External GPU for render

Hallo guys!

I am new to Daz3d and started rendering animated figures recently. The quality of HD pictures is astonishing, however rendering on my Intel Core i7 laptop takes litteraly days.
Using External GPU would help, they say, so I would like to ask people here about their own experience.

1. Does using GPU really help? And how much faster does the render goes with it? With other words - is the investing in GPU worthwhile?
2. Does anybody have any advice on which GPU to use with Windows 11 Laptop? Based on own experience?

Thanks in advance!


  • RafaelRafael Posts: 79
    edited February 11

    For 3D-generated content, definitely, a decent GPU is the best investment.

    The real question is if an external GPU case for USB(?) for a laptop and GPU card work (See what conections you have on your laptop, some cases need Thunderbolt). Sorry. I have not tried one. But I have seen some reviews that state that it does work. Most of the testing is for gaming, which needs additional transfer speed so you have no delay in the signal, which is not necessary for rendering. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=does+extrernal+GPU+works

    Regarding the GPU itself inside the external case, it would be a matter of budget. When you are adding one to a desktop the limitation is the motherboard itself, but I think on an external one that is no limitation. Just check the compatibility with the case itself. To be used with Iray get an Nvidia card. I would look for RTX 3060 or bigger, so the overall investment of the case itself is worth it.

    For the specs on the GPU memory, take a look at other posts on the forum. They mention the complexity of the scene, vs RAM itself, etc.

    I am not sure if you need to use an external monitor with an external case. You can use one, but I dont know if you need to use it for rendering.

    Post edited by Rafael on
  • Thanks for the reply, Rafael!

    The reason I was asking in the first place is that most positive reviews on EGPUs are about gaming. About rendering you get rather mixed opinions, like for example here:

    This is not my work, but just a hobby, so investing around 800 Euro is a question of choice, not necessity :) Keeping this in mind I am trying to investigate as much as possible before making the decision, but I will definitely consider the upgrade.

  • I read you'll maybe lose 10% to 15%, however this doesn't sound right to me, as the renderer probably bungs all the structures and maps for the frame at the card then runs itself on the card.  You don't need high bandwidth forwards and backwards in an interactive sense. i.e. you're not running a game that's streaming maps and geometry into the scene.  But still, 10% under is fine if you're just rendering with CPU.  You won't believe the speed compared to that.  Just make sure it's NVIDIA.  And get something with more than 8GB so you have the freedom to add more into your scene (characters, props, etc.).

  • KitsumoKitsumo Posts: 1,192

    I did a test with my homemade E-GPU setup a while ago. The results are a bit dated, but I think they'd be similar for today's hardware https://www.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/comment/4071171/#Comment_4071171 . The important part to look at is the difference between the 770 internal vs external. There's not much difference, and that's mostly in the setup time. Once the data is transferred to the GPU, the GPU works on its own, then sends the results back. There isn't a ton of data being passed back and forth during the render.

    Here's another test from @GaryH https://forum.daz3d.com/forums/discussion/175226/effects-of-pci-e-bandwidth-on-load-and-render-times . He gets a more dramatic slowdown in load times because he's using a larger scene. I used the Sickleyield benchmark which doesn't use a ton of textures.

    So in normal usage, your results will probably be more like GaryH's - you'll have slower load times, but render speed will still be normal. If you buy an external GPU setup, I imagine it'll use USB-C or Thunderbolt, so you'll get similar transfer speeds.

    As far as which GPU, the RTX 3060 (12Gb) is the value king right now at around $350. To get more VRAM, you'd have to move up to a 4080 (16 Gb) at around $1200 or 3090 (24 Gb) at around $1350. Of course, it also depends on how much system RAM you have. It's recommended to have around 3 times as much VRAM as system RAM.

  • Ok! Thanks for sharing that!
    Impressive stats, obviousely EGPU will make the difference even for my PC. What i use now is Windows 11, Intel Core i7, 16G RAM and Intel Iris Plus Graphics. So no GPU as you see.
    In this case this one would be probably a good choice (+ external rack for USB-C of course), considering the laptop itself is also Asus:


    It is impossible to guess how rendering time will improve with EGPU, but now i am sure it will. If I buy this thing, which could be in weeks of couple of months, I promise to share the results and differences in digits.

    And for now thank you guys for usefull comments!

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