PC build mid-level & costs suggestions

Dear all,

I spent last lockdown trying to push my knowledge a bit farther and touched several new aspects of blender:

  • smoke
  • Fluid sym
  • vfx
  • keying and compositing
  • out of topic: after effects video compositing

I am on a new MacBook 16” and, to give you a benchmark: to render a vfx video made by a still render and a 12 min video, it took me almost 12 hours.

This is just to clarify probably my request is not just connected to my poor level of knowledge about rendering setups.
I was trying to import a keyed clip (8 seconds) to work directly in blender, every time I tried to adjust a light a prop or anything, it took me so long, I had to give up as the cycles preview mode was sending me crazy.

I am a noob, but still a nerd lover of vfx and blender and I would like to go ahead both with blender and after effects even I won’t became a new Ian Hubert :+1:
I would like to have from you some mid level suggestions for an assembled pc to have more chances to create something more.

Should I start with a gaming laptop?
Would it be better a desktop pre-assembled?
Shoul I go for a custom one focusing just on HDD and video gpu?

I don’t want nor need to invest lot’s of money as this is just the beginning and don’t want to invest 3k€

Can you help me?

Hi, if you go for a laptop you will get about 50% performance of a desktop system with the same price.
Look for a gaming desktop with a Ryzen 5 CPU and a mid class GTX 1660 GPU, SSD and minimum of 8 GB Ram. Such a system is about 7-800 €.
You need a display but it is possible to work remote from your MacBook, too.
Later you can change the GPU to a faster one and double or tripple your render performance. Depends of the mainboard and power supply it is possible to add a second GPU instead of change it.
If you on a MacBook Pro you should have enough power for smoke/fluid, are you?

Cheers, mib

Hello, thank you for this first reply.

  1. laptop have the advantage to be compact
  2. what about an alienware?
  3. some simulations are viable, but the most not.
  4. vfx and other real time workflows are not viable at all :frowning:

Hi, you can get a decent laptop for 3D work for sure but you will get the same performance from a desktop for 60% money.
What CPU is in your MacBook?
Compare it with a nearly similar desktop CPU at https://www.cpubenchmark.net/.
Same with mobile GPU versus desktop GPU.
If you really need a laptop for work at different places there is no way around but most laptop I know laying on a desk and never move.

Cheers, mib

First thing, if you can wait until closer to the end of the year your money will buy a much faster machine.

You don’t say what your budget is so it’s really difficult to be anything other than vague with advice.

With a limited budget you are going to have to decide whether you want to put money into the CPU for smoke and fluid sim calculation performance or put more into the GPU for overall rendering performance. Building a machine for both tasks is expensive so you’ll need think which is the more important for your interest.

I’d suggest the 12 or 16 core Ryzen and whatever nVidia GPU your budget can stretch to for fluid/smoke work. For Rendering I’d go with a 2070 or 2080 then see what I had left for the CPU.

I would avoid a second laptop or any name branded desktop and find a local PC builder who can assembled a custom PC for you. If you can’t build a PC yourself this latter option is the best way of getting the most for your money.

In a little as 2-4 months new CPUs and GPUs will be on the market offering more bang for your Euro. Wait if you can as the performance gains look like they could be tremendous.


thank you guys.
looking a bit around, I think AMD -> Ryzen, Nvida -> RTX 20+, could be a good solution…
we’ll see what’s coming after the summer :slight_smile: