Hardware Research getting me nowhere

Hi everyone!
So I spent the last week trying to figure this out before posting it, but it seems I’ll have to post a hardware question.

I’m a mac user, because I have to, but I love doing 3D art. Its time for me to get a new computer this year, I’m just waiting for the new models to come out to see how intel’s new chips and nvidia’s new chips are going to be integrated and how they’ll stack up against the older ones. Preferably I’d want only one machine instead of a blender machine plus a mac… but this seems to be close to impossible if you want good performance.

I use cycles, right now on CPU, because my GPU right now is a sad joke for CUDA. Since Apple puts mobile graphics into anything but the MacPro, I assume the iMac 2014 is going to have the GTX 880M in it, wich is already in an alienware notebook. Does anyone have some data about it, my search has come up short. The current iMac has a GTX 780M and I don’t really get how they are different performance wise with CUDA. They have the same number of cores, the same GDDR5 etc… does someone know what makes the 880m better than the 780m in terms of CUDA?

The MacPro sadly isn’t an option, because Apple’s trash can design makes it even more difficult for hardware suppliers to deliver new hardware. None of the standard sizes work… so I’ll venture a guess and say unless Apple really wants it, nvidia isn’t going to come to the desktop-class computer of Apple anytime soon. Since I am currently using a Retina MacBook Pro with 650m graphics, don’t even get me started on the Notebook lineup of Apple… they glued in the batteries and soldered on the graphics and RAM.

So my only option from Apple is the iMac, wich uses mobile graphics. Does anyone know how it performs with Cycles in Blender?

If not a mac, I’d build my own machine from scratch, however I really don’t want all the driver-issues. So I might get a ready built PC and swap out the graphics cards. My research brought me to the conclusion that a GTX 580 is just as good as a GTX 780 when it comes to CUDA performance in Blender. I’m not versed enough to interpret the GTX 880 specs (rumors) to extrapolate that. The ‘wich card would you suggest’-game has been played way too often already, so I’ll just ask specifically about

  • rumors/data on the GTX 880’s CUDA performance
  • and CUDA data on the Titan
  • and if anybody knows something on the Titan Z’s CUDA, that’d be great!

sorry this got so long, but its a lot of money I’m going to spend… so I’d really appreciate your input on Mac hardware. Thank you!


What driver-issues? I think you’re the victim of some myths.

You can’t really extrapolate Maxwell’s (8xx) power for Cycles. It’ll use CUDA 6 and it’ll have an ARM processor integrated in the GPU. If, or when Cycles is implemented for Maxwell it’ll be fast though - most likely. :wink:

Anyways, a Titan/Titan Z is a huge waste of money as they are prestige products.
A Titan has a single precision performance of 5121 GFLOPS for ~1000 Euro.
A GTX 770 4GB has a single precision performance of 3213 GFLOPS for ~300 Euro.
So with 2 GTX770 you have similar to more performance as with a Titan, for 2/3 of the money.

So unless you need the 6/12GB VRAM there’s no point for a Titan/Titan Z.

You just want a fast (expensive) motherboard (avoid MSI and similar brands), a fast NVIDIA graphics card (avoid ATI), a reliable power supply and Windows 7 and you won’t have any driver issues. There is no need to buy a ready built PC and get a mediocre/cheapo motherboard, power supply and graphics card and a ton of worthless unreliable software installed by the company.

Note there is a trap with totally new products, as you get totally new hardware and software bugs too, and you will have to marry the hardware bugs as they cannot be corrected. I have fell in that trap myself a couple of times where the ‘great’ version was the second, or third. All hardware has bugs, from the CPU to the motherboard and graphics card and some of them cannot be fixed with firmware or Bios updates (that’s what hardware revisions are for).

If you choose PC, don’t forget to have at least two partitions on the main disk or even better two hard drives in order a) to separate your work from the OS partition and also b) use a partition to save the ‘image’ of the main OS partition with a free backup/recovery dos utility that the disk manufacturer provides (usually Acronis). You save a few image versions (~7 minutes) as you built your OS and add software and you can always return to a previous image in less than 5 minutes -even if a virus has hit your system or there is malware, corrupted files, etc. Also, an SSD for the OS is highly recomended.

Thank you both for your information. Since I just got an iMac on eBay for 40% of its official price, I’ll now test how the mobile 780 performs. Otherwise I can still sell it for more than I payed for it… if it doesn’t work out I’ll take @dllb 's suggestions at heart for building my own PC. But I really hope it does, having to run a Blender PC and an all-the-other-work mac isn’t really my dream come true :wink:

I get it, especially with Blender there are lots of free spirits around who think I’m bonkers for thinking I need a Mac, but having used Windows, Ubuntu and OS X repeatedly changing in different situations over the last seven years, the only reliable, fast, easy to use OS with all the software I need was OS X. Especially when I have to do video editing, photo editing, graphic design and web design, I refuse to use anything but OS X, as it just is so much easier to use in those cases. But thats all beside the point, this thread it about hardware.

I’ll come back to give some benchmarks on the iMac as soon as I have it. The 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, 4cores/8threads i7 (4th gen) 3.9GHz must be good for something…

my xp machine with a CPU and internal circuitry which is atleast 8 years old runs blender, it even ran it well enough for me to produce these:
well all the ones before “new hellhound test render” anyway. as long as you avoid complex raytracing and particle systems any computer will run blender, if you do turn on raytracing in blender internal(or use cycles) or have a lot of particles in your scenes it will be painfully slow on very old hardware but it will still run. seeing as you only joined this month i’m guessing you are fairly new to blender, but to achieve good work with it hardware is the least of your worries.

Thanks for the vote of confidence :wink: but I get where you’re coming from and I only use Cycles. Why learn Blender Render when its development has been discontinued?

I used to do 3D games with “3D Gamestudio” (Version A6) for two years and back then used Blender off and on. So I do have some experience with that world, of course I’m miles away from an amateur’s level, but for a 2h project after less than 7 active blender days, this seems pretty good:

Of course there is a number of things looking boring and unrealistic. But hey, I’m a newbie :wink:

Back to the hardware: My question came, because I hate playing the waiting game, watching tiles appear…