Best CPU For Rendering [2023 Guide]

CG Director Author Alex Glawionby Alex Glawion   /  Updated 

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

Finding the best CPU for rendering, which is also as cheap as possible, is something you will want to do before building a new Computer for 3D Rendering, or a dedicated Render node/ Renderfarm.

3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, Blender, and many other 3D software packages have in-built or 3rd-party CPU Render Engines that all rely directly on your CPU’s multi-core performance.

But because there are so many CPUs with all kinds of clock-speeds, core-counts, hyperthreading, or brand, it can become quite cumbersome to select the right one to go with.

AMD Ryzen, Threadripper, Intel i5, i7, i9, XEON, Celeron, some with many cores and others with high core clocks.

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

Of course, there are lots of lists online to check cinebench points, but even more important than scores is how well the performance/dollar ($) ratio is since spending an unnecessary amount on a CPU is something we’ll all want to avoid.

This is why I have created a performance/dollar ($) table which you can 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.

CPU rendering performance based on Cinebench R23 scores: Higher is better.

= AMD   |    = Intel

CPU NameCPU Rendering PerformancePrice ($)Performance / Dollar*
AMD Threadripper PRO 5965WX405352399
AMD Threadripper PRO 5975WX539773299
AMD Threadripper PRO 5995WX664036499
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X8869230
AMD Ryzen 5 5600G11285259
AMD Ryzen 7 5700X14214299
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D15003449
AMD Ryzen 5 7600X14780299
AMD Ryzen 7 7700X20144399
AMD Ryzen 9 7900X30020549
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X40795699
AMD Ryzen 5 550010710159
AMD Ryzen 5 560011429199
AMD Ryzen 3 3100542399
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X6787120
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X7523229
AMD Threadripper 1900X8979299
AMD Ryzen 5 36009073199
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X9526236
AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT9945249
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X10140329
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X11201230
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X12195329
AMD Ryzen 7 3800XT12955399
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X13848339
AMD Ryzen 7 5700G14350359
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X14812300
AMD Threadripper 1920X15038799
AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT18511499
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X18682434
AMD Threadripper 2950X18797899
AMD Threadripper 1950X19635999
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X22046450
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X26375749
AMD Threadripper Pro 3955WX271751149
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X28782600
AMD Threadripper 2990WX296511799
AMD Threadripper 3960X349321399
AMD Threadripper Pro 3975WX434502749
AMD Threadripper 3970X468741999
AMD Epyc 7702P489594425
AMD Threadripper Pro 3995WX732205489
AMD Threadripper 3990X756713990
Intel i5 13600K24528329
Intel i7 13700K31069409
Intel i9 13900K41012589
Intel i9 10980XE25490979
Intel i9 9920X147931189
Intel i9 9960X179531684
Intel i9 9980XE270931979
Intel i9 9900X13994989
Intel i5 9600K6596262
Intel i7 9700K9428385
Intel i9 9900K12470499
Intel i7 10700K13302384
Intel i9 10850K16820464
Intel i9 10900K18034499
Intel i5 11600K11277272
Intel i7 11700K14812409
Intel i5 1240012344199
Intel i5 12400F12321174
Intel i9 11900K16211549
Intel i5 1250012974212
Intel i7 12700F21568324
Intel i5 12600K17660299
Intel i7 12700K23488419
Intel i9 12900F26455494
Intel i9 12900KF27472574
Intel i9 12900K27483589
Intel i9 12900KS27796739
CPU NameCPU Rendering PerformancePrice ($)Performance / Dollar*


Now you know the best performance/price ratio of different CPUs when it comes to pure CPU rendering.

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-CPU systems: What is the overall system price per CPU? Some CPUs can be installed into multi-CPU systems, which might reduce the overall system price per CPU
  • 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, which has to be factored in when comparing CPUs
  • Motherboard/RAM price: A cheap CPU might not be such a great deal if you need an expensive motherboard or RAM for it
  • Number of cores (performance) per system: A Ryzen 5 5500 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 3990X

If your rendering demands are high and a single PC may not be enough, be sure to check our guide on building your own Renderfarm.

What is a render farm

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X vs Intel i9 13900K

I have been asked this several times, as both of these CPUs are extremely popular. 7950X vs 13900K. Which one is better for rendering?

So let’s make a quick comparison:

  • AMD Ryzen 9 7950X: 16 Cores, 32 Threads, draws less power, Stays cooler – 40795 Cinebench (R23) Points
  • Intel Core-i9 13900K: 24 Cores, 32 Threads, 10% higher single-core performance, can get hot with high power draw – 41012 Cinebench (R23) Points

If you put everything but performance aside, it usually comes down to the following:

  • Are you rendering a lot and want lower noise and power draw? Get a Ryzen 9 7950X.
  • Do you actively work on this PC a lot? Get a Core-i9 13900K.

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.

What CPU Core-Feature is more valuable / important to you?

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.

Of course, rendering alone isn’t what you usually do on a typical workstation. 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 many cores.

High Core Count Processors have slower clockspeeds

This means it would be best to have both lots of cores and high core clocks. Since CPUs usually trade cores for clock speeds (because of thermal and power limits) you typically have to find a middle ground between the 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, whilst enjoying fantastic CPU rendering speed, then the following list is for you:

= AMD   |    = Intel |    = Apple

CPU NameSingle Core PerformanceMulti Core PerformancePerformance Total*
Intel Core i9-12950HX192723019
Intel Core i9-12900HX190218845
Intel Core i9-12900HK193818197
Intel Core i7-12700H180616745
Intel Core i9-12900H191716555
AMD Ryzen 9 6980HS166914736
AMD Ryzen 9 6980HX166914711
AMD Ryzen 9 6950HS166214670
AMD Ryzen 9 6950H166214670
AMD Ryzen 7 6800H149913611
AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX166214670
AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX166214670
AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS157913977
Intel Core i9-11980HK157413977
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX147813875
AMD Ryzen 9 5980HX152413460
AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS152112844
Intel Core i9-11950H157412836
Intel Core i9-11900H154012354
Intel Core i7-11850H151712354
Intel Core i7-11800H149212180
AMD Ryzen 7 5800HS133910472
AMD Ryzen 5 5600H137010123
AMD Ryzen 7 5700U12749555
Intel Core i5-11500H14929532
AMD Ryzen 5 5600HS13429439
AMD Ryzen 5 5500U11656784
Intel Core i5-1185G715386264
Intel Core i5-1165G715046070
Intel Core i5-1135G713435913
Intel Core i7-11370H15175812
Intel Core i5-1145G714195059
Apple M115287799
Apple M217018538
Apple M1 Pro154312170
Apple M2 Pro170115248
Apple M1 Max155512422
Apple M2 Max170115248
CPU NameSingle Core PerformanceMulti Core PerformancePerformance Total*

*Weighted. Total Performance (column) is relative to an Intel i7 11700k, weighed equally at 50% single-core and 50% multi-core performance. This weighing will indicate good all-round performance for most workloads.

If you’re running very specific tasks, that you know demand, e.g., many cores (such as CPU rendering), sort the table by multi-core performance. Or, if you’re certain your workloads only need high single-core performance, sort by that column.

Benchmark used for this list is Cinebench R23.

Benchmarks vs. Real World

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

A Threadripper 3990WX (review), for example, is extremely fast at rendering scenes that would otherwise spend a huge amount of time in the bucket-rendering phase (the phase that is parallelized most easily. Most modern render engines are transitioning to make this the “progressive” phase, where you progressively see your rendered scene more clearly every few seconds).

CPU Rendering CPU Cores Buckets

When rendering frames that don’t take very long (< 1 min), having multiple lower-end CPUs instead of one very powerful CPU is usually better. This is because you can’t perfectly parallelize the entire rendering process! 

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 (visual) bucket/progressive rendering stage even starts.

Some of these stages might even be restricted to a single CPU core. And when you have 64 cores (as in the Threadripper 3990X), 63 of those Cores will have to wait idly until these preparation steps are done.

Lots of these benchmarks, such as Cinebench, mainly measure the visual bucket/progressive rendering phase where a multi-core CPU with many cores pulls ahead easily, as the underlying scenes are usually not all that complex (Read as: there is almost no “single-core” preparationtime involved in benchmarks).

Long story short:

Make sure to analyze the type of scenes you are planning to render. Measure what rendering stage usually takes up the most time in a few of your typical scenes. Keep an eye on the CPU-utilization in your Task Manager to see if the current rendering phase uses all CPU 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 taken from Cinema 4D’s picture viewer [Updating Geometry]:

Cinema 4D Render Stages - CPU Rendering

Be sure to also check our guide on how to render faster. It’s an in-depth primer on scene optimization and should help you speed up your renders, maybe even postponing the need to buy new & expensive components.

Custom PC-Builder

If you want to get the best compatible parts for your workloads that are also within a specific budget you’re working with, you should definitely have a look at our web-based PC-Builder Tool.

Select “CPU Rendering” as your main purpose and adjust your budget to create the perfect PC with part recommendations that will fit within your budget.

PC-Builder Facebook Title Image

Need even more Rendering performance?

There are 4 popular ways to speed up your rendering performance.

  1. Optimize your scene, so it renders faster: Here’s our Guide on this.
  2. Buy a faster CPU or GPU for your workstation. You are already reading the CPU Guide; here’s the GPU Guide.
  3. If a single workstation doesn’t cut it anymore, build your own render farm with multiple render nodes: We wrote an in-depth Guide on that as well.
  4. And if all of the above still isn’t fast enough for you, you’ll need to utilize an online Render farm: Our Guide on online Renderfarms.


Is Intel or AMD better for rendering?

AMD’s Threadripper CPUs are clearly in the lead when it comes to CPU rendering. Core-Count, performance per dollar, and lower power consumption, AMD currently has the better CPUs for pure multi-core CPU rendering.

Is GPU rendering faster than CPU rendering?

GPU rendering is usually considerably faster than CPU rendering when comparing performance per dollar on a CPU and GPU. A GPU’s architecture and its thousands of CUDA / Stream-processing cores are purpose-made for parallel processing and easily outperform a CPU.

Faster interactive & real-time previews bring your 3D Projects to a whole new level of quality, thanks to the added iterative capabilities that are made possible with GPU rendering.

GPUs can also be more easily added to, scaled, and carried over throughout multiple motherboard/CPU generations, making them more cost-effective long-term.

Are you mainly rendering on the GPU or CPU?

Direct performance comparisons, though, are challenging to conduct, as the feature-set of GPU and CPU render engines differ too much, and images don’t always look the same when rendered. Hybrid engines come close, but they, too, don’t always support every feature across both hardware components.

Does the CPU affect GPU rendering performance?

The CPU can affect GPU rendering performance. The CPU’s task is to prepare parts of the 3D Scene and send assets to the GPU. On very short renders, the CPU becomes a considerable factor. The longer your Bucket-rendering phase (pure GPU) lasts, the less the CPU impacts render-time.

If your entire scene fits into your GPU’s VRAM, the CPU’s impact on render-time is lower than when you’re utilizing out-of-core access to the Systems RAM.

Is RAM important for rendering?

Sufficient RAM is essential for CPU Rendering. The CPU holds your 3D Scene in Memory and accesses its contents throughout the rendering phase. If your Scene is too large and does not fit into your RAM, it’ll be swapped to your storage disc, which is considerably slower than RAM.

Always make sure you have enough RAM.

Is Ryzen good for Rendering?

AMD Ryzen CPUs are great for rendering in CPU-based render engines. CPU render engines scale almost linearly with more cores, though, so high-core-count Threadripper CPUs (up to 64 Cores), for example, will fare even better.

When buying a Ryzen CPU to maximize CPU rendering performance, make sure to buy one with as many cores as possible.

Over to you

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

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Alex Glawion

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!


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

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  • Michael

    I just bought the Threadripper 5975WX. I mainly work inside Zbrush doing some heavy poly counts sculpting, but I also do realistic renders inside Arnold; I was using the Threadripper 1920x. I hope to see a significant improvement on the render time. The only issue is the Cooling system, I’m not sure about it, but so far, I’m planning to go for the Ryujin III 360mm; I know that Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3 is a good option, but in my experience, an HSF tends to be a little weak than an AIO in the long run, if not, I’ll go for a custom water cooler.

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