Building A Computer For 3D Modeling

by Brad Whitcroft on Nov 09, 2021

Building A Computer For 3D Modeling

Building a good computer for 3D rendering can be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. What components are important and which are not?

It is an exciting and ever-growing field. The entire process of turning 2D and 3D models into animations and images is truly exciting, but it does require the proper computer equipment.

Whether you are a pro or just starting out, you are going to need a computer that can handle the workload of the software you use.

CPU VS. GPU Rendering

You Have to choose. Are you using software that is CPU-based or GPU-based? This question will determine where you invest most of your money.

Some rendering software will use the CPU to deliver the final image, while others will rely on the GPU. If you want to save money on the GPU, you can always use tried and tested CPU rendering software which is the norm in the industry. Remember that it is not essential to have an equally powered CPU and GPU as long as you select the right software.

However, with this being said the future of software is pushing towards processing by the GPU instead of the CPU.

Popular CPU rendering engines

  • Vray
  • Corona
  • Artlantis

Popular GPU engines

  • Lumion
  • Keyshot
  • Enscape

Exploring Your Graphics Card (GPU) Options

Believe it or not, graphic cards have not been that important in the past for 3D rendering and architectural visualization in most popular rendering engines..3dsmax and other similar programs do not require a high-powered graphics card. However, it is becoming much more popular to use GPU-based software. So be wise, save money in this category if you can.

GPU - GPU stands for graphics processing unit and it can basically be thought of as the brain of the graphics card. This is the very part of the card that translates the images onto your screen. More complex images and highly defined games require quicker GPUs in order to read the large streams of data, so this will be something that you want to consider when choosing your graphics card. You will want a card with sufficient enough GPUs to meet your specific needs.

Integrated - Integrated graphics cards are what you will find in most standard laptops and computers. They are extremely cost-effective, built right into the motherboard, and common. However, the one downside is that they cannot be easily upgraded. Integrated cards are something that you should avoid as it will slow you down when modeling.

Discrete - Discrete graphics cards are considered extra components that are installed on the motherboard. Most individuals that are just looking to upgrade their current system will opt for these cards.

We recommend going for something that has CUDA support from NVIDIA. If you have the budget go for an RTX 2080ti or GTX 1080ti

Understanding Your CPU Options

CPU stands for central processing unit and this could be considered the main component of your computer, as it is involved in every task that your computer will accomplish. The clock speed and internal cache memory are two of the main aspects of any CPU, as they determine how responsive your computer will be when completing tasks. It is considered that the processor is a very critical component when it comes to rendering 3D images.

The Core of Your Processor - A CPU can have one or more cores. The cores are the components that are used to run programs. This basically means the more cores your CPU has, the faster you can render your images. Generally, you want to choose a CPU with as many cores as you can afford.

Clock Speed - The clock speed of a CPU is oftentimes measured in MHz (megahertz), and this basically just represents the speeds at which your CPU can operate. Choosing a CPU with as high of a clock speed as possible will be essential when it comes to building your 3D rendering computer.

Keep in mind that multi-core CPUs with slower clock speed are usually more effective than a CPU that has fewer cores at a higher clock speed when rendering. This is because modern rendering uses all the cores rather than just one.

We recommend going all out here if you can. Intel i9 9980XE 18 cores processors are great but not the best performance per dollar spent. Same with AMDs Threadripper 2990WX with 32 cores. Especially if your software can’t utilize all the cores.

The best value for money CPU will probably be the Intel i9 9900k or i7 7820x. If you want to go AMD around the same price range the Threadripper 2920x is great.

Looking Into Motherboards

You don’t have to be a computer expert to know that the motherboard is a very important component of any computer. The name alone should put give an emphasis on this component. Anyway, the motherboard is the component that connects all the parts of the computer together. For instance, your CPU, memory, and hard drives will connect right into the motherboard.

Which Operating System Will Work Best?

When it comes to 3D rendering or basic animation, the operating system is quite important. Most software utilized for 3D rendering is only available for Windows operating system. For individuals who own a Mac, installation of Windows will be required to run the applications.

While there are some programs that work with all operating systems equally, Windows offers more options. To get the biggest bang for your buck, stick with software that runs on Windows.

How Much RAM Is Needed For 3D Rendering?

If you are only planning on small- and medium-sized productions, 32GB of RAM will be sufficient for 3D rendering. However, you can always start with 16GB and upgrade as needed. This is mainly used when you are modeling so you don’t have any lag.

Hard Drive Space For 3d Rendering

As you begin designing lots of properties and buildings in 3DSmax, SketchUp, or other modeling programs, you’re going to be using a significant amount of disk space. AutoCAD files can climb as high as 100MB or greater depending on the complexity of the property, not to mention your 3d model library.

With that in mind, it is pertinent to make sure that you have enough space. A 1TB hard drive might work for a little while, but you’ll be wise to upgrade to something bigger from the get-go. After all, you will not want to delete old designs just to make room for new ones.

A 4 or 8TB hard drive should do the trick. Alternatively, you may want to think about buying a big external hard drive, so you can take your files with you everywhere you go.

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