Building a PC for Blender

In this article, I want to talk about the most important points, And frequently asked questions when it comes to building a PC with the use of Blender in mind from the perspective of a certified Blender trainer and Computer nerd.

09/06/2022|In 3D|8 Minutes

Desktop or Laptop?

Benefits of a Laptop

  • It doesn’t require any knowledge
  • it is ready to use right out of the box
  • It’s available in every Country
  • It is mobile (more or less depending on the Laptop)
  • It consumes less Energy

Benefits of a Desktop PC

  • Better price to performance ratio.
  • I can build a PC that fits my needing perfectly.
  • It is upgradeable.
  • The cooling is way better. Which allows the hardware to run cooler and quieter. which can be important for extended rendering or simulation sessions. A Laptop can heat up really quickly. which makes him slower.
  • Better performance at a certain point.

What I use

Doesn’t matter if I am at home or in my office, I use Desktop PCs only.
Mainly because of the performance. I hate to wait. But the possibility to upgrade everything. And the possibility to repair everything by just swapping parts can be a huge cost saver.

The PC I am using at home is over 10 years old by now and second hand since I bought it from my friend’s brother back when I was 14, but I swapped every single Part over time.

I also prefer sitting in front of a big setup, cause the Keyboard and mouse are Just better. Also, if I liked the Trackpad of the Apple MacBook, it’s still not as good as using a real mouse. And using multiple monitors there are even study, that proof, using 2 screens is way better for work performance and 3 screens improve the work performance even more.

How much RAM do I need?

The RAM determines how much you can do on the PC at the same time. How much Tabs you can open in the Browser, how many programs you can have open, or how many/ complex the objects can be In your 3D project. A popular misconception is, that more RAM makes the PC faster, which is not true.

The minimum that Blender requires is 4 GB, but I would recommend getting at least 16 GB. Personally, I never needed more than 32 GB.

Do I need a GPU to use Blender?

To see anything on the screen, you need to have a GPU. Most Intel CPUs come with an integrated GPU. But does it make sense to buy a dedicated GPU separately?

When it comes to rendering no matter if it is Eevee or Cycles Blender can render way faster with GPUs. Some render engines like Octane which I mentioned in the article “Every render Engine in Blender” Even require a GPU to work.

So it absolutely makes sense to get a dedicated GPU. Also, if it is not necessary to run Blender.

Nvidia or AMD?

When it comes to GPU there is always the age-old question what is better AMD or Nvidia?
But for the use in Blender, there ain’t this question now. Nvidia’s RTX Cards Support OptiX which enables Cycles to render roughly 30% faster.

There is also the real-time AI OptiX denoiser. Which only runs on Nvidia GPUs. But it is not so real-time on GTX Cards.

In Bender Version, 2.92 OptiX will also be used to create Motion Blur.

Especially since the release of the RTX 30XX series, it is pretty clear, That you will get way more for your Money with an Nvidia GPU. Provided that you can get one.

Can I use multiple GPUs for better performance?

Yes, for rendering, 2 (same) GPUs mean roughly 2 times better performance. But you can also use 3 or 4 GPUs. As far I know, the limit is at 32. But I never tested more than 4.

You can also use different GPUs. At the same time. But they have to use the same render kernel. For Example, you can’t render with an AMD GPU which uses OpenCL and an Nvidia GPU that uses CUDA at the same time. Also, if you want to render with an OptiX GPU (like the RTX3080) and a GPU that doesn’t support OptiX you can’t use the fast OptiX kernel, and you have to use the slower CUDA kernel.

You could also disable the GPU, that is connected with your monitor so that you always have a fluid interface and can even play games while rendering.

Which CPU is necessary?

Blender doesn’t require a lot of CPU power. Of course, Blender can render with CPU and GPU simultaneously, but the performance you will get from a better GPU for your money is way more, than what you will get from a CPU.

That means a middle-class CPU like an Intel Core i5 or an AMD Ryzen 5 with a good price to performance ratio or “Preisleistungsverhältniss” as we call it in Germany is just fine.

The things that can make use out of a good CPU performance are simulations. Like Fluid (also with the Flip Fluids Add-on), Or Smoke Simulations. They can make use out of every CPU Core available, even with a 64 core CPU.

Is a Mac a good Choice for Blender

I think, Macs are great, they look good, they are relatively silent, and they can be really fast for Video and Photo editing. Faster than most PCs. And they are also useable for 3D.
They are way slower, when it comes to rendering than a PC especially relative to the price, but definitely useable. I really like the idea of a small lightweight device which can be used for rendering like a MacBook and even do the Apple M1 Max is more comparable to an RTX 3050 than what you would expect for a laptop which costs around $4000 it is useable for Blender.
But rendering isn’t everything, there are also tasks like simulation in which a MacBook can compete with a Desktop workstation.

Where I rather see the problem is software, since in 3D there is a lot of software which only runs on Windows.
But then there is also Software like Flame which only runs on Linus and Mac, so it depends on what you want to use.