Recommended Hardware for Redshift:
Like most applications, the system requirements for Redshift can be found on their official website. They also have a good FAQ, which primarily focuses on GPU compatibility and performance. Since their information is split into two sections like that, and since it may tend a bit toward the minimum requirements rather than best specs, we have put together our own hardware recommendations below.
In Redshift, as well as most other GPU-based engines, the CPU does not play a direct role in the process of rendering scenes. It does have a small impact on the time spent loading a scene, but that is pretty minimal in the grand scheme of things. However, if you are also using the same system for modeling or animation - in a program like Cinema4D, Maya, or 3ds Max - then you will want a CPU with a high clock speed in order to ensure good performance in those applications. On the other hand, if you also use CPU based rendering engines then having a higher core count would benefit those programs... but it will not improve Redshift's rendering speed.
Aside from raw performance, it is also important to consider the number of PCI-Express lanes a CPU supports. This will govern how many video cards can be used, which has a big impact since video cards are the primary driver for rendering performance in Redshift.
- Intel Core i7 9700K 3.6GHz (4.9GHz Turbo) 8 Core - This is one of the highest clock speed CPUs available, and does extremely well with both Redshift and modeling / animation applications. With only 16 PCI-Express lanes, though, it usually maxes out at two video cards; if you want more, a different platform and CPU is needed.
- Intel Xeon W-2125 4.0GHz (4.4/4.5GHz Turbo) 4 Core - Intel's Xeon W series processors have far more PCI-Express lanes than the consumer-oriented Core series, and even more than the more enthusiast Core X line. Combined with the right motherboard, this CPU can allow up to four GPUs in a single tower workstation. It also maintains very high clock speeds, but is more expensive than a similar Core series chip - and uses more expensive motherboards and RAM as well.
As mentioned above, the video card selection is the driving factor for performance in Redshift. The faster the better, and you can also use multiple GPUs to further speed up rendering.
There are two aspects of a video card that impact render capabilities: the raw speed of the GPU itself and the amount of memory on the card. Video memory will limit how large and complex of scenes can be rendered effectively, though Redshift does support "out of core" rendering which will allow system memory to be used if there is not enough dedicated GPU memory available... but that comes with a reduction in speed, so it is best to get video cards with enough RAM onboard if at all possible. GeForce cards tend to have good raw performance, with decent amounts of video memory, while Quadro cards come with larger amounts of VRAM but also cost more for the same level of raw performance.
- GeForce RTX 2070 8GB - The RTX 2070 effectively replaces the older GTX 1080, with similar performance in Redshift but newer features. Those newer features, particularly RT cores (hardware based ray tracing), make the older 1000-series obsolete.
- GeForce RTX 2080 8GB - Our default recommendation for GPU rendering, the GTX 2080 matches or exceeds the performance of the older 1080 Ti. It does have a little less VRAM, though, so if you need to work with more complex scenes consider moving up to the next model.
- GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB - About 30% faster than the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080, this card is a fantastic choice for Redshift! It comes very close to the performance of the Titan V for less than half the price.
- Titan V 12GB - The older Titans are still fast, but the best performance for Octane - and the only Titan still faster than the RTX 2080 Ti - is the Volta-based Titan V. Please note that support for the new GPU architecture it uses was only added to Redshift in version 2.6, so users on 2.5.XX and earlier releases will not be able to use this card. Also, it does not have the new ray-tracing (RT) cores that the RTX models have... so when support for those is added to Octane, they may well outpace this card.
Because of the good multi-card scaling in Redshift, 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. Lower-cost GPUs also tend to have less memory per card than higher-end models. 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 your budget, performance, and location requirements.
- GeForce RTX vs GTX Performance Comparison
- Redshift 2.6.11 GPU Performance Comparison
- Redshift 2.6.11 Multi-GPU Performance Scaling
- Can You Mix Different GPUs in Octane and Redshift?
While the exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on your particular projects, for Redshift (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 Redshift, keep that in mind when selecting how much memory you get.
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 Redshift 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.