So you are a cycle fan ? You have an old computer and graphic card, and want to upgrade your hardware to something good enough for running the new cycle rendering engine ? Here is an interesting article for you.
It all started with a cool model and shared .blend file by Mike Pan. People download the file, render it, and add there rendering times in a spreadsheet. It has been posted a while ago and there have quiet some results (around 160 at the time of writing this post). You can view the original blenderartist thread here :
The online results can be viewed online in a google spreadsheet, but one big problem when trying to compare systems, gfx cards and operating systems, render times, is that the answer’s formatting of most people are very mixed up… some people write 2min36, some write 02.36 and some 00:02:36 . It makes it all hard to see things out. It needed some rework and reformatting …
So yours truly has been working hard day and nights (ok just a few minutes) to unify the graphic card names, operating systems and render times, deleted duplicate entries etc…
You can view the modified spreadsheet here :
With this spreadsheet it is hopefully easier to sort results by rendering times, and see which one renders faster…
The results & Analysis
Here are some observations I made… but first a disclaimer: I am not in no way any sort of analyst or hardware geek, so if errors or mistatements are said out, please excuse me.
And the winner is… ?
And yeah, we should start with the thing that most people want : raw power and speed !
Right now (23 feb 2012) the fastest system is the Juan Jośe Torres‘s one : It is a dual Nvidia GTX 580 that renders the scene in just less than 24 seconds ! Niiice !
We can also notice Juan Jose posted a result with only one of the GTX 580 in use, result 00:39:30, that means 1.6x faster with dual card…
Still rendering on CPU (that’s so 2011 ? Well go for Intel i7 2600 or 2700, but be sure to not run Windows… fastest win machine makes it in 03:28 (Intel i7 3930k@ 3.2ghz) when linux and mac’s do it in less than 3 mins.
EDIT (11 march 2012):
AS of mid-march I noticed there are 2 new results : both are faster, and both are dual cards systems… that means that monday I am going to buy a second gfx card
Seriously it seems cycles takes good advantage of multi-cards configs. it can especially be seen with Mitsuma’s result. 2x GTX 460 gives him/her a 37sec render time…
But more important there is a new top of the cream, and that would be 2x GTX 590. and 19.67 seconds…. It seems soon Mike will have to make a slower benchmark (My opinion is benchmark of less than 30 seconds will give less precise differences than something that renders in 2 minutes… )
ATI or Nvidia ?
It seems at the moment there is only one viable option for cycle : Nvidia CUDA.
OpenCL is being worked on and hopefully will give some good results soon. For now OpenCl results are also about 20% slower.
Which GPU ?
Well results seem to indicate GTX 570-580 seem good cards, but then it all depends on your budget.
One can note also that Quadro cards do not perform that well. But I believe these cards deliver better performances in display.
Windows, Mac or Linux ?
Comparing operating systems is always a tricky, and troll-attractive thing. But I am brave and will try to make some conclusions from what can be seen in the spreadsheet’s results.
And to honestly compare OS , I believe the best is to check results by a same person, on an exactly same machine : For this you sort the results by blenderartists handler name, and check who has provided multi-os results.
In fact not so many people did dual-os rendering, but basically Windows is slower (can be often seen in CPU render times), and also in GPU rendering (although the only result in GPU is mine :p )
please : If you have a dual-boot system with GPU cards, please post results It would be interesting to have more results there.
Some people seem to have dual-boot on Mac, so I am not sure if it is to windows’ advantage being run on mac hardware.
If we just look at results according to GPU … lets take the example of the Nvidia GTX 560 Ti :
It seems Linux results are slightly better
Benchmarks, What else?
and for the end some fun facts :
Slowest render time was done by nfz who let his Netbook with an Atom N450 cpu run for 1 hours and 12 minutes ! Compared to the 24 seconds of the fastest setup that is about 180x faster
Blender versions are getting a bit faster to render with each release (see lking73 and Andreu’s results)
OS Stats :
Windows 7 : 74
Other Windows : 12
Mac OSX : 22
Ubuntu : 30
Other Linux : 25
If you find out some other interesting facts, feel free to share them in the comments, this article can be updated with new elements