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. Prices are from August 2018.
|AMD Ryzen R5 2600||6||3.4||1307||169||7.71|
|AMD Ryzen R7 1700X||8||3.4||1540||215||7.16|
|AMD Ryzen R7 1700||8||3.0||1426||209||6.80|
|AMD Ryzen R7 1800X||8||3.6||1613||239||6.74|
|AMD Ryzen R5 1600||6||3.2||1147||169||6.71|
|AMD Ryzen R5 1400||4||3.2||787||119||6.61|
|AMD Ryzen R5 2600X||6||3.6||1373||209||6.57|
|AMD Threadripper 1920X||12||3.5||2431||399||6.09|
|AMD Ryzen R5 1500X||4||3.5||803||139||5.77|
|AMD Ryzen R5 1600X||6||3.3||1250||219||5.71|
|AMD Threadripper 1900X||8||3.8||1711||299||5.71|
|AMD Ryzen R7 2700X||8||3.7||1783||315||5.66|
|AMD Ryzen R7 2700||8||3.2||1526||270||5.61|
|Intel i5 8400||6||2.8||966||179||5.39|
|Intel i7 8700||6||3.2||1389||289||4.80|
|AMD Threadripper 1950X||16||3.4||3062||720||4.25|
|AMD Threadripper 2920X||12||3.5||2604||650||4.00|
|Intel i7 8700K||6||3.7||1428||359||3.79|
|AMD Threadripper 2950X||16||3.5||3210||850||3.77|
|Intel i7 7800X||6||3.5||1333||369||3.62|
|AMD Threadripper 2970WX||24||3.0||4323||1299||3.32|
|Intel i7 8086K||6||3.7||1386||425||3.26|
|Intel i7 7700K||4||4.2||996||310||3.21|
|Intel i9 9900K||8||3.6||2077||650||3.19|
|Intel i7 7740X||4||4.3||986||329||2.99|
|Intel i5 9600K||6||3.7||1068||360||2.96|
|Intel i5 7600K||4||3.8||701||239||2.93|
|AMD Threadripper 2990WX||32||3.0||5224||1799||2.90|
|Intel i7 7820X||8||3.6||1734||599||2.89|
|Intel i7 7820X||8||3.6||1734||599||2.89|
|Intel i7 9700K||8||3.6||1542||550||2.80|
|Intel i7 6800K||6||3.4||1096||419||2.61|
|Intel XEON E5-2620 v4||8||2.1||1096||420||2.60|
|Intel i9 7900X||10||3.3||2169||999||2.17|
|Intel i7 6850K||6||3.6||1235||570||2.16|
|Intel i9 7920X||12||2.9||2438||1200||2.03|
|Intel i9 7940X||14||3.1||2849||1450||1.96|
|Intel i9 9980XE||18||3.0||3799||1979||1.91|
|Intel i9 7960X||16||2.8||3161||1700||1.89|
|Intel i9 7980XE||18||2.6||3455||1900||1.81|
|Intel i7 6900K||8||3.2||1562||1049||1.48|
|Intel XEON E5-2650 v4||12||2.2||1589||1200||1.32|
|Intel i7 5960X||8||3.0||1324||1069||1.23|
|Intel i7 6950X||10||3.0||1788||1649||1.08|
|Intel XEON E5-2687W v4||12||3.0||1860||2444||0.76|
|Intel XEON E5-2699 v4||22||2.2||2460||4500||0.54|
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?
- Cooling Solution: Some CPUs such as the AMD Ryzens have a CPU Cooler included in the package already.
- Mainboard price: A cheaper CPU might not be so cheap if you need an expensive Mainboard for it.
I have been asked this several times as these CPUs are both extremely popular. 2700X vs 8700K. Which one is better?
So I compiled a quick main feature list of both CPUs:
2700X: 8 Cores, Cheaper, Faster at Rendering, Included Cooler, Stays Cooler, Slightly less-snappy active working
i7 8700K: 6 Cores, Snappier active Working, currently very expensive, 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 2700X), or actively work on this PC a lot (get an i7 8700K).
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 and power regulations) you usually have to find a middle ground between # 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:
|Intel Core i9-8950HK||6||2.9||1269|
|Intel Core i7-8850H||6||2.6||1023|
|Intel Core i7-8750H||6||2.2||1063|
|Intel Core i5-8400H||4||2.5||819|
|Intel Core i5-8300H||4||2.3||795|
|AMD Ryzen 7 2700U||4||2.2||662|
|AMD Ryzen 5 2500U||4||2.0||584|
|Intel Core i7-7820HK||4||2.9||784|
|Intel Core i7-6820HK||4||2.7||694|
|AMD Ryzen 7 3700U||4||2.3||701|
|AMD Ryzen 5 3500U||4||2.1||620|
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 max Multi-Core CPU usually pulls ahead easily, as the underlying scenes are usually not all that complex.
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.
Most CPU Renderers nowadays show the current rendering stage somewhere in the render window like in the example below from the Cinema 4D Picture Viewer:
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!
What kind of Computer are you building? Feel free to ask for help in the comments.