Graphics Workstations & Rendering Systems for Blender
Understand the parameters that make an ideal Blender system
What is Blender?
Blender is an open source 3D creation suite that be used for all stages of the DCC (Digital Content Creaton) pipeline, including modelling, animation and rendering thanks to its in-built rendering engine Cycles. Cycles is a physically based path tracer production renderer. It is designed to provide physically based results out-of-the-box, with artistic control and flexible shading nodes so light and materials behave realistically due to mathematical functions that simulate real light behaviour.
What makes the best system for Blender?
As Blender is a suite of applications there is no one ideal system configuration. Although every company will make different use of Blender most systems will fall into three scenarios.
The most common scenario is an all-purpose workstation that will be used to create and render a scene from start to finish, in which case you need to carefully balance the two most important components, the CPU and one or two GPUs in order to get good responsive content creation and rapid rendering.
Moving up from this is an organisation that requires faster rendering, such as a dedicated system in the corner of the office or a workstation that will left on overnight rendering. In this scenario a workstation with a single CPU and up to four GPUs will provide much faster rendering while still retaining the ability to create models and animations.
The final scenario are companies working on a very large projects or that need a rapid turnaround. In this case it makes sense to separate the content creation systems from the rendering systems. This means using workstations like in the first scenario with a good balance between CPU and GPU(s), plus one or more dedicated servers with up to eight GPUs that render offline while the workstation users continue working. These render servers can be hosted locally or provisioned in the cloud with NVIDIA vPGU.
What CPU should I choose for Blender?
As explained above, a system that will be used for a mixture of content creation and rendering needs to strike a good balance between CPU and GPU(s). Like most DCC applications Blender performs best on a CPU with a high frequency and around eight cores, although more cores can be beneficial in some processes. We recommend starting with an AMD Ryzen 7 or Intel Core i7, upgrading to Ryzen 9 or Core i9 if budget allows. If you’re also going to doing heavy renders then an AMD Threadripper or Intel Xeon W CPU is a good choice as these have more PCIe lanes, enabling the system to support up to four GPUs. For a dedicated render server we recommend AMD EPYC or Intel Xeon CPUs as these support up to eight GPUs and are enterprise-grade for greater reliability.
What GPU do I need for Blender?
A fast GPU is crucial for a responsive DCC experience in Blender, with more powerful models providing a more noticeable benefit when working with complex 3D models and high resolution textures. We recommend the NVIDIA RTX GPUs as a good starting point in the NVIDIA range, adding in more GPUs if budget allows if you’re also going to be rendering.
If you are considering a dedicated workstation for Blender then we recommend consumer-grade NVIDIA GeForce RTX cards thanks to their outstanding value for money. However, if you’re also planning on modelling on the same workstation then it’s worth considering a professional-grade NVIDIA RTX GPU thanks to their larger memory buffer and certified drivers. For the same reasons we recommend professional grade GPUs in rendering servers.
How much RAM is recommended for Blender?
The minimum RAM that we would recommend for Blender is 32GB, upgrading to more memory if you’re working with large projects or multiple applications at once.
What storage does Blender need?
We always recommend using an SSD for the boot drive that will host your OS, Blender itself, and any active projects you are working on. The high speed of SSDs allows your system to boot, launch applications, and load files many times faster than any traditional hard drive. Alternatively, as your work projects increase you may want to consider a second SSD or higher capacity HDD - depending on your budget - so your OS, Blender and live projects benefit from SSD speed, but your archived work uses the HDD where speed isn’t a necessity and costs can be lowered. Another archive solution could be to employ an external NAS device allowing sharing and RAID protection.
When it comes to deciding on drive capacity, this will very much depend on your number of files and the model sizes. You should also consider the space required by other applications and their associated files too.
Recommended Blender Workstation Specifications
|CPU||AMD Ryzen Threadripper||AMD Ryzen 9 / Intel Core i9||AMD Ryzen 7 / Intel Core i7|
|GPU||Up to four NVIDIA RTX||NVIDIA RTX||NVIDIA RTX|
|Storage||SSD + SSD||SSD + HDD||SSD|
The Best Workstations for Blender
Click the links below to view the range of graphics systems. We offer pre-configured systems that are ready to go or can custom build a system to your preferred specification.
Blender Render Servers
Should a project scale beyond what a workstation system can deliver then there are two further options that can be considered for faster rendering.
NVIDIA EGX Render Servers
NVIDIA EGX servers from 3XS Systems offer bespoke scalable GPU-accelerated solutions for delivering centralised rendering services to your organisation.LEARN MORE >
NVIDIA Cloud Rendering
Our Cloud Rendering service, powered by NVIDIA GPU accelerators provides rapid remote rendering without having to invest in your own servers and infrastructure to support them.LEARN MORE >