ok, since there seems to be some confusion surrounding the fluid issue, i’ll try to address them here:
The key factor that affects the quality of the output and speed is resolution. The higher the resolution, the better the quality but slower. Personally, I usually lower ‘preview’ quality to 1 and just set the ‘Disp Qual’ to final/final. THis way, i can see exactly what I will get when I render. This also reduce the harddrive usage since the preview geometry files will be almost zero-btye.
The easiest way to get a more detailed output without increasing the baking time is to play arund with the bounding box (aka domain) size, there is no reason why you want the domain to be bigger than absolutely necessary. I usually resize the box so that it almost-hugs the fluid on all side. This has no impact on baking time but give you higher quality results.
fluid is more dependent on memroy size than CPU. Although the estimates could be way off sometimes, in general 512mb of system ram will allow you to bake up to 250. 1GB to 350, and 2GB to 450… And since the fluid engine is not multi-threaded, it is not possible to utilize dual-core processors or some sort of ‘render farm’.