Every Render Engine for Blender

Expanded 12th May 2020

What is a Render Engine?

A Render Engine is an application, which takes the 3D models and all the information like light and textures and converts them into a 2D image.

Raytracing

Most modern Render Engines and also the most on this list are Raytracing Render Engines. They work by simulating the light beams, which gets Emitted by a light source bouncing around the 3d space into the Camera.

Illustration demonstrating Ray Tracing
rendered with logo of appleseed

Appleseed is the youngest render engine project in the lineup. It is also an Open source Raytracing Engine, but with the focus on VFX which means, there are fewer features for stylized renderings but things like acoustics, Motion Blur, and Bokeh are really good compared to other render Engines. The only problem which most people will have is performance.

CGI dog following stick

Cycles is not only the default Engine of Blender it is also my default Engine. It is by far the most versatile Engine in the list. It is also one of the quicker ones. Especially with the new denoiser. The only problems with Cycles are acoustics and volumetrics.

archviz rendering with e-cycles logo

E-Cycles is a fork of Cycles that has many speed improvements. While also maintaining the same image quality. It is even fast then octane or Redshift which makes it the fastest production render for any software.

graphcs comparing cycles and e-cycles

The two points where it has a disadvantage over Cycles is that it doesn’t support the latest and greatest features of Blender and it costs >149$ but since it uses Blenders Open sources API it is also Open source which is the reason you can legally download it from the internet.

Eevee

CGI flying car

Eevee is a result of the collaboration with Blender and Epic Games. It’s a realtime Engine based on the Unreal Engines. The reason to use Eevee clearly is performance. Not having to render for a long time will also enable those, who don’t have access to modern Hardware. I am thinking about Nollywood there. Maybe Eevee will enable many studios from there to create animated movies.

But it is also the render engine, that delivers the worst quality. And it is also limited especially when it comes to things like glass or volume.

glass brick with caustics

The LuxCoreRender Project is the successor of the Lux Render Project. An Open Source Raytrace render Engine with the Focus on realism. It’s in by far the best Render Engine for transmission materials like glass or water. It also comes with the OpenImage Denoiser which is the same, Blender has since version 2.82.

This means for a shot with a lot of water of glass in it or for projects, in which you need as much realism as possible LuxCoreRender is the right Engine for you.

astronaut on parking lot cgi

Octane render was the first GPU Raytracing Engine and was the fastest production renderer back then. Which is the reason, it is the most popular render Engine outside of the Blender universe. When it comes to performance it is comparable with Cycles. But Octane delivers more realism and is much better then it comes to things like volume and Subsurface scattering.

But there are also two downsides. One is, that Octane only works with Nvidia GPUs not with AMD GPUS or CPUs in general.
The other downside is, with 699$ per year very expensive. Meanwhile, there is also a Free Tier. But it only supports one GPU and no denoising.

CGI motorbike with AMD Logo

The Radeon Pro Render is the same Render Engines as the Pro Render which comes with Cinema 4D.

It is a Raytracing Engine Developed by AMD. The only reason for its existence is, that it is the only GPU Render Engines that work on Mac. This is also the reason the new Mac Pro gets advertised by rendering 6.8 times fast with the Pro Render in Cinema 4D. In comparison to an iMac Pro.

But in fact, the Radeon Pro Render is kinda dead by now and you shouldn’t buy a Mac for CGI or VFX.

LANPR is an NPBR Render Engine, which allows you, to only render the outline, of objects. It will be hopefully in Blender Version 2.9 be the successor of Blenders Freestyle feature but with a lot more options, Fewer Bugs, and way better performance.

If you want to use LANPBR by today you can download it on Graphicall.org. I already tested it out and I can say, it is fairly stable but still be careful if you want to use it in production.

What about the other ones?

There are also other Render Engines like Renderman, Yafaray, Pov-Ray and so one. But all of the are not compatible with Blender Version 2.8+ so they are irrelevant.

I try to keep this article updated, if something should change. Currently it looks like A Support on Renderman for Blender 2.8+ could come back.

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