock Pro 4 will allow your CPU to run at higher frequencies and boost higher and more often. This means burst workloads such as active work in modeling or animation will see increased performance.

Motherboard: The MSI Tomahawk X570 is the Motherboard we recommend most often. It’s a great deal, while still sporting all the X570 Features you need.

Dedicated Graphics Card: The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 is the value-winner in the sub 600$ range. You’ll see excellent viewport performance and GPU Rendering Performance from it. Pair this with a second or third GPU if you need more performance.

Multi-GPU Support

Beware though that you’ll need another Motherboard for full Multi-GPU Support.

Memory: 32GB of G-Skill Memory should keep you satisfied for most Project complexities within Cinema 4D. If you regularly have multiple RAM-demanding Applications open, though (I am looking at you, After Effects) you might want to get 64GB from the start, though.

Storage: The PCIe-SSD Samsung 970 EVO is an M.2 NVMe SSD with over 3GB/s read and write speeds. It’s a value component, again. If you’re looking for more performance, consider a PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD. 1TB of long term storage space will enable you to save a lot of project files.

PSU: Corsair’s a great Brand to buy PSUs from. 550W is sufficient for the components in the above-listed PC, but if you’d like to be more future-proof, consider buying a 750W or even 850W PSU, so you can upgrade to more powerful components.

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

Now, let’s take a look at what the best PC configuration for 3D Rendering would be. If you are looking for the fastest CPU-render-speed the Processor configuration will have to go in a different direction, namely:

The maximum number of CPU Cores.

The AMD Threadripper CPUs such as the 24-Core 3960X, 32-Core 3970X, or the 64-Core 3990X (Review) have excellent Multi-Core Performance for Rendering.

I highly recommend these CPUs, and they have an outstanding price/performance ratio compared to Intel CPUs.

AMD Threadripper 3990X Heat Spreader Bare Photo

The 3990X inside our Review System

Check this Link to find the best-performing CPUs for Rendering in Cinema 4D. (Sort the table by Multi-Core Score)

Here is a Render-Focused Build I put together for you, with high Multi-Core Performance at a relatively affordable price:

 

Custom PC-Builder

If you want to get the best parts within your budget you do take a look at our Web-Based PC-Builder Tool.

Select the main purpose that you’ll use the computer for and adjust your budget to create the perfect PC with part recommendations that’ll fit within your budget.

Over to you

What kind of Computer are you building? Feel free to ask for Build Advice in the comments and our expert Forum!

Find a new friend on the CGDirector Forum! Expert Advice & PC-Build Planning with a warm and friendly Community! :)

Alex Glawion - post author

Hi, I’m Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist, Motion Designer and Compositor.

I’ve built a multitude of Computers, Workstations and Renderfarms and love to optimize them as much as possible.

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I’ll do my best to help out!

480
Comments
Also check out our Forum for feedback from our Expert Community.

Herschel

Hi Alex, this article was a tremendous help but I don’t see any way to select good power supples. Can I just buy anything with as much or slightly more wattage as the psu calculator shows?

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

Hey Herschel,
We are currently working on a in-depth psu guide, but basically, you can just pick a good brand such as beQuiet, Seasonic or Corsair, calculate your required wattage and then add some headroom to it, yes. If you plan on doing some upgrading in the future or add another GPU to your build, add at least 300+ W of additional power to it.

Cheers,
Alex

Cameron Miller

Hi Alex, this forum and article has helped me massively! I am about to move forward with my first PC build and would appreciate your feedback massively. Please let me know if there are any obvious errors or questionable choices. I am planning to use Cinema 4D and Octane and looking for a build for around £3,500 – £4,000 max.

CPU: AMD Threadripper 3960X 3.8 GHz 24-Core Processor

CPU Cooler: NZXT Kraken X63 98.17 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler

MOTHERBOARD: ASRock TRX40 Creator ATX sTRX4 Motherboard

MEMORY (RAM): Corsair Vengeance LPX 64 GB (4 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory

STORAGE SSD: Crucial BX500 1 TB 2.5″ Solid State Drive

GRAPHICS CARD: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8 GB Founders Edition Video Card

PSU: Corsair RM (2019) 850 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply

CASE: Phanteks Eclipse P500A D-RGB ATX Mid Tower Case

The main areas of my concern:

– Is there enough RAM or is there a way I can add an additional (2x16GB) to get it to 96GB?
– Is (AMD Threadripper 3960X 3.8 GHz 24-Core Processor) ok instead of the 32 core?

I hope your well and thanks so much in advance!

Cameron

Uli

Hi Alex,

thanks a lot for this great guide. At the age of seven won a LEGO contest, so I consider myself prepared enough to assemble my first PC.

Today I work as a visual artist and my question: I work with Cinema 4D and Photoshop as my main softwares. My renderings are stills/single frames, very large, and I am using Cinemas Physical Renderer. I might change to octane, but for certain clients I would like to stick to the Physical Renderer. This is why I plan to go for the Ryzen Threadripper 3970 X or even 3990 X (still have to get used to the price). Would you recommend this CPUs also for Photoshop instead of a Single Core CPU with higher clock speed?

Thanks, kind Regards,
Uli Staiger

Armand DIAMVINZA

Hi Alex Great article. I have been reading through your website. I finally saved up for my next workstation. I will mostly be using Cinema 4D, Vray, Corona, Unreal Engine and Houdini for architecture. The issue I am facing right now is building my own is way more expensive than buying a pre-built. I live in France. Any recommendations on how to build a powerful system between 1500 – 2000 euros?

Robert Clarke

Hi Alex,

Thanks so much for this post. Really looking forward to trying to build my own Workstation. Would this be an effective machine for editing video also or are there any additional components required to make it also effective in this sense?

Kind regards,

Robert Clarke