Anyone using mini-pc's for rendering?


Since there has been a emerging trend in “box” pc’s and consoles, I was wondering has anyone used something like the GIGABYTE BRIX GB-BXi7-4770R in multiples for cpu rendering - They would be easily stackable in a server tower or just a shelf. I’m sure heat could be an issue, but you could always use some usb fans.


I’d go with a few core i7 laptops, instead of those Brix barebones.
You’d have a built in UPS solution in case of power interruptions :slight_smile:

Once you add the OS, RAM and a HDD, the price of such a mini system isn’t very favorable compared to a fast laptop. As powerfull as that system looks, it’s questionable how they’d fare in long rendering scenarios just like laptops. But it might work in a cool aluminium rack.

Generally the price/performance of NUC type intel mini PC’s and/or similar stuff is very bad.
They are meant for surfing the net, doing office stuff etc…

Don’t know who bothers buying them since an iPad can do exactly those things too, without the burden of additional periphals like keyboard/mouse, screen, wires, wall socket…


Most are sold as media pc/htpc or for point of sale/terminal application. They are very good for those role.


no laptop in the same price range will come close to the performance of a 4770k. Also, you’re spending money on built in keyboards, monitors, etc that you don’t necessarily need for every single machine in a farm. Battery backups are nice, but you can buy a cheap one that can run a couple computers for a few minutes before it likely comes back on.

cheap laptops can overheat bad when rendering (personal experience) and you can’t just easily open them up to simply replace a bad fan or swap in a high performance fan.

mini-pc’s might work ok if you make sure there’s good ventilation and take note if the CPU fan is lacking in case you need to swap it with something stronger.


I really wouldnt use laptops for render machines, their cooling systems just arent designed to run at full pelt endlessly.


If your looking at just getting 2-3 units, you may as well get a regular mid tower. You can fill them with M-ATX boards, bigger PSU’s, the faster CPU’s, bigger and quieter heat sinks, and maybe a few GPU’s if you ever get into GPU rendering. The ITX MB’s only have 2 ram slots, so your probably capped at 16GB. You also pay a premium for the nicer ITX boards that have overclocking.

It seems in the computer parts world, you have to pay a premium for a small form factor. If your not hurting for space or portability, you should probably stick to the ATX sized parts.


Small itx, or matx builds are a safer solution for sure. For a render node, that brix box doesn’t look viable. This could be asmall but ideal case for an 6-core 2011 LGA build. Or even an 8 core one if you can wait for the haswell-E cpu.


Well yeah I’m sure there are probably tons of better setups for rendering. Personally, I’m looking into a small setup with maybe 5 2U cases. I’m more interested in cpu rendering personally. I’m just wondering if anyone’s had any success with mini-pcs and what the pros and cons of them are. The price of each unit is definitely a bummer. You could probably build the same node for half the price in a better chassis. Also you’re right, you would probably need to worry about ventilation. As far as the cpu cooler goes, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. most stock fans are tested to make sure they perform decent. You only need to get a better one if you are overclocking, which I personally don’t know much about.


I built a render blade in a 2U case, and it needed several 55mm fans to keep it cool. Those things get loud, so if you build a stack of them, make sure you put them in another room. You would also need to get a front to back cooler for the CPU, and those usually have a pair of small, loud fans on them. The shallow 2U cases still have about the same volume as a mid tower case, so your not saving much space. Most server cases have a bunch of room in the front for drives, and that’s just wasted space for a render node.

From what Ive read, the 22nm chips overclock really easily, so you should be able to bump them up 10-15% without having to change anything but the CPU multiplier.


I’d avoid ultra compact computers like the linked Gigabyte BRIX system. I would suspect heat to be an issue for extended use at full load and it also has limited expansion (like only two memory slots, max of 16GB). The same goes for laptops. If you want inexpensive hardware for render nodes look at microATX towers where you can get four memory slots, better cooling, and standardized components. If you need more than a dozen or so machines you might consider rack mounted enclosures or blades which simplify large deployments and increase density.

Also factor in software licenses if applicable for the renderer you plan to use. Running expensive software on cheap hardware doesn’t always add up. For example throwing RenderMan with a $2,000 license on a $800 gaming machine, you’d be better off going with better hardware (and fewer machines) so you can get the most performance out of each license.


I built 2 pcs and one is small formfactor- still able to render, game and all that- i used the silverstone raven rvz01
case and couldn’t be happier-
I currently have a r9 270x in it and will prob get a gtx 800 swap once they’re out.
4770k cpu, 16gb ram, 250 gb ssd and a 450 w psu.

my large desktop does share rendering but even without it is a beast. And it looks sharp


This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.