Recommend a computer?

Hello! My 13-year-old daughter is teaching herself Blender and wants to be an animator. Problem is that it constantly crashes her computer, which I’ve now learned doesn’t meet the recommended specs for Blender. I read the recommended and optimal specs but don’t know how to search for a computer that meets these specs. I feel like I’m just on a wild goose chase, no idea where to start.

She takes this very seriously, so I want to support her-- but I also am a single mom without a big budget. Can anyone recommend a desktop computer that would meet the optimal specs under $500?

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What is recommended is that you choose the basic individual components from a reputable hardware store that you are familiar with (CPU, RAM amount, GPU), and then have the store choose the appropriate motherboard, drive and PSU for you. Then make sure they will assemble the PC for you with the components inside the case.
Minimum requirements that the Blender website talks about are to ensure that Blender is at least open. But they are not guaranteed to be able to work in most circumstances.
The recommended is a CPU with good Single Thread performance and at least 6 threads. 16GB of RAM and a relatively new GPU with at least 4GB of vRAM (6GB or 8GB vRAM would be better of course). With this you would be ensuring that your machine does not get out of date quickly.
My quick suggestion could be:

CPU option 1: Intel i3-10320
CPU option 2: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
GPU: nvidia GTX 1650 SUPER 4GB vRAM

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Not entirely sure about the prices in the United States of America as I’m from an Asian country, but the following configuration should suffice for Blender and cost about $500 (excluding computer peripherals such as a keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc.):

CPU: i3 10100
Motherboard: Gigabyte H410M
GPU: GTX 1050 Ti/GTX 1650/RX 570
RAM: 8GB Ram (DDR4 or higher)
SSD: 512 GB
PSU: 650 Watts
OS: Windows 10

If building a PC is not an option, a $600 laptop with an Intel i5 9300H and a GTX 1650 card (or better) should be able to handle Blender with ease. I would not recommend pre-built computers as they are often expensive and a comparable PC can easily be assembled by an individual at a much cheaper price. Computer hardware is currently more expensive than usual (on at least) so it would best to wait for a sale unless you need the PC urgently.

Blender’s minimum requirements are far too low to do much with the software. I think a PC comparable to their recommended requirements would be a good setup to start learning 3d modeling.

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Thank you both very much!

Could you post the specs for the computer she has now, most importantly the processor. Blender can run on modest systems, and you might be better served upgrading the memory, or just buying a mid level nvidia GPU. You may not need a whole new machine.

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Thank you! This is what she has now:

|Part Number|NE3-20333|

|Processor|Intel Core i3-4160 3.6 GHz|
|Processor Main Features|64 bit Dual Core Processor|
|Cache Per Processor|3 MB L3 Cache|
|Memory|8 GB|
|Storage|500 GB|
|Operating System|Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit|

CPU Type|Intel Core i3 4th Gen|
|CPU Speed|4160 (3.60 GHz)|
|L3 Cache Per CPU|3 MB|
|CPU Main Features|64 bit Dual Core Processor|

Memory Capacity 8 GB

Storage HDD 500 GB

I don’t see anything in the specs about the graphics card.

Apart from the graphics card, which is probably an iGPU (HD 4400), the computer you currently have can handle Blender for basic work. You can consider getting 8 GB more of RAM and a GTX 1650 Super for $200 (in total) for a better. Is it possible to upgrade your current computer’s hardware?

I personally have a GTX 1650 and an i5 9th Gen with 8GB RAM and Blender runs smoothly for most scenes and short animations.

That’s good to hear! Thank you! I will ask a friend about upgrading. It keeps crashing on her and she loses her work when she tries to save, so I assumed it was the processor. I read in the recommended specs that it’s supposed to be at least quadcore?

Yes, I forgot to address the CPU. A Ryzen 5 3600/Ryzen 5 3400G/i3 10100/ i5 10400F would be great. The total cost of the upgrade should be less $300 when prices are cheaper.

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Upgrading is a good option, but (as you are) some research to make sure the new hardware is compatible with your motherboard.

Did a quick search and found this, its the same Model as you posted, but the Processor is listed as an i5 which is alittle confusing (and concerning).

Memory (note it does not list a pin count)
Slots: 4 DIMM Slots, Type: DDR3 (UDIMM), Speed: 1600 MHz, Module Type Supported: 2GB/4GB/8GB, Max: Up to 32GB

Integrated: Intel® Integrated
Discrete: ATI Radeon HD8470, ATI Radeon HD8570, NVIDIA® GeForce® GT620

TOWER - PCI: 1 x Full Height, PCI EXPRESS x 1: 1 x Full Height, PCI EXPRESS x 16: 2 x Full Height, MINI PCI EXPRESS x 1: NA
SFF - PCI: 1 x Low Profile, PCI EXPRESS x 1: 1 x Low Profile, PCI EXPRESS x 16: 2 x Low Profile, MINI PCI EXPRESS x 1: NA

By that info, it does look like you have room to upgrade, but the CPU difference in what you posted and whats listed on the site could mean different mother boards, i would not go by that with out double checking.

It might be a good idea to drop a line to Lenovo and get as much info from them as possible before buying any hardware for your current computer.

Good luck to both you.

Thanks so much! Very helpful.

You can download CPU-Z which will tell you what Mobo you have. Knowing which motherboard you have is the first step to knowing what to upgrade since the CPU sockets differ.

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I’m not a hardware pro, and it looks like there are people offering help on that front, but I can tell you that crashes are a part of the Blender experience. Even working with high end hardware with years of experience I have crashed Blender countless times.

I would definitely look into the hardware upgrades, but also try and have her follow some tutorials in the beginning, and see if Blender has a better time. There are many, many ways to click a few buttons in Blender and completely brick your machine, so it is a normal part of the Blender learning curve.

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If crash is not due to Blender bug or because faulty hardware, the most common cause of crashes is low amount of RAM or not well supported old graphics card or because an integrated GPU.
So about upgarde or new PC discussion, you could start by buying a good GPU and more RAM (ask your friend if the current motherboard supports more RAM). Then if you need a new PC, you can use the graphics card that you already bought. And if the memory is DDR4, you can probably use it in a new PC that supports DDR4 memory.
So you first add more RAM and buy a graphics card for your current PC. You should again ask your friend if the current PSU supports the power of the new graphics card that you will buy. Since for now your expenses will be less since you will not spend on a whole new PC, I would recommend an nvidia card with at least 6GB of vRAM. Sorted from lowest price to highest price of the 1660 series:
*GTX 1660 6GB vRAM
*GTX 1660 Ti 6GB vRAM

You get the best deal on any of those models that you can get.

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I think a

I think a GTX 1660 Super is a bit cheaper than a 1660 Ti and is marginally less powerful.

I had not really seen the prices, only that when I saw render times in Blender Open Data I saw that SUPER model had the best average render times and that is why I thought that this was the most expensive:

Anyway, if the user gets a good deal on any of those models, should go for it (the difference in render times is not very big between any of them)

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So it’s a thin SFF(small form factor).

Upgrading it is possible, however the options would be limited and frankly if you are not comfortable with the idea of opening the case up and changing a couple of components out then that is probably not the right way to go for you.

If you do however know someone who you can ask to help with that then adding system memory(RAM) and a low-profile GPU such as a GTX 1050 or a 1650 for an example (and you would have to make certain to get a low profile model) would be my recommendation(a socket compatible CPU upgrade would be a nice bonus but is likely not the main issue as it stands).

That is as @YAFU mentioned, if the PSU(power supply unit) can even power it all…

If you do not know someone who can come and help with that I’d rather recommend buying a new or lightly used and reasonably recent pre-built system. And frankly, with a nvidia GPU since they have the least issues for this type of work.

But it seems that you do have someone in mind, so have them come over and judge the system you have, show them this topic as well and have them evaluate for the best course of action.

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Thank you! Yes, my friend determined it wouldn’t work. He said it’s physically too small to add the right type of GPU. Back to looking to build a new computer, but will probably take a few months to save up.

He might not have been aware there are low profile GPUs still around, they have become rarer than in the past but they still exist.

But then I don’t have one of these SFF systems at hand so I can’t determine if a low profile unit would physically fit.

It probably should though since the alternative configs mentioned on the website indicated discreet gpus and the case can only fit low profile cards.

Real issue with it would likely be that most computer hardware tends to be low stock right now and most GPUs specifically tend to be either out of stock or extremely over priced.

I did find one that is in stock(only 2 though!) and not too bad in price:

among the product images one does show it comes with the low profile bracket that can be changed to so it would fit in a small form factor computer case.

This is assuming that he meant the case dimensions when he cited “physically too small” as the reason. If he however meant that the motherboard doesn’t have the necessary expansion slot then you are indeed out of luck on this.

Sounds like he meant the former though.


Just to confirm this is what the computer looks like externally, back side in particular?

And just to hammer it home again, only a low profile GPU was ever even a consideration in here, others mentioned potential GPU model names but never made it clear that a small form factor case, if it has the expansion slot at all can only ever fit a low profile card which most people sadly don’t even know exist. It’s a very niche product.

Again though, make sure that there is a compatible(PCIe x16) expansion slot on the motherboard that is aligned with the case slots depicted above.