Blender cycles speed and SLI GEFORCE GTX 580

So I am saving up to buy my dream system- the fastest blender machine I can afford, and that will not require rewiring my house…

I currently have a dinky little computer with a pitiful AMD phenom II 4 core 2.9GHZ processor and a single EVGA classified Geforce gtx580 shoe-horned into the box… I am thinking about getting a new computer… a computer just for BLENDER.

from the benchmark spreadsheet:

it is clear that at this time the best single card for blender cycles is the GTX 580.
And with 2 cards in SLI you get 60% faster performance. BUT what improvement would I see with THREE GTX 580 cards in SLI? Anyone know? Anyone have an opinion?
I am thinking of getting a computer with the following:

Azza Genesis 9000B Full Tower Case
3xSLI EVGA GeForce GTX 580 Classified Ultra Hydro Copper 3072MB (overclocked)
Intel Core i7-3930K Hexa-Core Processor 3.2 Ghz 12 MB Cache (overclocked)
ASRock X79 Extreme11 LGA 2011 Intel X79
520 Series 120GB SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5" Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Caviar Black 1TB 7,200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
24GB DDR3 2133 MHz (PC3 17000) Desktop Memory
and a whole lot of liquid cooling…

Any input from someone that has done a custom rig before is HUGELY appreciated…

Are there any indications that a card that would be better at cycles than the GTX580 is in the works?

Looks pretty decent. Keep in mind that you are probably going to need two power supplies for that sort of rig (the 3 580s alone can use upwards of 1000 watts and that is a heavy CPU, RAM, HDD, liquid cooling, fans, etc… combo). For me, I think that i7-3930K is something of a ripoff but if you have the money it will certainly do the job well.

I use low conductivity coolant (from Koolance) in my liquid cooler. Just in case there is a leak.

As for whether a card is in development that will be better at Cycles rendering than the 580. I think it is almost certain that the 7xx series will finally surpass the 5xx. Maybe not by as much as we would like it to (speed wise) but it will likely be much more power/ heat efficient and have access to lots more VRAM. I have been thinking of putting together a new renderstation with 4 GTX 680 (4GB) but have decided to wait until the 7xx series.

Also, no need to run the 3 GPUs in SLI, Blender can still use all of them but you can leave one to still handle the system display if you want to do anything else on the system while rendering.

Thank you…
I realized that the power draw would be large but had thought a 1500Watt PSU would cover it… I even called EVGA… would you suggest two 800W instead- drawing from different house circuits?

I am surprised about your comment on the CPU, I thought the i7-3970X was the ripoff - just a hair better performance than the i7-3930K but $500 more… what would you suggest?

Looks decent, but personally scrap the ssd and get a 2tb drive.

TBH, whilst 580 is currently the best card; cycles is changing all the time. Are you sure you want to spend so much money on - imo - a restricted option.

Depends on what you’re paying for that lot, but you might find a dual xeon setup will not be so much different in cost, and far more versatile.

24 Gb 2133 memory? lga 2011 uses four channel memory, are you going to use 6 x 4GB?
That high frequency memory is intented for serious overclocking, and doesn’t really bring any speed up compared to normal 1600 and just needs more voltage etc. I’d go with cheaper 1600 or 1833, use either 4x or 8x sticks, preferrably 8Gb density ones.

Cheers :slight_smile:

Just for the record, you don’t need SLI to use multiple cards. In fact, it may even hinder performance. Just having them in the system is good enough.

Now THAT is something I did not know- do you have a link where I could read more on that? I thought the cards had to be in SLI …

I have been learning what I can on this topic and won’t make any purchase of this magnitude until I feel I have a good understanding of the options… I must admit a lot of these computer hardware issues are new to me… I work in a technical field, but never had to consider these issues before.

I want to thank everyone that has taken the time to help me on this thread…

Well, my intent was to have the system overclocked- and the price difference wasnt too much of a deterrent… compared to everything else,though the power considerations could influence my decision… I only thought that 24GB was a good idea because 2 years ago I went from 4gb to 16 and found I could do more with blender because of it…

My hope is to have a fast system so I can learn blender faster- I hope to eventually become skilled enough that I can make a little money on the side doing projects, but really I just want to learn it because I find it incredibly fun and rewarding… I find it a great way to relax…

But at this point I am pretty much a noob- this work in progress:
represents all I know how to do at this time… (needs sound on )

It is true, for computational purposes the cards work better non-SLI in the system. This also gives you more options: You can use different Cuda cards in the same system - in my main machine I use a GTX 570 HD for rendering and a GTX 680 for display. That way I can keep working with a render going or I can tell Blender to use both for more speed.

As per my comment about the i7-3930k being a ripoff; it is plenty powerful, no disputing that. Just that unless you are doing really crazy fluid and physics sims you don’t really need that sort of monster. The CPU and the motherboard to support it are both a lot more than an AMD Piledriver or Opteron for the performance gains. Since almost all of the really heavy processing is done by my GPUs I don’t buy Intel.

That is VERY helpful! Thank you!! What display card do you suggest I use? or would it be fine/economical to put 3 GTX580 IN AND JUST USE ONE for display?

Ok, I see your point there- if your only plan is to render on the GPU then yes, I agree that a cheaper CPU would make sense… however I do want to be able to do renders using BI (but not enough to justify the CPU expense) and additionally I do use my current computer for work related heavy calculation and data analysis…

One other thing- IF i go with a 3 GTX580 setup I have 2 choices:

  1. Cheap- air cooled refurb EVGA cards from NEWEGG, $407 with extended warranty
  2. not cheap- EVGA classified hydro copper ultra, $529

Option one I worry about overheating, but I would have a large case- its the NOISE of the 3 fans that worries me…
option two would be quieter, and maybe longer lived??? but would cost me a lot more… anyone have experience with this? I will have liquid cooling for the CPU which will be overclocked, so I already have liquid cooling planned…

Well, liquid cooling is likely going to get you the best lifespan and fewer worries. I put an external liquid cooler on my gtx 570 since the room I work with it in has a high ambient temperature. If you are up to the DIY then maybe get an external liquid cooling system (like by Koolance) and hook them all up to it. Either way is not cheap though so if you have a cool enough room try the air cooled ones. As for the display card, just use one of the 580s and alternate when you want to use them all for rendering.

I currently have a dinky little computer with a pitiful AMD phenom II 4 core 2.9GHZ processor and a single EVGA classified Geforce gtx580 shoe-horned into the box… I am thinking about getting a new computer… a computer just for BLENDER.


that’s a good start on your WIP animation…I like the lighting in the middle part. Doing very well for a “noob”. :slight_smile:

What is the render time per frame?

The “dinky little computer” you have now sounds just like mine, LOL, and is more than adequate (for me) for Blender Cycles fluid sim animations, especially with a dedicated display card, e.g. mine is just a Galaxy GTX 210 which cost me only $10 US!

If that’s what you want or need to get what you consider acceptable or high performance & can afford it, then go for it. Just wanted you to know Blender doesn’t require a massive array of smokin’ hot cards to render at a decent rate.

Though one’s “decent” is another’s “slug”…it’s all relative. <=1min per frame is acceptable for me
and am typically getting 10~30 sec per frame at my sample settings (for a fluid sim), and <1 sec for
regular animation…though not complex scenes like yours.

You actually may be able to see your animation render almost in real time!
Which I have to admit would be nice.

Recommend keeping the “dinky one” as a backup in case the new one melts down. :eek:
Just kidding. :smiley:

But seriously, even if it’s a slug in comparison to the new one, it can still save you time
by working on an animation while you blaze around in that “Ferrari”. :smiley:

Happy rendering…envious. :slight_smile:

ps- keep a fire extinguisher near by. :wink:

Well, most of that video was done using the free CLOUD RENDERING service which has been down for months… if I try to render the video I linked to in cycles with my current setup at full HD resolution 1080p with ~300 samples we are talking ~15 minutes per frame!!! And that is rendering on my single gtx580…

That video has 5 more minutes to it that I want to finish in the next year (I only get to play on blender on weekends, but that may change) -

It could very well be that I am doing STUPID things in my render that is slowing it down dramatically- so any suggestions are welcome… I would even be willing to share the .blend for comments but its like 30 meg in size…

I DONT have a dedicated display card- just one gtx580- would that slow things dramatically if its rendering and doing the display?

It would help take the load off the GPU…not sure how much faster the scene would render, but worth $10 to try. :smiley:

I guess it depends on the number of monitors or if you’re watching a video at the same time.
My $10 Galaxy 210 handles everything I throw at it…multilple browsers, videos, etc.

I would put my “old” 460 back in that I replaced with the 580, but the 580 takes up 2 psi-e slots even though it only uses one.

15min per frame is definitely a drag! But once did a 10sec video in Bryce that took 3 days to render! :eek:
(proabably because of the materials and soft shadows). Never again.

My hope is to have a fast system so I can learn blender faster


maybe it would help if you just worked on less complex scenes that rendered much quicker?

Not trying to discourage the upgrade, but if learning Blender is the goal, focus on different
aspects of Blender, hide parts of the scene, then put it together for the final render.
(though you may already know that).

I know using the 580 GPU renders have helped me a lot in animation just because it’s at least 20x faster than the CPU, so
can try more things. :wink:

The way I put together the complex scene was I prepared the components individually in a simple scene and tweaked them until I was happy with them- so in that respect I was doing what you suggest… I started that project using blender internal as you can tell… after a while I kept reading about cycles so I decided to give it a try… I got the GTX580 (~40x faster for cycles than the card I had) and spent a couple of weekends re making all the materials in my project and then gave it a spin and was blown away by the results!! RENDERFARM.FI allowed me to outsource my rendering freeing up my computer to do more on the project- sadly RENDERFARM.FI is down and its unclear when it will be back…:frowning:

Sometime in the first quarter of 2013 I should be able to get this computer built- I will keep my current one which is fine for setting up scenes, and learning- and use the new computer for rendering and other computationally intensive things I do. Next year my schedule will change- I hope to have more time to spend weekends and evenings on blender…

I also do computationally and graphically intensive things for work on my computer- so having a better system will help there…

It would be nice if I can get to the point where I can do small projects for pay- but I am not counting on that… mainly I am doing this for fun- and I have used it to make some humorous work related videos to amuse the people I work with as well as illustrative videos for my work…

Blender is a powerful tool and I have really enjoyed learning it.

Frustrating not to have more time to learn Blender…I empathize…never seems to be enough time!

re: Learning Blender…besides all the great free video tuts, I highly recommend
The Complete Guide to Blender Graphics, Blender Foundations, Mastering Blender (new release), and Bounce, Tumble & Splash.

Also, check …loads of links to Blender sites and tutorials.

Have fun with Blender & putting together your dream machine. :smiley: