Building the best PC for 3D Animation in 2019

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex  ⋮   ⋮   72 comments
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Building the best Computer for Animation requires some specific Hardware Components and just a tiny bit of insight into the inner workings of 2D & 3D Animation Software and how they use the hardware.

Browsing for new Computer Parts is always a lot of fun and in this article, you might find a few things that will make that process easier and even more interesting!

Now, this Article “Best Computer for Animation” is structured into three parts:

The first being how Animation Software utilizes the Hardware. The second being insight and recommendations on what Hardware Parts are important and best for a Computer for Animation.

And the last Part gives you finished Desktop Computer Builds in different Price Tiers if you would just like to see how a complete Computer Build for Animation would look like in your budget.

How do Animation Tasks use the Hardware

Before we take a look at what hardware we should put in our best Computer for Animation let’s see how Animation Tasks actually use the Hardware.

Now, when I animate I usually do some of the following:

I pose rigged characters, set Keyframes, adjust Animation Curves, Move objects around for Keying on new Frames, move my view and cameras around a lot or play back the animations to be able to check and revise them, among others.

All of these processes have one thing in common: I am actively tweaking things inside my Software and expect an immediate result.

I don’t push a button and wait for 2 minutes while walking around the office, no, I expect the Viewport or Menus or other User Interface Elements in my Software to update right away.

Seems obvious! But there are lots of other tasks in a Production Pipeline of an Animated Film that work very differently.

Think of Rendering,  Simulation, Texture Baking or Encoding to name a few. These would be Processes where you don’t actively interact with the Computer, but mainly let it run its tasks on its own until it is finished.

Why is this important?

Because we can now already say one very important thing and that is “Single-Core Performance“.

Let’s see what this means exactly:

Single-Core Performance dependent tasks are tasks that can not be parallelized. Modern Processors (CPU) that are responsible for calculating almost everything you do on the Computer usually have more than one so-called Cores.

Cores are individual parts of a CPU that can calculate a given task.

In a Computer for Animation, we will want a CPU with extremely fast Cores, as the tasks we are dealing with the most, are tasks that can only be calculated by one Core at a time.

So having a high Core-Count wouldn’t benefit us all that much.

The main reason why Animation can’t be parallelized that well is because the underlying Objects that are being animated usually are rigged, deformed, driven by scripts or otherwise dependent on a hierarchical order that has to be processed one after another, without being able to outsource some steps to others Cores.

Let’s make an example:

The 3D Character that you are animating usually consists of a single Mesh. This Mesh is deformed by a Rig.

The Rig is driven by Control Objects. The deformed/animated Mesh might also have Face Controls and some kind of soft body simulation for the jiggly parts such as the belly.

And this is a pretty ordinary Character. I haven’t even gotten into Hair Collisions, Dynamic IK Chains, Muscle Collisions and so on yet.

All of these Deformers and Rigs all have to be stepped through in a predefined order until the resulting final Mesh can be correctly displayed for that Frame.

I can’t tell some of my CPU cores to already calculate the Textures or Shading or Hair Collisions, if I haven’t yet calculated the basic body Animation Parts, such as the animation and movement of the extremities.

Best Computer for Animation - Hierarchy

This is why only a single Core has to painstakingly calculate all of these hierarchical steps on after another.

And this can only be accelerated if this CPU Core, that at this moment does all the work, is as fast as possible, has as high a clock as possible.

After all, it has to do this process for everything in your Scene, usually 25 times per second (or what your desired Framerate is) for you to have a fluid playback experience.

This can be applied to 2D animation as well. Even if the underlying rigs or object complexities might be somewhat simpler.

Having a slightly lower complexity in 2D usually just means you add more effects to your processing chain such as Motion Blur, and still want to have a realtime experience as much as possible, even with all the layer dependencies that are slowing the CPU down.

Now, lots of other tasks can be highly parallelized, such as Rendering.

For CPU Rendering then again you would need a CPU that has as many Cores as possible because a Render task can be split into smaller parallelizable tasks almost indefinitely.

That was quite some theory behind it all.

As the CPU seems to be the most important part in the best Computer for Animation, let’s take a look at what Processors there are that we can choose from and what other kind of Hardware Components can speed up our Computer:

Best Hardware for Animation explained

The Best CPU (Processor) for Animation

As we now know, for animation we will need a very high clocking CPU and not as much a CPU that has many Cores.

Or couldn’t we just get a CPU that has a very high clock AND lots and lots of Cores?

That way we could work fast actively AND CPU Render fast?

Good thinking, but unfortunately this is not how it works. There is always a trade-off between core-clocks and core-counts.

Meaning, if you want a very high clocking CPU you will only get a few cores and if you want lots of cores, these cores will most certainly be clocked fairly low.

Why?

This is because a CPU has specific thermal and power regulations that it can not exceed. And since every core and every extra clock needs more power and makes the CPU hotter, it kind of makes sense there is this trade-off.

Now, fortunately, Intel and AMD have thought of a way to compensate for this, at least to a certain degree.

Both have a feature called Turbo-Boost or Turbo-Core.

This feature automatically overclocks the cores that are being used a long as the power and thermal limitations are not exceeded.

For Animation this means, you might have a CPU with 6 Cores but while animating you only need 1-2 Cores. The CPU now automatically overclocks these 1-2 Cores that are in use but downclocks or lets all other cores in a type of idle mode.

This happens so fast, that you won’t notice it at all. But you WILL notice that the Cores you are using (if you are using only a few) are faster.

So here they are, the CPU recommendations for our Best Computer for Animation:

  • Intel i9 9900K – 8 Cores / 16 Threads, 3.6GHz Base Clock, Turbo Boost 5GHz
  • Intel i7 9700K – 8 Cores / 8 Threads, 3.6GHz Base Clock, Turbo Boost 5GHz
  • Intel i7 8086K (Limited Edition)) – 6 Cores / 12 Threads, 4GHz Base Clock, Turbo Boost 5GHz
  • Intel i7 8700K – 6 Cores / 12 Threads, 3.6GHz Base Clock, Turbo Boost 4.7GHz
  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700X – 8 Cores / 16 Threads, 3.6GHz Base Clock, Turbo Boost 4.3GHz

These CPUs are all excellent for Animation. They have a high Turbo Clock and will give you a snappy work experience.

AMD Ryzen vs i7 8700K

Image-Source: AMD/Intel

The AMD Ryzen 2700X is the Performance / Price winner in this case, as all of the Intel CPUs are currently very expensive.

To get an impression of how these CPUs perform in different workloads, especially in Rendering, go take a look at some of the Benchmark Comparisons such as Cinebench or VRAY Bench.

Best Graphics Card (GPU) for Animation

One would expect the Graphics Card to play a larger role in giving a smooth Viewport and Software Experience, but in the Animation stage, this is usually not the case.

This doesn’t mean the GPU can be ignored but it is seldom the bottleneck and usually has lots of headroom left over while waiting for the CPU to do its calculations before it displays the output.

This changes though when you depend on certain features, that only the GPU can calculate. This includes OpenGL features such as Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering, SSAO, Realtime-Shadows and many more.

These type of features are also found in the Maya Viewport 2.0 and you will benefit from a strong GPU here.

If you don’t rely on a realistic Viewport that shows a near-final quality Scene, but animate mostly in shaded low-quality preview modes without any fancy effects, then you can make ends meet with a lower tier Graphics Card such as the Nvidia GTX 1060.

Let’s take a look at the current GPU Line-Up:

Both GPU Manufacturers, AMD and Nvidia, have some excellent Cards for our purposes, although Nvidia Cards seem to do better in some 3D Applications and should be your choice, especially if you also plan on GPU Rendering with these.

The process of GPU Rendering, of course, is much more demanding than Viewport Animation, but this topic is so complex, that I covered it in another article for you to read here: Best Graphics Cards for GPU Rendering.

As a minimum, I usually recommend an Nvidia GTX 1060 that already gives excellent performance in most of the 3D and 2D Animation Applications out there.

Best Computer for Animation - GPU

Image-Source: gamespot.com

If you need certain professional Features such as 10bit Color support you should consider an Nvidia Quadro GPU, as these come with drivers that support more features.

That said though, I have been in the 3D Industry for a decade now and have never needed a Quadro Card or wanted to pay the heavy premium to get one.

The GTX and RTX Cards have excellent Performance / Price Ratio, especially compared to the Quadro Cards and you can GPU Render on them extremely fast.

The AMD GPUs can perform well too, though many Software-vendors optimize for Nvidia Cards, and many GPU Render Engines support Nvidia GPUs only (CUDA Support), that is why you very rarely see an AMD GPU be recommended for a Computer or Workstation in Animation.

They are excellent GPUs, no questions asked, but the Industry support unfortunately just isn’t on the same level yet as it is with Nvidia.

How much and what type of RAM in a Desktop Computer for Animation

I hear this discussed often and it is quite true: RAM does not impact Speed all that much (if at all) UNLESS you have too little.

Sure there might be the 2% Speed gain in certain type of workloads, but getting extremely expensive or high-clocked Ram with great Timings, just isn’t worth it, especially if you are not planning on extreme Overclocking.

It is much better to get “normal” RAM for a normal price and spend the extra bucks on additional Gigabytes.

This will help you a lot more in the long run.

RAM (or Memory) is essentially just a storage part, that the CPU (and some other Hardware) uses to cache data so it can access it very quickly. If this RAM is full, there is nowhere else to go but the System Storage Devices such as the Hard Disk, or Solid State Disks.

These though are a multitude slower than RAM, and you will notice your System crawls to a halt if your RAM is full.

So you should make sure you have enough RAM, as full RAM is also a reason why Systems often crash.

Corsair RAM for Computer for Animation

Image-Source: gskill

That said, the baseline should be 16GB of RAM.

32GB though is much better already and 64GB will last you a long time unless you are working on very large projects with lots of Polygons, Displacements, Hires Textures or giant Particle Caches.

Having more RAM also benefits you when you have more than one Software open at a time. And that happens all the time.

If you are in Cinema 4D or Maya or 3ds Max, chances are you also have Photoshop, maybe After Effects, Google Chrome and an Email Program open, and of course all of these Applications need their own share of RAM.

Good brands to look out for usually are Corsair, G.Skill & OCZ but you might prefer others. Some particular RAM Kits I can recommend are Corsair 16GB LPX and the Corsair 32GB LPX Vengeance Kit.

One Important thing here: Buy your final RAM Size in a KIT (Bundle). If you want 32 Gbytes of RAM, buy 4*8GB in a KIT or 2*16GB in a KIT.

Don’t buy two or more individual RAMs.

Why?

Because bundled RAMs are pre-tested in the Factory and will work well together.

If you buy RAM Sticks individually, these might not work well together (even if they are of the exact same specifications and Brand) and can be a cause of crashes and Blue-Screens.

If you do like to optimize even your RAM as much as possible and have some more cash to spare, the general rule is to buy high Clocks and low CL Timings for best performance.

So a 32GB DDR4 3200MHz CL15 would be slightly better than a 32GB DDR4 2666MHz CL17.

Best Mainboard for Animation

As with RAM, the Mainboard too is nothing that will speed up this Computer all that much, but there are some things to consider before buying just any mainboard.

The Mainboard (or Motherboard) basically is the central HUB where all your other hardware is attached to.

It serves as a switchboard between these Hardware Components and any external devices you might want to plug into the Computer.

The CPU plugs into the Mainboard and requires the right Socket.

An Intel i7 8700K, for example, would need an LGA 1151 Socket and it only fits into this socket. An AMD Ryzen CPU needs a Motherboard that has an AM4 Socket.

Mainboards have PCI-Express Slots, where the GPU(s) are plugged into. Depending on how many GPUs you would like to get or are planning on upgrading to in the future, be sure to get a Mainboard that has enough PCI-Express Slots.

PCI-E Slots and PCI-E Lanes though are a Topic for itself and therefore have an Article for themselves.

Head over there if GPU Rendering in Redshift, VRAY-RT or Octane on Multi-GPU Setups is something you are planning on doing.

Best Computer for Animation - MSI Mainboard

Image-Source: tweakpc.de

In addition, you should make sure the Mainboard supports the amount of RAM you will be installing. Modern Motherboards usually support up to 64GB of RAM.

External USB Sticks, external Hard-Drives, Input Devices, Mouse, Keyboard and Tablet, and many more are also plugged into the Mainboard.

If you have a lot of external devices that you want to be able to use with this Computer for Animation, be sure the Mainboard has enough connectors to handle them.

Good Motherboard Brands to look out for usually include ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte & ASROCK but there are others that you might prefer.

If you find all of this a bit overwhelming, I have some finished Computer Builds that I put together for you down below with Hardware Components that work well together.

Best Storage Devices in a Computer for Animation

Storage is an easy one. There basically only are 3 Types of Storage Devices that you can get and I’ll list the benefits and use cases very briefly:

HDD or Hard Disc Drive

  • Kind of an old Storage Device that has been overtaken in terms of performance and speed
  • Good for archiving backing up lots of Data, not as good for an active Work Drive
  • Recommendations: Seagate Barracuda or Western Digital Blue in your desired Size (for example 2TB)

(Sata) SSD or Solid State Drive

  • About 5x faster than HDD
  • Good for working and OS Drive
  • Recommendations: Samsung 860 EVO in your desired size (for example 500GB)

M.2 PCI-E NVME SSD

  • Fancy long Name AND extreme Performance, 5x faster than even SSDs
  • Great for working Drive and OS /Applications Drive
  • More Expensive than SATA SSDs but in my experience worth it
  • Recommendations: Samsung 970 EVO in your desired Sizes (for example 512GB)
Best Computer for Animation - SSD vs NVMe

Image-Source: atpinc.com

Samsung 860 EVO Price Drop

Image-Source: geizhals.de

Especially SSD and NVME are coming down in price very fast currently as you can see in this price chart:

Highly recommended!

Best PSU & Case for our Animation PC Build

Both the Power Supply and the Case, of course, won’t do anything for your Animation performance at all, but here are some things to be aware of before choosing:

It is best to get a bit more Wattage in your PSU than necessary, so you have some headroom in case you upgrade to more or more power hungry components in the future.

This way you can keep your PSU when you upgrade your other components.

Good PSU Brands are Corsair, Seasonic & BeQuiet but you might prefer others or already have a PSU in your current/old computer that you can continue using if it is strong enough.

Check this wattage calculator here to determine how much Watts your PSU should have, depending on the Hardware Components that you are planning on having in your Computer for Animation.

The Case is what will be on display in your office or room. That is pretty much the only thing people or you get to see. (Unless you have a see-through Case)

Apart from having it fit all of the Hardware Components, this is one of the parts of Building a Computer for Animation, where you can let your taste decide what pleases you.

There are so many different Case styles, Colors, Materials, with or without See-through glass windows and various forms and sizes out there, you can browse for days and weeks 🙂

I have had excellent experience with Cases from Corsair, such as the Corsair Carbide 400C or the Obsidian 750D, but that is just my taste in having a professional minimalistic looking case, that also dampens the noise somewhat, so my Workstations run quietly.

Best Computer for Animation - Corsair Case

Image-Source: Corsair

Of course, you should make sure your hardware components fit into the case, so be sure to get at least ATX Midi Tower (or similar) Sizes for a standard build, or a bigger Tower if you plan on putting lots of GPUs or Watercooling inside.

Ability to Upgrade your Computer

This is one of the many reasons for carefully building a Computer with the right Hardware Parts: You can upgrade almost anything.

Want a faster CPU? Get a faster one and sell your old CPU on eBay. Usually, the Mainboard Sockets are good for a couple of CPU Generations.

More RAM? Just get more RAM. (Though beware of incompatibilities when using individual RAM Kits)

Want a faster GPU? Swap your GPU for a faster one. Or add more GPUs (if your Mainboard has enough PCIe Slots)

Storage can be added too, and most mainboards support a good number of internal devices.

You can even swap out your Mainboard for a better one, as long as the CPU socket and Chipset is compatible with all your other Components.

Best Monitor for Animation

Let me say this:

Size – Important

Resolution – Important

Color Display Quality – Usually not that important and this is the thing that drives Monitor prices up the most. But do read on:

Yes, you should get a Monitor that is large enough, or even two and more Monitors, so your Software User Interface, Viewport and previews and potential Image/Video References fit neatly without you having to change between different windows all the time.

Having a higher Resolution helps with fitting more on your Monitors, though beware that there are still some Applications out there that scale their Interfaces and on-screen Text with the Resolution of the Monitor.

So having a high res display (such as 4k) might make the UI Text extremely small. Usually, Windows compensates this by trying to scale it back up, but that doesn’t always work well and might result in a blurry UI.

Probably the most expensive feature in a Monitor is getting a high-quality IPS Panel instead of a TN Panel.

You might have already seen, that some Monitors cost around 200$ and some other with seemingly the exact same features are 600$ and up.

This is usually because the built-in Panel type is an IPS (In-Plane-Switching) Panel and not a lower quality TN Panel.

IPS Panels have better Contrast and Color Display.

You should get one if you are doing lots of Color Grading, Post-Production, Color-accurate Print, Web or Broadcasting Work.

If all you do is Animate or Model in your 3D Software and you usually just use the standard shaded or Wireframe view, you can save some money and get a regular TN-Panel Monitor.

I have had good experience with Asus IPS 24″ and 27″ Monitors that aren’t too expensive but you might prefer others.

You should build your best PC yourself

I say this in all my Articles and I can’t stress it enough: Build your own Computer!

It’s much cheaper, it’s fun, you gain knowledge about how a Computer works and what parts it is made up of and with this knowledge, you can upgrade and fix most Problems that you might run into later on your own.

It’s not difficult and if you know how to follow instructions or how to put together a Lego Set, then you can build a Computer yourself.

Here’s a good Video that shows you how to:


Now that we know what individual Hardware Parts we should put into a Computer for Animation, let’s take a look at some Pre-Selected Builds in different Price-Tiers:

Finished Computer Builds in different Price Tiers

Best Computer for Animation, AMD at roughly ~700$

PCPartPicker part list

Some Build notes:

This is a lower end build, if you are a bit tight on budget. If you have some extra money to spend, you should consider the AMD Ryzen 2600. If you want to save some money you could skip the extra CPU-Cooler and just use the Cooler that AMD ships with the CPU.

If you can spare some more cash, consider upgrading to an Nvidia GTX 1060.

Best Computer for Animation, AMD at roughly ~1200$

PCPartPicker part list

Some Build notes:

This is a basic AMD build that you can build upon. The Case is professional looking, minimalistic and quiet. There is no room for Optical drives, you will need a different Case if you want to have DVD/CD Drives.

The AMD Ryzen 2700X is the fastest of the second Generation Ryzen CPUs with excellent Multi-Core and good Single Core performance. All AMD Ryzen CPUs usually come with included CPU coolers, so you wouldn’t necessarily need an extra cooler. But the be quiet CPU Cooler cools extremely well and is worth it.

I added a Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe Drive in this build that will give you extreme Storage Performance. The Asus Turbo Series GPUs are Blower-Style GPUs, meaning you can stack them on top of each other in Multi-GPU Builds, without loosing too much Cooling performance.

Best Computer for Animation, Intel at roughly ~1500$

PCPartPicker part list

Some Build notes: This is a basic build that you can build upon. The Case is professional looking, minimalistic and quiet. There is no room for Optical drives in the Corsair Carbide 175Q, you will need a different Case if you want to have DVD/CD Drives.

The Intel CPU does not come with a boxed CPU Cooler, so I added an excellent CPU Air Cooler from BeQuiet here. Air Coolers are usually quieter than AIO or Water Cooling solutions, as they only have one Fan and no pumping noise.

A good upgrade, if you have the extra cash, would be to go with the Intel i9 9900K CPU, as it has two extra Cores and higher Core-Clocks.

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 Animation PC with part recommendations that will fit within your budget.

It also recommends Laptops for Animation, if you would like to be more mobile.

PC-Builder Facebook Title Image

That’s pretty much it!

What Computer for Animation are you building?

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Alex from CGDirector - post author

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

I have 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!

72
Comments

Marco

Hi Alex,
Great article and website. I’m planning on building my very first PC to use as a video editing / vfx workstation and I need your advice on it. My budget is around $2500-3000 CAD. and the programs that I would use it for are: Maya, Nuke, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and Illustrator. After using your custom pc-building tool (which is very helpful btw) and tweaking some things, this is what I came up with:

CPU: Intel – Core i9-9900K 3.6 GHz 8-Core Processor ($639.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! – Dark Rock Pro 4 50.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($119.90)
Motherboard: Gigabyte – Z390 AORUS PRO WIFI ATX LGA1151 Motherboard ($259.99)
Memory: Corsair – Vengeance LPX 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($250.99)
Storage HDD: Seagate – Barracuda 2 TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($74.50)
Storage SSD: Samsung – 860 Evo 500 GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive ($104.00)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung – 970 Evo 500 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive ($169.99)
Video Card: Gigabyte – GeForce RTX 2060 6 GB WINDFORCE OC Video Card ($479.99)
Case: NZXT – H500 ATX Mid Tower Case ($99.99)
Power Supply: SeaSonic – FOCUS Plus Gold 650 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular ATX ($121.99)
Operating System: Microsoft – Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit ($129.25)
Monitor: LG – 25UM58-P 25.0″ 2560×1080 60 Hz Monitor ($119.99)
Keyboard: Logitech – G610 Wired Gaming Keyboard ($119.95)
Mouse: Logitech – G300S Wired Optical Mouse ($39.88)
Speakers: Logitech – S120 2.3 W 2.0 Channel Speakers ($19.05)

Total: $2749.45 CAD

What’s the expected active work / render performance of this build?
Is there anything that you recommend I should change or add?

Thank you,
Marco

Smartsultan

Thanks Alex for the Great info..

I earlier had a Intel Xeon Processor build with Nivedia Graphics Card and 8 GB of RAM Transcend purchased during 2005. I used to work on Graphic Design such as Corel, Adobe photoshop, Illustrator and sometime for the learning cure, some Short Video Making through Softwares like Filmora etc.

Also, as I am on Datawarehousing Platform, I will also work on MSBI tools ( SSRS, SSAS, SSIS ) and Informatica ETL tool, Having SQL / Oracle Databse instance.

Now, I am trying to build a new PC based on your suggestion from post and builder link, Will the below suffice my need at least for 5-8 years down the lane.

CPU: Intel i9 9900k ($484.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 1151 ($88.09)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX2080 – Asus Turbo ($743.99)
Memory: 32GB Corsair Vengeance LPX Kit DDR4-3200, CL16-19-19-36 ($179.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung SSD 970 EVO 1TB, M.2 ($235.00)
Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z390-A ATX 1151 $183.00
Power Supply: Corsair RMx Series RM650x 650W ATX 2.4 ($89.99)
Case: be quiet! Silent Base 601 orange $139.00 / Corsair Carbide 400C ($89.99)
Monitors: ASUS PB278Q 27″ WQHD 2560×1440 IPS DisplayPort HDMI DVI Eye Care Monitor ($349.00)

Also note, The Environment Temperature is about 40 C.

Please check and Suggest..

Regards,
Sultan

Ahmed

thanks man for the great info
so putting the i7 8700K aside i5 9600k will be better than i7 8700, is that right?

Thanks.

Karthik

Hi First of all ur blog is very useful tnx alot , I am from India in the budget $1200 the mentioned air cooler will take a month to reach here in India so can suggest some other air-cooler that available readily here.

Thanks.

Maya

Hello Alex…
I really appreciate the great work and efforts you put into detailing everything so clearly,,
It would be really helpful if you could guide me with the right choice of pc build.. though the article was detailed but i still am confused…
I am an architect and i use sketch-up for modelling and v ray for rendering also i want to create walk through videos using this.. i used some other software such as Autocad, Etabs and stuff like that.. so could you kindly provide a straight away specs or parts of pc build which i can go for and i really like to have lag free workstation also don’t want to burn my pocket. some of your budget pc build suggestions are great but i am confused if i go for a build of $1300 how much am i compromising with the performance. or is it worth spending a lil more for my kinda work…

Skylar

Hi Alex,
I know a lot of people have mentioned this but this and your other guides are truly the most comprehensive and helpful guides I have come across in my research. As a novice looking to pivot from coordinating to being an artist I couldn’t be more thankful for the work you’ve put in here for all of us to benefit from.

It seems like you’re pretty active responding to comments (which is an impressive feat unto itself!) and I I have one super noob question that I’ve been trying to confirm myself to help plan what to build: is it possible to opt for a lower end card such as the NVIDIA GTX1060 – Asus Turbo and then couple this to a card such as an RTX? The glaring potential issue here is the difference of architecture for these cards may preclude them from being compatible in an SLI setup but could one pair a GTX1060 with a GTX1080 or an RTX2070 with an RTX2080, etc?

For context, I’m aiming to learn After Effects and potentially Nuke down the line but am also keen to learn Blender, 3Ds MAX (since this is the app that Alan McKay does his tutorials around), and likely Zbrush and/or Cinema4D at some point. A strong CPU seems the best thing to plan around initially so I plan to go for the i9 9900K with 16-32 GB of ram and then use a lower tier video card but want to leave myself space to scale.

I’ve become used to gaming on a Mac running bootcamp so whatever I build will absolutely destroy what I’ve known previously in that world, which is a very exciting addition 🙂

Any thoughts you can offer would be very much appreciated.

Cheers,
Skylar

Skylar

Following up here to just say disregard that message. I was able to google this a bit more effectively and found that, while most answers were directed towards results in gaming, it is perhaps possible but is not really worth it since the time difference per frame render creates unnecessary complexity. To that end I’ll probably go for the 1080 TI.

However, if you do have the time, I’m trying to figure out if one of the below cards is a “blower” (as I saw you mention this earlier) and would be better for a dual GPU build? I’m getting a bit confused by the vernacular in Graphics cards naming conventions. If one of these is better for dual build I would probably get it to be able to stack it with another down the line.

EVGA – GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11 GB FTW3 GAMING iCX Video Card
Asus – GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11 GB STRIX GAMING Video Card

No worries if not, I’m sure I’ll be able to figure this out at some point!

Aravindharsan

Hi Mr.Alex
Now I am study and decided to buy gigabyte Z390 Aorus Master /ultra motherboard
Is it right best ?

Aravindharsan

Hi Mr.Alex
article was excellent.

Last time u give a idea build Pc for 3dsmax and vray ,Lumion,Maya,Zbrush,Unreal engine ,Vfx After effects..

Thanks a lot I am get the decision to build workstation pc,

i9 9900k 5Ghz
nvidia rtx2070 founder edition –Future Will Add RTX 4000 or 2080ti
Samsung 970 PRO NVMe Series 512GB M.2 PCI-Express 3.0 x 4 Solid State Drive
Samsung/WD Ssd 500gb Storage 1 .
Storage-2 -1tbHard disk
CORSAIR VENGEANCE LPX 16GB (1x16GB) DDR4 3200MHZ C16 DESKTOP RAM
Cooler-H500p/H500m Or Lian Li O11 Dynamic /Lian Li O11 Air Or ( Cooler Master SL600M)-Which is best?

Mother board Here India not Having stock Asus prime A atx 1151 Z390 –and also says higher price

What i go .. Motherboard to build this rig?.
{
1.Gigabyte z390 designere ATX
2..MSI MEG Z390 Godlike EATX
3.Rog maximus XI Formula
4.MSI MPG z390 Gaming Edge Ac ATX
Or Any Other u Refer The best Please… }

Corsair h150i pro Liquid cooler/NZXT Kraken X62 –My Place Was very heated 37-41 degree temperature. go to liquid cooler…

Lumion Software Render Need Over all +Extra 150Watt Smps

Kindly Check this Spec Right ..And Give Ur valuable feedback to me
I will Go to build for that,…Thank u

Kendall Jeffrey

Hello there, I’m planing on building a pc for school, I’m taking 2d animation and I plan on taking 3d in the future. My budget is $1500 cad.
Here’s a list of items I’m hoping to get.
-gtx 1060 6gb
-16gb ram
-cpu (either amb or intel)
-1tb hdd
-120gb ssd
-window 10
That’s the basics, of course I need more then that to build a pc, that’s just the basic stuff I know I need, if you think I’ll need to go higher in price let me know.

Bryce

Hi Alex –

This is a very basic question, but after choosing a build that does not have room for any optical drives, how do I install Windows onto the machine and get that all up and running?

Mr. Bob

Hello Mr. Alex.

Great article. I’m about to ditch my iMac for a new PC, and your recommendations just saved my day.

I’m looking for a hybrid work/x-plane system, so I think the i990ok seems the logical way to go here.

I’m a freelance motion designer, working with C4D and After Effects. I’m planning on adapting Redshift and start to do some ZBrush sculpting, the latter more as a hobby (unless it turns out I’m very talented in this 😉

Since I’m somewhat on a budget, and want to include a decent ultra-wide monitor, I have a dilemma,

I think I won’t go higher than 2 2080ti’s for Redshift. Is that an okay decision? And also, does it make sense to buy just one rtx 2080 ti now, and add a second one later, in let’s say 6 or so months? Maybe you or the community have even a better solution?

Keep up the fantastic job of sharing your expertise with the creative industry!

Kind regards,

Bob

Aravindharsan

hi Mr Alex,
how are you,
i am aravind from india
i am working architect designer…and 3d artist

i need workstation for making little animation short Flim & 3d animation architectural making ,and vfx particle simulation also,(Example-Water,fire etc..)

mostly work modeling and use 4k texturing and also get rendering scenes..

please give me a advice to build the most powerful workstation 3d creative works..

nowadays nvidia rtx are GPUs compress the big rendering time at low timing ..
But which i go to buy between quadro or Gtx or titan

and which cpu to buy for this ..

plz give advice
to build best full creative work workstation Computer .

Thanks

Aravindharsan

hi alex good day to u
budget up to 3000 to 3500 usd to go for build .

which is best quadro rtx or gtx
and processor overall performance i need,
which is best ? threadripper vs intel i9/i7/
half modeling and quick get render …so plz give suggestion

working softwares are – 3dsmax vray,lumion,zbrush for modeling
blender/maya animation .
after effects for vfx..

Soumyadip Dey

Hey Aravindharsan,

If you have the budget, I would suggest you to go for Threadripper 2990WX. (or 1950x if 2990WX crosses your budget) You can turbo it from 3.0 to 4.2 (actually 4.0-4.1) GHz for better single core performance. It supports ECC memory which is ideal for a workstation. Many graphic artists are upgrading to Threadripper 2990WX. Fox studios used Threadripper but they recently upgraded to Epyc (because they can afford it and its better). You can render and play games at the same time. Zbrush, Maya and Blender runs like a butter. GTX 1080Ti would be just fine but you can put 2080Ti if you want.
P.S:- I’m an Indian too. 🙂

Raquel Faria

Oi Alex,
I’m trying to build a computer for 3Dmodelling most active work and most architectural.
I have a website that can build it for me, in the country i live, but they have a tighter selection of products, so i want to know with this build that i came up with if everything is ok or needs to change.

This is the build :
MOTHERBOARD: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS ULTRA
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i9-9900K
PROCESSOR COOLER: Noctua NH-D15 (Dual FAN)
RAM MEMORY: 32GB DDR4 3000MHz (Corsair Vengeance PRO RGB)
HARD DISK 1: 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive (Samsung 970 EVO 500GB)
HARD DISK 2: 4000GB (4TB) Hard Drive (Toshiba 7200.14)
VIDEO CARD: NVIDIA RTX 2070 8GB (GIGABYTE RTX 2070 Windforce)
NETWORK CONTROLLER: WiFi – ASUS PCE-AC56 – (2.4Ghz + 5Ghz – 1300Mbps)
FOOD: 750Watt – Corsair CX750
HOUSING: NZXT S340 ELITE Matte White

Main questions on this build is
– Motherboard either this GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS ULTRA or ASUS ROG STRIX Z390-E GAMING
– Pocessor Intel Core i9-9900K or Intel Core i9 7920X
IF the processor will be better Intel Core i9 7920X i have to change motherboard since the website is restrictive and i would have to change to ASUS PRIME X299-A or ASUS ROG STRIX X299-E GAMING
– Video card NVIDIA RTX 2070 or NVIDIA RTX 2080
– Food supply 750Watt – Corsair CX750 or 620Watt – Seasonic S12II or higher if needed but i dont think so
This are the only options I can change and would. I don’t mind spending the extra money on other options.

Thanks so much for your time again,
Raquel Faria

Ray W

Hey Alex,

First, thank you for the guidance. This read has been the most understandable crash course I’ve seen over the interwebs in the past two days of dedicated research to CAD builds – no joke. I’m about to make my first PC with the aim of character/prop design using as much freeware as I can (i.e. Fusion 360/GIMP), and I’m on a $900 budget… I was interested in the $700 build, but haven’t the know-how to risk a BIOS upgrade. Also, I’m wondering if I need to consider upgrades to the CPU and added RAM since it seems Fusion 360 renders via cloud (if I’m understanding that right)? Lastly, if possible, I’d like a build with “grow” room as I’m assuming these programs are made free because they’re about to roll out a more resource-encumbering version.

If you have the time, could you help me with this? Either way, thanks in advance for this article – truly.

– Ray

Ray W

I just found your https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/ and selected “Modeling/Animation” settings for $1k. I’m ready to start purchasing, but before I do, are there any notable performance jumps for a marginal amount more? You’re a boss, man.

Francis

Hi Alex!
Thank you so much for this excellent article. Until now I was working on a laptop and now I want to build my first PC . I am very inexperienced so I wonder if you can suggest a build that suits my needs. I need it for 3D Modeling and Rendering ( I use Maya, Unreal Engine 4, ZBrush, Redshift) and also for Video and Photo Editing (Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop)
My budget is 2000-3000
Thank you so much
Francis

Illum

Hey Alex,
This article is extremely helpful for me since I am trying to get started into 3d animation as well, but I do mostly 2d animation so I was wondering which PC is best for both 2d and 3d animation.

samuel robinson

Hey Alex,

I enjoyed reading your article and it was quite insightful. I’m currently learning 3D though blender and I have a question. I’m getting the Deepcool Gamer Storm Quadstellar to build a rendering farm, along with the hardware for animation you recommended is there anything specific I need to make an effective farm/workstation.

Cordero

Hey Alex,

This article was very helpful and I made sure everyone in my animation community read and follow you. I mainly do 2D animation but practicing on my 3D animation hear and there. My question for you is the Ryzen 7 2700X 3.7GHz 8-Core Processor, will this CPU work for Toon Boom Harmony, TVPaint, Adobe creative suite (mainly photoshop, illustrator, aftereffects, flash, premier) and spine? Also the GPU I was getting is a GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6.

Thank you

Anton

Hi, thank you so much for such a helpful article!
I decided to order parts for 1st configuration (700$).
So I got everything and started building it watching video that is included here.
And I got to the moment in the video where the guy installs 2 additional case fans in the back of the box but there were non of them in the list to order, so I got little bit confused.
And I’m wondering do you know do I need them for this particular set up too or it’s unnecessary in this situation?
Thank you again.
@toneleananimation

Sergio

Good morning from Spain, Alex!
This was a superhelpful article, thank you! I’m a little bit afraid of building it, but I’m gonna try 🙂
I’ll let you know what happens

Alexander

Good afternoon, Alex
I use the computer for animation, modeling and motion design (particles, etc.). I have a problem with the choice of processor. Buy 2700x and 2x1080ti or TR 1920x and 1x1080ti. I use Cpu and Gpu render. Since I am new to 3d design and I still do not have well-established priorities in rendering. At the same time, I need to create my portfolio and for this I need to model a lot and render a lot.

Help me please balance the system. Thank you very much

Adam

Hi Alex,

Great breakdown! Your site has been a big help as I’m starting build a new system.

I was hoping you could give some input on Intel CPUs. I’m primarily a freelance Maya animator and occasional gamer looking to build a new desktop workstation. I want to future-proof the system so the investment will last awhile, and leave my options open for any modeling/rendering work that might pop up in the future (my local industry favors generalists).

My options right now are the 8-core 3.6GHz i9-9900K ‘gaming’ CPU, and the 10-core 3.5GHz i9-9900X high-end desktop CPU. The former runs about $530, the latter $1000.

Do you know why the X-series CPUs cost so much more? I get that more cores = more expensive, but this seems like a HUGE jump. The best I can tell is that the 10-core supports more PCI lanes for running multiple GPUs and that sort of thing. I don’t currently do GPU rendering, but it seems the industry is heading that way. I’d hate to spend the extra on nothing, but also don’t want to close myself off to future upgrades.

Thanks again for the excellent system breakdowns, happy to answer any questions if this wasn’t clear.

Anne

(Not too pricy = under $500)

Anne

Hi, my 12 year old daughter is interested in having a computer/laptop to do animation on at home.
She did an intensive two week computer animation course last summer and is a good artist.
We bought her an XP pen 10s and now want to buy her a laptop to use with it. (She has a chrome book for school homework.) Any recommendations on a not too pricy laptop for this purpose? Thanks!

Harsha

hey Alex , Does more ram help if you have more simulations on screen ?

Adam Benton

Great updated article/re-write of the older article, Alex – thank you! 🙂