Best CPU For Rendering [2022 Guide]

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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 and 3rd-party CPU Render Engines that all rely on maximum CPU multi-Core Performance.

Since there are so many CPUs with all kinds of 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, 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 more important than scores, is how well the Performance / Dollar ($) ratio is, as spending an unnecessary amount on a CPU is something we want to avoid.

This is why I have created a Performance/Dollar ($) Table that 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.

= AMD   |    = Intel

CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench R15Price($)Performance/Dollar
AMD Threadripper PRO 3995WX642.797885900
AMD Ryzen 7 3800X83.92166399
Intel i5 840062.8966179
Intel i7 870063.21389289
Intel i7 9700K83.61542360
AMD Threadripper 2970WX243.043231025
Intel i9 9900K83.62077500
AMD Ryzen 3950X163.54070750
AMD Threadripper 2950X163.53210795
Intel i7 8700K63.71428359
Intel i9 9980XE183.037991049
Intel i7 7800X63.51333369
Intel i9 9960X163.13211929
Intel i9 9920X123.52438719
Intel i7 8086K63.71386425
Intel i9 9940X143.33173829
Intel i7 7700K44.2996310
AMD Threadripper 1950X163.43062550
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X43.5803139
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X123.83168499
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X83.62116329
AMD Threadripper 2920X123.52604400
AMD Ryzen 5 140043.2787119
AMD Ryzen 5 160063.21147169
AMD Ryzen 7 1800X83.61613239
AMD Ryzen 7 170083.01426209
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X83.41540215
AMD Ryzen 5 360063.61581199
AMD Threadripper 1900X83.81711200
AMD Threadripper 1920X123.52431240
AMD Ryzen 7 270083.21526145
AMD Ryzen 7 2700X83.71783165
AMD Ryzen 5 1600X63.31250219
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X63.61373126
Intel i7 7740X44.3986329
Intel i5 7600K43.8701239
AMD Threadripper 3960X243.859331399
AMD Threadripper 3970X323.773981999
Intel i9 10980XE183.03799999
AMD Threadripper 3990X642.9104493990
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X163.44563799
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X123.73678549
Intel XEON E5-2699 v4222.224604500
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X83.82607449
Intel i9 11900K83.52575560
Intel i7 11700K83.62259350
Intel i5 11600K63.91749230
Intel i9 12900K163.24112589
Intel i7 12700K123.63328409
Intel i5 12600K103.72596289
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X63.71963299
Intel i5 9600K63.71068360
Intel XEON E5-2687W v4123.018602444
Intel i7 5960X83.013241069
Intel XEON E5-2650 v4122.215891200
Intel i7 6900K83.215621049
Intel i9 7980XE182.634551900
Intel i9 7960X162.831611700
Intel i9 7940X143.128491450
Intel i9 7920X122.924381200
Intel i7 6850K63.61235570
Intel i9 7900X103.32169999
Intel XEON E5-2620 v482.11096420
Intel i7 6800K63.41096419
Intel i7 7820X83.61734599
Intel i7 7820X83.61734599
AMD Threadripper 2990WX323.052241799
Intel i7 6950X103.017881649
AMD Ryzen 5 260063.41307115
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, which might make the 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 cheap CPU might not be such a great deal if you need an expensive Motherboard for it
  • Number of Cores (Performance) 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 3990X

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

What is a render farm

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X vs Intel i9 12900K

I have been asked this several times as these CPUs are both extremely popular. 5950X vs 12900K. Which one is better for rendering?

So let’s do a quick comparison:

  • AMD Ryzen 9 5950X: 16 Cores, 32 Threads, draws less power, Stays cooler – 4569 Cinebench (R15) Points
  • Intel Core-i9 12900K: 16 Cores, 24 Threads, Slightly higher single-core performance, can get very hot & high power draw – 4111 Cinebench (R15) Points

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

  • Are you rendering a lot (get a 5950X)
  • Do you actively work on this PC a lot (get an i9 12900K)

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.

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 lots of 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 and would also like great CPU Rendering Speed on this, then the following list is for you:

= AMD   |    = Intel

CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench R15 Multi
AMD Ryzen 9 5980HX83.32200
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX83.32190
AMD Ryzen 7 5800H83.22164
AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS83.02154
AMD Ryzen 9 4900H83.31937
AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS83.01918
AMD Ryzen 7 4800H82.91820
Intel Core i9-10980HK82.41800
Intel Core i9-9980HK82.41740
Intel Core i7-10875H82.31716
Intel Core i9-9880H82.31650
AMD Ryzen 5 5600HS63.31598
AMD Ryzen 5 4600H63.01570
Intel Core i7-10750H82.61431
AMD Ryzen 9 4900U82.01384
AMD Ryzen 7 4800U81.81302
Intel Core i9-8950HK62.91269
AMD Ryzen 5 4700U82.01170
Intel Core i7-9750H62.61152
Intel Core i7-10710U61.11080
Intel Core i7-8750H62.21063
Intel Core i7-8850H62.61023
Intel Core i5-10300H42.5920
AMD Ryzen 5 4500U62.3830
Intel Core i5-8400H42.5819
Intel Core i5-8300H42.3795
Intel Core i7-7820HK42.9784
Intel Core i7-10510U41.8758
AMD Ryzen 7 3700U42.3701
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H42.3789
Intel Core i7-6820HK42.7694
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U42.2662
AMD Ryzen 5 3500U42.1620
AMD Ryzen 5 2500U42.0584
Intel Core i5-10210U41.6567
Intel Core i9-11980HK82.62109
Intel Core i9-11900H82.52184
Intel Core i7-11800H82.31999
Intel Core i7-11375H43.3929
Intel Core i9-12900H141.82639
AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS83.02276
Intel Core i7-12700H142.32206
CPU NameCoresGHzCinebench R15 Multi

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).

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 bucket rendering stage even starts.

Some of these stages might even be restricted to single Cores. 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 Bucket 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” preparation-time involved in benchmarks).

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 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 from the Cinema 4D Picture Viewer [Updating Geometry]:

Cinema 4D Render Stages - CPU Rendering

Be sure to also check our guide on How to Render faster. It’s quite in-depth and might save you from buying expensive components.

Custom PC-Builder

If you want to get the best parts within your budget 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 Rendernodes: We wrote a 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.

FAQ

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.

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 for maximizing 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 - 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!

492 Comments

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  • Jonah

    Hi Alex.
    Hope you are well.
    I am an architecture 3D renderer and designer that uses Maya, 3DsMax, Rhino+GH, Revit and adobe suite for animation n VFX. Looking to upgrade my current rtx2060 laptop to a rtx3060/3070 just to utilize my time when I am mobile and also cause I keep moving around so I cant get a PC. Would you recommend a corei9 or a ryzen9 for my workloads on a laptop ?

    • Alex Glawion

      Hey Jonah,
      You’re upgrading your Laptop entirely, right? Not getting an eGPU or the like?

      In that case, an i9 would probably be best for fast active work performance, paired with a strong GPU for rendering.
      Cheers,
      Alex

  • Joey

    Hi I am an Interior Designer that uses Revit, Autocad, Sketchup and the Adobe Creative Suite , I need render on a daily basis. My current I have a choices between the Intel 12400F i5 6/12-Alderlake and the RYZEN 5 5500 4.2GHz RTX 2060 12GB gaming desktops. Which will be a better fit for my needs?

    • Alex Glawion

      Hey Joey,
      The 12400F i5 will be quite a bit faster than the Ryzen 5 5500. Both come with the RTX2060, right?

      Cheers,
      Alex

  • Suroj G

    Thank you so much for these articles. Appreciate the breakdowns.

    I am a freelancer 3D artist using 3DS max alongside corona renderer. Been using budget build for past 3 years. 3600x with 5700xt ahaha. I want to upgrade fairly soon. I do modelling probably 70 percent of the time. But also render heavy still imagery. I am soon looking to render animation as well with the same process. Faster render is really important for me as I have to sleep on my final renders as it takes anywhere between 8-10 Hrs to render 5k resolution image. This has severally decreased my production level as I cant work on the pc anymore. And I have to always time my work for it to finish by night time.

    I don’t want to miss out on the modelling by getting the best core count and vice versa.
    I’m contemplating between AMD Ryzen 9 5950X or AMD Threadripper 3960X. Would it make sense to get the 24 core for bit of balance between single core speed and core count? Or would 5950x be good enough. Or would the AMD Threadripper 3990X be good enough for modeling? or will it bottleneck my process despite the faster rendering speed. I know its a common dilemna between wanting both. But which cpu do you recommend. Thank you so much for your time.

    • Alex Glawion

      Here’s a third option: For animation, I’d recommend switching to a GPU render engine. This way you have the best of both worlds. You can get a mainstream CPU for fast active work / modeling and a single or two strong GPUs that will speed up your renders considerably compared to your current corona rendertimes.

      Render engines aren’t hard to learn, and they all work very similarly. If you know corona well, you’ll have no trouble learning e.g. redshift or octane or v-ray in a couple of days. Of course you’ll have to recreate any shaders/mats, lighting, render settings etc. of existing scenes, but you COULD transitioning to a new renderer in parallel.

      Just my 2c.

      If you’re absolutely set on sticking with corona, I would strongly recommend against getting a 3990X as it is abysmally slow for active work. The 64 cores are just not worth it if you’re also using it as your main workstation CPU.

      3960X would be the way to go if you can still find one. The non-pro Threadrippers unfortunately have been discontinued. You might find some on the used market, or you can get a TR-PRO for a big chunk of money. Another reason to go mainstream + GPU renderer right now.

      Cheers,
      Alex

      • SUROJ GURUNG

        Hey Alex. Thank you so much for your reply. I didn’t knew 3990x was that bad for active work. Il consider getting this in future as a render machine but with the existence of cloud rendering, possibly better to use that service. I agree its quicker to use VRAY. But my workflow and assets is heavily corona oriented. My workflow is still mostly modelling and still image rendering. But I wanted to learn unreal engine on the side and currently learning Marvellous Designer. I noticed MD GPU doesn’t work with my AMD GPU.

        Do you reckon Ryzen 9 5950x paired with the latest NVDIA GPU would give me best of both world. 3600x to 5950x should be significant improvement, speed and rendering wise. And 5700xt to hopefully RTX 3090 should give me more resources to work with.

        I would go fully GPU route, but still skeptical as I hear CPU is more accurate and final render friendly , whilst GPU is good for fast previews.

        Thank you again. Look forward to hearing from you 😀

        • Alex Glawion

          Yes that kind of an upgrade would be worth it. You’d jump from 6 average cores to 16 fast cores, and the RTX 3090 has thankfully gotten a lot cheaper over the past few weeks.

          I’d say, go for it!

          Cheers,
          Alex

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