Best CPU For Rendering [2021 Guide]

CG Director Author Alex Glawionby Alex Glawion   /  Updated   /   456 comments
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Best CPU For Rendering [2021 Guide]

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 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
Intel i5 11600K63.917492307.60
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 9 5900X123.736785496.69
AMD Ryzen 5 140043.27871196.61
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X63.719632996.56
AMD Threadripper 2920X123.526044006.51
Intel i7 11700K83.622593506.45
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X83.621163296.43
AMD Ryzen 9 3900X123.831684996.34
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X83.826074495.80
AMD Ryzen 5 1500X43.58031395.77
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X163.445637995.71
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 i9 11900K83.525755604.59
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 i7 8700K63.714283593.98
Intel i9 9940X143.331738293.82
Intel i9 10980XE183.037999993.80
AMD Threadripper 3970X323.7739819993.70
Intel i9 9980XE183.0379910493.62
Intel i7 7800X63.513333693.62
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
Intel i7 6800K63.410964192.61
AMD Threadripper 3990X642.91044939902.61
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 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 3900X vs Intel i9 10900K

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

So let’s do a quick comparison:

  • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X: 12 Cores, Cheaper, Faster at Rendering, Included Cooler, Stays cooler – 3168 Cinebench (R15) Points
  • Intel Core-i9 10900K: 10 Cores, Slightly snappier active Working, needs extra Cooler, can get very hot – 2677 Cinebench (R15) Points

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 10900K).

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 both have lots of Cores and high core-clocks. Since CPUs usually trade off cores for clocks (because of thermal limits and power limits) you usually 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
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
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.

 

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


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!

456
Comments
Also check out our Forum for feedback from our Expert Community.

Susan Sommer

Would a AMD Ryzen 7 5800x go well with a Geforce RTX 3060ti? I want to do 3d animation music making video editing and some photoshop

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

Absolutely! Both are excellent components that will perform well in 3D Animation, Music Editing, Video Editing and Graphic Design with Photoshop.

Cheers,
Alex

Susan Sommer

Hello Alex, thanks for replying. I sat down and looked at my budget and I think the amd ryzen 7 5800x might be too pricey, as much as I want it.

How would an AMD Ryzen 5 5600x vs. an AMD Ryzen 7 3700x fare?

I would also like to save by having a cpu that comes with a cooler as opposed to me buying a separate one.

I’m mostly worried about my 3d renders/animations not being slow and having a quick enough computer with enough space

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

Hey Susan,
The 3700X will be faster in rendering if you are using cpu render engines. The 5600X will be snappier in active work like modeling or texturing and animation.

The stock coolers usually are ok-ish but a third party cooler will allow your cpu to clock higher (because of better cooling) so this is a good investment. But you can always start out with the stock cooler and upgrade if you have some extra money lying around.

Cheers,
Alex

Susan Sommer

Thank you Alex.

Would an AMD Ryzen 9 5900x be too much for a 3060ti? If I want maximum productivity? I keep going back and forth lol and now I’m reading that the AMD Ryzen 7 5800x isnt good for the price.

Idk why I’m so confused but I need to build this computer fast. I’m wasting too much time being indecisive haha.

I just fear that if I buy the AMD Ryzen 7 and it doesnt meet my expectations then I’ll wish I’d spent the extra on the AMD 9. It’s pricier but I wonder if it’s worth shelling out the extra money as I plan on having this desktop for a while.

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

You won’t see any bottlenecking if that is what you mean. The 5900X has more cores but is otherwise similarly fast as the 5800X in terms of single core performance in active workloads. The 3060Ti will work perfectly fine with both.

Unless you are doing hybrid rendering, both gpu and cpu don’t really influence each other all that much or bottleneck each other in 3d workloads. But even then, the hybrid engine will use what it can get, there is no bottlenecking.

Cheers,
Alex

Ajith

Is it better than 3900x?

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

Is the 3900X faster than the 5800X? Yes in multi-core workloads but not in single core workloads.

Alan Stratton

This article does what all similar articles do. They appear to push you toward a low end AMD Ryzen or a Ryzen 7 to do rendering depending on budget. They are gaslighting us. They always quote the new cost of a Xeon E5 processor when they aren’t available new any more. Even on Amazon the E5-2699 v4 is £800, less than a quarter of the $4500 quoted in the article. You can get an E5-2697 14 core 28 thread on Aliexpress for $150 which gives a score of 2306 in Cinebench R15. This is a performance per dollar score of 15.3; better than all the processors in the graph and performing between the 1900x and 1920x Threadrippers.

Alex Glawion
Alex GlawionCGDIRECTOR

Thanks for the feedback Alan. You are absolutely right, this article does not keep track of pricing changes, especially not in the used market. The CPUs are mostly at MSRP, but it would be much more helpful if they had the actual market rates.

Will have to come up with a way to keep this table updated on, say, a monthly basis.

The older the CPUs become, the less accurate these scores are. They are mostly accurate for current and last-gen CPUs. It’s the same with GPUs and their scores in some of our other articles. Especially factoring in the crazy price-inflations currently.

Cheers,
Alex

Noy Golez

Hi Alex,

Possible to give your advise on what pc setup suited for my work. I’m into architectural and interior 3d modelling and rendering in vray. Graphics Design and photo editing. Software’s I used are AutoCAD, 3ds max, Lightroom, Photoshop and Illustrator. Looking forward for your reply…

Thanks..

Steven

Please update the mobile and desktop cpu list according to 2021 because there are many cpu released ryzen 5000 series , Intel 11th gen etc…

jaymike

What’s a great setup for Rendering and Gaming on the side?
My two worlds need to co-exist on one PC.