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Best Workstation PC for OctaneRender (Spring 2020) Original

UNLISTED on May 5, 2020 by William George

Introduction

Here at Puget Systems, specifically in the Labs department, most of the content that we write falls into one of two categories: either long, fairly in-depth articles looking at the performance of various PC components in a given application or recommended system pages, with multiple configuration options aimed at different budgets and lots of supporting data drawn from the aforementioned articles. For some readers all of that is information overload, though, and they just want a quick question answered: what is the best computer for my needs? We’re going to try answering that question more directly in a new series of short articles, of which this is the first.

Today we are looking at OctaneRender, a GPU-based ray tracing engine from OTOY. It is a good introductory topic for this series, since it is fairly straightforward in what it wants from a computer: NVIDIA graphics cards, and lots of them. The more cards you can pack into a system, and the more powerful each individual card is, the faster your rendering will be!

GIF of OctaneBench 2019 Rendering

Timelapse of OctaneBench 2019 Rendering

Best PC Configuration for OctaneRender

Right now, the most potent single video card from NVIDIA is the Quadro RTX 8000 with a massive 48GB of onboard VRAM. It is a double-wide card, as are most high-end video cards these days, so in a tower workstation four at most can be used. That goal drives the choice of a motherboard, chassis, and power supply. Then for the CPU, you want a high clock speed with at least one core per GPU (and a couple extra won’t hurt). For the RAM, you want more than the total amount of VRAM in the system - which will be 129GB with this setup. A fast M.2 SSD for the OS and applications rounds things out, along with the option of another SSD for extra storage space.

CPU Intel Xeon W-2235 6-core
Motherboard Asus WS C422 SAGE/10G
Video Cards 4 x NVIDIA Quadro RTX 8000
RAM 256GB DDR4 ECC Reg
Drives 1TB NVMe & 4TB SATA SSDs

That is the fastest traditional tower workstation that can be built for OctaneRender right now, but there are other ways to move beyond even this powerhouse of a PC. For example, if this were going to be a server-style system that was accessed remotely, you could go with a rackmount chassis that would offer more PCI-Express slots for video cards; we have options along those lines with support for up to eight GPUs. Or you could use PCI-Express expander cards to external enclosures in order to connect more video cards into the computer, though doing so reduces the bandwidth to each card (which can impact performance). Octane even supports network rendering, so you could split out processing across several systems in an office.

Most Popular System for OctaneRender

There are also a lot of ways to get near the same performance as the configuration above but without spending as much money. The most obvious option is to scale back on the video cards, and if your scenes are not so complex as to need 48GB of memory then you could drop to the Quadro RTX 6000 with 24GB or even the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti with 11GB. Both of those are in the same raw performance range as the RTX 8000, just with less onboard memory - and a much lower price tag! Using those would also greatly reduce the amount of RAM you need, further saving money. Here is an example of what that looks like, and this also happens to be one of the most popular OctaneRender configurations we sell here at Puget Systems:

CPU Intel Xeon W-2235 6-core
Motherboard Asus WS C422 SAGE/10G
Video Cards 4 x NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RAM 64GB DDR4 ECC Reg
Drives 1TB NVMe & 2TB SATA SSDs

Additional Resources

If you want to know more about OctaneRender performance, we have published several articles over the years looking at how individual CPUs compare as well as how well this software scales across multiple cards. Or if you want to configure a computer more tailored to your specific needs, including the option of a rackmount-style server mentioned above, we have a few recommended systems tailored to running OctaneRender that might interest you. And if you aren’t sure what you need, or if your workflow includes multiple applications, please feel free to call or email our consultants to get a more personalized configuration.

Looking for an OctaneRender Workstation?

Puget Systems offers a range of workstations that are tailor-made for your unique workflow. Our goal is to provide the most effective and reliable system possible so you can concentrate on your work and not worry about your computer.

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Tags: Octane, Render, Rendering, Workstation, PC Workstation, PC, GPU Acceleration