V-Ray: Intel X-series Refresh CPU Rendering PerformanceWritten on November 13, 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.
Intel just refreshed their Core X Series processors, giving them a small bump in clock speed and increasing the PCI-E lane count on the lowest end model. CPU based rendering tends to favor high core count processors, but clock speed is also a factor, so we are going to compare these new CPUs against their predecessors as well as other models from both Intel and AMD.
To create a comprehensive comparison, we included Intel's previous generation of Core X processors - specifically, those which match the new chips in core count and price - as well as Intel's mainstream 9th Gen Core series, AMD Ryzen, and AMD Threadripper models.
All of the 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, click here to expand the following section.
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 X Series chips are shown in a darker blue, to make it easier to spot them in the lineup:
In addition, we broke out these results into three smaller graphs to make it easier to look at the isolated performance of similar CPUs:
In both the high-end and mid-range price brackets, these new Intel processors surpass their predecessors but fall far short of AMD's Threadripper models. Intel will have to do something more substantial in future generations if they want to close that gap or pull ahead.
Interestingly, when looking at the more affordable 8-core processors, neither these new Intel chips nor AMD's Ryzen performed well. Instead, Intel's more mainstream Core i9 9900K took the crown - thanks to much higher clock speeds, while retaining Hyperthreading (which the i7 9700K lacks, hence its lower performance). None of this is very impressive, though, since all of these chips take about two and a half to three times longer to render in V-Ray than AMD's top-end 2990WX.
This processor refresh brings small performance improvements over the previous models, but nothing groundbreaking. Fixes for some of the exploits discovered in recent years are also nice, but those were mostly issues that threatened servers rather than workstations.
For CPU rendering, AMD's Threadripper processors are still the best choice for pure speed and in terms of price:performance ratio.