Like most applications, the system requirements for OctaneRender can be found on the official OTOY website. It is part of their FAQ page, though, and while it has good info about compatibility it is outdated in terms of performance recommendations. Since their info is outdated, we have taken the time here at Puget Systems to perform our own testing to determine what hardware runs OctaneRender the best. Based on this testing, we have come up with our own list of recommendations.
When it comes to CPUs there are two main specifications that define the capability of a CPU:
- The frequency directly affects how many operations a single CPU core can complete in a second (how fast it is).
- The number of cores is how many physical cores there are within a CPU (how many operations it can run simultaneously).
Whether a high frequency or high core count CPU is better depends on how well a program is designed to take advantage of multiple CPU cores (often referred to as multi-threading).
In the case of OctaneRender, as well as most other GPU-based engines, the CPU does not play a role in the process of rendering scenes. However, OTOY does mention in their FAQ that "a fast multi-core CPU will significantly improve the scene loading speed." Unfortunately OctaneBench does not include a score for scene load times, but in our experience it is a good idea to have a high clock speed (3GHz+) processor with a couple cores per GPU.
If you run other applications besides OctaneRender, make sure to select a CPU that will give good performance in those programs as well.
Video Card (GPU)
The video card selection is the driving factor for performance in OctaneRender. The faster the card the better, and you can also use multiple GPUs to further increase speed. We have tested up to four GPUs, and scaling in OctaneRender is almost perfect: a system with four GTX 1080 Ti cards is 4 times faster than a system with one.
Because of the extremely good scaling in OctaneRender, it is important to consider whether your budget allows for up to four or just two cards. There are many situations where four lower-cost cards will actually be faster than two more expensive cards, but the trade off with more GPUs is a physically larger chassis. Other factors can come into play as well, like the cost of a bigger case, motherboard, and power supply. We have a variety of system sizes and form factors to choose from, so that you can match both your budget and location requirements.
While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on your particular projects, for OctaneRender (and GPU rendering in general) we generally recommend 32GB. That should be plenty for rendering even very complex scenes, but our systems do support more for those who need it. If you run other software alongside OctaneRender, keep that in mind when selecting how much memory you get.
Storage (Hard Drives)
With the falling costs associated with SSDs, we almost always recommend using an SSD for the primary drive that will host your OS and the installation of OctaneRender and other software. The high speed of SSDs allows your system to boot, launch applications, and load files many times faster than any traditional hard drive. If your budget allows, it is also a very good idea to have a second SSD that can be used to store your active projects to further decrease load and save times.
Since SSDs are still more expensive than traditional drives per GB, for long term storage we recommend using a traditional hard drive (or two if you need even more storage!). Using a SSD can be useful in some situations, but most of the time the high performance of an SSD is simply not required for a storage drive.