19 replies · posted

Is upgrading IT worth the money?

I appreciate this is probably a subject that's been exercised many times over but i'm struggling to get clear guidance on whether upgrading my machine would be worth it.

I'm currently running Blender on a Dell XPS-15 9530 laptop with an i7-4712HQ (4 cores, 8 threads), 16GB memory and an NVIDIA GT750M video card - but it still seems to struggle with pretty basic animations.  It recently took 3 days to render 15 seconds worth of stills for a  simple animation.  Ok, it was at 4k resolution but 3 days?? - i feel that more complex projects are going to be practically impossible.

I'm on Windows 10 running nothing else but Firefox and am just wondering if upgrading will make that much difference (this seems like a pretty up to date machine to me) or is this performance par for the course with Blender?

If i upgraded, i'd go for a PC workstation with more threads, 32GB and a GTX 1080 TI but before i spend a couple of grand, i'd like to be sure!!

Many thanks for your thoughts.


  • Well, first of all, laptops are not the best to render your scenes.

    If you want to work in production you should build a work station.

    Budget wise, 2 graphics car at 500$ are mostly more performant than a single 1000$ GPU.
    Just beware of GPU memory.

    The latest AMD RYZEN processor appear to be very very very interesting price/performance wise.

    The 1080Ti is sure a solid choice and you won't be bothered by memory limits with these 11Gb Vram.
    But I think that, if you can a couple of 1070 with 8 Gb will output more performances for rendering and 8GBof Vram are already very nice if you're not rendering excessively complexe environement.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Pieriko, they're helpful.  With sooo much choice of components out there, it's really hard to get a definitive view on performance versus value when using something like Blender.

      When you say 'beware of GPU memory' what did you mean?  The installed memory on the graphics card?  And what's to beware of?

      Any further thoughts would be much appreciated.

    • The number of textures and the size of textures you use in a project will affect how much VRAM/GPU memory you will use when rendering on GPU.  Even with a handful of 512 and 1024 textures, I consistently fill up my 2GB of VRAM when trying to render, and thus have to use CPU for rendering.

      Also be aware that multiple video cards do not stack VRAM.  I.e.,  2x4GB GPUS doesn't make 8GB of memory available for rendering, it's still only 4GB.

      Sending the job to a render farm allows the farm to decide on the best approach and distribute the load accordingly.

  • Taking the opportunity to raise a question here: is there any preferred graphic card manufacturer to purchase hardware from? (MSI, ASUS...) Aside from the price I mean.

    • SorryThibaut, i'm nowhere near experienced enough to add value to that question! I don't even recognise most of the manufacturers although they frequently use the same chipsets so, aside from build quality, i'm not sure there's a whole lot in it.  But what do i know . . . . . .?

  • I'm curious to know how the recent patches to spectre and meltdown issues may affect render times.

  • Have you tried switching to GPU rendering?  It might be possible with yours (don't have much experience with this myself; just started).  Install CUDA 9 I think is the most recent version, then go into Blender->User Preferences->System->Cycles Compute Device (left side) and change to CUDA.  Then you'll want to go to your Render Settings->Performance->Tile Size-> and change it to something like 256 x 256.  If you're using your CPU, try changing the Tile Size to something smaller like 32 x 32 to see if that'll affect your render times.  Here's a good article that I found that helped me speed up render times:

    This is biased, though, because I'm running a beefy PC, but hopefully this'll help you.  I've got an i7-4770 (4 cores, 8 threads), 8 GB memory, and a GTX 1070 and it works pretty well for what I need right now.  I've used a GTX 670 to render in the past, but that was Maya and it didn't have GPU supported rendering yet.  GPU rendering is far superior lol.  Good luck!  Hope this helps.

    • Hi  Silentheart00, i have used GPU although i often get CUDA errors and have to switch back to CPU.  I'm sure it's a driver problem but every time i go on the NVIDIA site for an update, it just hangs.  Not sure what it's all about!

      Incidentally, i thought GPU was mainly for materials and textures and doesn't aid animation that much?  Is that right?  Maybe skewed logic.

      Thanks for your help.

  • I don't know what your budget is, but I've found when I'm getting to the point of final render, I send all my jobs to a render farm.  It runs a lot faster and if you equate time to money, a lot cheaper.

    I can't imagine waiting 37 hours for a render to finish only to find artifacts or realize I used the wrong setting.

    I'd love to have a 1070/1080 to speed things up during my initial work on a project but now that I've discovered the wonders of using a render farm, I don't think I'd ever render locally unless it was a small project.

    • Hi Ihumungus, my output isn't sufficient for a render farm yet but one day, when i'm famous!  In the meantime, i guess my real need for speed is in making adjustments en route to the final edit.  Rerunning simulations etc take time and after every small change, it gets a bit tiring.  It just seems to me when watching tutorials that other people's machines are much  more responsive and update the changes so much quicker.

      Thanks for your help.

  • The Blenchmark site may help you weigh your choices if you're thinking about new hardware.  It's a blender add-on that renders a pre-made scene and submits the render time to their site, so users can see how different GPU/CPU/OS combinations perform. I'd give it a spin and see how your results compare to others with similar hardware.

    Another factor to consider is heat. Any GPU or CPU will slow down severely (or crash) if it overheats, and that can be a big disadvantage when trying to render on a laptop where all the parts are tightly compacted in a space with little airflow, even if it has high quality components.


  • Hello Stephen,
    Can you provide more technical details about your current rendering project like:
    - number of objects, vertixes, edges, faces, animation object / camera movements?
    - frame/second used
    - image resolution
    - what are your render settings?

    Without these underlying technical details it is very hard (for others here) to make a clear picture about the rendering-performance needed for what you call .... a 15 seconds basis animation. .. (which is perhaps based on your wrong assumption, perception of this animation)

    The process of rendering is - by its design and nature - very computer resource intensive. It is much like growing a new tree from its seed..  It does take time (and lots of cpu/ gpu power) complete.

    You are ....running on Windows 10...on a laptop...
    Windows10 comes out of the Microsoft box with a lot of (unnecessary, privacy invading) background services and other Microsoft-related software/feature crap you do not need while you are running a Blender application in the foreground.

    TIP-1: Close ALL other applications while rendering.
    Moderns versions of the browser Firefox eats tons of RAM-memory

    TIP-2: Disconnect your computer physically (WIFI and LAN connections) from internet and...
    This reduces your computers need to maintain a network connection (= more render cpu power for you)

    TIP-3: Turn OFF all other background applications (like anti-virus, anti-malware stuff, downloads, streamers)
    You do not need this when rendering on a perfectly virus-cleaned computer

    TIP-4: Tweak your Windows10 down to the bare minimums
    So all your present CPU and GPU powers goes to Blender and its rendering engine (instead of all back-ground services and other microsoft widgets)
    - Good website for tweaking is this one Black Viper - Windows Tweaking
    - Take a look at his Windows 10 guide here: Windows 10 services configuration guide

    TIP-5: Migrate to another more stable and lighter Operating System (like Unix / Linux)
    Linux comes - (for free) out of the box - lighter, more transparent and is very much more tweak-able to you own needs.
    WARNING: Check if you current hardware is Linux-compatible before installing it!

    You can first do all this and see how this work out for you, before you start to purchase new hardware.

    • Hi Ronald

      I'm away from my machine but essentially it was 1600 square tiles in a square array that had a different photographic image UV projected on each side.  A burning sphere moved in a spiral path above the array and, using animation nodes, they flipped over in its path.  One camera followed a simple tracking path and there was one light source, no background at that stage.  So, not a huge number of polygons (6 per tile and a UV sphere), recorded at 24fps and the resolution was 4k.  I can't remember the other render settings but they wouldn't have been radical - i'm not at that stage yet!

      As for the performance tips, they're terrific.  Will work my way through and see how it helps.

      Very much appreciated, thanks.

  • I have a ryzen1700 8 cores and an msi 1080ti GPU, 16gb RAM, ssd 960 evo 500gb (for running programs), seagate barracuda 3tb (for storage).

    You could think, where would things possibly go wrong regarding of GPU memory for example?? Even my renders while crash sometimes.

    I realised that, ok, a workhorse system is nice to have, but you really have to dive into your actual workhabbits.

    - polygon count (get rid of polygons you don't see, distance wise and for example behind an object

    - easy on subdivisions, especially for objects far away or which get blurred anyway

    - use renderlayers

    - check your tile size while rendering (add-on Auto-Tile Size by Greg Zaal comes in handy)

    - do you use textures with high resolutions?

    For further reading:

    Good luck!


    • Hi Stefan, that's very interesting as i was just looking at a threadripper and 1080ti set up as a step up from my current machine.  Would be good to hear how you find it - breathtakingly fast? - and what's causing the render crashes.

      Thanks for the 'discipline' tips, they are much appreciated.  Will work harder to keep my scenes clean!

      PS  Where can i find out about Render Layers?  I don't know what they are or how to use them.

  • The Fundamentals of compositing course in the Intro to Blender learning flow covers render layers.

  • For rendering animations I now use a renderfarm (like render street).

    I thought, before investing 1000 bucks in a new graphics card. I can use 20 Month of Render Street One.

    Without waiting for the rendering and not able to use the PC for something else.

    The only think you must be aware of, is a good internet connection. You need to upload your blend file and ressources and after rendering you have to download all the frames.