Hardware for blender

Hi I know this gets asked a lot (and in fact I’ve asked this before but)

I’m going to buy a desktop machine in a few months so I’ve been window shopping today. How would this run blender? Do I have all the stuff I need?

Is there any difference in running blender on different operating systems ie. Does blender run more quickly on windows or linux?

Asrock 890GX-Extreme AM3,Cfire,DDR3,SATA3,GBLan,ATX
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/images/products/s/cpa-ap2x4.jpg CPA-AP2925
AMD Phenom II X4 925 Socket AM3 Processor - Retail
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/images/products/s/me-d3-1024-16.jpg ME-D3-2048-13
2Gb DDR3 1333MHz Memory Module
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/images/products/s/hds-502hi.jpg HDS-502HI
500Gb Samsung Spinpoint F2 5400rpm S-ATAII 300 Hard Drive
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/images/products/s/ps-x650-24.jpg PS-X650-24
650W 24-pin PSU with 12cm Fan
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/images/products/s/DRL-GH22NS50.jpg DRL-GH22NS50
LG GH-22NS-50 22x DVD+/-R Writer, SATA - Black
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/images/products/s/MO-TFT19W.jpg MO-TFT19W
Eclipse Value 18.5 Inch WideScreen TFT Monitor
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/images/products/s/CA-XARMBK.jpg CA-XARMBK
Armor Black ATX Case, No PSU
Total Exc. £382.30 VAT £66.90 Total Inc. £449.20

Here’s a slightly more readable version

MBA-890GXEXT3 Asrock 890GX-Extreme AM3,Cfire,DDR3,SATA3,GBLan,ATX £78.95

CPA-AP2925 AMD Phenom II X4 925 Socket AM3 Processor - Retail £90.75

ME-D3-2048-13 2Gb DDR3 1333MHz Memory Module x2 £24.95

HDS-502HI 500Gb Samsung Spinpoint F2 5400rpm S-ATAII 300 Hard Drive x2 £25.95

PS-X650-24 650W 24-pin PSU with 12cm Fan

DRL-GH22NS50 LG GH-22NS-50 22x DVD+/-R Writer, SATA - Black £11.95

MO-TFT19W Eclipse Value 18.5 Inch WideScreen TFT Monitor £69.95

CA-XARMBK Armor Black ATX Case, No PS £16.95

About £450 after tax

What about a graphics card?
May I suggest an ati hd5770 or an nvidia gtx 460
The processor is a bit on the weak side, why not at least a 945 (this directly impacts rendertimes)
Otherwise, pretty ok

With the graphics card you suggest we are leaving my price range.
I though there was graphics on the motherboard. Is it no good?

I might bump the processor up if it would make a lot of difference. It seems to go from 2.8 to 3.0. It is quad core so does that mean the difference would be 0.2 *4?

Waow! You look like going into a serious “building my own” process!
Therefore Jörzi is pretty right: This graphic card thing is really a central point to even have to build one’s own machine, i think.

Ok, well I’m going for bangs per buck, so I’m looking for a graphics card that isn’t brand new. Apparently this one will use er, crossfire? or something with the motherboard I’ve chosen.
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/images/products/s/GC-XR545H1.jpg 1024Mb ATi Radeon HD 5450 PCI-Express VGA Card Generic Radeon HD 5450
Normally in Stock
(£46.12 inc. VAT)
Add to Compare List

The graphic card will determine how fast Blender is, apart from rendering and simulation baking that is, so it’s probably the most vital piece of equipment, do not go for the latest Nvidia card though as they are expensive and get VERY hot, I’d suggest something from ATI (the 5x series) or something from Nvidias 2x series, such as an 260 or 280, if you can find one of the latter that’s a pretty good thing as those cards are fast!

Also for the monitor you may want to go for an 21", it’ll be a little more expensive but you’ll have a more real estate and a higher resolution screen which will make working with Blenders non-overlapping interface a dream compared to the 18.5 you’ve chosen.

If you are on a really tight budget you could get something from the 9x series, such as an 9800 or even something from the 8x series if you really don’t have much to spare for a dedicated GPU, I have an old 8800GTS lying around and they are pretty fast cards, they won’t hold up so well for the very latest games but in Blender they will be able to shift a few million polygons.

Look at the benchmarks for that card, they are very poor. There are cards in your price range which offer a lot better performance though, such as the Nvidia 220 and 240, I’m not sure how much the ATI cards above the one you’ve chose are, but I guess they would be roughly the same as Nvidias cards.



Actually, the new gtx460 isn’t at all as hot as the other 400 series cards from nvidia and it has a much higher power/performance ratio. It’s also pretty cheap for it’s performance (200-250€ in most stores)
a gtx260 is also very good if you can find one for cheap
also if you find a 9800GT for under 100€ it is a very nice card

When it comes to processor, the bigger the better of course, but only for rendering and simulation, but for modeling and rendering a few stills or some animation without too much raytracing, a 925 may be good enough. Depends on your own patience, though. Personally I like to keep my rendertimes per frame below one or two minutes…

http://images.x2tek.co.uk/product_images/mini/MN185HKC9809A.jpg HKC 9809A 18.5inch Glossy Black 2ms Widescreen Multimedia DVI TFT Monitor
Product Code: 107318 Manufacturers Code: MN185HKC9809A 6
remove £65.49 £65.49 http://images.x2tek.co.uk/product_images/mini/M4N68T-M.jpg Asus M4N68T-M SKT AM3 DDR3 Snd, Video, Lan SATA Raid mATX Motherboard
Product Code: 103526 Manufacturers Code: 90-MIBC20-G0EAY0WZ 2
remove £36.08 £36.08 http://images.x2tek.co.uk/product_images/mini/ADX635WFGIBOX.jpg AMD Athlon II X4 635 2.9Ghz 2mb 95W Socket AM3 - Retail
Product Code: 149635 Manufacturers Code: ADX635WFGIBOX 5
remove £67.19 £67.19 http://images.x2tek.co.uk/product_images/mini/PSD32G13332.jpg Patriot 2GB DDR3 1333 CL9.0 Signature - Retail
Product Code: 110231 Manufacturers Code: PSD32G13332 21
remove £27.19 £54.38 http://images.x2tek.co.uk/product_images/mini/wdfDesktop_SE16_AAKS.jpg Western Digital SE16 320GB 7200rpm SATAII/300 16MB Cache OEM
Product Code: WD3200AAKS Manufacturers Code: WD3200AAKS

Ok what about this. Right at the limit of my price range.

You should run Linux with that set-up instead of windows 7, the 2GB of RAM will give you terrible performance in the latter but should be good enough for Linux, secondly for £3 more you can get this monitor;

1440x900 resolution instead of 1360 x 768.

Ah man these days you need 8 gigs of RAM minimum at least for any graphics work, don’t fool around.

If I were you I would try and save up a bit more money and up the specs a bit. You should definitely think about a better monitor and more Ram. If you make a render on a lower end monitor the brightness and colour accuracy is likely to be off by quite a bit, more Ram will enable you to create and render bigger scenes. For the graphics, I bought a gainward nvidia 460gtx glh graphics card this week and it runs great, but the £200 price tag does sees a bit more than what you are intending to spend. Ati cards do offer a bit more value for money.

The graphics card is really pretty secondary as far as blender performance is concerned. Obviously you need enough to show whatever is in the viewport, but a mid-range gaming card like you have there will be just fine. Something to bear in mind is you wont need fancy shaders, just polygon pushing power. As such steer clear of the new low-range cards, which tend to cram in all the new features with less power, and instead go for a slightly older card that used to be high range. The ATI 4800 series, and the NVIDIA 8800/9800 series were all great cards for example and should give you a good bang for your buck, aim for one with 1024MB ram if you can.

For the processor, obviously it will make the biggest impact on render speed so get what you can there, also core numbers are very important as rendering (and more and more other tasks) is multithreaded - a CPU with more cores at a slightly slower speed is better for rendering than fewer cores at high speeds (well do the math, but generally it works out that more cores=better).

In my opinion though the biggest boost to what you can actually do with blender is down to RAM, it will determine the complexity of scenes you can load and render and reduce the amount of caching you will have to do to render large scenes, which also boosts render speed. If you can get 4GB, do (heck, get as much as you can really, when it comes to RAM you can’t have too much). Just remember you’ll need a 64 bit OS to utilise more than 2.5GB.

You asked whether the OS affects render times. There isn’t much difference in my opinion, I think in general Linux tends to be a smidgeon faster. Most likely this is not down to any inherent superiority, but just because linux systems tend to have less cruft going on in the background compared with all the superfluous 3rd party antivirus/firewall/malware/bloatware you typically find on windows systems. Ubuntu is a very friendly and easy to work with OS nowadays, and I highly recommend it for blender related stuff, if you aren’t a hardcore gamer I would say it makes a great choice.

Hope that helps. As for your selection, I’d say it looks pretty good. If you can afford to, up the ram to 4Gb, as that will really be a huge help though.

Edit: Oh and remember, the biggest effect on how good your renders will look comes from that component between the chair and the keyboard. A shiny PC helps, but until the devs finish work on that “make beautuiful render” button, it’s all about the artist really, not the tools.

What Ben said, plus I would (and did) opt for no OS, spend the extra hundred bucks on hardware, and run a 64 bit linux OS. It seems risky, but in the end can work out quite well, especially if you are looking to an open source pipeline.

I think your current build is quite balanced for such a tight price range
After all, you can buy more ram if you need it later, and there is upgrade room for a high-performance graphics card and a 6-core cpu if you ever feel you need it. Disk space is also just a matter of getting another hdd (320 gb actually goes a pretty long way unless you want to store lots of games, movies and music)

sigh, looks like my reply got eaten - try again:
May I suggest that you take a close look at Tom’s Hardware. 4x a year they have articles on building gaming PC’s for a variety of budgets. IMHO, gaming specs are what you want for blender speed, especially with more vid card on the fly rendering being workedd into Blender. Check out this article for do it yourself building:

Hi Guys, thanks for the response it’s been really helpful.
FYI Its not that clear in the posts but I mean to buy 2x2gig ram and 2x 320 hard drine and then raid them (whatever that means).

64 bit worries me a bit. I read somewhere that you can’t put 4gig with win 32. So if I need 64bit windows do I need a 64 bit processor. The only one I can find (although I haven’t really looked that hard. Seems to be a bit of a step down in power. Also I use zbrush so I expect I’ll have to make the machine dual booting?

AMD Athlon64 x2 7850 Black Edition 2.8Ghz AM2 Processor OEM
£37.54inc. VAT

     <b>[Asus 1024MB  DDR2 ATI Radeon HD4650 DVI / HDMI / VG...](http://www.overclock.co.uk/product/Asus-1024MB-DDR2-ATI-Radeon-HD4650-DVI--HDMI--VG_20429.html)</b>

                Code: 106993
      Out of stock
     £44.99 inc

£38.29 ex

The Athlon II X4 is a 64-bit capable processor.

Operating Mode 32 Bit: Yes
Operating Mode 64 Bit: Yes…

Don’t worry, there are no longer any 64bit-incopatible processors on the market.
raid means that you save the same thing on both hdd:s so that data is always dynamically backed up. It’s mostly only done on servers and criticals databases though. Not really necessary in a budget pc.
Oh and 4650 isn’t that good… I’d guess even an 8600gt is better