Recommendations for a rendering computer?

patience55patience55 Posts: 6,162
edited December 1969 in Bryce Discussion

I've read of some who have dedicated machines [computers?] just for rendering. Is this the best way to go for a hobbyist or is there some relatively normal home computer setup that can handle the heavy weight renders from Bryce.

I'm asking because after filling the cart with neat skies and all kinds of stuff; took a good read of the descriptions ... and threw most of them back out. Time in and of itself is not the problem ... the problem is my laptop's fan whirrs like crazy and the laptop gets quite hot on a 15 minute render ... somehow I don't think an hour and a half or so is a good idea. It'll be smoking!

Now I do have a desktop computer [Sony] and while it handles normal stuff just fine I have serious reservations against it being used for renders. The previous Sony Special I had would overheat and get real noisy just if the room was warm ... didn't matter what one was doing with the computer.

So ... what is recommended?
Thank you.

«13

Comments

  • HoroHoro Posts: 4,268
    edited December 1969

    @Patience55 - There is a priority setting in the render options if your laptop or desktop sports a multi-core or multi-threadable processor. If priority is set to high, it uses all resources and hence things get hottest - though it also renders faster. If priority is set to normal, only half of the resources are needed and accordingly less heat produced and the render will take a bit longer. Normal priority will always use only one core, no matter how much there are. Now, on a single-core machine, also low priority will make the processor go full throttle.

    I have no dedicated render machine. I still use an old laptop at times that I had upgraded from Win98SE to 2000 and that one stops if the render takes some time. It obviously overheats. I have not had such an issue on the netbook I also use sometimes for rendering. I also have desktops, on the best and fastest (i7 8-way) I use only normal priority for longer renders because the core temperature gets quite high and the speed gain between normal and high is only 15% on average. On the i3, a 4 core thing, I use always high priority because it doesn't get hot and there is not even a fan.

    To answer your question: I don't have a dedicated render machine, just ordinary home computers. But I do consider how I set the priority for long renders.

  • David BrinnenDavid Brinnen Posts: 2,833
    edited December 1969

    I've read of some who have dedicated machines [computers?] just for rendering. Is this the best way to go for a hobbyist or is there some relatively normal home computer setup that can handle the heavy weight renders from Bryce.

    I'm asking because after filling the cart with neat skies and all kinds of stuff; took a good read of the descriptions ... and threw most of them back out. Time in and of itself is not the problem ... the problem is my laptop's fan whirrs like crazy and the laptop gets quite hot on a 15 minute render ... somehow I don't think an hour and a half or so is a good idea. It'll be smoking!

    Now I do have a desktop computer [Sony] and while it handles normal stuff just fine I have serious reservations against it being used for renders. The previous Sony Special I had would overheat and get real noisy just if the room was warm ... didn't matter what one was doing with the computer.

    So ... what is recommended?
    Thank you.

    Righto, here's the thing to consider, rendering is the most punishing thing you can do to your poor CPU. Dedicated gaming rigs work on 80% CPU load for their design criterion, because much of the load is handled by graphics cards. Not so rendering in Bryce, it is exclusively CPU time, and under high priority 100% CPU. This is a motherboard, PSU and CPU killer. I know I speak from bitter experience. I kill usually one PSU (power supply) a year, one motherboard on average every 3 and the processor every 5. And my system is designed to cope with the load.

    I use an i7 920 CPU and have, after much research, used the overclocking functions to underpower the processor to reduce the heat output. I also have heat-sink on the CPU the size of a house brick and seven fans running continually. It is a bit noisy, but it is cool - and that is the point.

    So what to look out for is,

    a) 4 core CPU that can multi thread, up to 8 cores can be addressed by Bryce.
    b) good cooling for that CPU - your design criterion is 100% CPU loading!

    Plenty of HD space helps if you make as many scene files as I do.

    And an overclocking capable motherboard (mine is Asus) because the components are designed to take more punishment - and if you are brave - you can make changes in the bios to fine tune your processor. Be aware, manufacturers err towards the high voltages input for CPU, to avoid problems with marginal processors - but if you get a good quality CPU, you can lower these voltages and reduce heat significantly. I just lowered the power to my CPU to Intel's lowest recommended settings and as a result was able to OC the processors clock cycle from 2.6ghz to 3.8 ghz. And generate less heat than it did running at standard!

    At the moment. Not a Mac, due to compatibility issues with new Mac OS.

  • David BrinnenDavid Brinnen Posts: 2,833
    edited December 1969

    I notice Horo has responded also, and having read what he put, it occurs to me to point out that my application is somewhat specialised for a my hobby because I am most interested in researching for Bryce development. This is very demanding, because of the number of long running tests performed. But I still consider myself a hobbyist, just one that is particularly cruel to his computers.

    So the most sensible answer, in terms of cost effectiveness, is to consider upgrading the cooling for your desktop PC. You have the advantage of owning a laptop, so you can use that while your desktop is tied up rendering. I do everything on one PC, fore purely economic reasons, and control CPU usage via the Task Manager - switching the allocation of CPU cores around when I need to get on with something and let the render tick over in the background. So that is another strategy.

  • patience55patience55 Posts: 6,162
    edited December 1969

    Thank you both for the detailed responses!

    I will read this over and check the settings on the laptop.

    No I'm not brave when it comes to bios. My first computer was XP which had wizards that presented all options! Now with W7 and while I have learned more about computers than I ever wanted to know; the bios is still foreign turf.

    The desktop computer is not upgradable afaik. One of those monitor screen/computer combo jobs. "Desktop fan" sits beside it ;-)

    I shall take these proper suggestions to a computer store it being a good season soon for such shopping trips and see what can be obtained.

    In the meantime I can certainly get a start on setting up some scenes.

    Thank you also for all those great video tutorials. Looks to be a nice challenging [in a good sense] program.

  • GeddGedd Posts: 2,444
    edited December 1969

    These recommendations are specific to your mention of Bryce btw. New render engines use GPU some or all the time, so if you are purchasing a rig you plan on using with a variety of renderers such as LUX (Reality) then you want to take that into consideration.

  • kerynakeryna Posts: 96
    edited December 1969

    I've been reading this discussion with interest because sadly, my trusty computer was stolen yesterday during a break-in at home.
    I thought I should tell David and Horo that I would love to have bought several of their Bryce items at the DAZ sale, but now I can't as I need to replace the computer. I thought I should say this just so D&H do not get discouraged if folks such as me not buying their special products - Please do carry on with pushing back the frontiers of Bryce! Its such a lovely programme!

    My now lost Intel Q8200 2.33ghz computer bought in 2009 never seemed to get hot even with long gnarly IBL renders on high priority, but probably I wasn't really testing it as much as David does his computers much. I think the Gigabyte motherboard and cooling may have helped.

    Im going to be scouring the local pawnshops to see if my computer pitches up somewhere, (PLEASE do, computer, as weeks of vital data processing were lost too) else I will take the advise posted here to get a suitable new machine in due course once funds permit, that can handle CPU-based (for Bryce) and GPU-based rendering (for Lux/Reality).

  • GeddGedd Posts: 2,444
    edited December 1969

    Sorry to hear that Keryna, I hope things turn upward for you.

  • HoroHoro Posts: 4,268
    edited December 1969

    @keryna - now this isn't funny at all. I don't fancy to get my computer(s) stolen. I rather prefer to sell a product or two less. Thank you for your kind words. I hope you get your machine back, if for nothing else than recover all your work.

  • GussNemoGussNemo Posts: 1,855
    edited December 1969

    @keryna: Do hope your computer shows up at a pawnshop, or someone happens to get pinched with it in their possession. Terrible loosing all that work.

  • patience55patience55 Posts: 6,162
    edited December 1969

    Nice man at one place that sells "ready made" computers can get in a couple different laptops. The "high end" [for their store] he thinks is overkill but I'm not sure. Have quite a bit of content for D/S too.

    Intel Core i7, 12G RAM, 2.3GHz speed
    NVIDIA Geforce GTX 660M graphics
    1.5TB hard drive
    15.6" TFT Active Matrix 1080p display
    W7home 64bit

    Has quite the price tag though so didn't come home with it yet. It's being toted as a gaming computer.

    The other one I don't have the specs for, was an i5.

    Next option would be to consult at a "put it together" shop ... my one experience at such a shop [now closed] wasn't too good. I told the tech/salesman exactly what I needed to use the computer for ... and while yes they sold me the main hardware for the task, rather overlooked the power supply section ... if one used 'all' the usb ports ... had to cold crash the computer; reset the thing and start over. Not good. [that one is now history]

    I didn't buy the Reality plugin yet ... obviously I have D/S3, D/S4.0 in use, D/S4.5 in storage, ... only other program I'd be interest in this working with that I don't already have would be 3dMax but I can't see why they figure it requires W7Pro. Anybody happen to know?

  • HoroHoro Posts: 4,268
    edited December 1969

    For Bryce, the graphics card is not important, for Studio, it is. i7 is one of the fastest processors (not the fastest) but faster than the i5. Memory is important even though Bryce is still 32 bit and limited to 2 GB. You can make it large address aware with a free tool and then Bryce can use around 3.5 GB. You can also open several instances in Bryce - render in one and work in another and have still room to open Studio. Go for 64 bit Windows.

  • patience55patience55 Posts: 6,162
    edited December 1969

    Horo said:
    For Bryce, the graphics card is not important, for Studio, it is. i7 is one of the fastest processors (not the fastest) but faster than the i5. Memory is important even though Bryce is still 32 bit and limited to 2 GB. You can make it large address aware with a free tool and then Bryce can use around 3.5 GB. You can also open several instances in Bryce - render in one and work in another and have still room to open Studio. Go for 64 bit Windows.

    Okay, thanks. :-)

    And yes for the 64bit! "no going back" to 32 ;-)

  • GussNemoGussNemo Posts: 1,855
    edited December 1969

    The size of the power supply is also important to consider. It's better to have a larger power, 750W or there abouts, then try and run several things with a smaller power supply.

    You may never need to use the entire wattage a larger power supply provides, but it allows you a greater wiggle room in case you install something that puts the lower rated power supply at it's very limits.

    I'd also get as much RAM on the motherboard and graphics card as you can afford. It's another of those you might run into something that pushes what you get to its limits. It also helps if you're into graphic intense games.

    For assemble it yourself systems, Newegg is a good place to shop for parts. And I've read that eCollege PC will build the PC of your choice. It seems the people on the other site I visit highly favor eCollege PC, at least they've had real good experiences with this company.

  • patience55patience55 Posts: 6,162
    edited December 1969

    GussNemo said:
    The size of the power supply is also important to consider. It's better to have a larger power, 750W or there abouts, then try and run several things with a smaller power supply.

    You may never need to use the entire wattage a larger power supply provides, but it allows you a greater wiggle room in case you install something that puts the lower rated power supply at it's very limits.

    I'd also get as much RAM on the motherboard and graphics card as you can afford. It's another of those you might run into something that pushes what you get to its limits. It also helps if you're into graphic intense games.

    For assemble it yourself systems, Newegg is a good place to shop for parts. And I've read that eCollege PC will build the PC of your choice. It seems the people on the other site I visit highly favor eCollege PC, at least they've had real good experiences with this company.

    Thank you. I don't think we have those particular stores nearby. I did get the names of a couple the local kids recommend, I think I'd best check into what's available from them too. Wasn't too impressed with the reviews on the laptop considering the money it costs. Not in a mad rush so I can take some time to fanthom all this.

  • LordHardDrivenLordHardDriven Posts: 917
    edited December 1969

    I would reccommend against using a laptop as a rendering computer, at least if you hope to take advantage of Bryce, Studio, Poser or 3DMax to it's fullest potential. A laptop is fine for doing something you have to get done while traveling but mainly for 3D Art I'd say a laptop should be used more for showing off 3D Art rather then creating it. Laptops already struggle with heat issues because of their compact nature so using one for hardcore rendering would likely cause it to break down relatively quickly. Also with a laptop it's much harder to deal with if part of the system breaks down. Replacement parts tend to be expensive because laptops are propriatary in design your only other option then is to replace the whole thing.

    The only strong selling point I can think of for a laptop running Bryce is that in theory you could go somewhere with an inspiring view and sit there and try to recreate that view, so it would be kind of like sketching.

  • GussNemoGussNemo Posts: 1,855
    edited December 1969

    @Patience: Both of those stores are web stores. Newegg is http://Newegg.com and I'm not sure of the complete address of eCollege PC. Newegg has been a good place to buy parts, equipment, and other things in general. It's where our son got everything for the computer he assembled for us. And it hums. Of course we had him build us a system not just for now but for several years down the road.

    Research is a very wise decision, especially into what you'll be doing on the computer and with what programs. Look at every program needs closely. RAM, video, sound, etc. that's recommended. Also ask about the capabilities of whatever motherboard someone will use. Don't hem yourself in with a motherboard that doesn't allow for memory and other daughter boards expansions.

    Best of luck on the new one.

  • HoroHoro Posts: 4,268
    edited December 1969

    As GussNemo mentioned. The size of the power supply is also important to consider. This is often forgotten. Problem is if the PS mostly runs at 90 to 100% of its rating, capacitors get hot and the electrolyte dries out resulting in an ever lower capacity until the PS gives out.

  • LordHardDrivenLordHardDriven Posts: 917
    edited September 2012

    Horo said:
    As GussNemo mentioned. The size of the power supply is also important to consider. This is often forgotten. Problem is if the PS mostly runs at 90 to 100% of its rating, capacitors get hot and the electrolyte dries out resulting in an ever lower capacity until the PS gives out.

    To add to what has been said already, with today's systems, especially if it's maxed out with DDR memory and running multicore processors you want a pretty powerful power supply. 500W would be the minimum I would suggest preferably something in the 750W range. Another thing about power supplies is that if you run them near max load then the voltages they put out can become flaky. This can mean serious performance issues because the devices in your computer require specific voltages to be present where they connect to the power supply. If those voltages aren't there the devices can behave oddly or even not work at all.

    Post edited by LordHardDriven on
  • ChoholeChohole Posts: 19,364
    edited December 1969

    Just popping in to say that I know that Patience is not resident in the US, so any reccomendations about good stores to buy from, even Web based stores, may not be helpful.

    Having said that, I would reccomend Patience that you do investigate if there are any web based companies in your Country that do build to your own specs.

    I use a company in the UK which supplies PCs built to order, either from their own specs, or customised according to what you require, They are well recoomended and the last PC they built for me is still going strong more than 6 years, although obviously a little dated now.

    Once you find domething like this there are plenty of people around who can then advise you about the specs you should design into the PC.

    ANother good thing about this sort of company is that often you are only going to buy just what you need, so can specify that you only need the "box" Probably with the OS pre installed, and do not need to buy uneccessary peripherals like monitor, keyboard, mouse etc, or any of that preinstalled software and demos that you do not need.

  • patience55patience55 Posts: 6,162
    edited December 1969

    That's right Chohole. And shipping costs are the big downer for making purchases from the States into Canada. Price can easily double ... and then there's Customs. Depending upon product, price can again double. So yes, like to find local store. Actually one should be open in a couple of hours and I can call them.

    About the laptop or desktop issue though, well hopefully the true computer shop does this better, but the desktops tend to look more like overgrown laptops anyway. 'All in one' items with a separate keyboard and mouse. And the laptop the salesman was trying to sell me is more powerful than the desktops they sell! So I don't know ... figure it's just one huge bottomless pit for the money. For the price of the powerhouse item, gee ... I could buy several 'normal' laptop/computers and when they burn out, they burn out. Anyway, I really appreciate all the specs people have talked about so at least I can pose the correct requests to the people who build the computers and see what happens.

  • ChoholeChohole Posts: 19,364
    edited December 1969

    I was actually suggesting that you looked for someone in Canada that would build a PC for you, like this one. THere must be a few more around as well.

    http://www.buydirectpc.com/

  • GeddGedd Posts: 2,444
    edited December 1969

    I would reccommend against using a laptop as a rendering computer...

    Donno, a laptop system could work great.

  • LordHardDrivenLordHardDriven Posts: 917
    edited December 1969

    That's right Chohole. And shipping costs are the big downer for making purchases from the States into Canada. Price can easily double ... and then there's Customs. Depending upon product, price can again double. So yes, like to find local store. Actually one should be open in a couple of hours and I can call them.

    About the laptop or desktop issue though, well hopefully the true computer shop does this better, but the desktops tend to look more like overgrown laptops anyway. 'All in one' items with a separate keyboard and mouse. And the laptop the salesman was trying to sell me is more powerful than the desktops they sell! So I don't know ... figure it's just one huge bottomless pit for the money. For the price of the powerhouse item, gee ... I could buy several 'normal' laptop/computers and when they burn out, they burn out. Anyway, I really appreciate all the specs people have talked about so at least I can pose the correct requests to the people who build the computers and see what happens.

    Well whether a laptop is more powerful then a desktop is kind of a seperate thing, if they have equal processors and memory then the laptop isn't going to be more powerful but like I said it'll run hotter because it has less room for cooling and when it comes to computers and electronics heat kills. It's a shame you don't know how to build them yourself because if you do you can put together maybe not the world's most powerful computer, but one powerful enough for your needs, for under $1000. If you don't need a monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, or any other external devices then you can do it for around $600.

    The specs I would go with are an 8 core processor and at least 8GB of memory, preferably 16GB. a couple of 1TB hard drives and a decent DVD/Blue Ray Burner. Sound and networking usually comes built into the motherboard and are fine but some other motherboards have built in video, avoid those. Now on the processors some people are very loyal to the two brands Intel and AMD meaning Intel folks usually won't touch an AMD and vice versa but to go with Intel is going to cost you alot more. To give you an example, the top of the line Intel i7 with 6 cores at newegg is going to cost you over $1000
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116491
    Conversely the top of the line AMD has 8 cores and only costs just under $200 and you get two more cores.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103960
    So why does anyone buy Intel? Well in some applications even though it might not be as powerful spec wise, Intels perform better. The difference though is kind of like which is better a big flat screen TV costing over $1000 or a fairly good size picture tube TV costing just a few hundred? Both will give you a decent enough picture so unless you have the need to be able to count the number of pores on your favorite actor's face the picture tube tv is still the smarter buy.

  • GeddGedd Posts: 2,444
    edited December 1969

    ...it'll run hotter..

    With the external video card housing the heat isn't being generated in the notebook so that isn't an issue.

    While this link was posted tounge-in-cheek, it isn't totally off base for the future. These housings are ridiculously over priced because of the market they are targeting. Eventually they will cost a fraction of their cost now and will be a viable option. Not within this purchasing time frame however ;)

  • HoroHoro Posts: 4,268
    edited December 1969

    Perhaps having a look at the CPU Benchmarks http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html will give you an idea. The best is usually just not affordable. What I usually do is dividing the price by the performance and look at the lowest buck per performance unit.

  • LordHardDrivenLordHardDriven Posts: 917
    edited December 1969

    Gedd said:
    ...it'll run hotter..

    With the external video card housing the heat isn't being generated in the notebook so that isn't an issue.

    While this link was posted tounge-in-cheek, it isn't totally off base for the future. These housings are ridiculously over priced because of the market they are targeting. Eventually they will cost a fraction of their cost now and will be a viable option. Not within this purchasing time frame however ;)

    Oops I must have been working on my last post when you posted that because that wasn't there when I started that last post. Well yeah if you can have your heat generating componants outside of the laptop then that dramatically changes things, including the things like portability that are thought to be a laptop's strong point.

  • patience55patience55 Posts: 6,162
    edited December 1969

    Gedd said:
    I would reccommend against using a laptop as a rendering computer...

    Donno, a laptop system could work great.

    :lol:

  • GeddGedd Posts: 2,444
    edited September 2012

    ... including the things like portability that are thought to be a laptop's strong point.

    One only loses portability when doing specific functions that rely on said hardware, ie rendering... so during the day, portable.. at night render... hmm, sounds like what a lot do now ;)

    Again, this is all hypothetical atm (assumes a GPU based rendering engine,) and just for fun :)

    Post edited by Gedd on
  • patience55patience55 Posts: 6,162
    edited September 2012

    Found "the" computer store here in the city. Had a nice chat with a knowledgeable salesperson who'll be emailing some specs over.
    Sounds like he can put together exactly whatever one wants.
    i7
    4 core
    Motherboard can take 32G with W7Pro
    openGL NVIDIA card of somekind with lots of memory [I also make home movies so need a good vid card with memory for that program]
    2Tb harddrive.
    fans
    750W
    Battery BackUp tower

    anything else to inquire about for it?

    For the money, much better deal than the laptop!

    Post edited by patience55 on
  • GeddGedd Posts: 2,444
    edited September 2012

    If it's being built and you plan on doing GPU rendering in the future, see about a system board (motherboard) that supports dual video cards for future expansion capabilities.

    Also, have the salesperson list the parts they plan on putting into it and go to newegg and amazon and look up the parts, read the reviews to make sure those are the parts you want. All manufacturers have good and bad models of anything they make so the only way to know is to look up each specific model. Look at the # of reviews, the # of bad reviews, and what the people who are giving bad reviews are complaining about. No item will be perfect but it will help avoid lemons.

    Post edited by Gedd on
Sign In or Register to comment.
Rocket Fuel