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Best CPU For Rendering (Updated)

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex   ⋮   ⋮   299 comments
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Best CPU For Rendering (Updated)

Have you ever wondered what Processor (CPU) is best for rendering?

Finding the best CPU For Rendering, that is also as cheap as possible, is something you will want to do before building a new Computer for 3D Rendering, Workstation for After Effects, a dedicated Rendernode, a Renderfarm or even a Laptop for Animation.

3ds max, Maya, Cinema 4D, Blender, and many other 3D Software packages have in-built and 3rd-party CPU Render Engines that all rely on maximum CPU multi-Core Performance.

Since there are so many different CPU types with different clock-speeds, core-counts, hyperthreading, and brand, it can be difficult to select the right platform to go with.

AMD Ryzen, Threadripper, Intel i5, i7, i9, XEON, Pentium, some with lots of Cores and others with high Core-Clocks.

In the end, it all comes down to raw CPU Rendering performance, that I will be measuring with Cinebench R15, the currently leading Benchmarking Software for CPU Rendering Performance.

Of course, there are lots of lists online to check cinebench points, but what is most important is how well the Performance / Dollar ($) ratio is.

This is why I have created a Performance/Dollar ($) Table for you to sort to your liking.

This will show you the best Rendering CPU for the Money:

Best CPU for 3D Rendering

Performance / Dollar ($): Higher is better.

= AMD   |  = Intel

CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench R15Price($)Performance/Dollar
CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench R15Price($)Performance/Dollar
AMD Ryzen 5 260063.4130711511.26
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X63.6137312610.89
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X83.7178316510.80
AMD Ryzen 7 270083.2152614510.52
AMD Threadripper 1920X123.5243124010.12
AMD Threadripper 1900X83.817112008.55
AMD Ryzen 5 360063.615811997.94
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X83.415402157.16
AMD Ryzen 7 170083.014262096.80
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X83.616132396.74
AMD Ryzen 5 160063.211471696.71
AMD Ryzen 5 140043.27871196.61
AMD Threadripper 2920X123.526044006.51
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X83.621163296.43
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X123.831684996.34
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X43.58031395.77
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X63.312502195.71
AMD Threadripper 1950X163.430625505.56
AMD Ryzen 3950X163.540707505.42
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X83.921663995.42
Intel i5 840062.89661795.39
Intel i7 870063.213892894.80
Intel i7 9700K83.615423604.28
AMD Threadripper 3960X243.8593313994.24
AMD Threadripper 2970WX243.0432310254.21
Intel i9 9900K83.620775004.15
AMD Threadripper 2950X163.532107954.04
Intel i9 9940X143.331738293.82
Intel i9 10980XE183.037999993.80
Intel i7 8700K63.714283593.79
AMD Threadripper 3970X323.7739819993.70
Intel i7 7800X63.513333693.62
Intel i9 9980XE183.0379910493.62
Intel i9 9920X123.524387193.45
Intel i9 9960X163.132119293.45
Intel i7 8086K63.713864253.26
Intel i7 7700K44.29963103.21
Intel i7 7740X44.39863292.99
Intel i5 9600K63.710683602.96
Intel i5 7600K43.87012392.93
AMD Threadripper 2990WX323.0522417992.90
Intel i7 7820X83.617345992.89
Intel i7 7820X83.617345992.89
Intel i7 6800K63.410964192.61
Intel XEON E5-2620 v482.110964202.60
Intel i9 7900X103.321699992.17
Intel i7 6850K63.612355702.16
Intel i9 7920X122.9243812002.03
Intel i9 7940X143.1284914501.96
Intel i9 7960X162.8316117001.89
Intel i9 7980XE182.6345519001.81
Intel i7 6900K83.2156210491.48
Intel XEON E5-2650 v4122.2158912001.32
Intel i7 5960X83.0132410691.23
Intel i7 6950X103.0178816491.08
Intel XEON E5-2687W v4123.0186024440.76
Intel XEON E5-2699 v4222.2246045000.54

 

Now you know the best Performance / Price ratio of different CPUs.

Keep in mind, to truly find not just the best performing CPU for Rendering, but the best overall system for your rendering needs, you should also consider:

  • Power consumption: Does the CPU need lots of power and drive up your power bill?
  • Single vs Multi-Socket Systems: What is the overall system price per CPU? Many Intel Xeons, for example, are available as 2 socket systems, that might make an overall system price per CPU cheaper.
  • Heat: Does the CPU get very hot? Will you need a loud and expensive Cooling Solution? Ryzen and Threadripper CPUs tend to be easily cooled.
  • CPU-Cooler Price: Some CPUs such as the AMD Ryzen CPUs have a CPU Cooler included in the package already.
  • Motherboard price: A cheaper CPU might not be so cheap if you need an expensive Mainboard for it.
  • Number of Cores per System: A Ryzen 5 3600 might have extremely high CPU Rendering Value but you will also need multiple of those CPUs (and therefore multiple Systems) to get to the performance of a single Threadripper 2970X.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X vs Intel i9 9900K

I have been asked this several times as these CPUs are both extremely popular. 3900X vs 9900K. Which one is better?

So I compiled a quick main feature list of both CPUs:

3900X: 12 Cores, Cheaper, Faster at Rendering, Included Cooler, Stays Cooler, Minimally less-snappy active working

i9 9900K: 8 Cores, Slightly snappier active Working, needs extra Cooler, can get very hot

So if you put everything but performance aside it usually comes down to: Are you rendering a lot (get a 3900X), or actively work on this PC a lot (get an i9 9900K).

One of these two CPUs is usually what you would choose when building a Computer for Animation or a Computer for 3D Modeling, as they are some of the highest-clocking CPUs out there.

High Core-Counts vs high Core-Clock

Both, high core-counts and high core-clocks, will improve your rendering speeds. Having more cores is usually the best price/performance way of increasing 3D CPU Rendering Speed.

But, of course, Rendering alone isn’t what you usually do on a typical Computer. When actively working on it, be it in 3D, Photo Editing, Graphic Design or Video Editing, having high core-clocks will benefit you much more than having lots of cores.

This means it would be best to both have lots of Cores AND high core-clocks. Since CPUs usually trade off cores for clocks (because of thermal limits and power regulations) you usually have to find a middle ground between Number of cores and clock-speed, though.

Best CPU for Rendering on a Laptop

Now, all of the above are CPUs that would be built into a 3D Rendering Computer or Workstation. If you are interested in using something more mobile, say, a Laptop for Animation and would also like great CPU Rendering Speed on this, then the following List is for you:

= AMD   |  = Intel

CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench
CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench
Intel Core i9-8950HK62.91269
Intel Core i7-8850H62.61023
Intel Core i7-8750H62.21063
Intel Core i5-8400H42.5819
Intel Core i5-8300H42.3795
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U42.2662
AMD Ryzen 5 2500U42.0584
Intel Core i7-7820HK42.9784
Intel Core i7-6820HK42.7694
AMD Ryzen 7 3700U42.3701
AMD Ryzen 5 3500U42.1620
Intel Core i9-9980HK82.41930
Intel Core i9-9880H82.31721

Benchmarks vs Real World

One should be aware, that benchmarks are of course not always representative of all types of real-world workloads.

A Threadripper 2990WX, for example, is extremely fast at rendering Scenes that are less Memory intensive but does not scale linearly when rendering memory heavy scenes.

There are lots of steps involved in Rendering:

  • Preparation time
  • Mesh exporting
  • Texture loading time
  • Cache building time
  • Ray-Tracing Tree-building time
  • Light-Cache and other GI-Caching times

.. to only name a few. These are all rendering steps that are done before the more well-known bucket rendering stage even starts.

Some of these stages might even be restricted to single Cores.

Lots of these Benchmarks, such as Cinebench, mainly measure the Bucket Rendering Phase where a Multi-Core CPU with lots of Cores pulls ahead easily, as the underlying scenes are usually not all that complex (Read as: there is almost no preparation time involved).

Long story short:

Make sure to analyze the type of scenes you are planning on rendering. Measure what rendering stage usually takes up the most time in one of your typical scenes. Keep an eye on your Task Manager to see if the current stage uses all Cores or only a few to find out what has to be improved.

Most CPU Render Engines nowadays show the current rendering stage somewhere in the render window like in the example below from the Cinema 4D Picture Viewer:

Cinema 4D Render Stages - CPU Rendering

Custom PC-Builder

If you want to get the best parts within your budget you should definitely have a look at the Web-Base 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

PC-Builder Facebook Title Image

What kind of Computer are you building? Feel free to ask for help in the comments.


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!

299
Comments

Mujeebul Hasan

Hello, can you please help in suggesting a configuration for a PC for our office where we do on a daily basis extensive 3ds Max related works and heavy photo-metric rendering.. So we are rendering a lot as well as actively working.. budget is flexible – but i am guessing around $4,500.00.. currently very confused should the Graphics Card be Quad P 5000 GBs ? kind or RTX2080i ,, likewise AMD Ryzen 9 3900X or Intel i9 9900K , number of cores ? RAM 16×4 or 32×2 ? Motherboard etc.. Look forward to your suggestion. Thanks / Mujeeb

Jimmy

Hi.. am planning an upgrade and have been using a multi cpu Xeon system till now. Not with cpus with upto 16 or 18 cores cant decide weather to go for a system with multiple cpus with less cores or go for a single cpu with more cores.. need for max renders and cad..
Please suggest

Hi Jimmy,

Thanks for dropping a comment!

If I may ask, how much are you willing to spend for this new build? Also, what you will be the main use of this build? Is it for rendering or for CAD? Or a combination of both?

Alternatively, you can have a look at the site’s PC Builder Tool. You just need to choose the main purpose that you’ll use your build for and adjust your budget accordingly. The tool will then give you the best parts recommendation based on your use case and budget. You can find the tool at https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/.

Cheers,
Alex

Jimmy

The build shall be for both purposes.. but the mail confusion is one CPU vs Multiple CPUS vs no. of cores .. which is better for Rendering .. That being the heavier Application I believe..

muhammad el senousy

iMac 27-inch Retina 5K Display 3.7GHz 6-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz 2TB Storage

could anyone tell me plz if this i mac is a good one for 3dsmax and 3d works or not ?

Hi Muhammad,

Thanks for asking!

There are a lot of 3D modelling software that’s compatible with Mac but sad to say, 3ds Max is NOT one of them. 3ds Max only runs on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 so you’re out of luck there.

Additionally, I don’t tend to recommend the use of Macs because with a Mac, you tend to end up paying more and yet get less in terms of performance, especially when compared to a Windows-based build.

At the end of the day, the decision to use a Mac will still be based on user-preference but if you want the best bang for your buck in terms of price to performance ratio, you’re better off going for a Windows workstation.

Cheers,
Alex

Marem

Hello Alex, I also would like to make use of your experience as I cant decide what to choose.

I am working with Autocad en Revit on daily. basis. Mostly 2D modelling with Autocad but 3D modelling will be used more often in the future with Revit. I have been comparing the AMD 3700x and Intel i7 9700 for weeks now and still can not decide which one to choose. As for GPU I had the RX570 in mind (Alternative was a nvidia 1660). What is the best setup in your opinion for my usecase? My budget is around $1100.

Hi Marem,

Thanks for dropping a line!

I don’t tend to recommend an Intel build because it is a “dead-end” platform with limited upgrade options. A Ryzen build on the other hand is more “robust,” so to speak, when it comes to upgradability. But for your budget of around $1,100, you can get something like the below:

Parts List:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6GHz 6-Core Processor ($193.43)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition AM4 ($36.99)
Motherboard: MSI MPG x570 Gaming Plus ATX AM4 ($169.97)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2060 6GB – MSI Gaming ($359.99)
Memory: 16GB (2 x 8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($79.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO 500GB M.2 Solid State Drive ($102.85)
Power Supply: Corsair CX Series CX550 550W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($64.99)
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro ATX Full Tower Case ($89.00)

The total comes up to around $1097.21 but you get the best combination of components that will deliver the best price to performance ratio for your use case. All in all, you can expect this build to perform nicely and handle your 2D and 3D modeling tasks really well.

Cheers,
Alex

Cheryl Veliganio

hi Alex tnx for sharing your experience it helps me a lot to decide in considering to build my new pc in office. although the office still look for the cheapest one. can you help me once again by replying of my message. Right now we are planning to do animation. the software might be use are the following
• 3Ds MAX
• PHOTOSHOP
• AUTOCAD
• ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR
• ADOBE AFTER EFFECTS (VIDEO EFFECTS)
• ADOBE PREMIERE PRO (VIDEO EDITING FOR THE ANIMATION)
• CINEMA 4D (ANIMATION)
• VRAY / LUMION (RENDER PROGRAM)

Note: I’m faster making 3Ds in Max while other program is just for animation and effects.
I import the 3d I made in 3ds max and use my basic knowledge of some program. can you guide me what are the computer specs I need to purchase. actually I do complex 3d’s already and do basic animation like 360 and walk through but this time the office are planning to set in a whole new level that also include lightening effects synchronisation and other things that can be consider so our client can really visualised the product we area offering ( firetrucks, ambulances, high modified vehicle). Everything from the lights and equipment functions and some other things are planned to be animated. Hope you can help me. I just learned thru online gathered data. I’m not good in hardware items but when it comes to graphics I can easily learned.

Hey Cheryl,

Thanks for dropping a line!

If I may ask, how much are you willing to spend for this new PC? Please let me know so I can make the best recommendation in terms of parts/components based on what you will be using your workstation for.

Alternatively, you can also have a look at the site’s PC Builder Tool. Simply put your budget and select the most appropriate use case scenario from the choices and the tool will give you the best recommendations based on your budget and use case. You can find the tool here: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/

Cheers,
Alex

Mike

Hey Alex.. .. love the site…
I haven’t seen any comments regarding SketchUp and any of the “real-time” rendering plug-ins like Lumion or Twinmotion. I work with AutoCAD and SketchUp mostly and am using both Twilight and Twinmotion on the rendering side.. Mostly still rendering with some animation, maybe 10%. Looking to spend $1600-$1800 on a desktop. I have typically been an Intel guy but after reading your comments It seems AMD may be a better choice with regards to heat issues. I ran your pc builder app (way cool) using budgets at $200 increments from $1600 – $2200 but I don’t want to buy more than I really need.
My SketchUp projects are basically residential architecture. Exterior renderings are typically a medium complexity while the interior projects are more complex unless I add landscape design to the exterior which can get very complex with high polygon counts and heavy textures… especially with Twinmotion
I was hoping you might have some comment based on “SketchUp’s” performance. By the way… I ran the PC Builder using the 3D Modeling & Animation Setting.
Your comments are greatly appreciated!!
Hope you had a great Holiday!

Mike

Autumn Davis

Sup Techies,

So, I’m starting my first PC build, and I need some advice before going forward. For context reasons, my pc will be heavily used for 3D modeling, rendering, sculpting, as well as animations. I’m talking blender, maya, zbrush, unity, photoshop, etc. No email checking, or streaming, or 4K editing or anything of the sort. The only gaming I’ll be doing is testing my own, so I guess FPS is important in that respect.

Anyway, I’m trying to find the best (and most cost-friendly) CPU. I am between a thread ripper 2920x and a intel i7 9700k. The extra cores in the threadripper look good for rendering, but it seems the processing power in the i7 are better for sculpting and modeling work. I am torn and not sure if either have a leg up that I may have overlooked. I am working my way through this build research by research and every response or piece of information helps.

Thanks guys for all your help and advice in advance,
Autumn

Hey Autumn,

Thanks for asking!

You are right – the high core count of the Threadripper 2920X will come in handy for your CPU rendering tasks but it’s slightly at a disadvantage when it comes to clock speed when compared to the i7-9700K. However, you lose a bit of rendering power on the i7-9700K as it only has 8 cores compared to the 12-core 2920X.

Given your possible use case scenario, a good balance between high core count and high clock speed is what you need. At the moment, the Ryzen 9 3900X ticks off the right boxes without actually putting too much of a dent on your budget. The 3900X has 12 cores for your CPU rendering needs but at the same time, it comes with a base clock of 3.8 GHz and Max Boost of up to 4.6 GHz to give you a fast and smooth experience in your workflow.

If I may ask, how much are you willing to spend on your build? Also, please let me know if you are amenable to using a Ryzen 9 3900X for your CPU on your planned build. That way, I can help you put together the best possible build for your use case, and more importantly, get you the best components within your budget.

Cheers,
Alex

Jordan

Hi Alex,

Great article. What would you suggest for an all-rounder – rendering After Effects,Premiere pro, Sketchup and a bit of Blender (3drendering)?

I am thinking Ryzen or should I go TR? With 2080 Super?

Budget around £1600.

Hey Jordan,

Thanks for asking!

£1600 is around $2,083.67 and that amount of money could get you a well-rounded build like the below for your use case:

Parts List:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 3.9GHz 8-Core Processor ($339.00)
CPU Cooler: AMD Wraith Prism Cooler (Included with CPU) (-)
Motherboard: MSI MPG x570 Gaming Pro Carbon Wifi ATX AM4 ($229.99)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB – MSI Gaming X Trio ($749.99)
Memory: 64GB (4 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 CL16 ($259.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($169.99)
Power Supply: Seasonic Focus Plus Gold 650W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($106.99)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 275Q ATX Mid Tower Case ($74.85)

The total of the build comes up to around $1930.80 which is around £1482.61. This build has a very capable Ryzen 7 3800X at the heart of its system. This CPU has a base clock of 3.9 GHz and a Max Boost of up to 4.5 GHz and when working in conjunction with the build’s whopping 64GB of RAM, you can expect your workflow to be fast and smooth. In addition to that, the 8 cores of the 3800X will come in handy for any CPU rendering task you may have. This build also comes with a powerful RTX 2080 SUPER GPU. A step below the top of the line RTX 2080 Ti, the RTX 2080 SUPER is still powerful enough and has support for CUDA core acceleration for better render performance when you’re using the GPU render engines. All in all, this build’s got everything you need.

Cheers,
Alex

Oskar

Do you think the i7 9700k is a good buy for both 3d modelling and rendering (Maya). I do not render too much but occasionally. I want to pair it with gtx 1660ti and 32gb RAM. I also work in AE, Premiere Pro, ZBrush, PS, inDesign, Illustrator and Nuke. What I really want is a CPU with reasonable render time, not taking too long.

Esmaeel

Hi I’m a beginner for 3d max interior design and I want to assemble a fair cheap system
I3 8100
Gtx 960
Ram 8

I’ve searched through internet and the benchmark for i3 8100 is better than I5 7400
and i7 4770… Do you think it holds true for 3dmax or not?

Should I get I5 9400f or i3 8100 do my job?

Hi Esmaeel,

Thanks for dropping a line!

True, the i3-8100 performed slightly better than the i5-7400 and i7-4770 in some benchmarks but that doesn’t automatically mean that the i3-8100 will have the same performance for 3ds Max. In fact, the recommended CPU for 3ds Max is an i5 CPU so you might as well go for the i5-9400F. Well, the i3-8100 should be able to do the job but not as nicely as the 9400F would. And besides, the price difference between the two CPUs is not too big. The i3-8100 goes for around $129.99 while the i5-9400F can be had for around $146.99. That said, going for the i5-9400F is a no-brainer here.

Cheers,
Alex