Need specs for mid/high end cycles animation rendering machine (2018)?

(Blended_Blue) #1


I have a budget of roughly 5k to build the best Blender cycles rendering tower I possibly can. I just don’t know what I should be trying to buy.

I am more than capable of building my own PC, but it has been a few years and I am asking the community what is the best Mobo + Cpu + Mem + GPU + PSU that I should be looking for,

I am thinking two 1080s and an Asus motherboard with Intel CPU. But Which motherboard and CPU?

I want to render 5min + of humanoid and semi-complex scene animations using Cycles with subsurface scattering and some volumetric lighting.

Should I put my money towards GPUs and try to get 3 or 4 1080s on a single Mobo (this would be amazing, I think)?

Which mobo would have a super fast PCI-E bus so as to fully support 4x GPUs?

I apologize for having to ask, but full blown cycles animations are relatively new to me, but I am a mocap artists and have lots of content I would love to render. And currently it takes far too long (even after heavy optimization of my animations still takes week instead of days/hours).

Please help me decide on the best possible Blender rig.

Or should I hold out for Nvidia’s RTX series GPUs instead of 1080s?

Thanks very much

(J_the_Ninja) #2

For PCIe, look for motherboard that has multiple x16 slots, and a CPU that has enough lanes total to support them. You will likely need to get a “high-end desktop” system. Not sure Intel offers any real benefit over AMD’s Threadripper platform for 3D work. Unlike gaming or some video editing work, there’s very little benefit for fewer-but-slightly-faster cores in 3D stuff. Especially with the cheaper 12-core Threadripper 2920x on the way in a few weeks.

For GPUs, get 2080Tis. You have the budget. The only things to “hold out” for is them being back in stock and getting ahold of a CUDA-10 Blender. This is fairly straightfoward to compile yourself, see

Cycles supports running on the new Turing cards in the source code now (RT cores are not used, just the existing code running on the CUDA cores). It’s just that the official builds are not yet using CUDA 10 since it has some issues with older Nvidia cards. If you’re not using those, you can make or get a build that does use CUDA 10 instead of 9.1, and it will run just fine on the new cards. Performance compared to the 10 series is roughly in line with the gaming performance, so just refer to those benchmarks. Getting the 2080ti also means you have the hardware ready to go for RTX and NVLink memory pooling, once Cycles is updated to support those.

(lukasstockner97) #3

I’m not so sure about the 2080Tis - I don’t have one to compare, but if we ignore features that might be supported eventually and look at current Cycles, I’m fairly sure that 1080Tis would offer better value, especially since the RTX cards don’t even have more VRAM. Remember, Cycles scales very well across multiple cards, so getting three 1080Ti instead of two 2080Ti might be the better deal. Of course, that could very well change in the future if we get support for new features.

Regarding CPU: Yeah, I also think AMD is the way to go here. The only advantage of Intel at the higher end is single-core speed, and that really doesn’t matter for Cycles rendering - there’s a reason why AMD heavily uses Cycles for promoting their new CPUs. If you’re certain that you will only ever use GPU rendering, a decent consumer CPU like the 2700x would probably be good enough - it doesn’t have enough PCIe lanes, but these don’t really matter for rendering speed. Otherwise, something like the 2920x or 2950x probably is the best deal.

(mib2berlin) #4

Hi, may you think about to build several Threadripper 2990X systems.
GPU is slow on volumetrics and if you hit the VRAM barrier you are out of the race.
One system can use a better GPU but other can build with cheap mainboards and small power supply.
I have no exact numbers but a 32 core Threadripper should be as fast as a RTX 2080Ti.

Cheers, mib

(Blended_Blue) #5

Thanks everyone, I used to think Intel was the way to go, but AMD appears to be pushing some high quality CPUs these days.

I like the idea of using RTX 2080 GPUs but they are very expensive and I could only afford two at most (which sacrifices my mobo/cpu budget).

However I would buy them without hesitation if I knew Blender Cycles would one day be able to utilize the RT cores!!! Adding RT core support could give the biggest performance boost cycles has ever known, I suspect…
But who knows if that will ever be the case…

Thanks mib2berlin for suggesting threadripper (I had read about it in other blender threads, but never cared to look).

Now all I can think about is building a quad 1080TI Ryzen 2990 WX ThreadRipper!

Something like this PC I’m sure would have nearly zero bottlenecks:

But for $20,000, there’s no way I could afford it.

Do I absolutely require something like a ThreadRipper in order to fully utilize 4x 1080 TIs? Or are there other ways?

And where do I get that really cool 4x gpu water cooling system???

(Blended_Blue) #6

Based on everyone’s suggestions how does this parts lineup look:

ASRock X399 Taichi sTR4 AMD X399 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX AMD Motherboard - $454.99

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX Processor (YD299XAZAFWOF) - $1,897.71

(4x) EVGA GEFORCE HYBRID SC2 1080TI 11G-P4-6598-KR - $600.00 each - $2,400.00 total:

(4x) G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 8GB 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2400 (PC4 19200) Intel Z170 - $66.00 each - $264.00 total

EVGA Supernova 1600 T2 80 Titanium 1600w Power Supply 10 YR PSU - $249.00

Total: ~$5,265.70
Which is just within my budget!!!

How would you rate the above component selection as a Cycles + Volumetrics rendering rig?
Anything I should change or add?

(Knight135531) #7

Well I made a similar list for you I’ll be sharing it soon as per the your current build swap the current ram with faster ram it sounds silly but ryzen love fast ram. (64 GB can be a overkill but ram is ram and you can never have enough​:wink::wink:)

(James) #8

As someone who has gone through an awful lot of motherboards, I would swap that Asrock out for an equivalent Gigabyte model.

EVGA power supplies arn’t all that either, what you want is a Superflower.

oops… that was meant as a reply to @Blended_Blue

(Blended_Blue) #9

Thanks for the suggestions

I have never heard of Superflower before, but I see a 2000 watt PSU that looks kind of nice:

2000W PSU voeding power supply unit Superflower LEADEX - $335.70

Any reason why Asrock would not be a good choice? Are Gigabyte boards more efficient/faster for cycles?
Could you please suggest a comparable (or superior) Ryzen Gigabyte Mobo for 4x TIs?

(James) #10

Yep that will do you. The neat thing with Superflower is thats basically all they make. The problem with getting ones from places like EVGA, Corsair etc, is that its not their core business - they make lots of other stuff, so the haven’t put the engineering in because there resources are spread accross lots of products. And what you can see in the right side of the open box photo is a blank pouch with a metric tonne of cables in it, like twice as many as you’ll need, probably $50 worth. having lost my own eyebrows on more then one occasion, to power supplies going fritz, trust me, this is the one you want. They do 1600w version.

As for the motherboard, just pick a gigabyte with the same chipset. Im not hugely up on AMD chips, but if it was me I would go for this one. Ive had loads of asrock, asus, and MSI boards, and all have either died in action after a few months, or been dead on arrival. Gigabyte are the only ones ive found that can take a beating and last. In fact ive still got a Pentium 3 machine with a Gigabyte board in it thats still running and used daily.

(Blended_Blue) #11

Very cool! And that is one very nice looking motherboard:

The price is roughly the same as the ASRock too. sucks I can’t find any that ship from the states.

So I guess that narrows things down and this build now feels within reach.

This is all still open to suggestions, and unless the Asrock has some amazing advantage over the Gigabyte, I think I’ll prefer the Gigabyte board.

Quick question:
Are the Rpijaws ram modules (recomended by Knight) a good match for this board aswell?

And thank you all so very much for helping me spec out a (budget) dream machine!

Linux HW suggestions, do's and don'ts?
(James) #12

I should think so, G Skill are pretty solid, its the number thats important (PC4 25600) the higher the better. Get the highest you can afford that the board can handle.

oh hrmm… if forget im in the UK sometimes.

(James) #13


This motherboard would be my second choice, and its avaiable in the states. Slightly more money though.

(James) #14

@Blended_Blue Its a real shame your in the states. If it was my money, I would be buying this.

(Blended_Blue) #15

That has a single Nvidia Quadro P5000 Graphics Card with 2560 CUDA Cores.

While a 1080 TI has 3584 cores
4x 1080 TIs give a total of 14336 cuda cores

And I don’t see mention of the motherboard they are using.

Is a Quadro GPU better for Blender than GTXs??

(James) #16

Its an Asus board, but they will swap it for a gigabyte if i phone them up.

Quadro cards card meant for this stuff. The cards you picked are top end gaming cards.

(Blended_Blue) #17

Hmm, Now I feel like I have homework to do again…

I understand that GTX is a gaming card, but I hear so much hype about them and very little about Quadro. Is Quadro superior/faster even with fewer cuda cores than GTX?

Without trying to show my complete incompetence regarding this subject, may I ask, given those two Gigabyte boards and the one Asrock,

which specs should I compare as the most important/detrimental to Cycles rendering?

Before I make this decision, I want to feel like there is at least an ounce of logic behind it.

All I know is to solve Cycles delays, just throw graphics cards at it.

But I also realize that the GPUs need a good foundation to perform optimally.

So is it PCI-E lanes?
FSB Clock speed?
Or bus width for the CPU?

Not sure what really matters most here.

(James) #18

The Quadro cards are meant for heavy math - they have better ram and they can calculate things to a much higher precision much more accurately and faster then a gaming card, which is built for a diffrent purpose. Quadro cards are used for things like predicting weather patterns for this reason. Its huge data, huge math. That quadro card also has 16gb of ram on it which would be awesome for cycles.

If your going to be gaming on it much, get the GTXs you picked. If this is a real graphics workstation and your going to be working quite complex scenes, get the Quadro. It doesnt have as many CUDA cores, but the ones it does have are built to be more efficient then the gaming grade card, which is a different ball game. The Quadro also has floating point number features that I believe only the top end Titan gaming cards have - its not a big deal for games, but if your using the graphics card to calculate things like heavy particle systems, fluid simulations, or nuclear bombs going off, it would be a plus.

(James) #19

Also, consider your electric bill. I pay twice the electric bill of the average similar sized household because i have a water cooled workstation with 2 graphics cards, 4 SSDs, and 5 mechanical drives. i dread to think what 4 cards is going to do to your bill.

(Blended_Blue) #20

I hear ya, but it’s nearing winter, so the more I render, the less load on my heatpump.