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little CPU Render farm

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Blair Zettl

Guest
We have a ton of rendering to do over the next few months, so I was weighing to options of renting VMs vs buying machines. Well, buying 10 machines rather than renting pays for itself in about a 18 days if everything goes perfectly. Assuming a machine or two has issues, may take a full month, but for $40000 new vs $50000 renting, no brainer. Anyway, I am writing to ask about requirement of three components, Graphics card, SSD and RAM. The goal is to minimize cost, without being so cheap we choke the system. To be clear, these are dedicated rendering machines.

Graphics Card: GeForce GT 710 ~$70 - just minimum requirement to see what's going on with the machine. If there are issues with the scene itself, it goes back to production
SSD - need one for processing and one for storage, or one for both? Machines are not being used for storage and will have maybe 20 gig of rendered images at any one time.
RAM - how much is needed? 32? 64? Again, don't want to choke the system, but no need for overkill

Otherwise Here's the build we'd go with

CGDirector.com Parts List: https://www.cgdirector.com/pc-builder/?=FC1Bn0i0Ssl

CPU: AMD Threadripper 3960X 3.8GHz 24-Core Processor ($1349.98)
CPU Cooler: DEEPCOOL Castle 360EX ($159.99)
Motherboard: MSI TRX40 Creator E-ATX sTRX4 ($679.99)
GPU: { Nvidia RTX 2070 8GB - MSI Gaming ($559.99)} swap out for GeForce GT 710 $70
Memory: 64GB (4 x 16GB) G.Skill Trident Z Neo DDR4-3600 C16 ($354.99)
Storage PCIe-SSD: Samsung 970 EVO PLUS 1TB M.2 Solid State Drive ($179.99)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 850 P2 80+ Platinum Power Supply ($115.30)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 ($163.97)
Total: $3564.20
 

Alex Glawion

CG Hardware Specialist @ CGDirector
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Hey Blair,
What DCC / Render Engine will you be using?

Usually, you won't need any kind of strong gpu at all if it's really just cpu rendering you are doing. Also, since the output frames are usually directly saved to a central network drive, you really just need storage for the os and apps and some cache. So 128GB or so should be enough.

Take one of your heavy scenes and do some render tests to see what amount of ram you need. That's the easiest way to find out.
 
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Blair Zettl

Guest
Thanks for the insights, Alex. Appreciate it.

Well, bit of a toss up between Arnold and V-Ray. I have used Arnold quite a bit, but V-Ray is packin a punch these days as well. Price-wise, V-Ray is considerably cheaper for the render nodes. Anyway, planning to do some test renders over the next couple of weeks and make a decision.

On my 64 bit machine, it's using 21.5 gig/64 sitting still. On the Arnold render, barely moved. 2950x maxed out, for the attached.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/kklprboymc2vdfb/sally.JPG?dl=0
 

Alex Glawion

CG Hardware Specialist @ CGDirector
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If that's the sort of scene complexity that you have, then you are fine with that amount of RAM. Though I could imagine you have some full scenes with background or multiple characters at times too - which would definitely use more RAM.

Both Arnold and VRAY can do CPU Rendering or GPU Rendering so that's something you should decide on. If you are sticking with CPU, the gpu really does not play an important role at all. You can easily get away with a low tier GTX 1050 or so, just so the viewport works OK-ish when you remote into the node to check some stuff.
 
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