What's Your Blender Computer Specs? / Computer Spec Advice

So my current computer is a 15" Macbook Pro, late '09 maybe early '10 model if my memory serves me well. (It was the last model before they introduced i5/i7s, :@.) Inb4 anti Mac insults; I use it for music production (Logic) and am fully aware of all the downfalls (fkn money!).

I’m looking at, some point in the future, going back to a good old tower PC with some power behind it. I’ve only begun Blender-ing recently, but I’m interested to know what sort of specs people are running on their machines. And I’m also interested in the sort of power needed to get Cycles to work well. With my current MBP’s graphics (an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M and a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT) I’m unable to get an increase in rendering speed with OpenCL, (unless I’m doing something wrong). And that’s not even mentioning the obscene temperatures my CPU gets to when rendering with Cycles (I think the inside of my machine needs a good clean, either that or it’s evolving into Charizard).

I’m embarrassed to say that, due to having such an integrated laptop for so long, I know little about more recent hardware. I’ve searched around a bit, but I figured it’d be best to ask the veterans.

So my central questions are:

What sort of specs are you running(?); what sort of performance are you getting(?), esp. reg. Cycles and more CPU/GPU intensive stuff.

Is there any difference between OSs in regards to performance? (I’d quite like to move to Ubuntu or another Linux distro to pursue related interests + my anti-Windows, Mac elitism refuses to go).

I’ve noticed i3 processors are considerably cheaper than i5 + i7s. What sort of difference does this translate to in Blender?

And, errrr… I think I wanted to ask more but I’ve lost my trail of though.

tl;dr A computer specs thread mixed with some advice for a recovering Macintosh junkie.

Hello, I might be able to help you out here :slight_smile:

Im running a 4.6GHz 8 core Bulldozer CPU. and rendering is very very fast, im also running it on a custom made OS designed for blender (based on ubuntu linux) www.blenderbuntu.yolasite.com

when it comes to graphics cards, if you want as much speed as possible then go for a top end AMD graphics card (I have a 6870)
its vastly more powerfull than the Nvidia CUDA cards.

Only problem is that so far AMD cards are not supported by cycles yet so your stuck with spending your money on an nvidia 580 (for good renders) or stick with a top end CPU, like mine is the most powerful CPU around, and it matches the render speeds of most Nvidia CUDA cards (except for there 6xx range)

My best advice would be go for a good CPU and a top end AMD card, that way when AMD is supported by cycles (not long to wait now) you will have the upper hand on render speeds, mix that with BlenderBuntu OS and you have yourself a winner.

My rendering is 44% faster in this OS than in windows 7 on the same machine

Cheers for the in-depth reply

Well, I think anything akin to your machine is out of my price range, :p. BlenderBuntu sounds awesome though (though surely a similar effect could be achieved by having normal Ubuntu, uninstalling/not-installing the cack you don’t need and then installing a different, simpler GUI?) And AMD Cycles rendering is a problem, I’d definitely want to wait until Cycles definitely supports them before splashing out that amount of cash.

Out of interest, could you point me to any books or resources on CPUs and general, advanced PC building? I’ve never taken any sort of computer science qualification, so I’ve only ever learnt things as I’ve needed to, and since I’ve never fully built a PC, I’m lacking. I’ve had a bit of a look around, but not found anything that comprehensive. Don’t worry if not, :).

When it comes to CPU’s Intel is pretty much in the lead on performance. Easiest way to compare specific models are using Anandtech’s CPU bench…

I personally keep to Intel/Nvidia setups and have done so for many years now. It’s in no way that AMD/ATI is bad, it seems more suited for gaming though, but for stability’s sake and such, the Intel/Nvidia combo is imo more trustworthy in terms of stability and quality of the drivers.

And I know this is a sensitive subject and like with Iphone vs. Android discussions people tent to take this personally, though I don’t. For me it’s only about what gives me the least problems in the pro app’s, Nuke, Maya, AE and lately Blender… So I run Intel/Nvidia on my work boxes and I run AMD/ATI on my son’s gaming box. :slight_smile:

And I need to clarify that I’m talking for Windows. OS X have way better drivers for AMD though the issue of Cycles being behind in OpenCL is still there.

what farmfield is saying here is true, ive always been a die hard AMD fan for the same reason ive always loved open source (value for money lol) but in the end its not money or power that should draw you towards a certain settup… its your own personal preference (just be sure to either choose an intel/nvidia setup OR an AMD/ATI setup to not lose out in hardware bottlenecks)

as for hardware sites, farmfield gave a great link.
and for building a PC i strongly recommend www.pcspecialist.co.uk since your in the UK aswell, they built my PC, tested it, set it up, and delivered it to me along with a 3 year warranty for the same price it wouldve cost me to build it myself, all I had to do was tell them what components I want.
and maybe my pc is too expensive, but it depends on your budget :slight_smile: mine was around £1500.
And yes your right, anyone with a middle to high knowledge of PC’s could do this, but most people simply dont have the time to, or they have no idea whats safe to install/uninstall or how to create redistrobutable ISO’s automatic updates, adding new repositories via command line etc… and I have lots of time to do that haha

Oooh, here I disagree with Bizla. If you’re not a total moron, built it yourself. Take your time. Or buy a Mac. :wink:

But when you depend on others to build you box and install your software, what are you going to do when you get problems? Go back to the store, give them your workstation, disks & all? H*ll no. There’s just no way I’m leaving my box with some entry-level-pay computer company employees, that’s for sure, hehe… I’ve seen to many people getting their disks formatted and what not… :smiley:

The only reason I see for buying a box, as is, that if you’re buying a Mac, a HP Z800 or alike or if you are in a company with their own support personnel. But that’s just my opinion. Though strong. :wink:

Well, that might be a bit exaggerated. In many benchmarks (here or here) it hardly beats the i7-2600K, which can be overclocked to 4.6GHz fairly easy.
Compare it to the i7-3930K or even the “real” 8 core Xeon E5-2687W and I don’t see the AMD FX 8150 have a chance.

Furthermore it doesn’t seem as if it would come close to render performance using CUDA. Nvidia 5xx and 4xx series are still quite a bit faster.

Or is your custom made OS optimized in a way that your Bulldozer achieves similar render times to CUDA? :wink:

Well this looks like a deeper issue than I originally thought; the Apple bubble has gotten me naíve.

Ah, I’ve been looking for some good UK pc parts sites, looks good. When I searched before without knowing any of the big names, I just kept finding dodgy sites that looked like they’d been designed by a high school music teacher on his lunch break, which I wouldn’t fancy giving my card details to. I think I’m with Farmfield though; I prefer the idea of making my PC myself. I don’t think I’ll be getting another Mac unless I win the lottery or something akin. I only got this one because I decided I didn’t need a car and concluded that the housing market is so much of a wreck that I wouldn’t be needing to put a down-payment on a house for a very long time.

I can really tell I’ve been out of the loop for a while though. A 4.6 multicore processor sounds insane. In my mind even dual-cores still seem like a new thing. We’ll be going quantum before I know it!

Cheers again for all the help.