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Best CPU For Rendering (Updated)

CG Director Author Alex  by Alex   ⋮   ⋮   326 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($)Performance/Dollar
AMD Ryzen 5 260063.4130711511.26
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X63.6137312610.89
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X83.7178316510.80
AMD Ryzen 7 270083.2152614510.52
AMD Threadripper 1920X123.5243124010.12
AMD Threadripper 1900X83.817112008.55
AMD Ryzen 5 360063.615811997.94
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X83.415402157.16
AMD Ryzen 7 170083.014262096.80
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X83.616132396.74
AMD Ryzen 5 160063.211471696.71
AMD Ryzen 5 140043.27871196.61
AMD Threadripper 2920X123.526044006.51
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X83.621163296.43
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X123.831684996.34
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X43.58031395.77
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X63.312502195.71
AMD Threadripper 1950X163.430625505.56
AMD Ryzen 3950X163.540707505.42
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X83.921663995.42
Intel i5 840062.89661795.39
Intel i7 870063.213892894.80
Intel i7 9700K83.615423604.28
AMD Threadripper 3960X243.8593313994.24
AMD Threadripper 2970WX243.0432310254.21
Intel i9 9900K83.620775004.15
AMD Threadripper 2950X163.532107954.04
Intel i9 9940X143.331738293.82
Intel i9 10980XE183.037999993.80
Intel i7 8700K63.714283593.79
AMD Threadripper 3970X323.7739819993.70
Intel i7 7800X63.513333693.62
Intel i9 9980XE183.0379910493.62
Intel i9 9960X163.132119293.45
Intel i9 9920X123.524387193.45
Intel i7 8086K63.713864253.26
Intel i7 7700K44.29963103.21
Intel i7 7740X44.39863292.99
Intel i5 9600K63.710683602.96
Intel i5 7600K43.87012392.93
AMD Threadripper 2990WX323.0522417992.90
Intel i7 7820X83.617345992.89
Intel i7 7820X83.617345992.89
AMD Threadripper 3990X642.91044939902.61
Intel i7 6800K63.410964192.61
Intel XEON E5-2620 v482.110964202.60
Intel i9 7900X103.321699992.17
Intel i7 6850K63.612355702.16
Intel i9 7920X122.9243812002.03
Intel i9 7940X143.1284914501.96
Intel i9 7960X162.8316117001.89
Intel i9 7980XE182.6345519001.81
Intel i7 6900K83.2156210491.48
Intel XEON E5-2650 v4122.2158912001.32
Intel i7 5960X83.0132410691.23
Intel i7 6950X103.0178816491.08
Intel XEON E5-2687W v4123.0186024440.76
Intel XEON E5-2699 v4222.2246045000.54
CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench R15Price($)Performance/Dollar

 

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
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
CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench

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!

326
Comments

Bart Mazur

Hi guys,

Please help me out. New build issues. I’ve got a Threadripper 3960x cooled with Corsair H115i Platinum RGB and while on heavy load temperatures reach 88C and 93C with PBO turned on (max temp according to AMD is 95C; CPU doesn’t switch off after reaching that level). By heavy load I mean CPU-based 3D rendering using Arnold 6. Idle temps are oscillating around 60C. Is that normal? I am not sure whether I’m experiencing throttling. All cores work steadily around 3.8-3.9GHz and render times per frame are stable as well. I guess that means no throttling?

All drivers, including chipset drivers, are up to date as well as Windows is where it should be too. Here is the complete spec and let me know if you need more info.

AMD Threadripper 3960x 
Corsair H115i Platinum
Aorus TRX40 Xtreme
Corsair CMK64GX4M4C3200C16
Corsair 680X
GeForce RTX 2080Ti
Samsung Evo Pro m2 1TB
Segate HDD 4TB 5400 RPM 
Windows 10 Pro 64

Shall I consider switching to a bigger cooler like Wraith Ripper? Shall I invest in better cooling paste? Shall I not worry at all?

Thanks a lot,
Bart

Michael

I’m going to build a couple of new PCs for the animators in our office. They split their time between Maya and AfterEffects. We use Redshift to take advantage of multi-GPU rendering across many PCs in the studio. I will probably end up with 3 GPUs in each PC.

Would 3 GPUs end up bottlenecking with an i9 9900K because of the 16 PCI lane limitation?

Do I need to go with something like a i9 10900x instead?

Here is what I am looking at:

i9 9900K
ASUS WS Z390 PRO
3 x ASUS Turbo GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER

OR

i9 10900x
GIGABYTE X299 DESIGNARE EX
3 x ASUS Turbo GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER

Thanks!

Kabelo Rammidi

Hi CGDirector

I was asking if the following hardware would be enough for Arnold CPU rendering and viewport navigation in Maya? I’m a one man team and I want a system that’s suitable for television commercial work.

Motherboard – Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS PRO WIFI (AMD TRX40 ATX DDR4)
CPU – AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X 3.7GHz 32 Core 280W
RAM – Crucial 64GB DDR4-2666 (4x16GB)
Graphics Card – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB Blower Fan
Hard Drive – 1TB Samsung 970 Pro PCI-E M.2 SSD (Peak 3,500 MB/s)
Second Hard Drive – 4.0TB Western Digital Red 5400 RPM SATA Quiet (Peak 150 MB/s)
Power Supply – EVGA SuperNOVA P2 850W (80 PLUS Platinum)
Case – Fractal Design Define R6 USB-C (black)
CPU Cooling – Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 (AMD TR4)
Monitor – 32 inch BenQ PD3200U 3840×2160 60Hz IPS 10-bit 100% sRGB

Hi Kabelo,

Thanks for asking!

Your choice of components look good! CPU rendering loves a CPU with a high-core count so the 32 cores if the Threadripper 3970X will come in handy when it comes to delivering an exceptional CPU render performance. Not only that, the 3970X also has more than decent clock speeds at a 3.7 GHz base clock and Max Boost of up to 4.5 GHz. Combine that with your 64GB of RAM and you can expect a fast and smooth viewport navigation in Maya.

One little quirk with your choice of RAM though. While 64GB is plenty of RAM, if you have the means, you might as well take advantage of the 8 DIMM slots of your Gigabyte TRX40 AORUS PRO WIFI motherboard and go for 128GB and choose RAM kits of at least 3200 MHz speeds. If that’s too much, 64GB is still great but try to choose something with at least 3200 MHz RAM speeds as mentioned earlier. Other than that, all’s good!

Cheers,
Alex

Kabelo Rammidi

Thanks for the response! Can you please give me a specific RAM product to look at (I’m not very tech savvy)? I was also told Quadro cards are better and for this reason I had initially decided to go with the Quadro Rtx 4000 or should I just stick with the 2080ti? Is it more powerful for CG work in this case? Also any other suggestions with regards to the other parts are wholly welcome. I have a budget of about $6000 and I want to buy a machine that will enable me to achieve the greatest quality possible with my animation renders and look dev at the fastest possible rate.

Anastasiia Melnyk

Hello Sir,
Can you suggest me PC build for 3D and VR games development (Unreal Engine 4). My budget is 3000 dollars.

Hi Anastasiia,

Thanks for dropping a line!

No need to spend $3,000 for a 3D and VR game development workstation. In fact, $2,500 is enough to get you a capable build with specs like the below:

CGDirector.com Parts List: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=Db1Ff0i0jib

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 3.5GHz 16-Core Processor ($749.99)
CPU Cooler: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 AM4 ($89.90)
Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite ATX AM4 ($179.99)
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB – MSI Gaming X Trio ($738.99)
Memory: 64GB (4 x 16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 CL16 ($319.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($219.99)
Power Supply: Corsair RMx Series RM650x 650W ATX 2.4 Power Supply ($109.99)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series 275Q ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99)

The total of the build comes up to $2498.83 but you can be sure that this build is more than powerful enough to handle whatever 3D and VR game development task you throw at it!

Cheers,
Alex

Deepanshu Goel

Hello Sir,
I am looking CPU for Residential and Commercial area (3Ds Max include Vray and Corona) also Walkthruogh animation.
Please Sugguest me for the best Configuration. and my budget is flexible. So pls help me.

Gopal KARWANDKAR

Hellow sir ,
I am civil engineer,
Now i need laptop for multitasking and 3d modeling like revit architecture,all civil design software.(heavy work)
Thn which laptop best for me
(i9 is out of my budget)
Amd Ryzen 7 or i 7
My budget 1000$
Plz rpy.

Thanks

Hi Gopal,

Thanks for asking!

Your $1,000 budget can get the 2019 model of the Dell G5 Gaming Laptop. Below are its specs:

CPU Intel Core i7-8750H 2.20GHz 6-Core Processor
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Memory(RAM) 24GB DDR4-2666
SSD 512GB Solid State Drive
HDD 1TB Hard Disk Drive
Weight 2.3 kg (~5.06pounds)
Display 15.6″, 1920×1080

The Dell G5 can be had at $999 and with its i7-8750H CPU, 24GB of RAM, and GTX 1050 Ti GPU, you can be sure it can handle your 3D modeling tasks pretty well. At its $999 price point, the 2019 model of the Dell G5 Gaming Laptop is hard to beat!

Cheers,
Alex

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

Vicente

Thank you Alex!
This is around my budget too. I was thinking $1000-$1500 USD.
I will work mostly 3d modelling NURBS on Revit and Rhinoceros, although I also render on Lumion and ocasionally V-Ray. I also work a lot on Photoshop, Indesign and AutoCAD.
Will the setup you mention do the job?
Thank you!
Vicente.