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V-Ray Workstation FAQ
Q: Where should I prioritize my budget to get the best rendering performance?
A: Chaos Group has two different versions of their rendering engine: V-Ray Next CPU and V-Ray Next GPU (previously V-Ray Adv and V-Ray RT, respectively). The first is a CPU-based rendering engine that benefits greatly from having a high number of CPU cores. In fact, it scales almost perfectly with more cores which makes a high core count CPU - and even configurations with multiple physical CPUs - excellent for performance. For that version we strongly recommend a dual CPU configuration, which we offer in both tower and rackmount form factors. If you are on a budget then a single, high core count CPU will work too.
On the other hand, V-Ray Next GPU (V-Ray RT) uses GPUs - as the name indicates - to perform the rendering calculations. If that is your focus, we recommend maxing-out the speed and quantity of video cards - within your budget and available space - before worrying about the CPU. However, starting in V-Ray 3.6 the CPU can be used alongside the GPUs to further boost rendering speed. Chaos Group calls this Hybrid Rendering, so if you are using 3.6 or higher the CPU should still be a factor in your purchasing decision. Check out this article for more information.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a dual CPU workstation?
A: The main advantage of a dual CPU workstation for V-Ray is that it allows you to have an extremely high number of CPU cores - our dual CPU system allows for 20 to 44 cores. This can give you anywhere from two to three times the render performance compared to our single CPU workstation. The downside is that it is physically larger and not ideal for general 3D modeling tasks. These tasks tend to be what is called "single threaded" which means that they cannot utilize more than one or sometimes two CPU cores. Since the individual cores in the dual Xeon CPUs run at relatively modest speeds this means that you will have much lower performance for these tasks compared to a single CPU workstation that is half the cost.
AMD also now offers single CPUs which have nearly as many cores as a dual Xeon configuration, but at a much lower price. These Threadripper processors, as AMD brands them, are a great choice for heavily threaded CPU applications like rendering - especially if you aren't doing work that is single-threaded (which is their weak spot, with lower per-core clock speeds).
Q: Does V-Ray Next GPU / V-Ray RT support multiple GPUs? Do they need to be in SLI?
A: The GPU-accelerated version of V-Ray is able to utilize multiple GPUs and does so very effectively. It will not be a perfect "4 GPUs is 4x faster", but you can expect significant performance improvements with every card you add. However, since V-Ray is using the cards for compute purposes they do not need to be in SLI mode. In fact, SLI can sometimes cause problems so we recommend leaving it disabled if possible.
Q: Do I need to use a Quadro card or is GeForce OK?
A: V-Ray technically does not care which type of video card you have in your system, so either a Quadro or a GeForce card should work just fine. However, there are certain times where you may want to use a Quadro card. First, they are slightly more reliable since they are designed to operate under heavy load for extended periods of time and tend to have more stable drivers. Second, Quadro cards tend to have more onboard memory. The amount of video RAM will limit how complex of a scene can be rendered in V-Ray, so for extremely detailed rendering you may need the additional VRAM on high-end Quadro cards. Finally, companies like AutoDesk (Revit/3ds Max/Maya) tend to heavily favor the use of Quadro cards. So if you plan on also using one of these applications on this system then using a Quadro card is likely a good idea.
Q: Can I use an AMD card for V-Ray Next GPU / V-Ray RT?
A: V-Ray does have the option to utilize OpenCL which means that you can use AMD cards for rendering. However, we typically recommend using NVIDIA-based cards as we have found them to be more reliable overall - especially for consistently heavy tasks like rendering. Moreover, the new Hybrid Rendering mode (CPU + GPUs) in V-Ray 3.6 only works with CUDA mode, which requires NVIDIA graphics cards.
Q: How much system RAM do I need?
A: The amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the complexity of your renders. In general, however, rendering in V-Ray does not need a huge amount of RAM - most users will find that 32GB of RAM should be more than adequate. For those who do need more, our single and dual CPU configurations allow for up to 64GB and 512GB of RAM respectively.
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 programs much faster.
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 Scalable family allows for the use of dual CPU configurations. Because of this, we use the Intel's Core X CPUs and AMD's Threadripper chips in our single CPU workstations and the Xeon Scalable processors in our dual CPU workstations.
Q: How does Network Rendering work? Do I need special licenses?
A: Network Rendering (typically referred to as "Distributed Networking" in V-Ray) allows you to use the power of other workstations or servers on your network to make your renders complete faster than you could ever achieve on a single system. Chaos Group offers render node licenses that are required for each slave render node.
For more information on network rendering, we recommend visiting V-Ray's Render Node information page. For installation and configuration instructions, there is excellent documentation for 3ds Max, Maya, Cinema 4D and various other applications. Note that V-Ray RT does not yet have full support for Distributed Rendering. For example, in Maya the Production renderer does not yet support V-Ray RT Distributed Rendering. Due to this, we recommend checking with Chaos Group directly before purchasing a workstation/server to use as a render node for V-Ray RT to ensure the software is able to do what you need.
Q: Do I need a Maya or 3ds Max license for each server node?
A: While V-Ray does need 3ds Max or Maya installed on each server node, you do not need a separate license for each. As long as you are just using it as a render node, Autodesk allows you to use your normal license for up to 999 render nodes provided you are not using the actual 3ds Max or Maya GUI.
Q: Can I use mix Mac, Linux, and Windows PCs for Distributed Rendering?
A: You can technically make this work, but due to the different file architectures we highly recommend matching the OS of your nodes to your main client workstation. Otherwise, you can run into issues transferring textures and materials to the render nodes.
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