Hardware requirements / recommendations

'Evening. I’m looking to build a desktop PC mainly for Blender use, and would greatly appreciate some guidance on hardware requirements, and any recommendations re hardware. I’ve done quite a bit of research already, but have in all honesty become a little confused re what components are compatible or incompatible. Really, it’d be great if I could receive some recommendations re a full set of components for a budget of around £1200 - 1500, not including monitor, tablet, keyboard.

In case they may be of use : I happen to already have a Phanteks Enthoo Pro full tower and a Hyper 212 EVO cpu cooler.


Hi, it mainly depends on your choice for CPU or GPU render engine.
For GPU render you are fine with a small i7 but heavy mainboard and several GPU´s + heavy power supply.
For CPU render you need i7 6/8 core or dual Xeon system.
Main advantage of a CPU system is work on big scenes is not a problem because RAM is cheap.
GPU is limited on VRAM, modern cards have 8-12 GB of VRAM, if your scene does not fit in to VRAM you cant render at all.
Advantage of GPU system is fast render and system is easy expandable, one GPU is 100% and add a second card is nearly linear to 200% performance.
A new CPU need may a new board, it is not so easy to change.
For other work with Blender a good i7 gaming PC would work fine.

Cheers, mib

Thanks for that, mib
If I was to say that the goal is to have a setup that would allow rendering with either cpu or gpu, as appropriate to the particular render job, is there a components list (for that budget range, approximately) you’d recommend that’d allow for that ? Thanks again

I found a Youtube clip suggesting the following components :

CPUs : 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2670 2.6 GHz (16 cores, 32 threads, in total)
RAM : 64GB DDR3 1600 MHz
Graphics card : EVGA Geforce GTX 980 TI 6GB
SSD : Mushkin 512 GB SSD
Motherboard : Asus Z9PE-D8 WS SSI Dual-CPU LGA2011
Case : Phanteks Enthoo Pro full-size case
PSU : EVGA Super Nova 1050 Watt
CPU cooling : Two x Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

As I said in a previous post, I happen to have the case and one Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO.

However, despite spending quite a time trying, I can’t source a few of the components within the UK, and can’t get them - even outside the UK - for the knock-down prices suggested in the Youtube clip. Some can be sourced outside the UK, but of course that means extra expenditure on shipping fees, etc.
Could I ask, please, for guidance on an equivalent set of components …or maybe a step down (in terms of performance & price) from the ones listed above…within the UK, for something around £800 - £1300.
Thank you very much for your help

You be careful with E5 CPUs. There are different versions of the same model:
Intel Xeon E5-2670 @ 2.60GHz seems to be the oldest of them (E5-2670).

This is a single thread benchmark, is also good considering it for tasks that do not support multi thread in Blender:

So you try to choose something balanced between the two benchmarks (something that has very good score in the first benchmark, and that at least is good in the second benchmark). Of course, you try to find users results about how the CPU you chose performs in Blender/Cycles.

But I do not really know much about Xeon CPUs, you try a little more research.
I did not know your needs and if you really need to invest in Xeon processors to render in CPU with Cycles. Last nvidia GPU’s are coming with more vRAM available. Personally I would choose a very good i7 CPU and two GPUs. You wait at 2.78a release in the coming days because probably we will have new benchmarks to know the performance of new nvidia Pascal GPUs.

Unless you’re planning on doing a lot of CPU rendering multiple Xeon processors may be a waste. You typically end up with much slower clock speed on the processors (a good i7-based system is typically 4+ GHz, compared to the 2-point-whatever for the Xeons) for the same price, which doesn’t help with day to day, non-rendering work. Plus workstation motherboards needed for multiple Xeon processors typically require more expensive ECC RAM (perhaps the parts you have a hard time finding?).

Thanks to you all for your valuable input. Based on this, and on further research, I’ve had a rethink. What are your opinions, please, on a setup along the following lines (for an all-round PC, mostly for Blender use, in modelling, animating, simulating, compositing, rendering, video editing) ? Thank you

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-UD5 TH LGA 1151 Intel Z170 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Processor: Intel Core i7-6700 8M Quad-Core 3.4 GHz LGA 1151 65W Desktop Processor (4 cores / 8 threads)
OS Hard Drive: 250GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Storage Hard Drive: Seagate Hybrid Drive 1TB MLC/8GB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s (SSHD)
Memory: 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM 2400Mhz (PC3 19200) Dual Channel Memory (64GB Max)
7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec), Supports Purity Sound™ 3 & DTS Connect
Power Supply: Rosewill Photon-650, PHOTON Series 650W Full Modular Power Supply, 80 PLUS Gold Certified
Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB 128-Bit GDDR5 Silent Cooling Graphic Card
Case: Titan Silent Black ATX Mid Tower w/ Window and Sound Damping Workstation Case
Wireless: TP-LINK TL-WN823N Wireless N300 Mini USB Adapter, 300 Mbps, w/ WPS Button - 300Mbps
OS: Windows 10 Professional 64-bit

Why you have greatly reduced the expectations on GPU? Did not reach the budget?
Currently 2GB of vRAM is little amount. There is a GTX 960 with 4GB model, but …
Users are reporting about 03:50.0 minutes with i7-6700 in BMW27.blend scene and Windows. With GTX 960 you will get about 01: 50.0 minutes in BMW27.blend scene. But in complex scenes maybe the time between CPU and GTX 960 GPU are on par:

That is, in complex scenes you will not notice much gain with GTX 960 GPU over this CPU. Do you really can not buy a better GPU?

Thanks, Yafu. So the setup listed is good…except I need a better graphics card ? What graphics card would you suggest, please, for the above setup ? To answer your question re budget : I had to reduce my budget overall, but if you’re saying that this setup would work well with a better graphics card, I’ll go with that.

I give an opinion on CPU and GPU. The other components look good, but I’m not too informed. GIGABYTE is a good brand.
The CPU seems like a good choice. If you can reach an offer of the same model with a ‘K’ at the end (i7-6700K), would be even better. But i7-6700 is good anyway.
On GPU you try to reach the GTX 980 Ti. If you can wait a few more days when Blender 2.78a is released, there will have more information about the performance of the GTX 1070 and 1080 cards.
If you ask me where you could reduce some of the budget, I would say that you postpone the SSD disk for now until you can buy it.

What I am considering for my recommendation: A powerful computer within your budget primarily meant for GPU render with Cycles (980 Ti, 1070, 1080). And with a CPU with good overall performance for non render tasks. In addition this CPU has an integrated graphics which you can use for the primary display while you render with your nvidia GPU on Cycles. The latter I say is because I do not know if you know that if you use your nvidia card to handle the display and at the same time render with Cycles/GPU, the system becomes laggy. So for this case where you need to use the integrated graphics, it should consider your display needs and the possibilities of connection for monitor/display that offers the motherboard. In this case only one HDMI on this Gygabyte model?. I guess there are models with DVI, HDMI, DP and even including old VGA.

And please, you use my recommendations just as an extra opinion to help you to better investigate/research and for you make the final decision. I do not know your exact needs and I would not want you to take a bad decision because of something I have said.

Just getting back to this, following a few days away. Thank you, Yafu, for your further input. I’ve started getting a final components list together, based on the above and some other research I’ve done and guidance received.
Thanks again