3ds Max Workstation FAQ
Q: What do I need for the best modeling and animation performance in 3ds Max?
A: Modeling and animation in 3ds Max are primarily single-threaded, so you want a CPU with the highest possible clock speed - but core count is not particularly important. A good video card is also needed, in order to smoothly display the 3D graphics you create.
Q: Does rendering in 3ds Max require different hardware?
A: The default foreground renderer included in 3ds Max, from 2018 onward, is Arnold: a CPU-based rendering engine that benefits greatly from having a high number of cores. In fact, in our Arnold CPU comparison we found that it scales very well with additional cores. That means a high core count CPU - or potentially even configurations with multiple CPUs - are excellent for rendering in 3ds Max, using Arnold. You also need enough memory, and both complexity of a scene and resolution will impact how much RAM is required. The video card does not play a significant role in rendering, though, unless you opt to install and use a different renderer like Octane or Redshift.
Q: What about combining design, animation, and rendering? Can one system do well with all of them?
A: As discussed above, for rendering you will want a high core count CPU. In the past, higher core counts usually meant lower clock speeds - but Intel now offers technology called Turbo Boost on many of their processors. Turbo Boost adjusts the clock speed depending on how many cores are active at a given time, so when only a few cores are working (like during modeling or animation within 3ds Max) they can run at much higher clock speeds than when all cores are active (during rendering, for example). This results in the best performance for both situations from a single CPU. All of the processors in our 3ds Max workstations support this technology, but if you need more assistance in selecting the right chip for a new workstation please reach out to our consultants.
Q: Do I need a Xeon CPU?
A: In the past, Xeon CPUs were more robust than their Core series counterparts. Today, however, there is very little functional difference between the two Intel product families for workstations. In fact, the largest difference is simply the fact that the Xeon family allows for the use of dual CPU configurations. Because of this, we use Core i7 and i9 CPUs in our 3ds Max workstations - but if you want to focus even more on rendering performance, we do offer dual Xeon builds tailored for specific rendering engines.
Q: How much system RAM do I need?
A: The amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the complexity of your models and renders. In general, however, 3ds Max does not need a huge amount of RAM - most users will find that 16GB or 32GB should be plenty. For those who do need more, our rendering optimized configuration allows for up to 64GB.
Q: Should I use an SSD?
A: Yes! SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives and in many cases can give a noticeable decrease in the time it takes to open and save files - not to mention simply starting Windows and launching 3ds Max itself.
Q: Do I need to use a Quadro card or is GeForce okay?
A: 3ds Max needs a fairly powerful video card, unless you are exclusively rendering, and Autodesk's official stance is that NVIDIA's professional graphics cards (formerly Quadro) are certified for this application. They do also test GeForce cards, so those should work fine for most users and may be preferred for those working in game dev, but pro-grade cards are optimized by NVIDIA to be more reliable in the long-term.
Q: What about multiple video cards, is there any use for those?
A: 3ds Max does not directly benefit from multiple GPUs (video cards), but if you use a third party rendering engine like Octane or Redshift then those do utilize the GPU... and they scale very well with multiple cards. If that is something you plan to do, check out our links to related workstations below.
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