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V-Ray CPU Rendering: Intel Core i7 9700K & i9 9900K Performance

Written on October 19, 2018 by William George


V-Ray, from Chaos Group, is a widely used rendering engine for creating realistic 3D graphics. It includes two versions: one for rendering entirely on the CPU and the other for rendering on NVIDIA GPUs. The GPU version mostly depends on how many of which video cards are in a given workstation, with little regard for other system specs, but the CPU version is heavily impacted by both the processor's clock speed and core count.

Chaos Group also publishes a benchmark utility for V-Ray, which can test both CPU and GPU performance. This is a fantastic utility for comparing different processors and video cards, though a bit dated, and we run it here at Puget Systems on every workstation we build. We also run it on new and upcoming hardware in Labs, to see how well various components should perform with V-Ray rendering.

For this article, we used it to measure CPU-based rendering performance on the new 9th Gen Intel Core Series mainstream processors: the Core i9 9900K and Core i7 9700K. These chips are not built for rendering, but they do feature more cores than previous models in this segment - along with very high clock speeds. Their high clocks make them ideal for applications like 3D modeling, animation, and motion graphics... so seeing how well they can handle rendering tasks may be helpful for many users in those fields.

9th Gen Intel Core i9, i7, and i5 Processors

Test Setup

Since these mainstream Intel processors are not going to be in the running for the best V-Ray performance, we limited the comparison to other single-socket CPUs. We have included both Intel's higher-end Core X series as well as AMD's Threadripper models, which currently hold the title for the best single-CPU scores in V-Ray (and indeed, in CPU based rendering as a whole). We've also got the previous-generation Core i7 8700K, which these new chips are replacing, and AMD's direct competitor to them: the second-gen Ryzen.

All of those CPUs were run through the free V-Ray Benchmark utility, in CPU mode. If you would like more details about the full hardware configurations involved in these tests, .

Benchmark Results

Here are the render times, in seconds, for the various processors we tested in V-Ray Benchmark 1.0.8 - with AMD models in red and Intel in blue. The new Core i9 9900K and i7 9700K chips are shown in a darker blue, to make it easier to spot them in the lineup:

V-Ray CPU Benchmark 1.0.8 Intel Core i9 9900K and Core i7 9700K Versus Various Intel Core X and AMD Ryzen / Threadripper Processors

Analysis & Conclusion

As expected, these new 9th Gen Intel Core Processors are not going to win any awards for V-Ray rendering performance. However, they are a solid improvement over the previous-generation Core i7 8700K - and the i9 9900K nearly catches the 10-core i9 7900X despite not having as many cores. The clock speed these chips have really helps, and while it may not be the most important factor for rendering it does let them excel in areas like 3D modeling, animation, and motion graphics. If you split your time between that sort of workload and rendering, you'll have to decide which is more important to you.

What is the Best CPU for V-Ray Rendering?

AMD's Threadripper 2990WX currently offers the best single-socket performance in V-Ray's CPU benchmark. Not only is the 2990WX the fastest single-processor solution, but it is less expensive than many slower options from Intel. It also supports lots of PCI-Express lanes, if you want to stack multiple video cards to use V-Ray's GPU rendering engine as well.

V-Ray Workstations

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Tags: CPU, Rendering, Chaos, Group, V-Ray, Performance, Processor, Intel, Core, i7, 9700K, i9, 9900K, AMD, Ryzen, Threadripper

What do you think about the TDP issue on the new 9900K:

It looks like same as AMD's P.B.O(Precision Boost Overdrive) that removes the power limit (out of Intel's Specs) and lets the processor clock higher (9900K@ 95W clocks only up-to 4.0Ghz)with almost double the power and it turns out to be Enabled by default by all motherboard manufactures, I am asking from your point of view regarding Warranty and No OC'ing, since this allows the motherboards to overclock the 9900K to 4.7Ghz all core with over 165W.

Thanks in Advance!

Posted on 2018-11-10 17:32:20

My personal opinion - and I think it aligns pretty closely with our company policy, though I wouldn't want to speak for that without consulting other folks here - is that reaching the turbo speeds prescribed by the CPU manufacturer (either Intel or AMD) is not overclocking, so long as voltage is left at default settings.

In other words, I don't care about the TDP :)

We use CPU coolers which can handle heat far in excess of the TDP on the 9900K, and other models, even for extended periods of time. Because of that, what I want to see is processors reaching and maintaining the turbo clock speeds appropriate for however many cores are currently active. Thermal throttling as a last-ditch protection is fine and good (in case a fan fails, for example) but I don't want to see my processors throttling because of some artificial power draw limitation.

To me, actual overclocking is when you run part of a CPU (the core clock, the memory controller clock, etc) at a speed above what the manufacturer has rated it for. For example, using memory above 2666MHz on the 9900K - or setting it to run at 5.0GHz turbo across all cores, rather than when just 1-2 cores are under load. Overvolting is similar, but instead of changing clock speeds it involves increasing voltage to the CPU - and it is often required in order to enable overclocking to succeed. Both of those push a CPU beyond what the manufacturer has rated it for, though, whereas allowing higher wattage operation (at default clocks and voltages) isn't exceeding any performance specs, it is just allowing more heat to be generated. As long as that is handled responsibly - with a good CPU cooler and plenty of airflow through the system - then I think it is just fine and the "best practice" in my opinion.

Posted on 2018-11-12 18:37:45

Thank you for your detailed reply, I always watch your PC builds with Barnacules, you build PC's like NASA :-).

Posted on 2018-11-12 21:18:42