Best Workstation Computer for 3D Modeling and Rendering

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex  ⋮   ⋮   534 comments
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The most interesting thing about looking for a Computer or Workstation for 3D Modeling and Rendering, is the fact that 3D Modeling and (CPU) Rendering are two very different use cases.

Both use the Hardware of a Computer in very different ways!

Before we dive into it, take a quick look at the Table of contents here, in case you prefer to skip the theory and want to know my recommendations immediately:

CPU Rendering

CPU Rendering uses all cores of your CPU 100% of the time while rendering.

This means, if you’ll use your Workstation just for 3D Rendering Images and Animations, or encoding Videos for that matter, you would be looking for a Computer with a CPU, that has as many cores as possible

Even if these cores are clocked relatively low.

This is because the render engine assigns a so-called “bucket” to each core in your CPU. Each individual core will render its bucket and then get a new bucket once it’s finished rendering the old one.

Perfect for Multi-Core CPUs.

CPU Rendering CPU Cores Buckets

3D Modeling

Contrary to rendering, 3D modeling is an active working process.

You (usually) sit in front of your computer and interact with the 3D Software.

Actively using a Software utilizes the Hardware it is running on in entirely different ways.

Take this example: I am modeling a car. That Car consists of Polygons that will have modifiers and Deformers applied to it, such as Mirroring, Cloning, Bending Objects and so on.

Your computer has to go through some serious calculations to process all this, but the key here is that these calculations are mainly done on only a SINGLE CPU Core.

Why? Because the Scene is built according to a certain hierarchy. A CPU has to work its way through this hierarchy step by step.

It can’t skip or off-load certain steps to other cores, because most of the steps depend on each other!

hierarhcyOrderOfExecution

What does this mean?

It means quite frankly that having lots of CPU-Cores will do nothing towards speeding up your modeling and does not usually make your Viewport faster.

Long explanation short:

For Modeling and actively working in your 3D Scene,  you would need to get a CPU that has the highest Clock Speed possible.

It doesn’t matter if it only has a few Cores, as most of these Cores won’t be used for modeling.

Take a look at this page to find the highest clocking CPUs currently available.

Same is also valid for working on Computer Animations or for running a CAD Workstation. A high-Clocking CPU will almost always outperform a high-Core-count CPU.

If you had to pick one: Which do you consider your main 3D Software?
  • Blender 27%, 1322 votes
    1322 votes 27%
    1322 votes - 27% of all votes
  • 3ds Max 24%, 1156 votes
    1156 votes 24%
    1156 votes - 24% of all votes
  • Maya 16%, 772 votes
    772 votes 16%
    772 votes - 16% of all votes
  • Cinema 4D 13%, 633 votes
    633 votes 13%
    633 votes - 13% of all votes
  • Revit 6%, 314 votes
    314 votes 6%
    314 votes - 6% of all votes
  • Zbrush 5%, 266 votes
    266 votes 5%
    266 votes - 5% of all votes
  • Other 4%, 197 votes
    197 votes 4%
    197 votes - 4% of all votes
  • Houdini 3%, 128 votes
    128 votes 3%
    128 votes - 3% of all votes
  • Modo 1%, 54 votes
    54 votes 1%
    54 votes - 1% of all votes
  • Artlantis 0%, 19 votes
    19 votes
    19 votes - 0% of all votes
  • Katana 0%, 9 votes
    9 votes
    9 votes - 0% of all votes
Total Votes: 4870
10. Apr, 2019

The more Cores and the higher the clock speed, the better, right?

It’s now tempting to think you should get a CPU with lots of cores AND high clock speeds. After all, then we’ll have a workstation on which we can work fast AND which can render fast, right?

Unfortunately, because of power consumption and heat limits, there usually is a proportional trade-off between the number of CPU-cores and clock-speeds.

This means the more Cores the CPU has, the lower it will usually clock and vice versa.

The faster the Cores are clocked, the fewer cores there usually are on the CPU.

Many Cores need lots of Power and lots of Power produces lots of heat. CPUs have thermal regulations that need to be adhered to. The same applies to higher clocked cores that will be hotter than lower clocked cores.

This is quite a bummer, but it’s 2019 and the major CPU Manufacturers wouldn’t be all that major if they hadn’t found a way to improve upon this.

AMD and Intel have thought of a nice way of compensating for some of these trade-offs.

Enter Turbo-Boost.

Turbo-Boost (Turbo-Core)

Turbo-Boost is a feature that automatically overclocks Cores until thermal and power limits are reached. Depending on the Quality of cooling, duration can vary.

Say we are currently modeling and are only really using 1-2 Cores, the rest of the Cores are idle.

What Turbo boost does now is overclock these 1-2 Cores as far as specified by the manufacturer and as long as the Power Consumption and Temperature stays within the predefined limit.

As soon as these limits are reached, the Turbo-Boost will clock these two cores back down.

turboBoost

Image-Source: Intel

This way, to a certain degree, we can get CPUs with more Cores (and a low base-clock), that clock higher on limited cores, when needed and not all cores are being used.

CPU vs GPU Rendering

There are currently two popular methods of Rendering Images and Animations in 3D Software: CPU Rendering and GPU Rendering.

Are you mainly rendering on the GPU or CPU?
  • Mainly GPU 55%, 1459 votes
    1459 votes 55%
    1459 votes - 55% of all votes
  • Mainly CPU 45%, 1200 votes
    1200 votes 45%
    1200 votes - 45% of all votes
Total Votes: 2659
12. Apr, 2019

As you probably guessed, CPU Rendering utilizes the Processor for calculating the Image, and GPU Rendering utilizes the Graphics Card.

There are some differences in GPU and CPU rendering that you want to be aware of when choosing a new Computer or Workstation for 3D Rendering and Modeling:

First of all, almost every popular 3D Software comes with an inbuilt CPU Render Engine nowadays.

Only recently have GPU Render Engines such as Octane, Redshift,  V-RAY RT or FurryBall become mature enough to slowly but surely overtake CPU Render Engines in popularity.

In popularity, because GPU Render Engines are much faster in many cases and allow for extremely interactive preview Renderers.

This can improve and accelerate a 3D-Artists Workflow by a tenfold as you are able to iterate more often before finishing a project.

Furryball

Image-Source: furryball.aaa-studio.eu

Beginners are often told to start with 3D Rendering on the CPU and later switch to (often) costly 3rd Party GPU Render Engines when they have learned enough to properly utilize them.

I think this is about to change.

Just look at Blenders in-built Cycles GPU Render Engine and Cinema 4Ds new ProRender GPU Render Engine.  Both GPU render engines are built into the software itself and don’t rely on third-party plugins.

If you had to pick one: Which do you consider your main Render Engine?
  • V-Ray 41%, 1240 votes
    1240 votes 41%
    1240 votes - 41% of all votes
  • Cycles 18%, 563 votes
    563 votes 18%
    563 votes - 18% of all votes
  • Arnold 11%, 330 votes
    330 votes 11%
    330 votes - 11% of all votes
  • Octane 8%, 253 votes
    253 votes 8%
    253 votes - 8% of all votes
  • Redshift 8%, 234 votes
    234 votes 8%
    234 votes - 8% of all votes
  • Corona 5%, 149 votes
    149 votes 5%
    149 votes - 5% of all votes
  • Other 5%, 145 votes
    145 votes 5%
    145 votes - 5% of all votes
  • Mental Ray 3%, 88 votes
    88 votes 3%
    88 votes - 3% of all votes
  • Maxwell 2%, 48 votes
    48 votes 2%
    48 votes - 2% of all votes
Total Votes: 3050
10. Apr, 2019

Best individual Hardware Parts for 3D Modeling and Rendering explained

But enough talk! Let’s take a look at what specific Computer Parts you’ll need for the best Computer or Workstation for 3D Modeling and Rendering:

Best Processor (CPU) for 3D Modeling and Rendering

For Active Work: Intel i9 9900K

As explained above, you’ll have to make a decision depending on what you will use your computer most for.

Do you use it mainly to Model, Sculpt, Texture, Light, Animate and you spend much more time actively on it, than rendering on it?

Then you’ll want a CPU that is clocked as high as possible!

Good choices here are:

  • Intel i9 9900K, 8-Cores, Clocked at 3,6 GHz Base, 5 GHz TurboBoost
  • Intel i7 9700K, 8-Cores, Clocked at 3,6 GHz Base, 4,9 GHz TurboBoost (No Hyperthreading)
  • Intel i7 8700K, 6-Cores, Clocked at 3,7 GHz Base, 4,7 GHz TurboBoost
  • Intel i7 8086K, 6-Cores, Clocked at 4 GHz Base, 5 GHz TurboBoost
  • AMD Ryzen 2700X, 8-Cores, Clocked at 3,7 GHz Base, 4,3 GHz TurboBoost (Turbo Core)
AMD Ryzen vs i7 8700K

Image-Source: AMD/Intel

A great benchmark for finding CPUs that are the snappiest is the Cinebench Single Core Benchmark.

Take a look at this page with Cinebench R20 Benchmarks and sort the Table on the “Cinebench Single” column to find the CPU that will give your workstation the best performance when you’re actively working on it.

What CPU Core-Feature is more valuable / important to you?
  • Having High Core-Clocks for fast active work (e.g. i9 9900K) 55%, 692 votes
    692 votes 55%
    692 votes - 55% of all votes
  • Having a lot of Cores for fast Multi-Processing (e.g. TR 2990WX) 45%, 565 votes
    565 votes 45%
    565 votes - 45% of all votes
Total Votes: 1257
12. Apr, 2019

Intel has recently released a new Generation of i7 and i9 9xxx CPUs that have a slightly higher Cinebench R15 Single-Core Score than the 8700K but are also more expensive.

If you have the budget for an Intel i9 9900K, this CPU is currently the best CPU for active Work such as Modeling and Animation.

Texturing 3D Models and painting or sculpting, too, need a high-clocking CPU. So if you consider yourself a Graphic Designer, the i9 9900K is an excellent choice.

For Render Work? AMD Threadripper CPUs such as the Threadripper 2950X!

Do you use this Workstation less for active work and more to Render out your Projects? Do you spend more time on Rendering than on actually sitting in front of it?

You should consider going into a high core-count direction which are the best CPUs for Rendering (Or if you want a second Computer just for Rendering on).

Good choices here are:

  • AMD Threadripper 2920X, 2950X, 2970WX, 2990WX – 12-32 Cores – Highly Recommended!
  • Intel i9 9900X, 9920X, 9960X, 9980XE – 10-18 Cores (quite expensive)

If you want to use VRAY, as it is one of the most popular Render Engines available, have a look at the following page to get an overview of the VRAY CPU Benchmarks Results.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3D Rendering

Image-Source: overclock.net

Which CPU are you planning on Buying?
  • Intel LGA 1151 Series CPU (e.g. i7 8700K, i9 9900K...) 36%, 587 votes
    587 votes 36%
    587 votes - 36% of all votes
  • AMD Ryzen (e.g. 2600X, 2700X, 3700X...) 36%, 573 votes
    573 votes 36%
    573 votes - 36% of all votes
  • AMD Threadripper (e.g. 2950X...) 21%, 345 votes
    345 votes 21%
    345 votes - 21% of all votes
  • Intel 2066 (HEDT) X-Series CPU (e.g. i9 9980XE...) 6%, 104 votes
    104 votes 6%
    104 votes - 6% of all votes
Total Votes: 1609
10. Apr, 2019

Best Graphics Card (GPU) for 3D Modeling and Rendering

Best GPU for GPU Rendering: GPU Rendering is becoming more popular as we speak and is likely to overtake CPU Rendering in the near future.

Some of the most popular modern GPU Render Engines are Octane, Redshift, VRAY-RT, and Cycles. The first two only support NVIDIA GPUs, while the latter also support AMD (OpenCL) GPUs.

Personally, I prefer recommending GPUs that work with any of the above Render Engines (CUDA Support), so here are a few NVIDIA GPUs in order of Performance that will give you excellent GPU Rendering Speed:

The Nvidia Graphics Card List could go on, but I think you get the gist.

The higher the number, the faster and the more expensive they get.

Nvidia GPUs 3D Modeling and Rendering

Image-Source: gamespot.com

Here is a GPU Render Benchmark overview if you’d like to compare the cost to performance in a bit more detail.

Other great GPU Benchmarks to take a look at are the VRAY-RT, Octane, and Redshift benchmarks.

Best GPU for Viewport performance

As the Processor is usually the bottleneck in having a snappy Viewport, Graphics Cards shouldn’t usually make a noticeable difference, if you buy good enough.

All the GPUs listed above will perform roughly the same in Viewport performance.

This is because there are rarely features in 3D Applications, that the GPU computes slower than it takes the CPU to update Meshes, Deformers and the like.

In other words: The GPU usually has to wait for the CPU to finish its tasks to continue working.

This being said, if you rely heavily on In-Viewport SSAO, Reflections, AO, Anti-Aliasing and the like, you might want to lean towards the top of the above GPU list for a snappy Viewport.

But for most, a high clocked-CPU will make a much larger difference.

Let’s pick the Nvidia RTX 2070 for our Best Computer for 3D Modeling and Rendering, as it has excellent GPU-Render value and is fast enough for any kind of Viewport challenges.

A quick heads-up:

In rare cases if you only use a few extremely high-poly RAW meshes (such as a CAD-Converted Car with 40 Million Polygons) and you don’t have any modifiers on this mesh, then the GPU will probably be the bottleneck as your workstation only has to update the viewing angle of the Car and not the meshes underlying structure.

How much and what Type of RAM (Memory) do you need for 3D Modeling and Rendering?

Similar to the CPU, the amount and type of memory (RAM) you’ll need will depend on your use case.

If you work on models with extremely high polygon counts, you will want more RAM than if you usually only do lightweight 3D work with simpler scenes.

I recommend 32GB of RAM for most 3D Artists.

If you sculpt or work on high-poly meshes, use lots of large textures or have complex scenes with thousands of objects in them, you might want to go with 64GB of RAM.

16 GB of RAM can be enough for many starting out with 3D, but usually, you outgrow this quite quickly.

Corsair RAM for Computer for 3D Modeling and Rendering

Image-Source: gskill

RAM speeds & timing can normally be ignored, as these don’t make much of a difference performance-wise.

Getting DDR4-4166 RAM won’t be noticeably faster than DDR4-2666 RAM.

That said, AMD Threadripper does benefit more from higher clocked RAM than Intel CPUs do. This is due to the fact, that some components on Threadripper CPUs are linked to the Memory Clock speed.

So having Quad Channel Memory that is clocked at 2933Mhz might give you a few percents more performance on Threadripper CPUs.

If you do like to optimize your hardware as much as possible, the rule is usually:

The lower the CL and higher the Clock Speed, the better. So a DDR4-3200 CL15 would be slightly faster than a DDR4-2800 CL16 for example.

A note on RAM Kits

When buying RAM, buy the full amount in a single RAM kit. RAM Kits (which are RAM Modules packaged together) are pre-tested in the Factory and will work well together.

Although people often say you can buy some RAM now and add some more laterRAM modules sometimes don’t work well together.

So if you are getting entirely new RAM for your PC, be sure to get (for example) 4x8GB in a KIT and not 2x8GB + 2x8GB in two separate KITs.

Why should RAM in different KITs be different from each other?

The reason why RAM in different kits differ from each other is because they can be manufactured in different factories and different factory lines that use slightly different silicon, or because one RAM module might have been manufactured in 2017, while the other module was manufactured in 2019. You don’t know for sure that the timing on the RAM will be exactly the same between modules from different factories or different manufacturing dates.

My point is: get a kit that’s pre-tested.

Good RAM Brands are G.Skill, ADATA, Crucial and Corsair such as the Corsair 16GB Vengeance LPX Ram Kit or this 32GB Corsair RAM Kit.

Best Motherboard for 3D Modeling and Rendering

The Motherboard or Mainboard is the Hub that connects all of your hardware components together.

It’s unlikely to impact performance all that much, but you should make sure it has all the features you need. Some important things to take note of are:

  • CPU Socket type: Different CPUs need different Sockets. Make sure your motherboard has the right socket for your CPU.
  • Memory Maximum: Some Motherboards/Chipsets can only support a certain amount of RAM and only have a certain number of RAM slots. Make sure it supports the amount of RAM you want.
  • Max # of GPUs: Motherboards support a certain number of GPUs and have a certain amount of PCIe slots and lanes that your GPU will use. Make sure you have enough for the number of GPUs you want.
  • Support for M.2 (NVME Drives): If you want an M.2 PCIe drive, make sure your motherboard supports this kind of drive (the motherboard’s manual is your friend).
  • Size of the Motherboard: Motherboards comes in different sizes. Make sure your motherboard fits inside your computer case (and vice versa too, of course).

I understand this might start to sound a bit complicated, and perhaps a bit too much to handle, particularly if you’re a first-time PC builder.

This is why I have built a few workstations for you, so you won’t have to figure out every detail on your own.

Best Storage for 3D Modeling and Rendering

The speed of the storage is responsible for a few things:

  • Saving and loading your scene Files
  • Storing and loading your Textures, Assets, References
  • Swapping to disk if your RAM is full
  • Launching your Software

If you want to load your scenes quickly, you’ll need a fast disk.

A feature like autosave (which I highly recommend you always have ON) will save your scene faster if you have a fast disk. On the other hand, a blazingly fast disk won’t do much for your performance once your scene is loaded into RAM.

I recommend going for at least a SATA SSD such as the Samsung 860 EVO for your OS and your Scene Files.

Consider a PCI-E M.2 SSD such as the Samsung 970 EVO if you want even faster Performance and don’t mind spending the extra money.

samsung_970_evo

Fortunately, flash-based SSDs have become quite cheap recently and prices continue to drop.

Just have a look at the price decrease of the Samsung 860 EVO 1TB over the last six months:

Samsung 860 EVO Price Drop

Image-Source: geizhals.de

It usually is a good Idea to get a larger HDD to be able to periodically backup your Data in case your main Discs brake down out of unforeseeable reasons. As they tend to do in the middle of the most important Project.

About PCI-E-Lanes

This section is a bit more advanced, but I get this question often enough that I want to explain it. Feel free to skip this part.

Here’s the Question: If the i7 8700K, i7 9700K, i9 9900K CPUs only offer 16 PCIe-Lanes, how can you use NVME SSDs (that already need 4 PCIe-lanes) or SATA Drives, if your GPU already uses up all of the 16 PCIe-Lanes to the CPU?

Answer: While the CPU-GPU PCIe-Lane interconnect is 16 PCIe Lanes wide, the Chipset itself can create 24 additional PCIe Lanes if required (on the Z370/Z390 Chipset).

The chipset lanes are connected to the CPU through a DMI link that’s only 4 PCIe lanes wide (which is roughly 4GB/s).

There could be a bottleneck in the unlikely scenario that you continuously copy huge amounts of data (like 50GB) from one of your NVMe SSDs to your second NVMe SSD and if your NVMe SSD can read and write faster than 2GB/s.

While that type of sequential read/write is possible (with the 970 EVO it is), it’s extremely rare that you’ll continuously be reading and writing sequentially for files that are of such size. If anything, you’ll be reading/writing randomly and on much smaller files.

Everything except for the RAM and the GPU is connected to those 24 chipset PCIe lanes, which are themselves connected to the CPU through the DMI link that’s 4 PCIe lanes wide. This includes LAN, USB, and everything else you plug into the motherboard.

The PCIe lanes from the chipset to the CPU are not used from the moment you plug in a new component. Instead, think of these PCIe lanes like highway tunnels: they’re always there and let traffic through if it has to.

So you can attach up to 24 PCIe lanes worth of components to the chipset (SATA SSDs, HDDs, USBs, Ethernet cables, etc…) but they will only connect to the CPU and use Bandwidth when needed.

If you use all those components at maximum speed at the same time, then you would bottleneck. In such a scenario, you would need to turn towards the HEDT platform (such as the LGA 2066 or TR4) and not mainstream (1151, AM4).

Best Monitor for 3D Modeling and Rendering

It’s usually better to go for a monitor with an IPS panel instead of a TN panel. IPS display panels have better color and better contrast.

If you’ll spend many hours a day staring at your monitor, you’ll want a non-glare (matte) monitor. This will avoid hard reflections that could otherwise distract you.

You also want at least a Full HD 1920×1080 monitor that nicely fits the viewport and all your software. You might even want to consider higher-resolution monitors with a 2560×1440 or even a 4K (3840×2160) resolution, so you can fit more of your footage, references, and software windows.

This is particularly true if you’re working on 4K advertising and films, or on hi-res images.

I’ve had great experiences working on the Asus IPS monitors, such as the Asus ProArt PA329Q, but you might prefer a different brand.

How many Monitors do you use?

Check out this in-depth Guide to buying the best Monitors for visually demanding work, which has all the information you need for getting the best Monitor for your specific kind of work.

Best Power Supply (PSU) for 3D Modeling and Rendering

While an expensive PSU won’t increase your performance, it’s wise to get more than enough wattage.

Usually, you’ll want around 400-500 Watt for a regular build, with an additional 250W for every additional GPU.

Good PSU brands are Corsair, Seasonic, and beQuiet.

Here’s a PSU calculator that will tell you how many watts your PSU will need depending on the hardware you choose.

Build your own Computer!

The best computer for 3D modeling and rendering is a computer that’s fast, makes you spend less time on it, avoids you wanting to punch through your monitor, and shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

I get tremendous joy from building my own computers for 3D modeling, rendering, and many other use cases.

If you don’t build your own PCs yet, I’m sure you’ll learn to love it too.

Do you assemble your PC yourself or buy Pre-Built?
  • I assemble myself 69%, 737 votes
    737 votes 69%
    737 votes - 69% of all votes
  • I buy Pre-Built / Let others assemble my PC 31%, 333 votes
    333 votes 31%
    333 votes - 31% of all votes
Total Votes: 1070
10. Apr, 2019

Building your own computer teaches you the inner working of the various hardware components while allowing you to gradually upgrade parts if so required and helping you find potential problems easier.

But the best part? It’s a lot cheaper than buying pre-configured computers, and it only takes an hour or two to assemble!

If you want to learn how to assemble a PC and how a computer actually works, I have an excellent book for you. It blew my mind a few years ago. You might’ve already read it, but for those of you who haven’t: prepare to be leveled up 🙂!

But How Do It Know – J. Clark Scott

I can’t stress it enough: assembling your own computer is not difficult. You more or less just plug different parts needed to build a PC into one another and tighten some screws. The hardest part seems to be adding a bit of thermal paste to the CPU. That’s it!

Here’s a nice tutorial video for you to follow along as you build:

Whew! That was quite a lot of theory. Let’s actually take a look at some functional PC builds.

Here are some Pre-Selected Builds in different Price Tiers:

Best full PC-Build Recommendations at different Price points

Best Computer for 3D Modeling and Rendering, AMD at roughly ~800$

Some Build notes:

This very low-budget Build can be made even cheaper if you use the CPU Cooler that comes with the CPU. It doesn’t have as great a Cooling Power as the beQuiet Dark Rock 4, but this is not entirely necessary with such a CPU.

You could save some more Money on the Mainboard especially, if you opt for a B450 or X370 Mainboard. Some CPU upgrades include the Ryzen 5 1500X or 1600 if you have some extra cash.

You could also get a 250GB SSD instead of the 500GB M.2 NVME SSD listed above, to save even more money.

Best Computer for 3D Modeling and Rendering, AMD at roughly ~1100$

Some Build notes:

This is a basic AMD build that you can begin with. The Case is professional, minimalistic and quiet. There is room for 3 Optical drives in case you want to add some DVD/CD Drives.

The AMD Ryzen 2700X is the fastest of the second Generation Ryzen CPUs. It has excellent Multi-Core and good Single Core performance.

I added a Samsung 970 EVO PLUS M.2 NVMe Drive in this build that will give you extreme Storage Performance. The Nvidia GTX 1660 will get you great performance at a good price.

Best Computer for 3D Modeling and Rendering, Intel at roughly ~2000$

Some Build notes:

Just like the AMD Build, this is a basic build that you can build upon. The Case is professional, minimalistic and quiet. There is room for 3 Optical drives in case you want to add some DVD/CD Drives.

The Intel i9-9900K is the currently leading CPU in single-core performance, meaning your viewport and active-work speed will not get any faster than with this CPU.

If you are planning on some more extreme overclocking, you might want to consider an AiO CPU cooling solution.

Best Computer for CPU Rendering, AMD at roughly ~3000$

This is an excellent Build that leans towards CPU Rendering Performance and slightly less towards active-working performance in tasks such as 3D Modeling or Animating.


Some notes on this build:

As this build is focused on CPU Rendering, the other parts such as storage and GPU are proportionally low-end compared to the 32-Core Threadripper CPU. This build has an absolutely fantastic CPU Rendering Performance.

64GB of RAM is a lot. It should be more than enough for nearly all scenes. You can save some cash by downgrading to 32GB though.

Best Computer for GPU Rendering, AMD at roughly ~7100$

This is an excellent Build that will bring you the maximum plug & play GPU Rendering Performance (on a single Consumer Mainboard) combined with an excellent CPU for good Workstation performance. But it comes at a steep price.

Some notes on this Build:

4 GPUs need a Motherboard with 4 PCIE Slots that are spaced far enough from each other to allow for 4 dual-Slot GPUs. This is possible with the Gigabyte X399 Designare EX Motherboard.

At ~$1,200 each, RTX 2080TIs are expensive.  If you’re okay with slightly slower performance, but want to save a decent chunk of money, I recommend going with 4x RTX 2070, as these come in at around $550 each. You’ll only have 8GBs of VRAM per card, but the GPU rendering performance/price is much better.

The Case is big. It has room for 8 single-slot (or 4 dual slot) Cards. The Power Supply should provide at least 1250W and I added some headroom here with the excellent 1600W Corsair Titanium Power Supply.

Threadripper CPUs are excellent for multi-GPU setups, as these CPUs have 64 PCIE-Lanes to drive all of those GPUs in 16x and 8x Mode.

– All of these builds will of course need a Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor and Operating System to be complete, but I’ll let you figure those out on your own. –

Custom PC-Builder

If you want to get the best parts within your budget you should definitely have a look at the Web-Based PC-Builder Tool that I’ve created.

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

Be sure to check it out and please feel free to send feedback my way!

CGDirector PC-Builder Tool

CGDirector.com PC-Builder Title Image

If you are not quite sure yet what general kind of Computer, Desktop, Workstation or Laptop you need and you are still looking for some beginners help, check out this Article on finding exactly what kind of Computer you need.

Best Laptop for 3D Modeling and Rendering

Just a quick reminder for anyone who would like to get a Laptop instead of a Desktop PC or Workstation.

I have written an Article about what’s important in a Laptop for Animation or Laptops for Video Editing, if that’s a direction that interests you too. Go check it out!

A lot of the specs from 3D Animation will be exactly the same as for 3D Modeling. For CPU rendering, this article on the best CPU for rendering can help you out.

What kind of Computer or Workstation are you building?

Alex from CGDirector - 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!

534
Comments

ethan

Hey Alex,

I’m a kitchen designer using 2020 software for 3d modeling and renderings and I had a computer built about 2 years ago using the the specs below:

251736 AMD BOX AMD RYZEN 1800X
942441 CORSAIR 16GB 8X2 D4 3000 VGN C15
169557 SAMSUNG E 250GB 960EVO NVME M.2 SSD
250142 MSI B350 TOMAHAWK AM4 ATX
912154 EVGA SUPRNOVA 750G2 80G FM PSU
074732 EVGA GTX1080FTW 8GB PCIE HD3DP
041186 ZALMAN Z9 NEO WH ATX CASE WHITE
235671 ASUSCOMP ASUS 24XSATA DVD BURN OEM
125906 DELL 27″ IPS SE2717HX MONITOR
125914 DELL 21.5″ LED E2216HVM MONITO

At first it was pretty fast, but it’s become very slow now and I’m not sure what to do about it. Do you think I need to update any of the parts? Maybe reformat the computer? I want to avoid having to spend another $2,500 on another build out.

Your help is appreciated!
Thanks!
Ethan

Govind M

hello i am an interior designer from mumbai. i have selected this parts for 3dsmax modelling and rendering. could you please suggest me that is it a right choice or not?
1. CPU – Intel Core i7 8700K LGA 1151 300 Series
2. Graphic Card – Zotac GeForce GTX 1050ti 4GB
3. Motherboard – Asus Prime Z370 A
4. RAM – Corsair LPX 32gb (2×16) 3200 mhz c16 DDR4
5. Storage – ssd or nvme ssd 1tb
6. 1 tb extra portable storage
7. Power Supply – Corsair
8. CPU cooler – Noctua NH-D15
9. SMPS Cabinet
10. Dell monitor – 27”inch
11. Dvd writer , Quick heal,
12. Keyboard, Mouse
my budget is under 1 lakh.

Ben

Alex,

Thank you so much for all this thorough information. Figuring this out can be stressful since its such a huge investment, especially when you have zero experience with this stuff, i really don’t want to buy the wrong thing! I was wondering if you could take a look at my build and let me know what you think.

I use corona render (cpu) mostly but am looking to convert to a gpu renderer like octane or redshift. So I’m looking for something that can do both well. My budget is around $3500.

https://pcpartpicker.com/list/4L6bWD

Thanks in advance.

Page

Hi Alex,

I am looking to build my first PC. I will be using it mainly for Solidworks, Keyshot and the Adobe suite although sometimes for Cinema 4d and Octane Render.

I have a budget of around 1600 but am willing to push it up to 1750 if needed.

I am currently looking at

Intel – Core i9-9900K 3.6 GHz 8-Core Processor
be quiet! – Dark Rock Pro 4 50.5 CFM CPU Cooler
Asus – PRIME Z390-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
Corsair – Vengeance LPX 64 GB (4 x 16 GB) DDR4-2666 Memory
Samsung – 970 Evo Plus 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
MSI – GeForce RTX 2070 8 GB Video Card
Corsair – 275Q ATX Mid Tower Case
Corsair – RMx (2018) 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply

Would you recommend this build for my needs and is there any changes you could suggest?

Thanks for your time,

Page

Rahkster

So… Is it possible to get the best of both (modeling / rendering) worlds by getting a high core count CPU for modeling and then get a badass GPU for rendering? I’m not hardcore on either worlds and would like a mid-point! 😀

Corneliu

Hi Alex.
Very good content. Thank you
Firstly, I wish I’d discovered sooner your site. I just build my first pc. I need the pc for general 3d work. Can you tell me please if I made a good choise with my components?

Parts List :
1. Corsair Carbide Series 275R Mid-Tower ATX Gaming Case
2. AMD Ryzen 7 3800X Processor (8C/16T, 36MB Cache, 4.5 GHz Max Boost) (-Monday will arrive)
3. ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 OC Edition 6 GB GDDR6 with NVIDIA Turing GPU Architecture ROG-STRIX-RTX2060-O6G-Gaming
4. MSI MEG X570 ACE ATX Motherboard for AMD AM4 CPUs
5. Corsair 163301 Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4 3200 MHz C16 XMP 2.0 High Performance Desktop Memory Kit
6. Corsair CP-9020131-UK TXM Series 750 W TX750M ATX/EPS Semi-Modular 80 PLUS Gold Power Supply Unit
7. Crucial MX500 CT500MX500SSD1(Z) 500 GB (3D NAND, SATA, 2.5 Inch, Internal SSD)
8. Corsair AF120 Air Series, 120 mm LED Low Noise Cooling Fan – Blue (Triple Pack) ( 5 in total )
9. WD Blue 2TB Desktop Hard Disk Drive – 5400 RPM SATA 6 Gb/s 64MB Cache 3.5 Inch
10. ARCTIC MX-4 Edition 2019 – Thermal Compound Paste – Carbon Based High Performance – Heatsink Paste – Thermal Compound CPU for All Coolers, Thermal Int

Thanks in advance

Corneliu

Matt

Hey,

I was wondering which processor you’d recommend;
So I’ve read your articles and a bit of the other comments but I’m still a bit confused.
I’m trying to build a setup for modeling and rendering in Maya, Cinema 4D, Houdini and composite in NukeX.

So far I have:
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/TjxRZR

I was wondering whether I should get the i9 9000K or get the new Ryzen 3900X? Is it worth waiting for new intel cpus or for the i9 cpu to drop in price?

Then I can figure out if I need to get a different motherboard and/or a cpu cooler.

Thanks,
Matt

Zjic

Hi there,

I am wondering what is our opininion on dual CPU setups?
I have been running for many years Lenovo ThinkStation D20 (two Xeon E5645, NVIDIA Quadro 4000, 64GB RAM DDR3 1333MHz) and now I am thinking about upgrading – mainly to improve rendering speed. Since that is my main modeling&rendering station (3ds Max, Vray), I’d go with CPU rendering.

I am not sure, if new setup in price range say 1500-2000$ would actually be such significant improvement/replacement of old but two of Xeons. Maybe replacing just the Xeons would do the trick (Xeon E5-2690 v2), but to be honest I dont really see it as an alternative since Xeons are quite pricey but seems like they can last (I have them running pretty much 24/7).

Is that nowadays still money/performance wise alternative to think about build with two mid-tier CPUs rather than one hight end? (since dual-socket motherboards are expensive, and server CPUs as well tho).

Dinesh

I bought CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 2666. It doesn’t work with my already 8gb corsair its same hertz. I think ryzen wouldn’t match sometimes. I bought 1tb m2 ssd I clearly don’t have any idea how to use that. I’m sure i’ll install 3d softwares. Should I render my files there or in HDD, and I have to save assets your advice would be great. Thanks for your all the advice before my system performance has been increased.

Marc Ray Libunao

Hey alex, the 3rd gen ryzen just got out. I’m just wondering if you’re interested? I would love to see some info about how well it performed like for fast active work? Specially the 3900x, 3800x and 3700x? Love the transparency of information you’ve provided. Thanks in advance.

-marc ray