Budgeting Render Farm Cost: Per PC or Per Core?


Jul 19, 2009
Hey all,

I'm looking to build a Render Farm for my small business, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to calculate cost. I primarily will be using the render farm to render animation through Cinema 4d's Team Render.

In general (or better yet, specifically for Cinema 4D), would I have better render performance (rendering out many frames of animation) with 4 PCs with 6-core CPUs, or with 6 PCs with 4-core CPUs?

I realize there are other factors, but currently I'm finding that building 6-core PCs has a better cost if I look at budgeting per Core rather than per PC.

To make the comparison more fair, are there other factors I should consider? For instance, if I am planning 16gb ram for the 4 core machines, should I be looking to get 24gb ram for the 6 core?

Thanks for reading!






Cinema 4d Team Render is a very interesting concept and the idea of distributed rendering over a cluster is a sign of the future potential of optimizing for multi-core processing of all kinds.Cinema 4D does seem to have focused the software so that the quantity of cores is more important than the speed. Multi-core processing in video processing seems not to be uniformly scalar. In Premiere for example, there seems to be a maximum number of cores that can be utilized efficiently and adding more cores to the work actually slows it down. There are some good articles on the subject by Matt Bach at Puget Systems:


And you can see that Solidworks- modeling software- is better at utilizing cores in rendering than Premiere. The conclusion of mos of these articles seem to point to having a fast 6 or 8-core.

However, Boxx has special systems for Cinema 4D including modules that can be grouped into 360-core at 1.6GHz units:


So,if this optimization is correct, it appears the best Cinema 4Dsolution would be to calculate the best core /cost ratio. My sense - based on the Boxx configuration is that you might think of buying 2-4 of something like this:

Dell Precision T7600 Barebones w/ 2x Heatsink No CPU No RAM No RAID No HDD > sold for $550


> and outfit each with two of something like this:

Intel Xeon E5-2670 (B2011-381) 2.6GHz 20MB 8GT/s SR0KX CPU Server Processor > sold for offer under $63



> which would give a total of 32- cores / 64- threads to 64- cores / 128- threads (8X 8cores / 16 threads) @ 2.6 /3.3GHz, spending only about $250-$500 on the CPU's.

The amount of RAM is another complicated question and I think of it as RAM per processor/ If you're processing single frame images it can be less but for animation I'd think of 32GB per CPU as a good amount. If you used systems as above, the RAM can be DDR3-1600 ECC registered and this not expensive:

New Samsung 32GB 4X8GB DDR3 1600MHz PC3-12800R ECC REG Registered Server Ram Sold for $104 or offer


So, each system would cost:

System: $550
CPUs: $150
RAM: $220
Drives: $300? ( this is a question though if they're necessary in every system or only the primary input system as server)
GPU: $120? ( this is a question though if they're necessary in every system or only the primary input node

$950 to $1200?

Of course this can be done on other scales, but it seems to me that fewer systems with dual used CPU's of at least 8-cores will be the most cost effective.

Using a uniform, proprietary high quality workstation is a way to have server reliability and additional nodes could be added- and each time they would be cheaper.

Again, more research is necessary, but that seems to conform to the approach of Boxx to Cinema 4D, but at low cost.

If however, you are thinking only in terms of new equipment, the equation remains the same- dual processors with an emphasis on core count as compared to speed. I have a dedicated rendering system based on 2X 6- cores and that systems does a 3180 X 2140 image rendering (VRay) in about 5 -7 minutes.




1. HP z420 (2015) > Xeon E5-1660 v2 (6-core @ 3.7 / 4.0GHz) > 32GB DDR3 1866 ECC RAM > Quadro K4200 (4GB) > Intel 730 480GB (9SSDSC2BP480G4R5) > Western Digital Black WD1003FZEX 1TB> M-Audio 192 sound card > 600W PSU> > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit > Logitech z2300 speakers > 2X Dell Ultrasharp U2715H (2560 X 1440)>
[ Passmark Rating = 5064 > CPU= 13989 / 2D= 819 / 3D= 4596 / Mem= 2772 / Disk= 4555]
[Cinebench R15 > CPU = 1014 OpenGL= 126.59 FPS] 7.8.15

Pending upgrade: HP /LSI 9212-4i PCIe SAS /SATA HBA RAID controller, 2X Seagate Constellation ES.3 1TB (RAID 1)


2. Dell Precision T5500 (2011) (Revised) > 2X Xeon X5680 (6 -core @ 3.33 / 3.6GHz), 48GB DDR3 1333 ECC Reg. > Quadro K2200 (4GB ) > PERC H310 / Samsung 840 250GB / WD RE4 Enterprise 1TB > M-Audio 192 sound card > 875W PSU > Windows 7 Professional 64> HP 2711x (27", 1920 X 1080)
[ Passmark system rating = 3844 / CPU = 15047 / 2D= 662 / 3D= 3500 / Mem= 1785 / Disk= 2649] (12.30.15)


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