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Cinema 4D CPU Comparison: Xeon Scalable vs Core i7 8700K, Core X, and Threadripper

Written on May 16, 2018 by William George
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Introduction

Cinema 4D, from Maxon, is widely used for creating advanced 3D graphics. The central processor (CPU) in a computer is of paramount importance in this application - both when drawing and animating various elements as well as when rendering out either still scenes or motion clips. Different aspects of the CPU impact these activities in different ways, though, as we have seen when exploring Cinema 4D performance. Thankfully, Maxon also makes Cinebench: a benchmark tool which measures both the single-threaded speed of a processor - which impacts graphics creation, animation, and simulation - as well as multi-threaded performance for rendering.

Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs

Intel released a new generation of multi-socket Xeon processors this year, dubbed "Xeon Scalable". These can provide a tremendous number of CPU cores - both as individual chips and even more so when used in pairs. To see how much this boosts Cinema 4D rendering performance, as well as how these processors hold up on the single-threaded side, we have run several of them through Cinebench. For comparison, additional CPUs from Intel and AMD are also included in the charts below.

Test Setup

To see how these new CPUs perform in Cinema 4D, we selected a few of the Xeon Scalable chips to work with. Intel makes something like fifty different SKUs in this series, so there is no way to test them all - but we picked models with both a wide range of core count (4, 12, 18, 20, and 28 cores) and clock speeds (from 2.4 to 3.6GHz base clocks). We are also including the top Intel mainstream (i7 8700K) and enthusiast (i9 7980XE) single-socket CPUs as points of comparison, along with AMD's top Threadripper model (the 1950X).

If you would like more details about the full hardware configurations we tested, .

Benchmark Results

Cinebench provides three scores when run, so here are charts showing how the CPUs listed above performed. The first is an OpenGL test, which is actually more of a measure of video card performance within Cinema 4D - but can be impacted by the processor as well:

Next up, we have single-threaded CPU performance. This shows roughly how well these processors handle tasks like modeling, animation, and physics simulation within Cinema 4D:

And finally, the real meat and potatoes for dual Xeon workstations - a multi-threaded CPU comparison demonstrating rendering speed:

Analysis

That last graph demonstrates how big of an impact a system's core count has on CPU-based rendering speeds. Rendering scales very well, with the dual Xeon Platinum 8180 system doubling the performance of an already very fast Core i9 7980XE. However, that comes at a price: a 10-15% drop in single threaded speeds (modeling, animation, physics, etc) and a much higher system cost. A single Xeon 8180 costs five times what the i9 7980XE does; two of them plus a more expensive motherboard and costlier memory adds up quickly.

Some of the other new Xeon processors are more reasonably priced, but you still sacrifice performance on the single-core side of things. It is the same story with AMD's Threadripper chips, although at least they have an advantage in that they are less expensive.

Looking at the single-CPU results in more depth, along with the Open GL graphics scores, the top performer is clearing Intel's Core i7 8700K. The i9 7980XE comes in close behind, though, making it a very good option for both rendering and general usage in Cinema 4D.

Conclusion

As discussed above, dual Xeon Scalable processors can be a great way to go for pure rendering speeds - but at the cost of general 3D modeling performance and much higher prices. Because of that, our standard recommendation for Cinema 4D users will continue to be single-socket solutions: the Core i7 8700K for folks more focused on modeling, animation, and simulation along with the Core i9 7980XE (and other Core X processors) for those who want faster render times with minimal sacrifice in other areas.

If you want a dedicated CPU rendering box, though, we can provide those - along the lines of what we build for Arnold and KeyShot. Given the results we found with these new Xeon chips, you can expect them to start showing up in our dual Xeon workstations soon.

Tags: CPU, Rendering, Cinema, 4D, Maxon, Cinebench, Performance, Processor, Intel, AMD, Xeon, Scalable, Gold, Platinum, Core, i7, i9, Threadripper, Skylake X, Coffee Lake
Andrey Papeša

Hi guys, I very much appreciate what you guys do, however was it not logical to include W xeon among these other cpu-s?

Posted on 2018-05-22 16:17:28
Gyurics Balazs

Hello PugetSystem! I read quite a lot comparison in the last few weeks, since I'm planing to buy a new system. To be honest mostly these tests are just confusing me : ) I wonder, that when someone will make real life base tests... like: when you are makeing a decision due to your next CPU -for the same money, do you need 290 fps in your viewport with dual 1080ti (soon 1180) with 1/3 of rendering speed or you are ok with 120 fps (on your 60 hz IPS monitor) with 3× rendering speed. - I'm sure you know what I'm talking about : ) Of course I mentioned the above due to a single system, not a modeling pc + render farm. Have a nice day! And thanks for your comparison article!

Posted on 2018-05-23 22:06:04

I can't imagine anyone needing more fps in their viewport work than their monitor supports, and to me the OpenGL test in Cinebench is really more about showing that all of these modern platforms do well enough with that sort of work. The real choice comes down to whether you want better performance when setting up 3D models, animating them, and doing simulations / physics - in which case clock speed is most important - or whether you want to get renders over with as quickly as possible, in which case you want more cores (without sacrificing too much on the clock speed). There are also folks who prefer to use other rendering engines, instead of what is built into Cinema 4D, which can change things even more.

Posted on 2018-05-23 22:16:35
Gyurics Balazs

It's all clear! And as I mentioned it, I'm talking about a scenario: as building up an all in one pc for 3d content creation. But I absolutely understand that your audience have a lot of members who will separate their modeling system from their render farm, or they render just in cloud. And I honestly like your tech articles! But it's really would be nice to see some real life use of these CPUs. You mentioned simulations/physics. For example, I'm able to run quite dense massFX simulations on my 5 year old i5 : ) but I have to wait like 2 hours to make a good quality static render by using arnold (now thats a real issue in my eye - the render time) and by reading some of the 3D content creator based hardware/tech articles, I constantly see an opinion, that we need the 8700k for better animating/modeling, simulations vs the threadripper that can render nearly 3× faster than the i7. It's just confusing me. I can not imagine that I really have to sacrefice that faster rendering capability since some of these high end CPUs are so bad in simulations, physics or modeling. And I'm running into this mentioned opinion in every corner! For example, in autodesk's official forum I just read an opinion not far ago: (let me quote) "threadripper is a crap for modelling" - these are really confusing informations for us, who can not afford an i9 but we do not wanna lose valuable hours due to choosing slower rendering on a high end gameing CPU. But maybe I'm missing something... Correct me please in that case. But for example it would be so nice to see a screens with xx million poly, that are baked under a heavy fx simulation process and lagging/freezing like hell by using XY CPU, but under another CPU it runs as charm - now that would help us a lot, solo system users, to choos or next hardware. (sorry, English is not my first language)

Posted on 2018-05-23 23:16:04

If you are happy with modeling and simulation performance on a 5-year-old Core i5, then most likely any modern CPU (Core i7 / i9 or Threadripper) will give you at least comparable results. That stuff is largely single-threaded, and when folks today point out that Threadripper isn't ideal for modeling they are looking at its performance versus other modern options. AMD's chips have come a long way, but they still tend to lag behind Intel on single-threaded performance. So if someone was just going for modeling, the Core i7 8700K is a way better choice than Threadripper (or a Core i9!) for less money.

However, when you start mixing uses / programs, then you have to make sacrifices somewhere. It sounds like render times are your big concern, and both Cinema 4D's built-in render engine and Arnold (which you also mentioned) are CPU-based renderers. That means that a Threadripper or Core i9 with lots of cores is going to give you better results... and again, should at least match your aging Core i5 for modeling and simulation performance, though they won't be as fast as the i7 8700K.

To see how CPUs handle rendering, I would advise looking at Cinebench's multi-core CPU score (as shown in the article above) and some of our other CPU-based rendering tests:

https://www.pugetsystems.co...

https://www.pugetsystems.co...

The overall story there is that Threadripper gives the best performance-per-dollar for CPU rendering, if you look only at the cost of the CPU itself (not a whole system). However, you can get more absolute performance with a top-end Core i9 (the 16 or 18-core models) by paying a little more... and those Core i9 chips also fare better with single-threaded workloads. So there are tradeoffs, but here is a general chart:

Best modeling performance, but low rendering speeds: Core i7 8700K

Best single-CPU rendering performance, good modeling performance, but expensive: Core i9 7980XE (with the i9 7960X a close second)

Best price:performance ratio for CPU rendering, with decent modeling performance: Threadripper 1950X

Posted on 2018-05-23 23:33:01
Gyurics Balazs

Thanks so much by taking the time and effort to explain the above! Now I see from where the wind blows. So basicaly my boosted 5 year old i5 is on the pair with a threadripper due to single core performance (I can actually believe that they are close, since intel on XY GHz> AMD on XY Ghz, since softwares are mostly better optimized on itel) From this point of view, it's clear now, that why ppl are suggesting i7 / i9. And based on this info, maybe it would be nice to wait for threadripper zen + and than making a decision between red and blue... Personally I would expect some single core performance boost as well, beside the evident multy core benefit after changing down my 5 year old system. I did not even wanted to compair my old i5 with with a modern HEDT cpu due to single core performance, but well... I can imagine that a TR single core would handle simulations in the same way as my i5 (what is sad if it's true) You also mentioned the i9 7980xe. Sure! Who would refuse a cpu like that? : ) But than I would need a liquid cooler to cap it at 4.4 and a liquid cooler + a 7980xe is far from my budget. Any way, thanks so much for the informations. Have a nice day!

Posted on 2018-05-24 00:09:12