Home made render farm

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  07 July 2012
Home made render farm

Hey everyone,

I'm looking into buying some parts to make very stripped down render nodes (for mental ray in maya), except with a lot of processing power! So I found this on NewEgg, and it looks like a good deal to me. Does anyone know if it would be a good start; couldn't even one of these make a noticeable difference in rendertime? I would also get a small hard drive for Windows 7 and mental ray.

Right now I have a Mac Pro 2X 2.8 GHz quad core CPUs. 14gb of RAM and about 4tb of storage. I've tried using computers around the house but they were not powerful enough to make up for the network overhead. Although there is a big Apple logo on the side of my system, I live in Windows 7 x64. I plan to use it as the master, sending jobs around to the other nodes, while doing some rendering of its own.

I realize I probably need more than this, like cooling and enclosures/racks. However it seems like the CPU and motherboard are the key components, so I figured I should ask about this cpu/motherboard combo first! Any advice about these parts, and any others I would need per node, would be really great!



Last edited by CGNema : 07 July 2012 at 07:00 PM.
  07 July 2012
It might not make sense to use such low cost hardware if you're purchasing a mental ray license for each node. The combination of the low cost hardware and expensive software is not cost effective. If using the satellite feature where there's no additional cost for licenses then low cost hardware like that is great. There are less expensive motherboards available that could reduce the cost further.

Racks and cases are nice but if you just need the rendering power and you're setting up at home there are alternatives. For example using a plastic shelving unit like this to hold bare components.


Hardware for two nodes can be zip tied or just set on top of each shelf. Since the shelves are plastic they are insulating and no shorts will occur when components come into contact with it. The plastic legs between each shelf can be cut in half for greater density, so you get 10 shelves in one stack which can hold 20 nodes.

The advantage to using traditional racks is convenience when transporting or maintaining the equipment and greater density. The advantage to using plastic shelves and no cases is cost savings if you have the space and don't care what it looks like and don't have hundreds of nodes.

Here are some other home render farms people have made that are interesting. Though more neat and less practical since they require quite a bit of tinkering.

  07 July 2012
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