Best Hardware for GPU Rendering in Octane – Redshift – Vray (Updated)

22 March 2017

Graphics Card (GPU) based render engines such as Redhift3D, Octane or VRAY-RT have matured quite a bit over the last years and are starting to overtake CPU-based Render-Engines.

But what hardware gives the best-bang-for-the-buck and what do you have to keep in mind when building your GPU-Workstation? What is the best Hardware and best GPU for rendering with Octane, Redhsift3D or VRAY-RT, that is affordable?

Processor

Since GPU-Render Engines use the GPU to render, technically you should go for a max-core-clock CPU like the Intel i7 7700K that clocks at 4,2GHz (4,5Ghz Turbo) or the Intel i7 8700K that clocks at 3,7Ghz (4,7Ghz Turbo).

That said though, there is another factor to consider when choosing a CPU: PCIE-Lanes. GPUs are attached to the CPU via PCIE-Lanes on the motherboard. Different CPUs support different amounts of PCIE-Lanes and Top-tier GPUs usually need 16x PCIE 3.0 Lanes to run at full performance.

The i7 7700K/8700K has 16 PCIE-Lanes meaning you could just use one GPU at full speed with this CPU. If you want more than one GPU at full speed you would need a different CPU that supports more PCIE-Lanes like the i9 7800X (28 PCIE-Lanes) or the i9 7900X Series CPUs that support 44 PCIE-Lanes.

GPUs, though, can also run in lower speed modes such as 8x PCIE 3.0 Speeds and then also use up less PCIE-Lanes (8x). Usually there is a negligible difference in Rendering Speed when having GPUs run in 8x mode instead of 16x mode.

This would mean you could run 2x GPUs on an i7 8700K in 8x PCIE mode, 3x GPUs on an i9 7800X and 5x GPUs on an i9 7900X.

When actively rendering and your scene has been loaded into the GPU VRAM, it fits nicely in there and nothing has to be swapped out of core, GPU renderers are of course mainly dependent on GPU performance.

Some processes though that happen before and during rendering rely heavily on the performance of the CPU, Hard-Drive and network.

For example extracting and preparing Mesh Data to be used by the GPU, loading textures from your Hard-Drive and preparing the scene data.

In very complex scenes, these processing stages will take lots of time and can bottleneck the overall rendering speed, if a low-end CPU is employed.

If your scene is too large for your GPU memory, the GPU renderer will need to access your System RAM or even swap to disk, which will considerably slow down the rendering.

Best Graphics Card for Rendering

To use Octane and Redshift you will need a GPU that has CUDA-Cores, meaning you will need a NVIDIA GPU. VRAY-RT additionally supports openCL meaning you could use an AMD card here.

The best bang-for-the-buck NVIDIA cards are 1070 GTX (1920 Cuda Cores, 8GB VRAM), 1080 GTX (2560 Cuda Cores, 8GB VRAM) and the 1080 Ti (3584 Cuda Cores, 11GB VRAM).

On the high-end, the currently highest possible performance is offered by the NVIDIA Quadro P6000 that also comes with 24GB of Video RAM. GPUs, that have 12GB Video RAM and more, can handle high-poly scenes with over 200 million unique objects best. Take a look at the performance per dollar table below, though, to get an overview of how expensive some of these cards can get without offering that much more performance.

GPU Cooling

Founders Edition Blower Style Cooler

  • PRO: Better Cooling when stacking more than one card
  • CON: Louder than Custom Partner Card Cooling

Custom Partner Cooling

  • PRO: Quieter than Blower Style, Cheaper
  • CON: Worse Cooling when stacking cards

Hybrid Cooling

  • PRO: Best All-In-One Cooling for stacking cards
  • CON: More Expensive, needs room for radiators in Case

Watercooling

  • PRO: Best temps when stacking cards, Quiet
  • CON: Needs lots of extra room in the case for tank and radiators, More Expensive

Power Supply

Be sure to get a strong enough Power supply for your system. Most Cards have a TDP of around 180-250W. CPU of around 100W and any additional Hardware in your case.

I Recommend a 500W for a One-GPU-Build. Add 250W for every additional GPU.

Mainboard

Make sure the Mainboard has the desired amount of PCIE-Lanes and does not share Lanes with Sata or M.2 slots. Also be careful what PCI-E Configurations the Motherboard supports. Some have 3 or 4 PCI-E Slots, but only support one x16 PCI-E Card.

You’ll need a 1151 type Socket board for a Kaby Lake i7 (e.g. 7700K) or Coffee Lake (e.g. 8700K) type CPUs and a 2011-3 Socket Mainboard for a Skylake-X type i9 CPU (e.g. 7800X, 7900X, 7980XE). Beware of the Chipsets when choosing a 1151 Socket type Mainboard and CPU since the newer generation Coffee Lake CPUs don’t work on older 1151 Kaby Lake Mainboards.

Best GPU Performance / Dollar

Ok so here it is. The Lists everyone should be looking at when choosing the right GPU to buy. The best performing GPU per Dollar!

This List is based off of OctaneBench 3.

(On a Side note: It’s quite difficult to get an average Price for some of these cards, since crypto-currency mining is so popular right now.)

GPU NameVRAMOctaneBenchPrice $ MSRPPerformance/Dollar
GTX 107081204000,300
GTX 1070 TI81304500,288
GTX 10608843000,280
GTX 1080 TI111867000,265
GTX 108081375500,249
TITAN XP1219113000,146
GTX TITAN Z1214429990,048
Quadro P60002417638490,045
Quadro GP1001623270000,033
Tesla P1001623075000,032

 

And here is a List based off of Redshift Bench, note how the cards scale (1080TI) [RedshiftBench Mark (Time [min], shorter is better)]:

GPU NameVRAMRedshiftBenchPrice $ MSRPPerformance/Dollar
GTX 1070817.114001,461
GTX 1080 TI1111.447001,248
4x GTX 1080 TI113.0728001,163
2x GTX 1080 TI116.1514001,161
8x GTX 1080 TI111.5756001,137
GTX 1080816.005501,136
TITAN XP1210.5413000,729
Quadro P60002411.3138490,229
Quadro GP100169.5770000,149

Source: Redshift Forum

 

And here is a List based off of VRAY-RT Bench. Note how the GTX 1080 interestingly seems to perform worse than the GTX 1070 in this benchmark:

GPU NameVRAMVRAY-BenchPrice $ MSRPPerformance/Dollar
GTX 107081:25 min4002,941
GTX 1080 TI111:00 min7002,380
2x GTX 1080 TI110:32 min14002,232
GTX 108081:27 min5502,089
4x GTX 1080 TI110:19 min28001,879
TITAN XP120:53 min13001,451
8x GTX 1080 TI110:16 min56001,116
Quadro P6000241:04 min38490,405

Source: VRAY Benchmark List

 

What Hardware configurations are you eyeballing with, or have already been able to test? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Alex - post author

Hi, I am Alex, a passionate Director and 3D Generalist currently working in an Animation Studio.

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swaroop
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Hi, Aelx
Can i use 4 GPUs (my preference 1070) with 7700k? for octane.
If can, then which Motherboard to choose.
Thanks

ANDRES GARCIA CASTILLO
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ANDRES GARCIA CASTILLO

Hi, Aelx

Good Post!

A question if I want to have 4 gtx1080 in a corei7 6800k that would have lost for rendering with octane? Is insignificant? or it would be worth buying 6850k to be able to have the 4 gtx.

And what kind of cooling you recommend for these 4x gtx1080, thank you very much for your time!

Cheers,
Andres

Frank Gomez
Guest

Hi Alex,

Thank you for your posts, they are very helpful. Two questions:

1. Regarding the i7-7700K. If I use 1TB Samsung 960 EVO M.2 NVMe PCIe in my build. Would this affect the PCI lanes for the GPU? Or would the GPU still run x16?

2. If I want to run 4 GTX 1080ti at full speeds (x16), would i have to move to the Xenon processors? What mobo should I use?

Thanks Again.

Frank

Deb Pearl
Guest

My son has been looking for a new graphics card and I wanted to look up some information about them. That is great news that they have matured quite a fit over the last couple of years. That means my son could probably find exactly what he wants for his computer easier. Thank you for all the information! I will be sure to show my son.

Polystorm
Guest

Hi Alex. Your blog posts have really helped me understand pc builds for working in Cinema 4D. I’m trying to do a build with the i7 7700k and 4x1080ti cards on PCPartpicker. I can’t seem to find information on a motherboard that would support this configuration. Any advice? Thank you in advance!

Kurt jefferson macacando
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Kurt jefferson macacando

Hi sir.. im planning to have my first ever cpu.. im planning to have a i7 7700k processor and a gtx 1070 8gb gpu.. and a 16gb ram.. can i have a fast rendering time for vray 3.0 sketchup 2017? Or a ryzen 5 1600 processor due to its 6 cores and 12 thread.. im a bit confuse.
Due to tight budget.. i really need your help for this..

Thank you sir!

Tiago
Guest

Hi Alex

First of all, great post, congrats!
My concern is about GPU’s, i want to build a rendering workstation for 3ds max + Vray 3.6 and in terms of graphic cards i’m planning to use a gtx 1070 for viewport and a gtx 1080 ti for render and add 1 or 2 more gtx 1080 ti in the future.
My doubt is, it is possible to have different cards in the same build? i’m asking this, because all the people that i see building this kind of machines with multiple gpu’s, uses the same cards.

Thank you in advance.

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