Suggestions on a rendering computer configuration

I’m considering building a new tower to do CGI animation rendering. Ultimately I hope to be able to render episodes for a web-series so I need something that is professional grade (I’m intending on using SketchUp for all of the buildings and rooms in the episodes).

My only pre-requisite is that it is a Windows based machine with three 4K monitors. But is there a preferred GPU to configure in (I’m thinking GTX 1080)? And what would be the best CPU (i9Core or a dual Xeon motherboard with 56 combined threads)?

Any words of wisdom would be well appreciated.



Well for rendering one needs cores!! so go with the xeons and you might what to shell out the cash for a Quadro card as well.

Dan Martin

Usually no. If you plan to do GPU rendering, GTX cards offer more CUDA cores for less money. Most applications get no additional benefits from Quadro cards. In our parts, the top of the line Quadro card is roughly performance equivalent to the 1080 Ti, and costs four times as much.


Hi Anssi, I got my 6000 “slightly used” so I am happy with it. My dev machine still has a GTX TitanZ got it new for 600 bucks (it has 5600 or so CUDA cores). works like a charm BTW.

Could you be more specific about this system, or systems?

Hi there Datadan, Anssi and stevenmonrad,

Thanks for all the feedback. Ya, the Quadro card appears to be outside of my budget. I’ve managed to convince my CFO (my lovely wife) that the CPU should be XEON but now we’re looking at Titan X-P vs GTX 1080. She has a GTX 1080 in her workstation (she has 3 4K monitors on her system) but she realizes that if I’m doing graphic rendering/animation I’ll need as much horsepower as possible (BTW, my system will also have 3 4K monitors attached to it).

GTX 1080 appears to be running about $1,000 CAD but Titan X-P seems to be running about $2,000 CAD (that’s both with 12GB GDDR5 but I don’t know if that includes water cooling… probably not).

The problem is that I don’t know, at the moment, how much horsepower I’ll really need to do the renderings that I’m contemplating. I’m new to SketchUp and haven’t yet plumbed the depths of its rendering capabilities. I was using an old rendering package for years (32-bit application, no CUDA interface) and it was painfully slow when more than only rudimentary rendering features were used. I’ve tried DAZ and it has an impressive array of rendering features that create very realistic renderings but its modeling features are poor when it comes to architectural design (DAZ is better suited for ‘organic’ type modeling, plants, terrain, creatures, etc.). I really like the modeling features of SketchUp when it comes to architectural modeling (and architecture plays heavily in what I’m planning). What I’m hoping is that it has a fairly rich set of rendering features (shadows, textures, ray tracing, etc.).

And this is where I don’t know how much horsepower I’ll need. I don’t know how rich the SketchUp rendering algorithms are nor how much processor demand those algorithms place on a system. Hopefully you can give me a bit of an understanding on this aspect of SketchUp.

As I become more adept with SketchUp I expect I’ll be returning back to this ‘well’ for techniques on modelling, rendering and animation.



What software are you planning to run?

The level of hardware that you are aiming to is mostly irrelevant for SketchUp performance. SU performance is heavily limited by the fact that it is very dependent on your CPU, and that it is a single-threaded application (together with all other modellers I know) so that it has no use for all the multiple cores. So, for SketchUp, no need for a Xeon. See, for instance,

The real-time navigation (“rendering”) uses your CPU to shuffle around all the vector geometry in your model, and the GPU is used mostly for raster-based effects (textures, shadows, sketchy styles…). The result of all this is that the user usually would not notice the diffference between using a midrange cheap graphics card an an “ultracool whizbang” newest model gaming graphics monster.

So the specs needed would in your case be mostly determined by the animation and rendering package you plan to use.

Hi Anssi,

Yes, I don’t really need all of the processing steroids to do the modelling stuff, nor even for the visualization of things on the screen. But when it comes to the final animation and rendering, that is where I’m expecting to really put this system through its paces. I’m wanting to render a fairly high degree of rendering quality (shadows, textures, ray traces, specular reflections, etc.) which quickly run into the several TFLOPS/frame. And at 30 frames a second for the animation, generating a 1 minute sequence can take several hours, if not several days.

It would be nice if I could the animation & rendering from within SketchUp but if not then I’ll probably end up exporting my models from out of SketchUp and importing them into DAZ 3D. DAZ 3D does make use of the GPU and, in particular, NVIDIA and their ray trace technology.

Hoping to produce some awesome animations.



You say your wife’s computer already has a GTX 1080, and three 4K monitors.

Will she let you at it for long enough to use it as a trial system, to see what performance you get while rendering?

That way, you’d at least know if a similar spec to her machine would be ‘good enough’ or if it is still too slow.

Otherwise, stick a wet finger in the air, feel the breeze, and guess?

Good suggestion John. I hadn’t thought of that because she uses it exclusively for her work and research so I have a frame of mind of just staying away from it. But I’m certain that she wouldn’t mind me taking it out for a spin. Burn a bit of rubber, etc. :slight_smile:

have a look at the latest GTX 1080Ti too, currently the fastest GPU on the market, available from roughly 900.- U$.

Yesterday, this thread prompted me to try to update what I know about Nvidia graphics cards. The Titan page on the Nvidia website seems to hint that it is no longer available.

I have been told by a retailer here (in Canada) that the Titan card is virtually unavailable in Canada. He was suggesting that the GTX 1080 line is my best bet. I’ll have to look into the Ti that sketch3d_de has mentioned.

Also, this retailer suggested an AMD ThreadRipper CPU instead of a Xeon. It has 32 HW threads to it and 40 MB of cache. Not as many threads as the Xeon but each thread has more functionality than the Xeon and it about half the price.

Also, has anyone had any experience with a Be Quiet case? My wife has one and raves about it due to its quiet operation. It’s German made so, presumably, is well constructed. But I haven’t heard from anyone else about it. It is also very slick looking.

additionally the GTX 1080Ti is faster and cheaper.

you don’t need a Xeon, go for the new intel i7-8700K ‘Coffee Lake’ (6 physical cores, turbo 4.7 GHz) which does provide a sligthly faster over all performance than the comparable AMD Ryzen 7 1800X and a roughly 35% better single thread performance which is most important for SU and every non-multithreaded (= majority) application (both ~400 U$).

be quiet! is mature (see review), PSUs are fine too.

Traditionally, Intel CPUs have been considered to be better than AMD in floating-point operations that seem to be important for vector graphics and 3D modelling.

Yes for GPU rendering you are much better suited to getting a high end gaming card rather than a Quadro card, you will also save a bunch of money. I am using two MSI GTX 6GB 980ti’s that I think you can pick up for about £300 these days. I think I paid about £600 each when they came out. I am still getting fairly amazing results form them, rendering a 10k*10k px scene in around 14 hours or a HD scene in less than one hour (using Thea render).

However as stated above the 1080ti is available now for as cheap as £800 and it’s an amazing card pretty much on par with a Titan.

Well, as it turns out, Santa wife was good to me this year. She got me a new tower (in a BeQuiet case) with an AMD Thread Ripper (32 threads) and a Titan XP GPU. I haven’t transferred over all of my SW to it yet but I’m looking forward to making the neighbourhood street lights dim.

Cheers to everyone who have given me valuable information and insights into setting up an awesome rendering station. I hope to be sending out the fruits of my labours in the New Year on a series of YouTube posts.


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