View Full Version : Rendering and a graphics accelerator

01 January 2003, 09:01 PM
I have read some great discussions on hardware for both graphics cards and entire systems, but I have a specific need in that I need rendering-only systems for 3D Studio Max. My system requires starting 3DSMax, running a MaxScript that then renders a 300+ frame avi to a video card (DPS Reality). Render times are critical and must be at 10 minutes or less. We have been very focused on CPU speed (2 Xeon 2.xGhz) and memory (1.5 GB), but we are in disagreement as to whether the graphics card has no-effect, minimal effect or a significant effect on the actual render times. If the answer is significant effect, then what type of card(s) should we focus on/which is the best bang for your buck? Also, are there any rendering-oriented benchmarks available?


01 January 2003, 10:36 PM
Here's some max benchmarks...

(The Athlon 2600+ MP system won't be avail till sometime in Feb to add)

As for cards....there are a few render oriented cards, like renderdrive...

But for the most part, video cards have little if anything to do with render times. Now once the render is finished, and your encoding it into a specific video format (or what not), then other cards should be able to accelerate those processes...but not the actual rendering.

01 January 2003, 10:57 PM
Thanks for the info.

Has anyone had experience with the renderdrives? I noticed that the the Pure P1800 is $3,700. What will it do for my render times? Can I put it in a lower end workstation and still get fast renders? Is it worth the $$ or should I look at just using fast as possible systems to do the work (dual proc, etc)?

01 January 2003, 12:48 AM
The biggest problem with the renderdrives is that they are very scene specific. Certain types of plugins, effects, or renderings will not be accelerated at all. If your really interested in pursuing the renderdrive, contact the company and ask your questions directly.

And remember, the best way to reduce rendertime isn't through hardware...its through scene optimization.

01 January 2003, 12:59 AM
If you've got the dollar (you jammy git) then yuh-huuuuh!

Small note: the RenderDrive is not a video card and will not output images directly to a screen. What you would need is a way of sending images from Max directly to a fullscreen window.

All the tech specs you need are at the ART website (, with the 3DWorld review of the PURE available here (

If I can run realtime (albeit simple) raytracing demos on a Slot A Athlon650 then I think the Renderdrive can handle the load.

To answer your original question, it's unlikely that the structure is yet in place to use a video card to speed up rendering as a) the 3DLabs VP chips are the only ones I know of that are currently capable and b) it's gonna require OpenGL 2.0 which is as yet unreleased (although I don't know the status of DirectX where this is concerned). I know this because one of the central tenets of OpenGL2.0 is the use of GPUs for speeding rendering (further information at (

hth, Paul

01 January 2003, 01:40 AM
Thanks for the info. I will continue to do more research. Hopefully ART will allow me to take a loaner for their card.

BTW, Greg, I agree with you that scene optimization is crucial. To give you an example, our first 3D modeller (I am a software dev guy myself by trade), built fairly simple 3D models with 750,000+ polys! render times were terrible and the scenes were nothing to brag about. We brought in some real modellers and now our scenes are literally 100 times more exciting and compelling, render times are half what they used to be and poly counts are now 7500 - 1/100 of their previous number. Unforunately, I am a perfectionist and always want more (or less in this case) and would like to keep the quality levels but cut the renders in half again, without any significant additional hardware $$s.

01 January 2003, 02:34 AM
Originally posted by GregHess
Here's some max benchmarks...

That link was in todays BOXX news letter, congrats on the excellent site there Greg.

01 January 2003, 05:10 AM

I'm currently expanding the tests to include lw, xsi, and maya. Tests should be finished sometime near the end of feb. (72 per system takes awhile :) )

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