Building a PC for Blender. the most important points.

Edited 30th June 2020

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.

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 8 GB. Personally I never needed more than 16 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 Realtime AI OptiX denoiser. which currently runs only on Nvidia’s RTX GPUs but In Blender version 2.90 it this feature will also work with other Nvidia GPUs.

This who things simply but AMD out of the race. The reason for this is not to cause the Blender Foundation to like Nvidia more. Nvidia just has its developers developing features for Blender. We live in a time, where Software starts to Matter more than Hardware. So don’t forget if you buy Hardware no matter if it is a GPU or a Phone you paying for the Software and service as well which is also a reason Apple isn’t as expensive as it seems but that’s another topic.

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 cant 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 RTX2080) and a GPU that doesn’t support OptiX you cant 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.

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

The only things that can make use out of a good CPU performance are simulations. According to Blender, up to eight CPU cores get supported which means, that the Intel i9-10900K is currently the best CPU for Blender. But the difference to other eight-cores from AMD like the AMD R7 3800X shouldn’t be that big which means even if you do a lot of simulations you could save some money there.

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